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Washington Posts Emergency Steelhead Fishing
Restrictions for Snake River System

by Rich Landers
Spokesman-Review, August 28, 2017

Steelhead in the Grande Ronde, Snake and Clearwater rivers are prized by fly fishers. (Michael Visintainer / Silver Bow Fly Shop) FISHING -- Extremely low returns of steelhead this season have prompted Washington to restrict steelhead fishing to catch-and-release on the main Snake River this season.

In some Snake tributaries, such as the Grande Ronde, the emergency rules will allow a daily limit of one adipose fin-clipped hatchery steelhead.

The rules are posted on the agency's fishing regulations webpage. They go into effect on Friday, Sept. 1, and will continue until further notice.

Idaho already has enacted emergency catch-and-release rules for steelheading in state waters as the ocean-going rainbows are setting records or near records for low returns up the Columbia and Snake rivers. Recent drought years and poor ocean conditions are major factors.

On the Grande Ronde and Touchet rivers, Washington's new rules will:

Washington anglers must remember that even in a normal season they must use barbless hooks when fishing for steelhead and must stop fishing for steelhead once the daily limit has been retained. Anglers in Washington waters cannot remove any steelhead from the water if it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.

Fish managers point out that steelhead are likely to rebound in a year or two to better river flows.

Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston, said he is confident the catch and release regulations are sufficient to get adequate returns of hatchery fish and protect wild fish that are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

"I can tell you we have had many catch-and-release fisheries across the state of Idaho where fish rebounded and flourished," he said. "Catch and release fishing has proven to be a successful technique to help rebound fisheries that have declined for various reasons."

Rich Landers
Washington Posts Emergency Steelhead Fishing Restrictions for Snake River System
Spokesman-Review, August 28, 2017

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