Anglers asked to give steelhead a helping hand
July 21, 2017
Summer forecasts are very low
Facing some of the lowest steelhead returns on record, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has already curtailed steelhead fishing seasons throughout the Columbia River basin by adopting rolling season closures, reduced bag limits, and a night angling closure for all species.
Additionally, ODFW is asking anglers to further help the region’s steelhead by taking more care when the fish are out of the water.
“Positive voluntary efforts may reduce the necessity for future mandatory regulations,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW’s manager of Ocean Salmon and Columbia River fisheries. “If a person happens to intercept a wild steelhead, or any steelhead during a retention closure period for that matter, it is imperative that they do their utmost to ensure its survival by using best handling practices.”
Those practices include:
· Use barbless hooks (even where not required)
· Use tackle strong enough to bring your fish in quickly
· Land fish as quickly and carefully as possible
· Avoid removing the fish from the water
· If taking a photo, cradle the fish at water level and quickly take the picture
· Remove hooks quickly and gently while keeping the fish under water
· Use long-nosed pliers or hemostats to back out a hook
· If a fish is hooked deeply, cut the line near the hook
· Revive fish (point them into slow current or move them back and forth until gills are working)
· When possible, let the fish swim out of your hands
· Fish when it’s cool out – likely early in the morning or late in the afternoon – fishing is better and stress on fish is less.
Summer steelhead forecasts are very low this year at approximately 119,000, compared to five and ten-year average actual returns of 236,000 and 315,000, respectively. Wild upriver summer steelhead forecasts are low as well, with a forecast return of just 34,000 fish versus the five and ten-year average actual returns of 87,000 and 105,000, respectively.
McKenzie River Reflections