The Squaxin Island Natural Resources began installing smolt traps in five local streams this week. This will be the eleventh year the Tribe has been doing smolt trap studies.
Monday, March 22nd a rotary screw trap was installed on Goldsborough Creek and a weir panel trap was installed on Skookum Creek, Tuesday March 24th. Over the next week and a half weir panel traps will be installed on Mill, Cranberry and Sherwood Creeks.
Project objectives of smolt trapping are to determine current levels of natural coho production and smolt outmigration timing. In addition, the information collected on outmigrants can be used to form relevant spawning escapement goals.
Once traps are installed they are checked daily. All Oncorhynchus spp. (salmon species) that are captured will be placed into a bucket containing MS-222 (Tricaine Methanesulfonate) and water, fork length recorded on to a data sheet. Fish exposed to the MS-222 will then be placed into a recovery bucket of stream water and released after noticeable revival from MS-222. Each fish will be released in a low flow area of the stream, close to the area of capture. Oncorhynchus kisutch (coho) will be our primary focus of research. Organisms other than Oncorhynchus spp. caught in the smolt traps will be identified, recorded and released.
Trapping continues from late March through the end of June. In the creeks around the South Puget Sound, coho smolt outmigration occurs between the months of April through June.