Keeping Steelhead on the Wenatchee

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Danielocean, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,712
    Media:
    6
    Likes Received:
    891
    Location:
    Monroe
    I understand that if someone catches a hatchery steelhead, the angler must keep the fish up to four fish. Catch and release is something that I have always practiced so I do not have any experience with keeping fish. My wife is happy to know that if I catch a hatchery steelhead I will be bringing it home. I would like to know the best and humane way of "treating" the fish once pulled from the water. What exactly do I do.
     
  2. Sageman

    Sageman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Yakima, WA
    I was on the Wenatchee yesterday and landed 3.

    With a little searching I was able to find a rock that I used to dispatch the fish with a bonk on the head.

    Once you put them out, cut through the gill plates to bleed them. This will help preserve the meat. I usually gut them on the river as well, just because it makes it a little less messy at home. With the cold water now, I contemplated skipping this last step....

    Sometimes I'll even filet them out on the beach, but you have to be careful to keep the pieces attached to the adipose scar so you can prove that the fish was a hatchery fish.
     
  3. Jmills81

    Jmills81 The Dude Abides

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,965
    Media:
    404
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    1. Rock shampoo for the hatchery feesh

    2. As sageman said....bleed and gut on river

    3. lemon pepper marinade overnight, bbq the next evening

    4. Enjoy the fruits of fishing
     
  4. Sageman

    Sageman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Yakima, WA
    I like the "rock shampoo," hadn't heard that one before...
     
  5. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,051
    Media:
    10
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Washington
    Cut a few of the gill rakers not the gill plates. cutting the gill plates will do nothing to bleed the fish or preserve the meat. :)

    Also, it's not a bad idea to gut the fish immediatly after you bleed it. Some pacific salmon / trout carry intestinal parasites that will attempt to exit the fish as soon as it is dispatched. Sometimes by burrowing through the meat. They are harmless if you cook the fish properly but it will freak the hell out of your wife if she sees the meat wigglin. ;)
     
  6. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Messages:
    22,510
    Media:
    29
    Likes Received:
    1,995
    Location:
    In a comfortable chair
    You don't have to keep the fish. You can release it back into the river. There is nothing that says you keep what you catch.

    Since there is an over abundance of them they wish that you keep them, but you don't have to.
     
  7. JayB

    JayB Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    403
    Media:
    12
    Likes Received:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I was in the same boat until I wound up spending some time in a fishery where the local conservation officer/biologist that I met on the river indicated that they needed people to keep the fish that they caught, up to the daily limit, in order to maintain the quality of the fishery. These were trout that typically ranged from 3-5lbs.

    YMMV, and I suppose everyone has their favorite technique but I like to dispatch my fish as quickly with possible, with a single blow after securing the head - and I find it easiest to do so with a piece of wood that's about 18" long and has a diameter just a bit larger than a baseball handle. I'd either pick one up on the trail along the way to the river and bring it with me from place to place, or just pick up a good candidate alongside a section of water that I knew was likely to hold fish. I picked up a club for about $6 for use during the pink season, and just carry that now on the odd outings where I'll be likely to carry fish.

    Ditto on the bleeding, and you might also want to think about bringing along around 4' of cord at least as big around as a shoelace to use as a stringer, which always made the task of dealing with ~10-20lbs of fish a bit easier, and makes it easy to secure your fish in the cold water while you're fishing. If I'd be carrying the catch any distance by hand (as opposed to in a garbage bag in my backpack) I'd clove hitch the stringer/cord to a branch that I used as a handle, since even 3-5lbs of weight on the end of the cord makes just wrapping it around your hand uncomfortable.

    Probably way more detail than you wanted, but I've seen an awful lot of people that are either needlessly cruel or hopelessly inept, and have taken 3, 4, 5 attempts/blows to put a fish down after after well over a minute flopping around on the bank. Not everyone cares about killing a fish as humanely as possible, since according to them it'll be just as dead no matter how you do it, but that's not how I like to operate.

    If you don't have much experience filleting fish, Yellowlab has a good how-to video on his website:

     
  8. Mayfly Aviator

    Mayfly Aviator Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Messages:
    797
    Media:
    34
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Idaho Falls, ID
    The most humane way is to run a sharp knife through the skull IMO.
     
  9. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,712
    Media:
    6
    Likes Received:
    891
    Location:
    Monroe
    This is great help guys I really appreciate it. I am still confused on "exactly" where to cut the fish. It is driving me crazy hearing how well people are doing over there. I am thinking about going tomorrow morning but I dont know how rain will affect the chances of me catching. Perhaps you guys could give me the low down on fishing in the rain?
     
  10. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    Joined:
    May 7, 2004
    Messages:
    3,076
    Media:
    551
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    Home Page:
    Fishing in the Rain:
    When it rains fish only bite yellow flies stripped up stream through fast water. Make sure you tie your flies backwards so they look normal while moving upstream. When you get a take, set the hook but making a full 360 degree rotation with your fly rod.

    Best of luck,
    Andy
     
  11. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    17,855
    Media:
    283
    Likes Received:
    1,669
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Lift the external gill plate and you will see the white cartilaginous gill arches and cherry red feathered lamella of the gills. Cut this white semi-rigid stuff, gut and tah-dah. After bled out you can even fully cut out this gill area and toss it along with the discarded guts into the gravel bed for feeding the ecosystem.
     
  12. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,051
    Media:
    10
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Washington
    Lift the gill plate. You will see something that looks like the pic I attached under the plate. These are the rakers. Slice it where I drew the red line. Make sure you KO the fish first or you'll make a mess. Small scissors work well. The tip of a knife will work also but it requires a bit more caution. The fish needs to be alive to bleed it so don't jam a knife through its skull and expect cutting the gills to acomplish anything.
     
  13. sourdoughsmitty

    sourdoughsmitty Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Messages:
    110
    Media:
    1
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    cashmere,wa
    :thumb:

    Talked to a warden on the wenatchee--- if he see's you releasing a hatchry fish intentionally he intend to cite you guys read the press release from wfg this fishery is open to reducethe bumper crop of returing clip fins this was mandated by the feds as all the watersheds on this side are under the esa and when the clip fin population is too high they want them eradicated ,however same warden also said he respects c&r and knows that a lot of them that are released "sort of flipped outa my hand":rofl:. for those of you with fish do what we do in alaska we use a wet burlap bag no stringer the wet burlap keeps the fish firm ,also I never gut till I process them as it keeps the meat from water leaching I bleed them as well especially hens as it vastly improves the meat and roe(except for the total purists here :rofl:)I have been out almost daily wiht a high ratio of released natives and cohoas well :beer2:
    thanx smitty
     
  14. Split Bamboo

    Split Bamboo Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Messages:
    648
    Media:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Tacoma, Washington
    Regarding bonking, bleeding and gutting: The longer the heart is beating the better the bleeding. If the fish is big enough, you can cut the artery that goes from the heart to the gills, death will be fast. As far as humane treatment, fish have small brains, they don't think or have feelings like mammals do. So depending on the situation, I will sometimes bleed 'em and skip the bonk.

    The sooner you gut them the better, don't forget to get all the gills out. Gills are a great place for bacteria.

    Carrying fish: Take a 4 inch long 1/2 inch diameter wooden dowel, drill holes on the ends. String about 8 inches of rope through the holes, tie a permanent knot on one end and a looser knot on the other. Untie loose knot, string fish, retie knot, easy compact fish carrier. Add a carabiner and you can clip fish to your belt or back of your vest if you choose.
     
  15. Citori

    Citori Piscatorial Engineer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Messages:
    1,221
    Likes Received:
    137
    Location:
    Auburn, WA
    The reason for taking hatchery fish is to give the wild (unmarked) fish a better chance of spawning with another wild fish, and making more wild fish. Hatchery fish spawning with each other don't do that, and hatchery fish spawning with wild fish don't do that either. The reason for C&R in most cases is to give the wild fish a chance. In this case, removing the hatchery fish is the way to give the wild fish the best chance. In this case, the dept. has it right.

    Bonk away with a clear conscience, and you have my thanks for doing so.
     
  16. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,905
    Media:
    294
    Likes Received:
    73
    Location:
    Hiding in your closet
    That's not true, Jim. This year they specifically state that hatchery fish must be kept from the upper Columbia tribs and that you must stop fishing once the 4 fish limit is retained.
     
  17. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,712
    Media:
    6
    Likes Received:
    891
    Location:
    Monroe
    Are there any step by step illustrations on how to do all this? I fear that I may still make a mistake on the river.
     
  18. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,548
    Media:
    15
    Likes Received:
    1,445
    Location:
    .
    Since you never harvest fish, the biggest mistake you are likely to make is forgetting to record it on your catch record card immediately. Make sure you have it, a pen/marker and know the river# you are fishing. Don't worry that much about the bonking, bleeding and cleaning. Just do the best you can and it will be good enough; you'll get better with each fish. If in doubt, ask a nearby fellow angler to help, though the gear guys might chuckle a bit.
     
  19. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    17,855
    Media:
    283
    Likes Received:
    1,669
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    I agree with freestone, first things first. Know the river number (and that the stretch is open for fishing and harvest). Record your catch, must have a pen that will write (I've seen guys cited for not having a pen, not sure if those citations stuck or not, but I've seen them written by enforcement officers). Other anglers will show you. I hacked the hell out of my first hatchery coho taken and a very nice older gentleman came over, talked me through the second one and his info to me has been passed to anyone I have seen who might want to know. I'm no expert, but it seems to work. Good luck.

    a link to how to video showing another variation:



    Go back to that photo and see the bend in the cartilaginous gill material, I make my cut at that location, much like the red line provided in that great photo. You will know that you got it right because teh blood flow will be immediate. When it subsides I insert the tip of my knive into the exit portal of the fish (we all know what the exit portal is, right?) Slide the blade forward toward the center of the underside between the pectoral fins. Open, scrap, pull and cut out all the internal stuff. Make note to use a thumb, blunt blade edge or even a handy small flattened rock to press into the gaps to each side of the spine. There will be a dark red-brown material here that is the kidney (I think), one per side, kidneys can harbor a lot of junk, get that scraped out well, rinsed and then you are set. Before picking up that rod to fish again, did you remember to record that fish on your catch record card? As I understand it you are breaking the rules if you fail to record the fish and continue to fish or leave the water without recording it.
     
  20. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,712
    Media:
    6
    Likes Received:
    891
    Location:
    Monroe
    I just went and grabbed three pens and stuck them into my new vest as well as my catch card.
     

Share This Page