BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for help from anglers to collect steelhead broodstock on the South Fork Clearwater River.
The agency is distributing PVC tube each morning where anglers are fishing, where steelhead can be safely transported from the river to the hatchery truck, and where Fish and Game has permission to access.
Since 2010, Fish and Game has been recruiting volunteer anglers to catch adult steelhead from the South Fork Clearwater River.
They depend on the fisherman because no weirs are operated on the South Fork Clearwater River to trap steelhead. The fish are collected to develop a localized steelhead broodstock.
The goal of the program is that it will result in more steelhead returning to the river.
Fish and Game will be out on the river from dawn to dusk seven days a week distributing tubes at popular fishing holes and signing up anglers interested in participating in the program.
The broodstock collection program will run until the first week of April, or until the goals are met, whichever comes first.
The goal is to collect steelhead every day unless weather conditions become unsafe and transport fish back to the hatchery.
Anglers who would like to participate in the program are required to sign a volunteer form that Fish and Game personnel will be carrying with them. This will allow anglers to handle steelhead with an adipose fin as they put them into a tube.
The tubes used to hold steelhead are large white PVC pipes with holes in the side.
Anglers should place any steelhead they catch in these tubes that they would like to include in the broodstock program.
Anglers are asked to please leave the PVC tubes at the site when they leave the area.
Hatchery staff will stop to pick up the fish and determine whether the steelhead is a hatchery or wild fish and of the appropriate size.
Wild fish and fish under a certain size will be released back into the river.
Anglers should put one fish in a tube, and the tube should be placed in the river with the fish’s head facing into the current.
This ensures the fish receives ample oxygenated water until it can be collected by hatchery staff.
Around 1,500, 2-ocean hatchery steelhead will be returning to the South Fork Clearwater this year. This is one of the smaller returns that Fish and Game has seen in some time.
However, officials are confident that if anglers continue to participate in this program, they will be able to collect the broodstock they are looking for.