Using Radio Telemetry to Evaluate the Success of a Hatchery Steelhead Recycling Program
Eva Schemmel, Shaun Clements, Carl Schreck, and David Noakes
Abstract.—Many salmonid hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest recycle adult fish. This involves the transport and release of adult salmon or steelhead (Oncorhynchus spp.) back downstream following their collection at the hatchery. The goal is to increase recreation along the river by providing additional opportunities for anglers to harvest fish. However, the effects of such programs have seldom been critically evaluated. We implanted radio-tags in adult hatchery origin steelhead captured at a hatchery and released them downstream to estimate the number of recycled radio-tagged steelhead that were caught in the recreational fishery, returned to the hatchery, and estimate the number that strayed. The fish tended to hold at the release site or outside of the hatchery entrance. Anglers reported catching 10.3% of the recycled fish, one of these was caught in a tributary. Due to hatchery trap closures, only approximately 10.3% of the recycled fish were caught again at the hatchery. Although more fish were available for recreational harvest, this recycling program increased the potential for fish from hatchery and wild origin to interact.