SPOKANE – Anglers can receive up to $100 in rewards for returning information about tagged chinook salmon they catch in parts of the upper Columbia River drainage in Okanogan County that open for fishing July 16.
The fish tagging is part of a Colville Confederated Tribes’ study, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
Fish biologists are tagging adult chinook salmon, collected from fish traps at Wells Dam on the mainstem Columbia River just north of Chelan, to learn more about fish movements throughout the river and its tributaries. The study is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) through mitigation and fish-recovery directives of the Northwest Power Act.
“Our ultimate aim is to gather information to support broodstock collection for hatchery production, and to evaluate possible future selective fishing opportunities,” said WDFW research biologist Charmane Ashbrook.
Up to 300 wild chinook are being equipped with telemetry tags that allow their movements to be documented automatically when they swim past signal-receiving stations, as well as through aerial and boat monitoring. The telemetry equipment is inserted in the fish’s stomach and is evident to anglers by a wire tag extending from the fish’s mouth.
Anglers who catch a telemetry-tagged fish can collect $25 for returning the tag, with information about where and when the fish was caught, to WDFW.
Joe Peone, Fish and Wildlife Department director for the Colville Confederated Tribes, noted that the telemetry tags will identify migration routes through the Upper Columbia and Okanogan rivers.
“The information we gain from this research will assist in the design of our Chief Joseph Dam Salmon Hatchery,” he said. “It will particularly help determine the location of the fishway entrance.”
In addition, about 1,000 wild and hatchery chinook are being marked with jaw tags in four colors (red, yellow, white, black), each with a unique number. Retrieval of information about these tagged fish is primarily dependent on anglers’ reports of catch time and place, and tag color and number. Anglers who report these jaw tags are entered into raffles with cash prizes up to $100.
Anglers can report catches of fish with either type of tag, and be eligible for cash rewards, by calling toll-free 1-800-830-3224.
The mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam and from the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster upstream to the Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport opens to salmon fishing from July 16 through Oct. 15. The mouth of the Okanogan River up to the lowermost Highway 97 Bridge will also be open. The daily limit is six salmon, but no more than two adults (chinook 24 inches or longer), and all coho and sockeye must be immediately released. The minimum size for chinook is 12 inches.