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Fish and Game Offers Catch-and-Release Anglers a Shot at State Records

Posted On
Jan 05, 2016
Yellowstone Fly Fishing
Activities near Yellowstone


By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game Public Information Specialist

If your New Year's resolution doesn't include catching a state-record fish in Idaho, maybe you should change it, or add it, because a state record may be easier than you think.

Idaho Fish and Game is now accepting record-book entries for fish caught and released, and there are other exciting changes to the state-record program for 2016.

Catch and release is a new category based only on length, so there's a blank page of records waiting to be filled. The previous records for harvested fish are the same (based on certified weight) and will be a separate list.

"People should be excited to go out early this year and catch a state-record fish," Martin Koenig, Fish and Game's sportfishing program coordinator said.

Fish and Game made two other rule changes to state records. There will be separate records (harvested and catch-and-release) for cutthroat trout subspecies: Bonneville, Yellowstone, Westslope and Lahontan.

Also, archery/spearfishing records will be a separate category for legal, nongame species such as carp and suckers. Archery and spearfishing are not legal methods of take for game fish.

To submit an entry, anglers must complete the record fish application form and provide photographs of the fish (see details below) to Fish and Game. The form can be completed online at The form can also be printed and mailed to the department, or taken to a regional office.

Here are guidelines for submitting a catch-and-release record:

  • Fish must be released alive.
  • They are judged by the total length from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail, with lobes of tail squeezed together. Sturgeon should be measured upside down along the belly from the snout to tip of the upper lobe of the tail fin.
  • To break a catch-and-release record, a fish must be at least one-half inch longer than the existing record, except for white sturgeon, which must at least 2-inches longer.
  • Anglers must submit at least one photo of the fish directly next to a ruler/tape or an object of known verifiable length.
  • Entries must include at least one photo of the angler with the fish.
  • To reduce handling stress, salmon, steelhead and white sturgeon must be measured and photographed in the water.
  • Entries must include at least one witness to the measurement and release.
  • All applications must be submitted within 30 days of the catch date.

Fish and Game has received many requests through the years to recognize catch-and-release records. With Fish and Game going to a three-year cycle for rules and a new fishing rules booklet taking effect Jan. 1, it seemed like a good time to launch the program, Koenig said.

Since the program is new, it will be a learning experience for both anglers and Fish and Game. Before 2016, only fish that were harvested and weighed were eligible for records.

"The new program is a chance to recognize anglers who want to release a trophy fish and include species that can't be legally harvested," Koenig said.

Because a fish that's a half-inch longer than another can break a state record, it's recommended anglers interested in submitting an application carry a tape measure with them while fishing and take good, clear, close-up photos of the fish and tape measure while still handling the fish with care.

For complete rules and more information about submitting a record-fish application, go to Fish and Game's website.

Orinally posted on Idaho Fish and Game's website.