MJC – Clearwater Update? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: MJC – Clearwater Update?

Leland Miyawaki
06-11-2003, 08:58 PM

I have heard from friends in Idaho that the Idaho Fish and Game Commission is considering doing away with the Catch and Release Season on the Clearwater in order to bring high-roller type fish killers and their big bucks into Lewiston, Spaulding, Peck (?), Orofino etc?

What gives? Do we need to get on this?


06-11-2003, 11:04 PM
Leland, I've been hearing about this for a while but I can't verify this one way or another. The local fish and game commissioner, Mr. Alex Irby, e-mail-airby@konkolville.com is reportedly behind this. He will not talk to me.
Joe Norton at Twin River Anglers in Lewiston might know more about this. E-mail-tranglers@valley-internet.net or
If you know anyone in Idaho that has solid info on this I would like to hear from them. 208-486-6098 or

Leland Miyawaki
06-11-2003, 11:57 PM
Will do Mike. This is serious stuff. We need to stop it now.


Leland Miyawaki
06-12-2003, 01:15 PM

Here is what I've been told:

"This hasn't gotten to the formal proposal stage yet. My understading is that the Commissioner from Orofino is lobbying pretty hard to gain or determine if he has enough support to make a proposal. I'm simply following the lead of the owner of Twin River Anglers in Lewiston (a real activist) in trying
to snuff this out before it gets any further. The Commission meets July 9, 10 and 11."

Keep us posted Mike!

06-12-2003, 04:17 PM
Let us know who to contact.

Have you asked Joe to become a board sponsor? I will next time I stop in.

06-12-2003, 05:25 PM
Leland, I don't have any more info on this than I did yesterday. What you have posted is pretty much how I understand things to be. I tried to contact Joe Norton today but he is out untill tomorrow. I have tried repeatedly to get in contact with Alex Irby to have him clarify his position on this but he does not answer my inquiries. Below I've posted the names and contact info for all the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Take care, MJC

Here is an excerpt from Joe Norton's website under 2003 fishing reports:
Loco authorities are still not searching for missing flyfishers on the Clearwater River. An unnamed(imaginary) state IDFG worker was quoted as saying; "We hate flyfishers anyway, and have been trying to undermine their Catch and Release Fall Steelhead Season on the Clearwater for the last few years, mainly by allowing bait and thus forcing all bank fishermen out of their waters, and turning a blind eye to the dramatic increase in bank versus boater confrontations. Hopefully someone will be seriously hurt and we can close things immediately, he/she/it said. It looks like we are making progress though, expect C&R to become a thing of the past soon, as our local commissioner is continually working behind the scenes to change the regulations to a consumptive season, irregardless of public opinion or the sociological implications of a diversified fishery." The season will likely begin in early August in the next few years, possibly as early as this coming fall."
OK, no one has drowned nor is presumed dead, although please use caution if you're out wading
I wish I was kidding about the behind the scenes back stabbing of the fall C&R steelhead season though. Your fall entertainment is at risk. Believe it.

Idaho Fish & Game Commissioners

Panhandle Region
Nancy Hadley
4325 Whiskeyjack Rd.
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
(208) 263-2380 (h)

Clearwater Region
Alex Irby
2666 Preston Road
Orofino, Idaho 83544
(208) 476-4597 (w)

Southwest Region
John Watts
P.O. Box 2601
Boise, Idaho 83701
(208) 385-7070 ext. 103 (w)
(208) 385-9056 (fax)

Upper Snake Region
Roy Moulton
60 E. Wallace Avenue
Driggs, Idaho 83422
(208) 354-2345 (w)

Southeast Region
Marcus Gibbs
632 Highway 34
Grace, Idaho 83241
(208) 425-3385 (h)

Magic Valley Region
Fred L. Wood III, M.D.
P.O. Box 1207
Burley, Idaho 83318
(208) 678-2370 (h)
(208) 677-3136 (fax)

Salmon Region
John Burns
Box 264
Carmen, Idaho 83462
(208) 756-3645

Mean Mr Mustard
06-12-2003, 06:05 PM
What do you think, a letter writing campaign addressed to the Orofino Chamber of Commerce on how we plan to change our fishing destinations to Western Montana or the Thompson River region of B.C. with copies to the Commission?


06-12-2003, 06:37 PM
Howdy MMM, I do believe that Mr. Alex Irby, the commissiner in question is the President of the Orofino Chamber of Commerce.

I just received an e-mail reply from my last attempt to correspond with him. I don't entirely understand his answer as some of it sounds like double speak to me but it's posted below:

Mr. Irby, There seems to be a persistent rumor going around that you are pushing to end the catch and release season for steelhead on the Clearwater. If there is any validity to these rumors please be kind enough to clarify your position on this issue. Thank you for your time.
Mike Cummins
20652 Big Canyon Rd.
Peck, ID 83545

Mr. Irby's answer:

The answer is no!!!! But I can certainly tell you that I get a lot of calls every year, asking me to explain why I advocate catch
and release. One of my standard answers, is, the earlier we can get the Steelhead back to the release place the earlier
they will return in the future. As a matter of fact, wouldn't it be nice to start getting this run back in July and Aug.
Thanks for asking,
Alex Irby

06-12-2003, 10:26 PM
My .02

Yes, there IS truth to the rumor. Two seasons ago this really started to flare up so I called the Boise office and spoke to the big man in charge. Explained how and why this would disrupt many dollars spent in their economy along with 'I will take my cash elsewhere'. Joe N. pushed this with several of his customers and we all called. IDFG did not like it but the push to open C&K on Sept 1 was dropped within a couple of days.

Try to get ahold of Ron Fudge through Joe Norton or through Silver Creek Outfitters (I doubt you will find him anytime soon since the Fork is calling his name. By Labor Day he should be on the Clearwater. ) Last fall he was in the process of putting together a petition to permanently cement the C&R season.

Also take the time to call Boise to speak to the boss while circumventing the stories coming from PorkBarrel USA.


06-12-2003, 11:09 PM
Can you give us the name and number of the boss in Boise. Public servants need to hear what customers think.

Also, how do you go about removing a commissioner if they are flaky?

06-12-2003, 11:38 PM
The IDFG director's name is Steve Huffaker.

600 S. Walnut, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707
Phone: (208) 334-3700
Fax: (208) 334-2114 or (208) 334-2148

I don't know how to get a commissioner removed but according to the IDFG website commissioner Irby's term expeires
June 30, 2003.

06-13-2003, 03:10 AM
Thanks Mike, for the life of me I could not remember his name.

To add a little- Two years ago Steve told me that Irby did indeed put forth a motion to get the rule changed by Sept. because of the huge fish numbers already to Idaho. He also said they were scheduled for a phone conference later that week- luckily the motion was denied. If we make a big enough stink, as the last time, I am pretty sure that this will go by the wayside.

Any information can be found on their website- it explains how the commission works, term lengths, etc.


06-13-2003, 05:45 AM
I planned on going this year, and the sole reason I would travel there from the east coast when there are many other places to spend my dollars is to experience this legendary catch and release fishery. I am sure I'm not alone, in fact I know of hundreds or thousands of anglers in this community who would agree. The kill fishery push is likely aimed to befit the whims of the local meat fishermen who'd spend no more than a few gallons of gas per dead hen or buck in comparison. Those phone calls he's getting are local calls. Don't get me wrong, I am a staunch supporter of people who inhabit an area, but the reality is that a legendary river is worth much more to the people of a region, of a nation, of a planet than a fillet in the freezer - financially or otherwise.

I hope good sense prevails!

06-13-2003, 10:38 AM
Nice job on this Leland. This should get things going in order to stop this perverse mindset some (one) of our F&G Commissioners seems to have and perhaps others in leadership positions have the same thought process as well. Let's stop it now before it gains any momentum.

I mailed my letter to all of the Commissioners yesterday urging them to maintain the C&R Season. I would urge all others to do the same or make calls, send e-mails, etc.


06-13-2003, 11:01 AM
Howdy, Here is an excerpt of an e-mail I received from Joe.

"Well, in a nutshell, Commissioner Irby has been pressured by businessmen in Orofino to do away with the C&R season on the Clearwater. The business people think they can make a whole lot more money by opening up the kill season earlier.

Of course the b run fish aren't really here until mid October anyway. But more than that, folks like myself think that if Orofino businessmen simply promote the catch & release season better,they would do fine. It just really amounts to greed, Orofino wants it all. And in doing so, they will say to hell with you and your clientele as well as mine, not to mention the guides that cater to fly fishing or catch and release.

I think some of it is coming from the guides that don't do the fly thing.

If it aint broke,don't fix it. And....it aint broke!"

In light of this post I think MMM had a good idea that maybe we should also write to the Orofino Chamber of Commerce so I've added the contact info.

Orofino Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 2346 Orofino, ID 83544

Dick Dahlgren
06-13-2003, 11:56 AM
There will be no help coming from the commission on the Clearwater situation. The commission no longer represents the true interests of the sportfolks. They are political, appointed by Gov. Kempthorne, and represent ranching, logging, and other extractive industry special interests. Kempthorne is not a sportsman, and once asked the infamous question while observing a herd of elk, "How do you tell the males from the females?"

Nancy Hadley is the exception, the commissioner, from I believe Sand Point, however she is only one vote. Gov. Kempthorne recently tried to have her removed, but an outcry by sportsmen saved her seat.

An inniative drive was mounted before the last election with the intent of removing Kempthornes and his cronies control of the commission, and return the appointment process back to the people. The petition failed to obtain enough valid signatures.

A new inniative drive is underway now, headed up by the ex commissioner from Twin Falls, ousted by Kempthorne, Don Clouser. Ex Gov. Cecil Andrus is also one of the main forces in this new drive. Perhaps contacting him might be an idea. He is a passionate fly fisher.

The present commission could not be much worse. They do have a strong dislike for fly fishers and most conservation concepts. Kempthorne's power controls the commission, and vice versa. The Idaho Department of Fish & Game has been gagged about the salmon-steelhead issue. They have been instructed by Kempthone to make no comment on any discussion that would suggest the four dams on the Snake are the main problem of declining fish numbers, even though their scientific findings have found that that is the only way to get the fish back to "pre-concrete" populations.

Mean Mr Mustard
06-13-2003, 12:20 PM
So you hit them where it hurts, in their wallets. A Boycott Idaho campaign might be an effective plan of action, and whether effective or not it will get their attention.

They grow great spuds in Washington State. Build great driftboats in Oregon. Whatelse...?

Time to grab the steel pot and flak vest?


P.S. Of course, through re-mailers we will still support our Idaho friends and such - just being on the sly and all.

Dick Dahlgren
06-13-2003, 12:51 PM
Potlatch paper products produced on the Clearwater in Lewiston. Stuff like TP and other tissues.

They are one of Kempthornes big buddies. Potlatch, and the Why-er-scmooser timber family who owns Potlatch.

06-13-2003, 01:07 PM

With doing away with the C&R season will the jet boat crew be allowed to use the river before the date that is in place now? I think this may be the driving force behind the issue with the chamber of commerce. There has been great hatred between even the jet sledders and the gear drift boaters let alone the fly fishermen over the years as far back as I can remember. I'm sure the folks in Orofino want to see the jet boaters and all the money they bring into town any day over us fly fishermen and drift boaters. Those jet sleder folks I would guess spend 2, 3 maybe way more times as much money as we do. Lets face it most of us camp out over on the Washington side of the river so that we can be in a centeral location to all the rivers in the area.

Remember that the jet boat crew on the most part is from the State of Idaho and a lot of them are wealthy farmers and ranchers with a lot more political clout through out the entire political system than the minority fly fishing people many from out of state that spend money in Idaho.

It will be a tough battle we are up against a time in our history where the conservative thinking taking place in this country is out of whack and pushing hard to get as much changed as it possibly can before the ever changing political cycle moves back to a more moderate and conservation minded power structure.

Good luck with the battle, we are in deep do do at this time not only in Idaho but across the entire planet earth.

Mean Mr Mustard
06-13-2003, 03:10 PM
Draft #3 -

I will be writing the various chambers throughout the state of Idaho expressing my dismay at the current turmoil within the F&G department and fish management policies of the commission and governor’s mansion. I will clearly inform them of my intentions to change all future travel plans to exclude Idaho and to boycott Idaho products. In a like manner, as I become aware of them I will also write to the state’s various merchant/trade associations, etc. Because I have no clout via the ballot box in Idaho matters, this seems my only avenue to effect change. (Note: I have banned all things from Idaho since becoming aware, last year, of the sackings within their F&G department and the silencing of views critical of the dams. My planned trip in August is to meet a friend and, besides purchasing some ice for the cooler, should hold true to my boycott.)

Holding in check my extreme activist nature, I will not preach to this congregation about winning little battles to win big wars, nor will I philosophize about social responsibilities (with no assurances that my views would be more valid than yours). And although I believe this matter will elicit a few comments, I also believe that apathy will rule within the ranks. It will overwhelm me with great relief to be proven wrong.

How may I help further?


P.S. Which is not to say I will do NO business in Idaho. My friends and those fighting the good fight will always have my support!

06-13-2003, 07:22 PM

The jet boat crew can always use the Clearwater. If you think the Snake has become crowded the Clearwater makes it look like childs play. Add in a few major JERKS (jetsledders with an attitude) that spend their time taunting flyfisherman and it adds up to a poor time for all.


Leland Miyawaki
06-14-2003, 12:29 AM

Here's the angle I am taking on this issue:

Dear _____________________ ,

It has come to my attention that you are contemplating the elimination of the Fall Catch and Release steelhead season on the Clearwater River.

If so, I would like to tell you about my annual trips I make to Lewiston from Seattle: I fly almost every Friday, during the C&R season, to Spokane where I meet my steelheading buddy. He usually has his driftboat in tow and we hustle on down to the river in order to get in some evening fishing. Then we drive back downriver to Lewiston and check into the Sportsman Inn and have a nice dinner somewhere in town. In the morning, we have breakfast at Randy's Ranch Cafe across the highway and drive up to Orofino where we arrange for shuttles as well as buy gas, lunch and other supplies. Saturday night, we eat out at a favorite Mexican restaurant in town. We repeat the process on Sunday morning except for dinner.

If you do a little rudimentary math, you can see that I spend quite a bit of money to catch and release the famous B-Run wild steelhead on the fly. I am not alone. There are many more of us. If I were you, I would exercise a bit of caution in an action that would throw away known sportsman dollars in exchange for an unknown amount. It doesn't seem that tossing away the bird in the hand is a valid way of solving a revenue problem. Wouldn't it be smarter if you embraced the C&R season, promoted it and brought in more people who will spend more money while, at the same time, replenishing the resource rather than eliminating it?

Leland Miyawaki

06-15-2003, 10:23 PM
Good words.

Hit them whrere it hurts.

07-10-2003, 03:46 PM
Below is a letter I received from Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner Alex Irby:

IDAHO FISH & GAME CLEARWATER REGION 1540 Warner Avenue Lewiston. Idaho 83501-5699

July 8, 2003

Mike Cummins
Red Shed Fly Shop 20652 Big Canyon Rd. Peck, ill 83545

Dear Mike,

Dirk Kempthorne / Governor Steven M. Huffaker / Director

Thank you for your comments concerning steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River. I, and our fisheries staff in the Lewiston office, have heard numerous requests during the last year concerning steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River. Many echo your comment to leave the season as is. Some folks have suggested abolishing the existing catch and release season (August 1- October 15) on the Clearwater River up stream of the Memorial Bridge. We have also heard requests to eliminate the use of motorized watercraft during the existing catch and release season. Additionally, some folks have requested eliminating the use of bait during the existing catch and release season. All these requests have some merit, from individual points ofview. However, after weighing biological, social and economic concerns the IDFG is not proposing any of them for rule changes in the upcoming 2004-05 fishing regulations.

IDFG fishery staff is proposing a few rule changes pertaining to steelhead fishing in the Clearwater River ( and statewide).

Proposal #1. Change the date that it is legal to fish for steelhead on a catch and release basis from August I to July 1.

Proposal # 2. Change the date that it is legal to harvest adipose clipped steelhead from September 1 to August 1 ( except for the Clearwater River upstream of the Memorial Bridge).

Proposal #3. Allow the use of a second rod while fishing for steelhead (and salmon), requires purchase of two-pole stamp.

Regional IDFG fishery staff will be holding public meetings in the coming months to accept comment on these, and other, proposed rule changes for the 2004-2005 Fishing Regulations. These meetings will be announced in the local newspapers.



Alex Irby, Chainnan
Idaho Fish and Game Commission

Leland Miyawaki
07-10-2003, 04:01 PM
So it looks like the C&R season has had two months added at the top and is now basically a wild steelhead release season from July 1 to October 15, with a month more of hatchery kill?

The Clearwater in July? Wheeeeeew!


IDFG fishery staff is proposing a few rule changes pertaining to steelhead fishing in the Clearwater River ( and statewide).

Proposal #1. Change the date that it is legal to fish for steelhead on a catch and release basis from August I to July 1.

Proposal # 2. Change the date that it is legal to harvest adipose clipped steelhead from September 1 to August 1 ( except for the Clearwater River upstream of the Memorial Bridge).

07-10-2003, 04:57 PM
The month more of hatchery kill doesn't apply to the Clearwater upstream of the bridge that connects Lewiston proper to N. Lewiston. At least that is the way I read proposal #2.

07-10-2003, 05:38 PM
MJC- that is how I read it too.

Opening the C&K season a month earlier is just fine on the rest of the Idaho rivers- there aren't any fish to be caught anyway. The Snake above the Clearwater is too warm and so is the Salmon. I guess the gear guys will have opportunities to kill a few of the early returning hatch fish below Hwy 12 down into the cool water from the Dworshak release.

There are so many variables that have to line up to even find those early fish with a fly- don't get all excited since 99.9% of the time there are about 3,000 better options to catch steelhead in July than Idaho.

The run looks like it is settling back down to a more normal count from the past two seasons. Once this happens it is pretty tough to find ANY fish in Idaho before mid Aug and more realistically it is into Sept before the water cools enough.