LEWISTON - Most anglers would agree that catch-and-release fishing is an important conservation practice, but returning fish to the water alive is not always as simple as it sounds.
With the "No Harvest" steelhead season beginning August 1 on the Clearwater River, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages steelhead anglers that they can greatly increase the chances of caught fish remaining healthy and available for catching again by following these simple precautions:
- If possible, don't play the fish to total exhaustion while attempting to land it.
- Hold the fish in the water as much as possible when handling it, removing the hook and preparing it for release.
- When removing the hook, don't squeeze the fish or place your fingers in its gills.
- If the fish has swallowed the hook, don't pull it out. Instead, cut the line as close to the hook as possible, leaving the hook inside the fish.
- When releasing the fish in the water, hold it gently until it becomes acclimated. Move it slowly back and forth to help it regain and maintain its equilibrium.