Keeping Steelhead on the Wenatchee

#1
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
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.
 

Jmills81

The Dude Abides
#3
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
 
#5
...
Once you put them out, cut through the gill plates to bleed them. This will help preserve the meat.
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. ;)
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
#6
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.
 

JayB

Active Member
#7
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.
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:

 
#9
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?
 

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
#10
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
 

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
#11
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
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?
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
: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
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.
 

Citori

Piscatorial Engineer
#15
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.