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Out & About: States differ on lifting wild fish

Lifting wild steelhead: legal in Idaho, not in Washington.
Lifting wild steelhead: legal in Idaho, not in Washington.

OUTPICTURE – Wild steelhead caught in Eastern Washington must be unhooked and released without being removed from the water, according to state fishing regulations.

Capturing a photo memory of the catch must be quick and low to the water, a parameter most anglers follow to help assure survival of the fish after it’s released.

Idaho isn’t so anal about handling wild steelhead.

Granted, some anglers would like to see the state reassess its protection for wild fish, especially in early fall when it’s not uncommon to see wild fish floating dead among boats clustered at the mouth of the Clearwater.

But Idaho anglers shouldn’t feel inhibited about photographing their wild-angling moments.

“Idaho Fish and Game thinks it’s important for anglers to be able to take pictures of fish (including steelhead) as this will enrich their fishing experience and enhance their memories well into our future,” said Joe DuPont, department fisheries manager in Lewiston.

“This is why we give the directions in the fishing regulations pamphlet on how to properly hold a fish out of water in order to get a photograph. We do not believe holding fish out of the water in this manner will increase their mortality.”

Sturgeon are an exception. They cannot be removed from the water in Idaho.

Otherwise, Idaho offers these guidelines for photographing fish that will be released:

• Have the camera ready and the shot framed before removing the fish from the water.

• When lifting a fish from the water, wet your hands before touching the fish and support the fish with both hands as you gently lift it from the water.

• Strive to hold the fish over the water so if it struggles from your hands it will fall back in water and not onto a hard surface such as a rock or boat floor.

• Hold the fish out of the water only as long as it takes to take the picture.

Some anglers go a step further and suggest:

Hold a fish out of water only as long as you can hold your breath.

Idaho approves salmon seasons

OUTHOOK – Idaho’s chinook salmon fishing season will open April 22 under rules adopted Thursday by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Chinook fishing will open in the Clearwater River, Snake River, Little Salmon and lower Salmon River in what could be the third-largest run since the fishery opened 12 years ago.

Nome Sweet Nome: Irondoggers end trip

OUTMUSHINE – They celebrated their 1,100-mile snowmobile trip, Anchorage to Nome, on the Iditarod Trail behind the Iditarod Sled Dog Race at two post-event banquets with dog mushers.

Then Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane got back in the saddle for a two-day, 250-mile trip backtracking to Unalakleet to return a borrowed snowmobile.

It was the last leg of their three-week adventure: another two days of traveling a remote, rugged route in bitter cold, camping in drafty trail cabins and wondering whether their snowmobiles would start the next morning.

Are they about done in? “No,” said Jones, 72, wishing he could be starting all over.

“Spring makes fantastic snowmobiling in Alaska,” he said, “Even at 20-below.”

The entire adventure is chronicled in Jones’ diary and photos posted on Rich Landers’ Outdoors Bog at