It was one of those bitterly cold January days, though the skies were cloudless and the sun shone brightly on a blessedly windless blue day.
The temperature hovered at 6 degrees as we put the boat out onto the Clearwater just as the sun was rising.
My longtime fishing bud, Father Steve Dublinski, and I had decided to see if we could catch some of the river’s “B run” steelhead though odds were against us. We had an excellent guide¸ James Hollingshead, of Hells Canyon Sport Fishery, who had guided us before.
We put in at The Pink House just outside of Orofino. I knew it was one of Governor Cecil Andrus’ favorite spots because my former boss and I had discussed fishing holes when we drove the Clearwater to various events during the nine years I worked for him.
The river gods were with us for shortly before noon we started pulling in almost lunker-sized steelhead. Between us we caught, and released six magnificent steelhead---none smaller than 30 inches or ten pounds. The largest was close to 36 inches and 15 pounds.
Two were hatchery steelhead, and had they been between 20 and 27 inches, Steve could have kept one and I could have kept one. Because of their size back they went along with the other four fine fish. It was a great day on the Clearwater.
I spent much of the day reflecting on how much Idaho’s sport fishers should be grateful to the former governor for his long fight not only to protect Idaho’s salmon and steelhead runs, but also enhance prospects for increasing the returns. Efforts such as his dogged support for dam drawdown to aid salmon and steelhead smolt migration to the ocean were crucial. (more…)