Steelhead Anglers Report Tags for Research

Idaho: Steelhead Anglers Report Tags for Research

As the new year begins, we thought it would be a good time for an update on the steelhead encounter rate and catch and release mortality study. We have continued to get some tag reports from anglers over the past month and now have a total of 138 tags reported as of January 6, 2020. The number of tagged steelhead caught and reported are broken down by the river they were caught in below.


by Will Lubenau, University of Idaho

As many might think, a large portion of the Snake River tag reports are from the Heller Bar area. As for the Grande Ronde in Washington, many tags have come from areas near the mouth of the river, some reports have come from upstream near Schumaker Grade, but none as far as upstream into Oregon. Reported fish have come from a big stretch of the Salmon River from the mouth all the way to areas upstream of the town of Salmon, Idaho. As for the Clearwater River, most of the tag reports are from the early portion of the season when steelhead fishing was open there. Now that the Clearwater River re-opened to steelhead fishing on January 1, 2020 we will be getting more tags reported. Although the fishery was closed for a while, angler reported tags from this winter/spring fishery will help us understand when hatchery and wild steelhead are caught in the Clearwater River in the later portion of the season.

Tags reported in 2019 will be combined with tags reported in the spring of 2020 to estimate how many wild steelhead were caught and released by Idaho anglers during this steelhead run. As those fish swim up into their spawning areas past a variety of in-stream fish detectors during the spring and early summer of 2020, we will get the information needed to estimate catch and release mortality.

Finally, some anglers have reported that the tags they encountered had algae growing on them. The algae can make it more difficult than normal to notice a tag on a fish, so please check for a tag near the dorsal fin of the steelhead you come across.

We would like to thank all the anglers who have helped with this research by reporting tagged fish! If you need to report a tag, please go to

Read the latest news and information about wild fish in Idaho on our Wild Salmon and Steelhead pages.