Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Misclipped Steelhead

This weekend brought up an important issue hopefully all Steelhead anglers encounter.  It is more and more common to catch fish with a partially or “Misclipped” Adipose fin.  We usually end up with 4-5 misclipped fish every year.  Not a huge number but I would say around 1 percent are misclipped.  I have noticed an increase now that the automatic clipping process is being used.   When the fish were clipped by hand there were very few, and any misclipped were still very obviously clipped. 

Misclipped Adipose Fin
I can usually tell pretty quickly as soon as I can see the fish for the first time - even eight feet under water - if it is a keeper or not.  Just one of those things that comes with experience and looking for it.  In this instance, I called it as a non-clipped well before it was netted, and the client was a little disappointed to hear he had to let it go.  When it was finally time to net the fish I could then tell it was worth a closer look.  The client commented that he could now see the fin, and he also believed it should go back.  I got a closer look after the hook was removed.   The fin had an obvious flat top and was more of a line from the back to the back edge.  The Adipose fin is normally rounded across the top, and the arch starts right at the back line. 

Wild Fish
I told the client he had his first keeper of the day and hoisted it in the boat.  There was a lot of concern from the clients, and I finally told him it was 100% my responsibility.  My accepting the responsibility seemed to settle his nerves a little, so I introduced the fish to the love stick.  Now I will admit only a very few people would have kept the fish because of the noticeable fin.   I will also tell anyone if you have any doubt at all turn the fish loose.  Do not ever keep a fish you are not sure is a clipped fish.  We have a mandatory keep fishery.  The more clipped fish we remove the higher probability of the fishery remaining open in the future.     

We ended the day with 9 boated and several keepers.  We headed in and the WDFW Creel Checking staff was at the dock waiting.  The client with the misclipped fish started getting nervous again.  It didn’t help with his buddy telling him he was going to jail because it was on his card not mine.  We saved the misclipped fish for last, and the checkers initially caught their breath.  As soon as the checker got a closer look though, the checker said it was a hatchery fish.  In addition to the misclipped fin, the checker could see another marking on the fish that indicated it was from the Wenatchee area.  The magic wand beeped (collecting the PIT tag number identifying the fish), and the head went in the bag.  Another great day Steelhead fishing and educating other anglers about is what it’s all about.


Editors note: Please remember we were 100% sure of the misclip through our experience. If you are not sure let the fish go. We are not responsible if you keep a wild fish thinking it is a misclip.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting read- I bet the client will never forget that story!