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Fish and Game closes steelhead harvest to protect small run of fish

An extremely small number of steelhead returning to Idaho so far has prompted Fish and Game to reduce the bag limit on adipose-clipped hatchery steelhead to zero – closing all rivers to harvest for the fall steelhead season.

Through Aug. 14, about 400 steelhead have crossed Lower Granite Dam about 30 miles downstream from Lewiston. The 10-year average for that date is about 6,000 steelhead. Regardless of the size of the hatchery return, anglers have been required to release any wild fish caught since 1987. Catch and release of wild fish is an important conservation tool to protect them, and it continues this year.

Closing harvest of hatchery steelhead while leaving it open for catch-and-release fishing will also help ensure enough broodstock return to steelhead hatcheries to produce the next generation of fish.

Although only a fraction of the steelhead run has crossed Lower Granite Dam, fisheries managers are tracking the run as it moves upstream.

Historic run data shows that by Aug. 15, about half of the fish should have already crossed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, which is the first dam where the fish are counted. Through Aug. 14, only 3,900 Idaho steelhead have crossed Bonneville.



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