We all love a relaxing day of fishing in and around Hells Canyon. It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy an unspoiled environment while becoming one with the beauty of nature all around. But when you reel in a fish, do you think of what you plan to do with it? There are a few key differences between sport fishing and conservation fishing; learn what distinguishes the two practices.

Conservation Defined

First, let’s discuss what conservation fishing is. Conservation refers to the preservation of the natural environment; fishing for conservation purposes keeps fish populations in mind and avoids hauling in too many. Many recreational fishing enthusiasts use conservation techniques by releasing any fish they catch.

Fishing Licenses

While Idaho doesn’t differentiate between sport fishing licenses and conservation fishing licenses, many other locations do. A conservation fishing license, in areas where it is sold, is less expensive than a sport fishing license, but also carries a lower bag limit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses money from fishing license sales to fund conservation efforts like habitat restoration, education, and maintenance of sport fish populations.

Keep or Release?

The main difference between sport fishing and conservation fishing lies in your purpose. Why are you catching fish, and what do you plan to do with them?

Sport fishing enthusiasts are in it for a competitive rush and an eagerness to haul in big fish. Sport fishing places some emphasis on breaking records and posing with trophies. And there’s nothing wrong with that! A Hells Canyon fishing excursion provides plenty of opportunities for sport and excitement; the Snake River is teeming with game fish of all sizes.

Conservation fishing, meanwhile, emphasizes the experience of fishing and a sense of oneness with the environment around you. Conservationists tend to release many of their catches to preserve the fish population and make sure there are plenty for future fishing enthusiasts.

If you plan to go fishing in Hells Canyon this year, think about why you love to fish. There are benefits to fishing for sport, like the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of catching an impressive specimen. Conservation fishing also has its perks, like environmental consciousness and a more relaxed approach. While there are differences between sport and conservation fishing, you can incorporate elements of both into your Hells Canyon fishing experience.