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Respect the River/Rio — Recreationists

Fishing and Wading

Illustration of fish jumping out of the water to catch a dragon flyThe area in and near the stream is called a riparian area. Riparian areas are sensitive because they are critical to the health of the river. Riparian areas:

  • support a forest structure that shades the stream and stabilizes the banks
  • create new habitat as trees fall into the stream or to the forest floor to decay and feed the next generation
  • unless compacted by overuse, riparian soils store and release water, recharging the stream during the driest of times
  • provide us with inviting, shady spots for picnicking, fishing, or just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

Wood naturally occurs in streams and is very important to its health. Most of the wood is lost to logging and firewood gathering. Logs and boulders slow currents, help reduce flood damage downstream, and create pools and spawning areas for fish. They also provide homes for frogs, salamanders, and insects. Please leave their homes intact.

Tips for Fishing

Person reading fishing rules manual, questioning, How can I tell the differences between fish? What kinds of tackle can I use? and What streams and lakes are open for fishing?Catch and Release
Their survival depends on you...

  • Use single barbless hooks. Play the fish as short a time as possible.
  • When removing the hook, keep the fish in the water. Be gentle.
  • If you must handle the fish out of water, wet your hands first.
  • If the fish swallows the hook, cut the line and leave the hook in place.
  • If the fish is tired, hold it gently by the tail in the water until it revives.

Know the rules

  • Before you go hunting or fishing, check with the state wildlife and fisheries department to learn about current regulations, limits, and license requirements.
  • Make sure you know how to correctly identify the fish or game.
  • Stop by visitor information centers for more information.

Tips for Wading

Use established stream crossings to protect incubating salmon or trout eggs. If you can't find an established crossing, here's how to choose a crossing place:

Aerial view of river pool showing to avoid crossing in as area where water exits the poolPerson holding gravel between 1/3 and four inches where salmon spawn

Step 1.

Avoid crossing at riffle crests, where water flows out of a pool. Salmon and trout often spawn in these areas.

Step 2.

Check the river bottom. Avoid wading where gravel looks bright and clean and is the right size for spawning (1/3" to 4" in diameter). These are clues that fish have spawned there!


Please see Camping and Picnicking for additional information.


Pack it in, pack it out


U.S. Forest Service
Last modified: April 12, 2012

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