C&R Mortality Rate on Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by WaFlyCaster, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer


    Could you please provide some data to back up your arguement?? :rofl:
  2. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    I think I was just hit in the face by a wall of text
  3. Runejl

    Runejl Josh

    I agree with Jason, learn to fight your fish.

    I like to put my rod to the downstream side, and leave it there, (unless I need to move my line around an obstruction) and use hard side pressure to tire them out quickly. I cant say that I a have caught lots of steelhead, but this is a technique that I learned on big Kenai rainbows and has improved my landing percentage a bunch, it also brings the fish in faster.

    I also think fishing with a net whenever possible is ideal. If you have a partner they can be downstream of you and land the fish much faster. This avoids the in close battle, where so many fish are lost, and keeps the fish from having to fight in shallows where it is much more likely to get beat up, and ware itself down with repeated panic flights to deeper water.

    I believe that there are many fisherman that are well intentioned CnR Anglers that havent learned to fight a fish quickly. I remember before someone tought me previously mentioned techniques, being so excited to have hooked a big fish that I babied the pressure I put on the fish in an effort not to break it off. This I believe was harmfull to the fish and actually led to more fish breaking off.

    Good luck out there,
  4. WaFlyCaster

    WaFlyCaster Tricoptera

    Thats exactly what I do, this year while i was fishing chums on the Green I was amazed at how much faster and with less effort this beasts came to hand. By doing that and walking downstream at an angle away from the stream and pulling downstream it forces the fish to fight the current and tires it much quicker than pulling upstream or straight up.

    SG...thats alot of info thanks! :thumb: any idea at how many people have repeated these studies and what kind of results they produced?
  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    Until recently there hasn't been much management interest in specific steelhead CNR mortality studies. The information I posted, along with the anecdotal non-studies don't really suggest much need for an intensive study. The available information very strongly suggests that mortality rates are low. The observations I'm familiar with indicate mortality rates around 3 or 4%, and to be conservative and allowing for unskilled angler handling, a value of 10% is informally used. From a fish management perspective, if I thought it necessary to decrease mortality even further, I would recommend closing the fishery.

  6. Paul Huffman

    Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Yes, SG, thanks for the paper.
  7. Copper Jon

    Copper Jon What a Jim!

    Here's a link to a comprehensive paper about the biological implications of CnR on Atlantic salmon, which have very similar life histories to steelhead:


    Table 1 is really worth a look if you don't want to read the entire paper. They really cover it all but here is the key quote IMHO:

    "Our results indicate that most Atlantic salmon do survive being caught and released. Regardless of the conditions, the majority of the salmon that were exhaustively exercised or angled in each of our studies survived. These findings are probably not surprising since this species is already highly adapted to cope with periods of exhaustive exercise during its arduous spawning migrations."

    and I think this quote offers some things to consider when you're out there fishing:

    "Under ideal conditions, Atlantic salmon seem well adapted to cope with the acute period of exhaustive exercise caused by angling. When salmon are simultaneously exposed to other stresses, however, such as extreme or acute changes in water chemistry or temperature, their capacity to recover from angling is reduced and the probability of delayed mortality is increased."

    Yes, it's common sense that higher temps = higher stress on the fish and CnR mortality will go up during these times. I think the more interesting part of the quote is about "acute changes in water chemistry" meaning chromers fresh out of the ocean. These fish are likely to be more stressed than a fish that's been in the river for awhile, which is something to be considered since the chromers are what we're all seeking. In the past, I've always thought kelts were more likely to die from CnR than fresher fish since their energy reserves are so low and they couldn't take any additional stress. It turns out the opposite may be true. According to this study, kelt survival was very high after CnR and better than for bright upriver fish. Basically, this was because kelts were played for shorter time periods and, more importantly, their low energy reserves actually cause them to exhibit much less post-angling physiological disturbance. In fact, all measured physiological variables returned to resting levels much quicker than for bright fish.

    One last noteworthy piece from the study that we should all consider and I wish more of the general fishing public considered when they landed fish is that CnR mortality definitely increases with longer exposure to air; so minimize the photo/measurement time as much as possible, especially with those chromers.:thumb: