It is illegal to remove steelhead with an intact adipose fin (the small fleshy protrusion behind the dorsal and infront of the tail) from the water. Also, there is a reward for reporting poachers and law breakers. Not that i would, but please learn the law, this one is here for a reason. Other than that, magnificant fish. Those are the ones we need repopulation the race.
Zen buddy, send me a link to evidence supporting the proposition that removing a steelhead from the water for a quick picture has a real detrimental effect. It seems to me that lifting a fish for a picture of fish is about as immoral as driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Really.
I think zen is just saying that every bit helps as far as keeping the fish safe and healthy, which is why it is in the reg's. now that you have to keep them at least somewhat in the water, i would imagine at least the gills. hell, maybe i am wrong about zen's comment. still a great steelie speysmith.