OLYMPIA - Anglers who catch Columbia River spring chinook salmon with colored jaw tags or steelhead with radio tags could win a cash prizes while they help the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the University of Idaho gather data on fish survival.
Fishers reporting their catch of tagged fish will be eligible for cash prizes of up to $100. For spring chinook, WDFW is holding a raffle drawing and winning fishers could receive one of four $25 prizes, two $50 prizes or a $100 prize. Each reported tag will earn an entry in the raffle. Meanwhile, fishers returning radio tags from steelhead will receive $25 per tag.
The cash prizes are being offered to encourage angler reports that help WDFW and the University of Idaho gather survival data from selective commercial fishing gear tests.
The fish are being tagged through May, in the lower Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Clark/Skamania county line, following capture in tangle nets or at the Bonneville Dam Adult Fish Facility. The tagged and released fish will be in the water until fall as they migrate up the Columbia and Snake river systems.
The jaw tags are approximately one inch across, colored red, yellow, white or black, and bear four digit numbers. They may also have letters such as WDFW or X. Radio tagged steelhead can be identified by a black antenna wire protruding from the fish's mouth. If you catch a fish with a radio tag, please remove the transmitter by gently pulling on the antenna wire.
Anglers who catch a tagged spring chinook should call Kyong Yi, toll-free at 1-866-886-1992, and report the tag color, number, letters and location of the catch. If known, anglers should also report the condition of the fish at capture (if it appeared healthy, had any marks on its body, etc.), its length and whether or not it had an adipose fin. Reporting anglers should also leave their name, phone number and other contact information for the raffle drawing.
Tag reports alternatively may be sent in writing to Kyong Yi, WDFW Fish Science, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501.
Fishers who catch a radio-tagged steelhead should mail the tag, along with their name, address, phone number and date and location of catch to: FISH, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1141. Details on the university's radio tagging studies, including a diagram of a tagged fish, may be viewed at the University of Idaho's website on the Internet.
This is the third year of tests on the lower Columbia River to determine the survival of adult spring chinook following capture in two sizes of tangle nets, and the first year of survival tests for adult steelhead. Tangle nets, which have smaller mesh than conventional gillnets, allow non-targeted fish to be released back to the water unharmed. By contrast, gillnets smother caught fish, including those netted unintentionally.