Written by Will Lubenau, University of Idaho
The last steelhead encounter rate and catch-and-release survival project update was in early January and some great progress has been made since then. As of February 26th, a total of 179 tags have been reported by anglers from all over the Snake River drainage, including areas in Washington and Oregon.
As we have mentioned, this study primarily aims to estimate how many wild steelhead are caught in Idaho and later estimate how well steelhead survive being caught and released. However, the study provides information on other factors, like how often steelhead are caught more than once. I am sure most steelhead anglers have netted a fish before and asked, “Is this the same fish I caught last time I was out fishing?” Or maybe you have caught a fish behind a particular rock and thought you had caught that fish before in the exact same spot. Currently, a total of 57 fish have been caught by anglers and released with a visible plastic tag (called a T-bar anchor tag, see picture below) still in place. Of those 57 fish, six have been caught and reported a second time. The shortest amount of time between captures in this group was six days and the longest amount of time was 147 days. This data provides an initial look at the question of multiple captures. However, remember, we still have a couple months to go on the first field season and as the study progresses, so will our knowledge of these important topics.
There are still a lot of tagged steelhead out there that you could catch during spring steelhead fishing, so keep an eye out for a tag! We encourage anyone catching a tagged fish or that has been holding on to tags to report them at the IDFG Tag-Your-It website right away so we can get as much information as possible out of the first year of this study.
As always, we greatly appreciate the anglers who have helped with this research by reporting tagged fish. Thanks! For more information on a variety of topics visit the Wild Salmon and Steelhead Page.