Squaxin Island Tribe Studies Pocket Estuaries

The tribe is looking for places where salmon and other fish live in the saltwater:

The Squaxin Island Tribe is studying tiny pocket estuaries in deep South Sound to find out how important they are to endangered juvenile chinook salmon. The research is being funded by the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

“Anywhere a small stream flows into Puget Sound, juvenile chinook salmon can find refuge,” said Scott Steltzner, research biologist for the tribe.

For the next three years tribal researchers will be collecting data on juvenile salmon usage in at least 10 pocket estuaries south of the Tacoma Narrow Bridge. “Dozens of creeks flow into deep South Sound, but we don’t know if many chinook use these estuaries,” Steltzner said. Puget Sound chinook are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Squaxin NR Staff Speaks to Stream Team Salmon Stewards

On the evening of Thursday September 11th, Squaxin Natural Resources staff spoke at an Advanced Salmon Stewards Training.  Each year Thurston County Stream Team recruits volunteers to be trained as Salmon Stewards and stand at the 5th Ave Bridge/Tumwater Falls to answer questions from the general public about the returning adult fall Chinook.

The training started out with a talk from Larry Phillips, fish biologist with WDFW.  His talk focused on Tumwater Falls Hatchery and Fall Chinook forecast.

Larry Phillips WDFW Biologist

Joe Peters followed with a presentation on Squaxin Island Tribe history,  Tribal fisheries, and the Net Pens.

JoeFish speaking about Squaxin SalmonFisheries

JoeFish speaking about Squaxin tribal fisheries

Scott Steltzner gave a talk about the Tribes acoustic tagging study of juvenile coho and Sarah Haque talked about the Tribes work on salmon habitat.

Sarah Haque

Squaxin Coho Fishery is Underway

Wednesday, September 10th marked the begining of the Squaxin coho fishery.   Coho were reported to be jumping all around Peale Passage Wednesday morning.    Individual catches ranged from 100lbs to 1500lbs on opening day.   Price for coho is ranging from $1.50 to $1.80 a pound with signs that it will increase as the season starts to pick up.

Tumwater Falls Hatchery Chinook Update

Fall Chinook have begun to arrive at the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.   Washington Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) post weekly  In-Season Hatchery Escapement Reports online through out the year.  Current year escapement updates are available along with past years reports.

Snapshot of a WDFW In-Season Hatchery Escapement Report:

WDFW In-Season Hatchery Escapement Report from Wednesday September 4th, 2008

WDFW In-Season Hatchery Escapement Report from September 4th, 2008

Tumwater Falls Hatchery

Tumwater Falls Hatchery

As of Wednesday September 3rd, Tumwater Falls Hatchery has reported a return of 60 adult Fall Chinook so far.  Generally Tumwater Falls Chinook  will begin to enter the Deschutes River in late August continuing through October.   WDFW staff will begin random spawning of 2500 Chinook (1:1 male to female ratio) in late September through late October for collection of broodstock for continued hatchery production. Peak spawning is mid-October.  Spawning occurs about three times a week. Visitors are welcome to watch WDFW staff spawn Chinook at the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

Squaxin Fall Chinook Fishery Report:

The fishery has slowed way down.  Earlier this week Salish Seafoods reported buying about 100 1bs. of Chinook for one night.

Chinook catches from Budd Inlet and Marine Areas 13D as of September 2nd: 9800 at an average of 13.5 lbs per fish.