DAYTON -- More than 300 spring Chinook salmon carcasses will be returned after hatchery spawning to southeast Washington's Tucannon River on October 29 to enhance the waterway for fish in the future.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish biologist Michael Gallinat of Dayton explained that the dead fish provide food for aquatic insects and other stream life that in turn are consumed by juvenile salmon, steelhead, and other fish.
"It's the way that wild fish recycle naturally," Gallinat said, noting that hatchery carcass distribution has been used to enhance nutrients in waters throughout the state for several years.
Steve Gwinn of the Tri-State Steelheaders (TSS) said that volunteers from the local non-profit group will distribute the salmon carcasses between the Tucannon Fish Hatchery adult fish trap and the mouth of Sheep Creek on the Tucannon River. TSS is one of 14 state-appointed Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups dedicated to restoring salmon and steelhead populations.
Gallinat explained that spring chinook salmon are trapped and then transported to Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery where they are spawned as part of WDFW's hatchery supplementation and captive brood program. The carcasses of those fish that check out free of disease during spawning can be hauled back to the Tucannon for nutrient enhancement distribution.
"This gives our members a chance to help give something back to the fish resource we enjoy," said Gwinn.