Rod breaking steelhead released into Boise River

Big fish are difficult but not impossible to land
Posted at 5:34 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 19:34:36-05

It's a November tradition on the Boise River, and despite low numbers this year, Fish and Game has enough surplus hatchery steelhead from Hells Canyon to release into the Boise River. At the drop site behind BSU, that requires a long tube and a group effort.

You might think being taken from one river, trucked to another, and sent through a ride like this, would make the  fish confused or wary, but within minutes anglers who patiently waited, are hooking steelhead.

Kari Alattia, knows there will be big crowds when the big fish are in the river

"Some people don't fish, but they come and fish because of steelhead. Gives them an excuse to come to the river, you see what i'm saying? It's fun.

Until the late fifties, steelhead and salmon returned naturally from the Pacific Ocean to the Weiser, Payette and Boise Rivers. But the construction of three dams in Hells Canyon completely blocked their migration. To make up for that, Idaho Power dumps fish in the Boise River to give anglers a glimpse of how fishing used to be here.

"The steelhead is very tough, like to get em out," said Alattia. "Take a while you know? If you not pay attention they broke the line and just go."

And if you try to land one with light equipment intended for smaller fish, you might even break your rod, exactly what happened to this angler; the complication forcing him to jump in the river with the fish to get it out.

Alattia says there's generally no reason to panic if you hook a steelhead, because there are almost always other anglers who are more than happy to help.

"Some people have a net just to help out. We help each other out here. Nice people."

Steelhead fishing on the Salmon, Clearwater and Snake rivers in Idaho will close after December seventh, because Idaho does not have a permit for incidental take of federally protected wild steelhead, but because wild fish no longer return to the Boise River, the closure does not apply here.

Anglers have the best luck catching steelhead in the first few days after fish and game releases them.
No word yet on whether they will bring more fish to the Boise river this year.