TAHOLAH (April 12,2006) – Marty Figg, Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) hatchery manager, remembers the early days of catching steelhead with a fishing pole to obtain fish eggs to rear for the Lake Quinault Hatchery. “Fishing every day with a pole as part of your job isn’t as romantic as some fishermen might imagine,” Figg said chuckling.
That was 34 years ago, when QIN strived to obtain and rear 30,000 to 40,000 steelhead eggs. Now, hatchery personnel catch the fish with a net and collect more than 500,000 eggs to rear before releasing young fish in the Quinault and Salmon River watersheds. “We are really proud of our returning adults,” said Figg. “We get fish back anywhere from 8 to 30 pounds.”
Rearing hatchery steelhead is only a part of the tribe’s comprehensive steelhead management program. As co-manager of the salmon resource, QIN fisheries personnel survey the Queets and Quinault watersheds as well as half of the Chehalis watershed for returning fish and the number of egg nests (redds). Salmon habitat improvement projects increase fish numbers while providing fishing opportunity for tribal and non-tribal fishermen.
Culturally, steelhead, are an important part of ceremonies and everyday life and have been for thousands of years. Economically, tribal members fish commercially for steelhead and have the opportunity to provide fishing guide service to non-tribal members on the lower Quinault, Raft and Salmon rivers.
“My clients really enjoy the fishing opportunity we provide,” said John Bryson, QIN tribal member, fishing guide and fisheries technician. “There are fewer fishermen on our rivers compared to some rivers on the Olympic Peninsula and there’s a good chance of seeing wildlife such as elk or bear,” said Bryson.
Bryson, as a fisheries technician for QIN off-and-on for a decade, logs the location and number of salmon redds in many of the watersheds where he fishes. “I’ve done other jobs for the QIN, but fisheries work is my favorite – I wanted to come back to it after being away for a couple of years.”
“It’s gratifying to see that the work that we do benefits fish and people too.”
For more information, contact: Ed Johnstone, QIN fisheries policy, (360) 276-8211 or 8215; Rich Potter, QIN fisheries biologist, (360) 276-8211, ext. 251; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson, (360) 374-5501, [email protected]