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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was skating a section of river today, when I noticed a slight disturbance in the water upstream. As the disturbance got closer and pasted about 40' in front of me I noticed it was a fish, a Steelhead! It was struggling for life as it swam upside down and almost vertical. As I thought"What could have happened" and it slowly drifted down stream I got a sick feeling and realized it had to of be a poorly released native! I then bolted down the stream bank, bushwacking and stumbling to catch up to it, thinking perhaps all it needed was a little help....I never did catch up after a hundred hards and two dunks. Now soak and wet and pretty down, I just rolled up and went home.

Though I never saw the angler, I think next time I see someone catch a native, I"m going to witness the release and ask to help if it looks like they don't know what they are doing.

This may be a good thread to post your thoughts and practices for a successful release, for the benefit of all and more importantly the Fish!

Thanks for listening,
James.
 

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It's a blood sport. I find it hard to believe that it bothered you that much especially not even knowing if it was a native or not and what caused it's demise. If you see me catch a native please stay away. thank you.

My tips :Use as heavy a rod as you can with strong leader. Don't be afraid to put maximum pressure on fish to land it quickly. Don't drag fish up on beach. Don't hold by gills for hero shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's a blood sport. I find it hard to believe that it bothered you that much especially not even knowing if it was a native or not and what caused it's demise. If you see me catch a native please stay away. thank you.

My tips :Use as heavy a rod as you can with strong leader. Don't be afraid to put maximum pressure on fish to land it quickly. Don't drag fish up on beach. Don't hold by gills for hero shot.
Chances are it was a native since most harvest hatchery Steelhead and this one was a chromer too.

It did bother me...made me think about one less native to spawn and how few are returning as it is.

Nice to see you added some tips...and I thought you didn't care! Glad to see I was wrong.

Thanks, James
 

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Resident Swinger
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Hey James. I was on the river today too, but just for a very short while. I didn't see any native cromers floating by belly up thankfully. It's hard to say what happened, and it's easy to assume the worst. But since you didn't get a good look at it, let's just assume it was a hatchery fish that gave someone the fin when they tried to land it. Especially if that helps you sleep better at night. But I give you an A+ for effort!!!
 

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Joe Streamer
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They die of natural causes too.

Anyway, that doesn't change the fact that it's a good idea to release them quickly and gently, and use barbless hooks. Keep 'em in the water too...it's the law.
 

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Unfortunately, this very same thing happened to me last summer on the Skykomish River. However, I did speak to an angler who was fishing in the next hole up river from me. According to this person, an angler fishing directly above him caught a native steelhead. He did not play the fish for very long. However, the fish could not be revived and upon release, it turned belly up and floated down river with the current. The story, in itself, sounds a bit fishy. I did not get a good look at the fish when it was floating down river, and I was not present to witness the fight and attempted revival.

Given the state of our native steelhead, if we are going to continue fishing for them we are going to have to accept the fact that there is some mortality associated with catch and release. We need to either make a conscious effort to minimize our impact while fishing for them, or not fish for them at all. None of this is anything new. However, I am just throwing in my 2 cents.

Regards,

Andrew
 

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dirty dog
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Please let me say this about that.
I caught a steel head once and after a short fight I took a quick pic and released the beautiful hatchery steel head. (C&R regs for said water) I watched as it swam off into the darkness of the pool.
Standing there remembering what a wonderful time I had just had. The fish floated belly up and drifted back to me.
I reached down and righted the fish and it was like a board, stiff like it had been dead and frozen.
No longer breathing and realizing that some wild critter was going to eat said beautiful fish, I was saddened.
Shit happens and you will get over it or give up fishing.
You choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sure it happens but we don't have to like it or get used to it. Will I get over it? nothing really to get over, but I will have that image in my mind helping me to remember the importance of good catch and release practices. Kinda like that crumpled up boat staged off the road above Maupin, doesn't stop you from floating the river but provides a good sobering reminder.

One point on releasing I'd like to state as a reminder: Stick with your fish until it swims off under its own vigurous power, this can take time. I've held fish in the shallows by the tail for 5 minutes, perhaps more, before they were ready to tear-off with a splash and tail wave. If they just lazily or clumsily swim off they will most likely get over taken by the current and not make it.
 

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I had one native summer run get the hook buried in the inside of its gills. The fish jumped, and I thought I had hooked a late winter run due to the red streak going down its side. Unfortunately, the red streak was blood. The fight was very quick as the fish practically bled out in about 20 seconds. It was early June and the river was high with snow melt. I froze my hands big time trying to revive the fish, but he didn't have a chance. I felt terrible, but I know I did nothing legally wrong, and gave every effort to revive him.

They biologist do calculate for hooking mortality when they decide whether or not to open up a fishery. Some loss is inevitable if fishing takes place. Usually long after the fish swims away, but sometimes right before your eyes.

Gearhead makes a good point. Catch and release does kill fish. We can try to mitigate much of the loss, but unfortunately some is inevitable.
 

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James,

Sorry to have come across as a prick but it just seemed you kinda over reacted. You obviously care and are passionate about the sport as am I. I usually try to get the fish in a few inches of water on it's side and pull the hook without even touching the fish. Then upright the fish and point him back toward the deeper water. If the fish is played quickly I don't like to handle them at all except to point them in the right direction. If the water temps are way up it's time to stop steelheading for wild fish. Hopefully most fish that are mishandled are caught by anglers that don't catch that many. I think the more you catch the easier they are to handle. There are always exceptions though.
 

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Switch Rod Samurai
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I also like to use the heaviest gear possible. I don't use anything lighter than my 8wt to play summer fish because I want to be able to get them in quick and not compleytely exhaust them. I also don't like to fish flies smaller than size 4 to attempt to not hook smolts and young fish,which are easily damaged. 5 or more minutes making sure a fish swims away healthy is time well spent appreciating their natural beauty. We all put in enough time trying to hook them, a few minuters more reviving them is not a big deal
 

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Physhicist
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It's quite possible it was a downstreamer and had already done it's thing, if in fact, it was a truly a wild fish. In that case she'd already done her duty in the river. Too many possibilitiess to even take a guess at what happened.

What really bites is releasing a fish only to see an otter surface with it about 5 minutes later struggling to swim to shore with 10# of chrome in it's mouth. Little bastard.
 
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