Biologists use high-tech equipment to spy on Skagit River chum

Tribes are working with Seattle City Light to study Skagit River chum. The P-I reports:

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — On the Skagit River, biologists netted a 3-foot chum salmon with stripes the color of a bad bruise and vampire teeth just beginning to show.

The fish will be dead within a month. But during the next few weeks, they’ll learn more than they have in the past 30 years about how this wild fish behaves.

“The chum are definitely the bread and butter fish for the tribes anymore,” said Jake Musslewhite, field biologist for the Skagit River System Cooperative, a partnership between the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes. The Upper Skagit tribe and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife also are participating in the study.

It’s difficult to set sustainable catch limits without a good idea of how many fish are returning to spawn, Musslewhite said.

“I’ve got a harvest manager in my office pulling her hair out right now trying to figure out how many chum there are right now so they can make good decisions,” he said.

Q13 also had the story.