The fish are pretty dark and snakey by this time of year. They haven't eaten anything for 7-8 months and are a month or two from being dead. They've lost 25%-50% of their body weight and don't fight worth a crap. They are a far different fish than they were in October.
I could care less about the hatchery fish but the energy that a wild fish spends during the fight, even when released, could very well be the energy that they need to successfully spawn. I'd leave them be.
Here's one of those dark and snakey fish, we caught on the Salmon River today. 31 inches long, and fought very well. Even though they haven't eaten anything for 7 - 8 months, they do still try to eat swinging flies. And even though they "fight like crap", this one took about 10 - 15 minutes to land.
The photo that appeared here was of a guy who briefly held up a male steelhead with an adipose fin. Although the fish was quickly released, this photo has offended some of the forum members and has been removed
Here's another that took a swinging fly last month, and as you can see very snake like, and this one hammered a HOH Bo Spey. BTW, my wading boots are size 14 and you can see how poor this fish looks compared to my big feet!!
The photo that appeared here was of a fish that was being tailed before release by a guy (me), who had gloves on. Handling a fish like this will potentially offend some forum members so it has been removed
Anyway, for those who care, today we only fished for about 4 hours and we hooked 4 and landed one. Two of the 3 we lost came flying out of the water, several times, even though they don't fight "worth a crap" and are only a month from being dead!!
Considering the above, I certainly agree with the previous poster and would suggest that fellow forum members should "leave them be".