OLYMPIA – Anglers can receive up to $100 in rewards for providing information about tagged chinook salmon they catch in areas of the upper Columbia River drainage that opened for fishing July 1.
Since July 9, state and tribal biologists have been tagging salmon captured on the Okanogan and upper Columbia rivers as part of a broodstock collection research project that is associated with construction of a new salmon hatchery near Chief Joseph Dam.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is assisting the Colville Confederated Tribes in testing live-capture gear that eventually will be used to gather local broodstock for the planned hatchery, which is scheduled to begin production by 2011.
Anglers who catch a salmon fitted with either a jaw or a gill-plate tag are asked to return the tag, along with information about the date and location of the catch, to Chris Waldbillig, Fish Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501. Or call 360-902-2740 or 509-634-2113. A photo of a tagged salmon is posted on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/graphics/tagposter.pdf.
Anglers who call or send in information on tagged fish will be entered into a raffle for cash prizes ranging from $50 to $100. Anglers may keep any tagged salmon they catch; a rule requiring that tagged fish be released has been rescinded.
“We’re testing live-capture gear to determine the best method to collect local broodstock for the hatchery,” said Charmane Ashbrook, a WDFW research biologist. “We’re using tangle nets and beach seines so we don’t harm fish that are captured and released.”
Trapping will take place on the upper Columbia River above Wells Dam, on the Okanogan River from the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge, and at other locations upstream to the Canadian border, Ashbrook said. Some trapping will be done at night to boost success rates and avoid anglers, she said.
Like last year, the research boats will be marked with signs so anglers and others on the river can identify them, Ashbrook said.
Salmon produced from the future tribal hatchery will provide additional fishing opportunities for tribal and sport fishers, said Joe Peone, Fish and Wildlife Department director for the Colville Confederated Tribes. A major goal of that project is to ensure that fish raised at the hatchery are compatible with wild fish in the area, he said.
“The capture gear study will help us increase the genetic diversity of the broodstock we work with at the new hatchery, so we’re not just relying on those fish that return to the hatchery,” Peone said. “Since we’ll be marking the hatchery fish with adipose fin clips, it may also enable us to offer additional selective fishing and further increase conservation of wild salmon.”
The study is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) through mitigation and fish-recovery directives of the Northwest Power Act.