Turn in your steelhead tags! - U of I study update

Written by Will Lubenau, University of Idaho

Since steelhead angling has wrapped up around the state, we wanted to provide another update on the University of Idaho steelhead catch-and-release study. But, before we get into some data, we wanted to encourage anglers one more time to submit any unreported steelhead tags they’ve collected. This will be the final call to report tags!

Click this link to report your tag: https://idfg.idaho.gov/fish/tag/add Also, a BIG thank you to all the anglers who have helped this work by reporting tags! Your participation has made the project work.

The last project update was in early March and a lot has happened since then. The information presented below is preliminary and will change slightly as we continue to work through data.

How many fish tagged this year?

If you recall, one main point to this research is to further our understanding of how often wild steelhead are caught in Idaho’s steelhead fisheries. To gather information on this topic, we tagged and released steelhead at Lower Granite Dam and relied on steelhead anglers to report tags they encountered. Over the last 10 months, we tagged 2,085 steelhead. Of those fish, 848 were wild, 1,043 were adipose-clipped hatchery fish, and 194 were adipose-intact hatchery fish.

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Will Lubenau

How many tags reported this year?

So far, 613 tagged fish have been caught and reported from the second year of our study. Of the reported fish, 221 were wild fish, 330 were adipose-clipped fish, and 62 were adipose-intact hatchery fish.

Steelhead Angler on the Clearwater River
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Brett Bowersox

Where were tagged fish caught?

The approximate number of fish encountered by river is provided in the graph below. Please note encounters from the mainstem, North Fork, and South Fork Clearwater River have been combined in the Clearwater River group. Additionally, encounters from the Little Salmon River have been placed in the Salmon River group.

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Will Lubenau

Nearly half of the reported adipose-clipped fish and wild fish were caught in the Clearwater River drainage. Also, almost 75% of the reported adipose-intact hatchery fish were caught in Clearwater River drainage. Most of the adipose-intact hatchery fish bound for Idaho are returning to the Clearwater River, so it makes sense that most of those encounters would happen there. There were a few additional wild and adipose-clipped hatchery fish that are not included in the graph that were caught in the Minam, Imnaha, and Tucannon rivers.

There are a lot of data to continue to work through and we are excited to dig deeper into the analysis. Stay tuned for future updates and our final results!

For more information on Idaho’s Wild Salmon and Steelhead click here.