BOISE — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Friday night approved an agreement that would keep most steelhead fishing open throughout Idaho, with two areas to be closed from fishing, effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Continuing the steelhead fishing season was a result of an agreement between Fish and Game, the Idaho River Community Alliance, Inc., and the five groups who were part of the threatened lawsuit against state officials over steelhead fishing.
Idaho officials have submitted a fisheries plan to the federal government, which has not yet made a decision.
"I'm glad our anglers and outfitters can continue steelhead fishing," Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said in a statement. "It's unfortunate that a delay in receiving federal authorization for our recreational steelhead fisheries created contention and hardship for river communities and anglers. This resolution achieves the commission's objective to limit impacts to steelhead fishing as much as possible while we remain focused on finally receiving federal approval of our steelhead fishery plan for the long term."
The agreement will be in effect until the National Marine Fisheries Service approves the state's steelhead fisheries plan, or until March 15, 2019, whichever date turns out to be earlier. Idaho Fish and Game expects the NMFS to approve its plan later this winter.
Two areas will be closed from steelhead fishing as of Saturday, December 8.
The agreement does continue the daily bag limit of one steelhead through the rest of the season.
The decision last month to close steelhead fishing was sparked by six groups threatening to sue the state over its lack of approval from the NMFS for steelhead season. Fish and Game Commissioners voted on Nov. 14 to close the season in response. Idaho Rivers United last week announced that it disagreed with the decision to close the season, and was withdrawing from the threatened lawsuit.