OLYMPIA – As part of a study to better understand coho salmon in the Stillaguamish River watershed, state and tribal fish biologists are netting, tagging and releasing coho in the mainstem of the river through mid-November.
The cooperative project, which is being conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Tulalip and Stillaguamish tribes, will help the co-managers estimate the number of spawning coho and gauge the overall size of the watershed’s population.
“A clearer picture of the coho spawning population in the Stillaguamish River watershed will allow us to better manage fisheries and continue to maintain healthy populations of coho salmon,” said Kirt Hughes, regional fish manager for WDFW.
Throughout the mainstem of the Stillaguamish River, hoop nets and seine nets will be used to safely capture coho. Coho captured in the nets are measured, equipped with jaw tags, and have their gill plates marked before being released back into the river.
Sportfishing will remain open on the Stillaguamish River throughout the study. Regulations for the fishery are located in WDFW's 2006/2007 Fishing in Washington pamphlet or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
“Our sampling gear and personnel are clearly marked with WDFW or tribal insignias,” said Chad Jackson, district fish biologist for the Stillaguamish and Snohomish watersheds. “We’re asking anglers not to interfere with our crews or our nets while we conduct this important study.”
Anglers who catch a coho equipped with a jaw tag are asked to report the tag’s number and color, along with the harvest date and location, to Kirt Hughes at (425) 775-1311 ext. 101, or Jason Griffith at (360) 435-2755 ext. 25.
Jaw tags also will be recovered from the watershed’s many tributaries during spawning ground surveys from November through January.
“We’re collecting information that will lead to better management of the fishery resource for decades to come,” said Jason Griffith, fisheries biologist with the Stillaguamish Tribe. “Every fisherman – tribal, recreational and commercial – will benefit from improved coho management in the Stillaguamish.”