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What to know about bull trout fishing

They’re big, they’re hard fighting, and they’re one of Idaho’s most overlooked trophy fishing opportunities, but many anglers are still confused whether they can target bull trout for catch-and-release fishing. The short answer is yes. 

When bull trout were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined state fishing regulations provided sufficient conservation benefits. In Idaho, that meant bull trout fishing was allowed, but harvest was not. 

Those regulations are still in place, so bull trout can be caught, but they must be immediately released unharmed. While they’re not as abundant as other types of trout, Idaho’s bull trout populations are generally in good shape and capable of supporting some great catch-and-release fishing opportunities.

Though you can’t take them home, fishing for bull trout can be exciting because they’re large fish and aggressive by nature, and they can be caught on flies, lures and bait, if the body of water is open to bait fishing. 

Bull trout are widespread in Idaho, mostly in rivers and streams, but they can also be found in lakes and reservoirs. They are in most river drainages in central and northern Idaho that flow into the Snake and Columbia rivers. They’re most common in coldwater rivers.



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