Catching Spawning steelhead - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Catching Spawning steelhead

So we’re into that time of year here where I live when the steelhead are starting to dig redds and start there spawn in some systems it’s already full on. I’ve been seeing a few videos/pictures of clearly spawning fishing being hooked. Now my opinion on this has always been if you start catching dark fish pack up the rods and head home or another river maybe.it seems like some people don’t think it’s a bad thing to hook a fish that’s in the middle of spawning. I have always assumed that you could seriously disrupt there cycle by hooking a fish that’s about to spawn and they many not get a chance to spawn after the fight and hero shot for the boys. My question is this: is it truly as bad as I think it is to be hooking fish that are about to spawn? Or do they just go right back to there business after the release? My personal opinion is that it’s just bad sport to be fishing spawners. steelhead numbers are very low around here and is it worth the risk that fish might not complete its cycle? Seems selfish on the anglers part. Thoughts/opinions?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 10:31 AM
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It is certainly unethical to be targeting fish that are on the redds. They have come this far, they deserve to be left alone.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 10:37 AM
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Regardless of whether or not they go right back to business I think targeting spawners is in poor taste. The severity of the offense, however, depends on whether or not your system depends on spawning, wild fish. Back when I was in Ohio it didn't matter so much with regards to the year-to-year return. Further west now, however, our main rivers are wild spawners and harvest is heavily frowned upon. Targeting spawners will get you harassed and occasionally confronted if you don't move on from them.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Nickels View Post
My question is this: is it truly as bad as I think it is to be hooking fish that are about to spawn? Or do they just go right back to there business after the release? My personal opinion is that its just bad sport to be fishing spawners.
I think you answered your own question. Pretty neat how that happens! I think the best thing you can do as a responsible angler is call out the guys fishing redds - either they truly are unethical or they are uneducated. Either way, I think speaking up helps, regardless of how much crap you will get thrown back at you. We know it's the right thing to do.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 11:44 AM
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These days, I have a hard time fishing the spring in general. I never fish to paired up steelhead.

1. For that reason; the fish have spawning to do and I want to see more baby steelhead.
2. but also because of the increased crowds.
3, And the overall behavior of those crowds vs. other steelhead anglers I meet the rest of the year is abyssymal.


Unless I get a freshly arrived hard body fish, as years go on... I am starting to feel a little 'dirty' fishing in the spring. Now, Im Not going full-on PETA or anything, I just really feel its a bit of a sucker-punch and I like to keep my angling at a higher level. That isn't high level angling to me. Personal choice.


****As a kid, I remember fishing to this bass that was gaurding the nest. It was easy. 1 ft of clear water about 10 feet in front of me. He was planted right there for the taking. I was smart enough to know there were eggs underneath. Within seconds of me hooking and fighting him, I watched all these bluegills come out from the weeds and begin gorging on eggs. The bass was released, and I watched him have to expend another barrel of energy to ward off the egg eaters. It was then that it kinda clicked for me.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 12:05 PM
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I think we need to clarify, in the original question, what does "about to spawn" mean? I am almost certain that you will not get a response from a board member quoting that it is OK to target a fish that is spawning. However, one could say that most late fall, winter and early spring steehead are about to spawn. A dark fish maybe a dropback which is finished spawning, this would be OK. Another thing is that there is often very good fishing behind redds for fresh fish or even fish which have entered but are not spawning, but one must be careful that the spawning fish are not dropping back there for cover.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 12:28 PM
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Fishing for or over spawning steelhead, meaning gravid fish from which either eggs or milt are freely expressed, is illegal in WA state. Whether the fish are needed for natural reproduction or not, fishing over fish that are stationed in shallow water and vulnerable violates the tenets of fair chase, so that kind of fishing is unsportsmanlike. Fishing regulations aside, an angler who considers himself a sportfisherman doesn't fish over spawning fish.

This is quite a different thing than the fact that all salmon and steelhead entering freshwater are on a spawning migration. That migration can range from a few days in some streams, up to a year in other river systems. Most would consider fishing for winter steelhead to be sporting since these fish enter the river "green" and won't become gravid for a few weeks or a month or two. And the migrating and staging fish are found in different water than the spawning fish in the vast majority of cases, unless the stream is lacking in habitat diversity. I have fished for winter steelhead in April for decades without once ever hooking a gravid or actively spawning fish simply by not fishing over spawning habitat. This isn't rocket science, and any fisherman can figure this out with just a little bit of experience.

Sg
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by speyday View Post
These days, I have a hard time fishing the spring in general. I never fish to paired up steelhead.

1. For that reason; the fish have spawning to do and I want to see more baby steelhead.
2. but also because of the increased crowds.
3, And the overall behavior of those crowds vs. other steelhead anglers I meet the rest of the year is abyssymal.


Unless I get a freshly arrived hard body fish, as years go on... I am starting to feel a little 'dirty' fishing in the spring. Now, Im Not going full-on PETA or anything, I just really feel its a bit of a sucker-punch and I like to keep my angling at a higher level. That isn't high level angling to me. Personal choice.


****As a kid, I remember fishing to this bass that was gaurding the nest. It was easy. 1 ft of clear water about 10 feet in front of me. He was planted right there for the taking. I was smart enough to know there were eggs underneath. Within seconds of me hooking and fighting him, I watched all these bluegills come out from the weeds and begin gorging on eggs. The bass was released, and I watched him have to expend another barrel of energy to ward off the egg eaters. It was then that it kinda clicked for me.
Perhaps the only way to ensure that you do not to catch a steelhead "about to spawn" is to not fish during the spawning period.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 01:47 PM
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I recall seeing anglers fish over spawning salmon in upstate New York. Then I recall reading a "how to" article in Fly Fishermen Magazine that instructed anglers on how to take spawning Chinook.

Yuck. I find that about as appealing as having sex with an alcohol-comatose woman. Revolting.


Note: Ever hear of anglers fishing to spawning Atlantic salmon? Does not happen. The rules of access are different.


Here in British Columbia, it is still open access chaos but at least the authorities have used time and area closures to eliminate most opportunities to target spawning Pacific salmon (including steelhead).

@Nickels: I don't see a conservation concern here. But if you want to avoid spawning and other 'mature' steelhead, drop down to the lowest part of the system. Any black steelhead should be post-spawn and there might be a bright late migrant or two.



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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by salmo_g View Post
Fishing for or over spawning steelhead, meaning gravid fish from which either eggs or milt are freely expressed, is illegal in WA state. Whether the fish are needed for natural reproduction or not, fishing over fish that are stationed in shallow water and vulnerable violates the tenets of fair chase, so that kind of fishing is unsportsmanlike. Fishing regulations aside, an angler who considers himself a sportfisherman doesn't fish over spawning fish.

This is quite a different thing than the fact that all salmon and steelhead entering freshwater are on a spawning migration. That migration can range from a few days in some streams, up to a year in other river systems. Most would consider fishing for winter steelhead to be sporting since these fish enter the river "green" and won't become gravid for a few weeks or a month or two. And the migrating and staging fish are found in different water than the spawning fish in the vast majority of cases, unless the stream is lacking in habitat diversity. I have fished for winter steelhead in April for decades without once ever hooking a gravid or actively spawning fish simply by not fishing over spawning habitat. This isn't rocket science, and any fisherman can figure this out with just a little bit of experience.

Sg
Sg,
Other than season closures, please help me to find in the regulations or emergency rules, or any where that this is stated. It is the angler responsibility. This immensely important because if it is not stated and it can't be found Im afraid it is just not enforceable and best we can hope for is to change harts and minds.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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I also feel that even a fish that is post spawn should not be the target of fishing they are exhausted and need every bit of energy to get back down river. I know it happens I’ve hooked them before but to put videos and photos on the internet and social media making it seem like it’s ok to catch fish in this sate is in poor taste to me. Yet I see people posting pictures of beat up spawned out steelhead and it just looks wrong to me. There is a local guy I know who just posted a video on Instagram of this very thing and I want to say something to him but am unsure how to approach him without offending him. He hasn’t caught many steelhead and is very proud of his catch. He does a lot of fishing and I would have assumed he knew better. Now I think He just is totally ignorant and doesn’t see the problem with this.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 01:44 AM
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The sporting ethic, which applies equally to hunting, resists taking unfair advantage of an animal. Neither commercial, nor subsistence harvesters, are held to this standard... sports men and women are. It's basis is the understanding that for us, the contest is recreation; for the animal it is neither voluntary, nor casual... it's their very life (one that has value).
With regard to fish on spawning beds, as well as kelts (post spawn) -- in both instances they are unfairly vulnerable to anglers. The protective/aggressive behavior of spawning fish and the spent fish that need to eat to regain fitness, give anglers an advantage they should not access. Flyfishing is a restrictive endeavor to begin with. For the most part, but not always, it is more restrictive than the regulations that describe legal angling. It is up to the person and his/her code of ethical conduct that acknowledges the responsibility towards the animal we pursue and guides our actions... seen or not seen by others.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 10:51 AM
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the fact that anglers anywhere think that targeting actively spawning wild salmonids is ok is appalling, and exemplifies everything wrong with society (GREED). some pedophiles probably think their behavior is ok too. thankfully no one on this thread so far thinks its ok. too bad reddophiles aren't incarcerated with 400 pound cellmates named butch.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 11:38 AM
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I agree with everyone here, fishing for spawners or kelts is not cool, is unsportsmanlike, unethical. But there are those who feel that fishing in itself is not cool, inhuman, unethical. Is all relative.
I will continue to fish and support measures that benefit fisheries. The nonfishing community in general knows little about the complexities of fisheries issues.
Sorry for getting off track of the OP.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by matuka mike View Post
the fact that anyone anywhere thinks its ok is appalling, and exemplifies everything wrong with society. some pedophiles probably think their behavior is normal too. thankfully no one on this thread so far thinks its ok. too bad spawnophiles aren't incarcerated with 400 pound cellmates named butch.
I am faced with the dilemma to fish or not to fish just about every spring. As mentioned, if you fish, you inevitably hook into stealhead that may be dark sooner or later. I remember hooking into a dark Thompson stealhead in November and it was also posted somewhere that "many of these fish are dark". So where do we draw a line? If the regulations do not clearly define a spawning season and banning all fishing, we are left at our own to define what is ethical. And then we open such a big can of worms that no one walks out clean.
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