After Threatened Cancellation, Steelhead Season To Proceed In Idaho Mostly Unencumbered

Dec 10, 2018

After a possible early suspension of steelhead season was supposed to take effect December 8, a last minute deal reached December 7 between state regulators and environmental groups averted the shutdown. Many of the state's waterways will remain open for fishing, but some restrictions will be put in place.
Credit Matt Corsi / Idaho Fish and Game

Anglers and outfitters are celebrating an eleventh hour deal to preserve Idaho’s steelhead season. A coalition of environmental groups and the state’s Department of Fish and Game came to an agreement late on Friday, December 7 – just a day before the possible closure – keeping many of Idaho’s waterways open for fishing.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission unanimously signed off on the agreement with several environmental groups averting the suspension.

The range of organizations, including Friends of the Clearwater and Wild Fish Conservancy, banded together to form the Idaho River Community Alliance. As part of the deal, the coalition agreed to drop a threatened lawsuit against the state of Idaho.

They said steelhead fishing in the state was illegal since a needed federal permit expired in 2010 and was never reissued. Since threatening legal action, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started reviewing Idaho’s long-lapsed permit allowing a small number of federally protected steelhead to be harmed during fishing.

According to the Statesman, in exchange for dropping the legal action, fishing will continue on stretches of Idaho rivers near communities like Riggins that are economically reliant on the season. While many waterways will be open for anglers, part of the South Fork of the Clearwater and parts of the Salmon River will be off limits.

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