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Steelhead Snagging Angers Anglers

Steelhead anglers are mad about an illegal and unethical fishing method being used in the North Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers. "Snagging is a big problem right now," said Larry Willmott, Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officer in the Clearwater Region. "It's not legal or ethical, and true sportsmen know it." Fish and Game hears almost daily from anglers complaining about snagging. "The majority of anglers are good folks that obey the laws and follow a strong code of ethics," Willmott said. "Unfortunately, there are a few that intentionally break the law." Steelhead become vulnerable to snagging in shallow waters, or when congregating in shallow areas to spawn. Snagging or trying to snag game fish is unlawful and so is keeping game fish that has been snagged. Snagging means taking a fish with a hook or lure in ways other than enticing a fish to strike and become hooked in its mouth or jaw. In other words, the fish must do the striking, not the angler. Any game fish that is snagged must be released unharmed immediately. Anyone who witnesses any illegal fishing or hunting activity is encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999, the Clearwater Region Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010 or local conservation officers. Callers may remain anonymous, and rewards are offered for information leading to a citation. "If possible, collect as much information as possible, especially license plate numbers and descriptions of the violators, and report it as soon as you can," Willmott said. "The more information we have, the easier it is to apprehend and bring these violators to justice." For more fishing rules, see the 2006-2007 fishing rules brochure available at Fish and Game offices, license vendors and on the Internet at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.