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A salient article from our own NGPC. Obviously, the SRPG/SFSC has embraced this concept, which is at the core of our current Fishing Regulations. The old, longstanding regulations that were in effect for so many years on the river were based on a “put & take” philosophy. That is, the river was stocked every few years or so. However, stocking on the river below the dam was last done around 1984. The then regulations meant that anglers could take up to 16 fish per trip (8 per day) and then, lowered to 12 per trip (6 per day) with only 1 trout > 16 inches taken per day day. It become clear from the Trout surveys, angler photos and other means that a significant number of larger fish were being harvested. But, the most important factor not often considered was that the Snake River below the dam had become a Wild Trout Fishery. And as such, it required appropriate management for a “Wild” fishery and not a “put & take” fishery. After discussions with biologists in different states here in the region, using our own specific data and understanding the geomorphology of this river, the current regulations came to be. We intend to monitor the fishery every few years and perhaps, the regulations will be adjusted once and a while
Even though I am longstanding TU member and officer, I do not fully subscribe to the absolute “Cath & Release” mantra that some of my friends here in Colorado rigidly adhere to. Rather, each river is different and for the most part requires management tailored to its own characteristics and eccentricities. Above the Falls, the geomorphology, riparian features and water characteristics influence the fishery in a way that has limited spawning potential and habitat. So, for now, it is a Catch & Release reach. Below the Falls, the stream characteristic are exemplified by rich reproduction and recruitment of trout. Selective harvest is in effect from the Falls to the Steer Creek with all fish > 14 inches returned to the waters in an effort to restore master angler fishing. If you think about it, the last stocking in the 1980’s probably had an effect lasting until the early nineties, if you realize that some of these trout will live 6-9 years. So, from the nineties on, the fishery was subjected to some pretty liberal regulations and no doubt, harvest as well.
I took a similar approach to the management of my reach upstream of the Falls in 2006, putting Cath & Release into place, getting the cattle off the riparian zone, and enhancing the habitat to help the river be what it wants to be. It has been very successful and we are now seeing other parts of the upper stream becoming more productive.