Sauk-Suiattle Tribe Tests Remote Site Incubator to Enhance Chum Run

Sauk-Suiattle elders still talk about the old days harvesting chum salmon from Lyle Creek.

With chum runs on the decline since 2007, and no fish in Lyle Creek, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe is testing a method of enhancing the population using a remote site incubator.

Salmon runs across Puget Sound are in decline because of lost and degraded habitat. Remote site incubators enable fisheries co-managers to supplement natural production where spawning habitat is inadequate.

Adult fish collected in November from an unstable Sauk River side channel complex were spawned at the state’s Marblemount Hatchery, where the eggs grew to the eyed stage. In January, 2,400 eyed eggs were placed in an incubator drawing water from a tributary with consistent flow adjacent to Lyle Creek.

“The remote site incubator allows the eggs to get acclimated to the water where they’ll be released,” said Jason Joseph, Sauk-Suiattle natural resources director. “When they get to a fry stage, we’ll release them at the confluence of Lyle Creek and Hatchery Creek.”

The remote site incubator consists of two barrels. The first separates sediment from the water and the second incubates the eggs.

Lyle Creek and Hatchery Creek flow through the tribe’s stewardship conservation area.

“It’s basically a protected area so you don’t have to worry about the eggs getting covered with sediment or getting eaten,” Joseph said. “Depending on how well it works, we’re probably also going to look at using remote site incubators for chinook and steelhead to enhance the area.”

For more information, contact: Grant Kirby, fisheries biologist, Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, 360-436-0347 or [email protected], Kari Neumeyer, information officer, NWIFC, 360-528-4406 or [email protected].