Written by Will Lubenau, University of Idaho
The second field season of the collaborative University of Idaho and IDFG steelhead catch-and-release project is well underway. We have been tagging steelhead at Lower Granite Dam since July 2, 2020. As of September 28th, a total of 1,164 steelhead have been tagged. Of those fish, 76 have been caught and reported by anglers so far. Similar to last year, most of the early tag reports have come from the lower Clearwater River and the Snake and Clearwater river confluence area because of the cold-water releases coming out of Dworshak Dam. Now that Dworshak water releases are decreasing and the Snake River is cooling off because of the fall weather, we expect tag reports to start coming in from more areas.
In 2019, anglers did not encounter any tagged steelhead in the Snake River until September 16th. Similar to last year, this season the first tagged steelhead was reported in the Snake River upstream of the Clearwater River on September 18th. However, last year anglers did not consistently encounter tagged fish as far upstream as Heller Bar until the first week of October. There have not been any tag reports from the Heller Bar area yet this year, but we expect that will change in the near future.
This year’s steelhead return is better than last year and looking better than what we have seen in recent years. As a result, it appears many people have been getting out to enjoy some steelhead angling. This is good to see and will provide us with the opportunity to compare the results from the two years of the study. More to come as we get farther into our second season.
Please remember to check each fish that you catch for an orange tag located near the dorsal fin. To report a tagged fish, please go to https://idfg.idaho.gov/fish/tag/add.
For more information on Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead program click here.