I’ve never given much thought to what happens to a steelhead after a successful release. I guess, Iike most anglers I assumed it ran upriver to spawn and die. Or if it’s one of the very lucky few, it might pull off a second spawn. For those of you that have been losing sleep over the years, worrying about what happened to that big beautiful hen or handsome buck you released, University of Idaho, Graduate Student Will Lubenau is trying to help you sleep at night.
In July Lubenau began a multi-year study of Snake River Basin steelhead. The study is being conducted in cooperation with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and is designed to evaluate catch and release rates of steelhead. Tagging for the study began in July at the Lower Granite Dam fish trap and will run through March and again the following season.
Steelhead are being tagged dorsally with a floy tag and internally with PIT tags. The floy tags are visible and located in the area adjacent of the dorsal fin while the PIT tag will be implanted and not visible but detectable by specialized equipment placed streamside and at weir sites throughout the entire river basin. The floy tag act as the encounter or mark and the PIT tag as the recapture like traditional mark-recapture studies.
The mark is where you the angler come into play, if you need a little extra incentive and encouragement to get out and steelhead fish in Idaho this fall there is a potential reward for your efforts. One thousand steelhead are being tagged as part of the study with varying reward values.
For the study to work properly anglers that catch a tagged steelhead are encouraged to remove the floy tag and report it. It is important to record the location of the catch. The easiest method is to cut the tag end of the floy tag, retaining the number and informational portion. To report the encounter/tag the easiest method is via the www.tag.idaho.gov website but a toll-free number as well as snail mail are options too. All tags with a reward value must be submitted to receive payment.
Anglers are reminded to use best handling practices for quick and safe releases of all steelhead. Only adipose clipped steelhead may be retained.
For more information log on to https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2019/07/steelhead-graduate-study-field-work-gets-underway