Native Lands 

Part three: Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene reservations

This week's IdaHoles is the third and fourth installments in a series on fishing Native lands in Idaho. Our first week's column discussed Jimmy, Spring and Clear creeks in the Fort Hall area, while the last edition of IdaHoles traveled to Duck Valley.

Nez Perce Reservation

Non-native anglers wanting to fish for steelhead on reservation land can purchase a permit from either the Nez Perce tribe or Idaho Fish and Game when on Nez Perce land. The Nez Perce permit does not extend to any other water or species.

A Nez Perce tribal steelhead license is not valid outside the reservation boundary on the Clearwater River or on the Salmon and Snake rivers; however, an Idaho fishing license is valid.

Anyone possessing a valid tribal steelhead permit does not need a state license when fishing within reservation boundaries.

Steelhead anglers who posses a valid Nez Perce Tribal steelhead fishing license may fish the Clearwater River only within the reservation, from near the mouth of Hatwai Creek to just above Kooskia.

IDFG and the Nez Perce Tribe agreed to honor either the tribal steelhead fishing license or an Idaho fishing license with steelhead permit on the Clearwater River within reservation boundaries.

The Nez Perce portion of the Clearwater River on the Nez Perce Reservation, and its western and southern tributaries, are managed by the Nez Perce Tribal Council.

All of the main stem Clearwater River and South Fork Clearwater River within the Nez Perce Reservation, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam and the Middle Fork Clearwater River upstream to the mouth at Clear Creek is open during the legal season.

The downstream boundary of the Nez Perce Reservation on the main stem Clearwater River is located near the mouth of Hatwai Creek adjacent to the Clearwater River Casino and the upstream boundary of the reservation on the South Fork Clearwater River is located near Harpster.

Tunnel Pond is a put-and-take, pay-to-fish fishery southeast of Orofino. These ponds were developed to mitigate salmon loss after the construction of Dworshak Dam. Daily and yearly permits are available. The season is finished for this year, as it runs from the first weekend of April to October 31. Check with tribal offices for possession limits.

Coeur d'Alene Reservation

The Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation covers 350,000 acres in Idaho's pan-handle southwest of Coeur d'Alene and includes the towns of Benewah, DeSmet, Plummer, Tensed and Worley, with the southern portion of the lake included on reservation land.

The Coeur d'Alene tribe manages the southern portion of Coeur d'Alene Lake. For the past 10 years both Benewah and Lake creeks have been closed to help restore the population of westslope cutthroat trout.

The tribe focuses their fisheries efforts on adfluvial westslope cutthroat that are born in the streams, move into the lake for a few years, then return to the streams to spawn.

The state fisheries department focuses their hatchery efforts on chinook and kokanee salmon in Lake Coeur d'Alene.

A special tribal permit is needed to fish the southern portion of the lake.

Joe Evancho is the author of Fishing Idaho, An Angler's Guide published by Cutthroat Press in 2004 (

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