Snake River angler comes up short

Poaching steelhead is a time honored tradition among degenerate anglers. But, hacking the tail off a B-run buck to comply with size restrictions is certainly a new technique.

While anglers are allowed to harvest hatchery steelhead up to 28 inches long on the Snake, that measurement is usually taken from nose to tail. When an angler fishing the Snake above Ice Harbor dam was checked by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, they found a 27-inch steelhead in his truck. Not a big deal, except the fish was missing its entire tail. The B-run buck was well over 30 inches prior to being relieved of its rear end.

The Tri-City Herald reported that the angler got heated and stood by his 27-inch measurement, implying that the fish had swam hundreds of miles up the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and over five dams, without a tail. His fishing partner, however, rolled and told officers the truth.

The poacher was cited for multiple violations. The steelhead was also taken.

The 28-inch maximum size restrictions are in place to protect B-run steelhead on their way to Idaho. This year’s return was predicted to be fewer than 10,000 fish, one of the worst on record.

Though the Tri-City Herald made no mention, the fish in the photo seems to have an intact adipose fin, which would make it wild and make the offense much worse. Wild steelhead retention is illegal in Washington. Tail or not.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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