This year’s return of wild steelhead to Idaho’s Snake and Clearwater rivers is among the lowest on record. The legendary wild B-run steelhead are just a fraction of their former run size, when they were first protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1997.
Earlier this summer, as a result of very low returns, Idaho moved to a catch and release steelhead season for the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which would reduce fishing and incidental mortality of wild steelhead. Now, with an increased run of hatchery steelhead predicted, the state of Idaho is considering a return to a catch and keep fishery. While we support the harvest of hatchery steelhead, if the harvest fishery is reinstated this year, Idaho’s low wild return will be subjected to increased fishing pressure, poor handling practices, barbed treble hooks and bait. Wild steelhead simply cannot be subjected to additional handling and stress this season.
Please join the Native Fish Society and our Idaho River Stewards in support of the current catch and release season on the Clearwater, Snake, and Snake river tributaries. Additionally, we’re asking Idaho to ensure catch and release impacts are reduced as much as possible by requiring single barbless hooks, artificial flies and lures, requiring that all wild steelhead not be removed from the water, and to close all spawning areas to steelhead angling during the spring spawning season. To reduce large numbers of hatchery steelhead on the spawning grounds we recommend Idaho’s hatchery managers leave their gates open all year to collect fish and to adjust future releases to ensure wild steelhead are not overwhelmed. Last, but certainly not least, wild steelhead spawning goals need to be established for each river to ensure wild steelhead recover and habitats are fully utilized.
Comment Deadline: October 10, 2017
Public Comment Meeting: October 11, 2017 @ 5:30pm
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Lewiston Office
3316 16th Street Lewiston, ID 83501