Coho tagging to update population estimate in Stillaguamish River

ARLINGTON (Sept. 5, 2008) – Beginning in mid-September, tribal field crews will be capturing coho salmon with beach seines and hoop nets throughout the mainstem Stillaguamish River. Anglers should not be surprised if they see a field crew seining, or a net secured to the shoreline.

State and tribal co-managers, including the Tulalip and Stillaguamish tribes, are continuing a multi-year project to improve the estimation of coho spawning in the Stillaguamish watershed. Coho will be captured, tagged and released in the lower river. The number of tagged and untagged coho recovered during spawning ground surveys throughout the basin will help the co-managers determine population size. The project will update the base year (1977) coho population estimate, which is used to generate annual escapement (number of spawning adults) estimates.

Hoop nets will be set primarily on private property. All field staff and sampling gear will be clearly marked with insignias of the tribes or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The coho sampled will be anesthetized, measured, jaw tagged, opercle (gill plate) punched and released back into the river. Tag recovery will occur in the many Stillaguamish watershed tributary streams during spawning ground surveys, which occur from November through January.

During this project, anglers may still harvest legal coho after Nov. 1. If an angler harvests a tagged coho, they are strongly encouraged to contact WDFW or tribal project coordinators with tag information (i.e., number, color, harvest date, and location).

Tampering with WDFW or tribal sampling nets is illegal. If an angler encounters a stationary net marked with WDFW or tribal insignias in the Stillaguamish River they must leave it alone. If there are any questions regarding this project or to report the harvest of a tagged coho, please contact one of the project coordinators listed below.

For more information, contact:
Jason Griffith, Fisheries Biologist, Stillaguamish Tribe, [email protected], (360) 631-0868; Aaron Bosworth, Region 4 Fish Program Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, [email protected], (425) 775-1311 ext. 101; Kari Neumeyer, Information Officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, [email protected], (360) 424-8226.