Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Warm Water Mortality on Summer Steelhead

Around the Northwest this summer has been one of the hottest in recent memory. During hot spells, migrating anadromous fish are particularly vulnerable to infection and C&R related mortality. As anglers it is critical that we take personal responsibility for our impacts on wild stocks and stop fishing when temperatures exceed 68 degrees. Above this threshold catching and releasing a fish can be lethal for fish already stressed by high temperatures. Temperatures in many of the Columbia River Impoundments have been over 70 degrees for almost 2 months and at times have reached almost 75. Last week while fishing a Columbia River tributary I observed three dead steelhead, two of which were definitely wild. Water temps the previous week had been high enough to pose a risk to the fish and they likely died from irresponsible catch and release fishing. The fish pictured looked to have died from an infection associated with an old lamprey bite. A thermometer is a crucial fishing tool, by taking care to limit fishing impacts during warm water periods we can make sure we have the lowest overall impact on our beloved wild fish as possible and still enjoy fantastic fishing on this banner run year.

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