WILD AND HATCHERY STEELHEAD CATCH RATE
For years anglers have noticed that wild steelhead on the Deschutes River are more aggressive in their take, performance, and now we also know, thanks to work by the ODFW biologists on that river, wild steelhead contribute to the sport fishery at twice the rate than do hatchery steelhead. The following quotes are taken from The Osprey (September 2009 issue) and confirm what anglers have long suspected.
“For most years since 1990, the proportion of wild steelhead estimated in the total steelhead caught by anglers was well over 60%, while the proportion of wild steelhead in the total steelhead catch at Sherar’s Falls Trap was well below 30% in all years except 2000.”
“Hatchery steelhead, especially out-of-basin stray hatchery steelhead, greatly outnumbered wild steelhead during these run years, but wild steelhead were the majority of the total angler catch in most years.
“Wild steelhead were caught at higher catch rates than hatchery steelhead by anglers between 1998 and 2008, even in years when hatchery steelhead greatly out numbered wild steelhead. For example, in the 2001-2002 run, we estimated 34,636-hatchery steelhead and 8,749 wild steelhead passed over Sherars Falls. The fishery that occurred during this run year captured hatchery fish at a rate of 4.99 fish per 100 angler hours, while they captured 7.01 wild steelhead per 100 angler hours.”
Source: Seals, Jason, T. and Rod A. French. September 2009. Deschutes River Juggling Act: Managing native wild summer steelhead and out-of-basin strays. Federation of Fly Fishers, The Osprey. Issue No. 64.
Note: The wild run was just 25.2% of the hatchery run in that year yet the wild fish contributed twice the number of fish to the fishery.