Catching steelhead on reds

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by FLGator, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. Anyone catch the episode of Angler's Extreme ( on TV yesterday?

    The host was sight fishining for wild spawning steelhead guarding their reds.

    What's next, a show on flossing?
  2. That is really depressing, think how many people will now go out and try that on their favorite runs. What scares me is endangered wild runs like the Sauk where a fair amount of steelhead are main stream spawners and would be easy to spot.
  3. I happened to see that one as well. I got to give the kids a lesson on what not to do: in addition to targeting (literally) hens on reds (with the guide spotting above for him), they were using a nylon rope net with big spacing, pulling natives from the water, and sitting discussing their color with fish on shore. The worst was when the guy pulled a fish out, laid it on the bank, then discussed what measurements and photos should be taken so that a trophy mount could be made so they could CnR. That one had us yelling at the tube to put the fish in while the idjit droned on about saving the resource.:mad:

    This guy obviously doesn't get it -- he said some of the right things, like wetting your hands before handling and getting fish in quickly, but then did so many wrong things.

    Yeesh... :confused:
  4. Thanks for the link and the nudge -- email sent.
  5. E mail already sent. Also, am going to send e mails to all of the shows sponsors letting them know that they will never get one of my hard earned dollars supporting programs that endorse angling tactics that were displayed on Sunday.
  6. Do get me wrong I don't like targeting steelhead on redds and am glad that most of our rivers are closed during the time most of our wild fish are spanwing but I do have a question.

    At what stage of the spawning process is it ok to target steelhead? After they are done spawning? While spawning? When they reach the spawning areas? When they reach their home waters?

    Remember the only reason our steelhead in the rivers is to spawn. Our individual ethics exhibit some interesting hair splitting on issues such as this.

    Tight lines
  7. Hair splitting? Not even close. I think you have the answers to most of your questions, and your answers will likely (I hope) be shared by the majority . . .
  8. I'll jump in this fire :p

    Going to spawning areas and at spawning areas but not on active redds are OK with me. Incidental catches after spawning (downstreamers) are a fact of life, but I don't target these fish.

    However, if steelhead are on an active redd, whether actively spawning or post-spawn, I leave 'em alone.

    That being said, I have swung a fly over spawning steelhead unintentionally - fished into a shallower tailout in the last light of an April afternoon and discovered after quitting the run that my fly had been swimming over a pair of spawning steelies. Can't really help cases like this with the range of arrival times including early spawners and later chromers, and I was much happier I'd accidentally swum the fly over them instead of stepping on their redd in the fading light.

    This is, in my opinion, quite different from the guide spotting redds for his clients. Kinda reminds me of the "flyfishermen" :mad: that attempt to snag Kings in the Elwha. Yeah, they claim they're flyfishing for steelhead as they yank their 5/0 flies thru the deepest holes.

    There are no clear lines beyond the WDFW regs - only an angler's ethics and intent.

    my .02,

  9. I used to work for a company that was essentially a high end internet fishing store. Everything from Fly to Conventional bluewater. Bass fishing was a huge part of the company and we actually owned a company that made "boutique" handpoured plastics and spinnerbaits. This was in Cali, where Bass fishing is a HUGE deal. My background was fly but over 2 years, working and fishing with bass pros for product development and marketing I learned alot (we even had a top of the line bass boat we could use!). One of of our pros, who I won't mention by name was considered the best pro in california. He couldn't break the national ranks. The reason? He REFUSED to fish the Spawning beds, so every season for a period of time he dropped down from the number 1 or 2 spot to 6th or 7th. He became my hero, but the Bass Pros came up with an insulting nickname for him. They used to call him "The best bass fisherman in his zipcode":mad:

    Curt is right in that we all split hairs. But spotting and yanking fish glued to their beds IS wrong. Even though I got hit for saying "IS" in another thread, I'm sticking to it!:thumb:
  10. Interesting point, Curt, but I also don't think the area is gray enough to involve hair-splitting, although it is thought-provoking to consider. I think the effective time-out is called when the fish begin their pre-oviposition behaviors of nest-building. There are many arguments that could be made that these are the ones you want to remove from predation to contribute to the next generation (increase relative fitness, minimize genetic load, reduce artificial selection on optimal spawning sites to increase fecundity, promoting increased oviposition by removing additional predatory stress, etc). It is recommended to avoid wading through reds, to avoid disturbing them, and tribs and entire watersheds are closed to all fishing to protect them -- heck, doesn't it then make sense to not pick off the fish by dragging a lure through the reds, essentially shooting fish in a barrel.

    But the disconcerting thing goes back to a professional angler (i.e., one who makes his living doing it) that shows others how easy this type of steelhead fishing is. I recall a mention of 17 in a day. And while giving some good info on CnR, the guy pointed out that the hen he just released went right back to the nest. Doh!

  11. Most of us like to target the strongest brightest fish on the way to their spawing grounds. These fish are strong and they are survivors. We play them quickly, handle them little, and send them back on their journey - with a slightly sore lip!

    Picking a dark, tired, fish off her redd is just lazy, unsporting, and puts her and her eggs at much more risk than if she would have been caught lower in the river while she was still a bright feisty fish.
  12. Richard -
    Not even close to getting answers. Our angling community is pretty diverse group(us feather flingers are only a small portion of the larger community) with even more diverse ideas about angling ethics.

    Nathe mentioned the Sauk so I'll stick to the Skagit system. If one were to visit with the plunkers on the lower river you would find that they generally feel pretty strongly that the entire spawning reaches river should be closed to fishing - they would typically draw that line in the Hamilton/Layman area. Of course it isn't skin off their noses as they go fish up river of there. On the Skagit the plunking effort is quite large - in the 1980s when the Game department used to do steelhead creel surveys on the Skagit it was common for the plunking effort to account for as much as 60% of the total effort. Not so sure that if it were put to a vote by all anglers that we would not see quite a few upper portions of rivers closed. Especially so following the Wild Steelhead Release fiasco - following which I have seen regulation proposals of that type from groups like the Wildcat steelheaders and the Steelhead Trout Club of Washington - as I recall the last two legislative sessions there was even a bill introduced that would have prohibited wading in those areas when ever there were eggs in the gravel. In river like Skagit with its complex species array that is essentially year round.

    Heck one needs only to follow the fall postings here or visit the gallery section to see that there are some here on this site that have no problem fishing on spawning salmon.

    The non-angling public's a typically reaction to ESA listings is to close the rivers to all angling. As a result I don't think this issue is as simple as you and I would like and warrants some serious discussion.

    Tight lines
  13. Curt, I personally don't think it's that difficult to draw the line in this case. One might innocently tie into a fish that is in the process of building a redd, in the process of spawning or in the process of defending a redd post-spawn, and I have no problem with that - it comes with the territory. But when someone actually goes out looking for fish that are in one of those three stages of the spawning process and then sight fishes for them, my personal opinion is that person has crossed over a line that divides the ethical from the unethical. It may just be my opinion, and I may be hopelessly and naively idealistic, but this ought to be one example that any sportsperson with an ounce of ethical integrity would agree is BS. I realize that a fish that has traveled to the upper reaches of some eastside stream has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a repeat spawner, so this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with biological considerations; rather, specifically targeting a fish in one of these obviously vulnerable stages just doesn't seem very sporting to me.
  14. O mykiss -
    I agree that it is fairly easy to draw that line and will even concede that you and I (and most on this site) would draw that line in much the same place. But that doesn't change the fact that there are many in the fishing community that would draw that line elsewhere - some more conservatively (no spring time fish in steelhead spawning areas) others would be more liberal (see nothing wrong with fishing on redds). The fact that others draw that line in a place other than I would doesn't make them wrong - they just have a different idea of ethics.

    Bottom line is that the overall fishing impacts are on the populations of concern and whether those impacts are within the biological parameters of the population is the important factor. How those impacts are used becomes an social issues or matter of personal choice.

    Tight lines
  15. Each person, within the parameters of the regulations, chooses when, how, and where to fish for whatever species. Is it okay to fish for bass and bluegill on or near their nests? How about schooled up whitefish or dollies?

    I tire quickly of all the judging that goes on here. We are all fishing and how we do it is our choice if legal. If you don't like the regs, lobby to change them. Curt is right. You ARE splitting hairs. We fish and kill for our pleasure, period. If you want to protect the resource, don't fish, don't buy them in the store, don't build or live near them, ban all pesticides, etc. Simply put, each person reasons out his/her own ethics with regard to our sport. Even the regs themselves are often arbitrary and subject to pressures from various groups, often with deeply divergent viewpoints. Pointing critical fingers at others reminds me of the words of Jesus about the man talking about removing the splinter from his neighbor's eye when he has a log in his own. Jesus said, if that person removed the log from his own eye, then he would see more clearly.


  16. It's refreshing to read a Christian who espouses ethical relativism. ;)
  17. o mykiss

    "Ethical relativism" would only be at issue if I argued that the regs should not exist. We have a standard. If you don't agree with the standard then work to change it. I am not even saying that the regs define all the parameters of ethical fishing behavior. I am only saying that to define your way of fishing ethical and mine unethical or vice versa is in fact "splitting hairs" within the context of the law; and it can be argued that it is judgemental and possibly hypocritical (the latter could only be assertained if we followed each other around on every fishing excursion).

  18. Randy,

    Do you think it is ok to specifically target wild steelhead actively guarding their reds?

  19. FLGator

    I don't specifically target wild steelhead anytime but occasionally land one while fishing my favorite beadhead for whiteys or a rabbit leech for dollies or an egg pattern for either. I always release them even if legal to kill. I have even released hatchery fish upon occasion.


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