Hope I got the gist of a "Sparky" led post on another board. [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hope I got the gist of a "Sparky" led post on another board.

12-07-2002, 10:46 PM
Point of all this is that someone is actually doing DNA testing on wild vs. hatchery fish and tracking the spawning results.
Fancinating to say the very least. (Cut from Pis. Pursuits)
posted 12-06-2002 04:54 PM

That Puget Sound and OP steelhead have different numbers of chromosome pairs was news to me too, but there were 3 or 4 people in attendance that knew this. Two of those people are geneticists, and according to them it is not uncommon for geographically isolated members of the same species to have different numbers of chromosome pairs. The genetics experts said that OP and Puget Sound stocks can interbreed.
But that wasn't the point of Jennifer McLean's presentation. The big news was that, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, someone is actually studying what happens when you open a steelhead hatchery on a stream with wild fish. WDFW opened Forks Creek hatchery (trib to the Willapa River) in the early 1990s, planted their first smolts in 1994, and started getting adult returns in 1996. In 1996, they put 90 hatchery hens (and about that many hatchery bucks) above the weir, and counted 11 wild hens (not sure how many bucks) going past the weir. From these spawners, Jennifer and her coworkers are using DNA fingerprinting to keep track of smolts per spawner (freshwater production) and recruits per spawner (total production) for both hatchery and wild fish. The weir allows them to sample all the fish (they clip a small piece off the tail of smolts and adults), and the DNA analysis allows them to determine each fish's family tree.
For the 1996 spawners, the wild hens produced an average of 3.6 adults in the next generation; the hatchery hens produced 0.4 adults per hen. For the 1997 spawners, each hatchery hen produced 0.2 adults on average, each wild hen produced 6.9 adults in the next generation (2001 returns). The bottom line seems to be that first generation hatchery fish are very ill-suited to reproduce in the wild, at least in Forks creek. What would be great to know is what happens in subsequent generations. Because natural spawners in that system typically have a 4 year lifecycle, the 2nd generation of hatchery origin spawners (from 1996 grandparents) aren't due to return until 2004.
Most of this work is not yet published, but it will be in the peer-reviewed Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences sometime soon.
It's hard to believe that this kind of research hasn't been done before. It cannot really be replicated in Washington state now that virtually every river has been planted with hatchery fish for decades.


"For the 1996 spawners, the wild hens produced an average of 3.6 adults in the next generation; the hatchery hens produced 0.4 adults per hen. For the 1997 spawners, each hatchery hen produced 0.2 adults on average, each wild hen produced 6.9 adults in the next generation (2001 returns). "

That is fascinating! Where and when can this research paper be read? If this research holds and translates to other systems, seems like hatcheries are on their way out. Shut all the hatcheries down and allow only catch and release for 10-20 years and we may be way ahead. Would be a tough first 10 years though.....

More to the entire thread; some of it's back and forth silly, but the information is top knotch.

Good stary Ryan! Bring this one over to "us."

12-07-2002, 11:06 PM
yes, truly fascinating. I have read rumblings of this for hatchery coho in Oregon, but not with this degree of elegance (microsattelite markers!!). Here is a bit more on the WA steelhead story I dug up on the internet


My guess is that the actual paper in review will be held in confidence during the peer-review process, as it should be. I look forward to its publication.

12-08-2002, 12:35 AM
That whole chromosone idea was totally new to me eventhough I have taken college level genetics and have a faily good understanding of basic genetics...

The study that was quoted in regards to the varying number of chromosones is on its way as a hard copy to myself at this moment...and from what I understand it is fairly common for cutthroat trout along with frogs and other species to have differing number of chromosones within that species.

Will tell more later...once I study up.

12-09-2002, 04:49 PM

Instead of shutting all the hatcheries down, I think that the implications of the research is that hatcheries should use only naturally occuring native, wild fish from the river for their production since these fish have adapted to the watershed characteristics. This would allow the native, wild fish to populate the watershed in a quicker time frame and do so with the same DNA as the native fish that were not raised in the hatchery. To keep the DNA intact, only wild fish from that river should be used.

Yes, I am aware that there are rivers where there would be a loud outcry if that was the case. The North Fork of the Stilliguamish comes to mind with the summer hatchery fish that are raised and placed far upriver of the Deer Creek native fish. Using only nativie fish to the Stilly would mean either placing Deer Creek fish upriver or not having the hatchery summer fish. I for one would not miss the hatchery summer runs in the Stilly.

12-09-2002, 05:03 PM

December 8, 2002

Wandering coho skew fish counts
Trinity River salmon take a wrong turn up the Rogue, eventually fouling up the tally for wild Rogue coho
Mail Tribune
Hundreds of coho salmon reared at a Northern California hatchery primarily to feed members of American Indian tribes are mysteriously migrating this fall up the Rogue River, where they mistakenly get treated as if they were threatened wild Rogue coho.

The fish, released from the Trinity River Hatchery on the lower Klamath River basin, are mistakenly counted as wild Rogue coho at Gold Ray Dam, a key counting station for monitoring the regionís threatened coho. The wayward salmon also are showing up in Elk Creek, possibly even spawning with wild Rogue coho.

They accidentally pass as wild Rogue coho because the Trinity "strays" do not sport a clipped adipose fin ó the tiny, fleshy fin on a salmonís back near its tail ó like all Oregon coastal hatchery coho do.

"Thereís confusion about these goofy fish and thereís enough of them that itís caused some concern," said Manager Randy Robart of Cole Rivers Hatchery, where almost 800 of the strays have been counted so far this fall.

Trinity fish are marked as hatchery by a clipped portion of the bony part of the right upper jaw, called the maxillary.

The clip is small and easy to miss, even by trained salmon-handlers. The mark on the right side of the fishís face, however, goes undetected at the Gold Ray Dam fish-counting station, where only their left side is visible as they migrate upstream.

Since they have an unclipped adipose fin, they are logged as natives.

"Itís so easy to confuse these fish with wild fish," Robart said. "How can we actually say how many wild (coho) come over Gold Ray Dam? In my mind, itís a meaningless number."

The straying apparently has gone on for years, and was first identified in late 2000 at Cole Rivers Hatchery. Hatchery workers counted 317 of the strays last year, but the numbers have almost tripled so far this year and represent almost 8 percent of the coho collected so far at Cole Rivers.

Reducing the rates of straying hatchery fish is a concern because of the potential for altering wild cohoís genetic traits such as size, age, time of return to freshwater and spawning time.

But Mike Evenson, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Central Point, said he suspects few of the fish are straying to spawning grounds.

"I wouldnít be a bit surprised if the vast majority of them home in on the hatchery," Evenson said. "But we donít know."

Also unclear are how many of the stray Trinity coho have spawned upstream of Elk Creek Dam after being trucked there by ODFW technicians.

Crew members who trap the Elk Creek fish and haul them around the half-built dam were unaware of the straying Trinity coho until halfway through last yearís coho hauling, Evenson said. Some of the strays likely passed as wild coho and were trucked upstream, he said, but there is no way to tell now.

So far this year, 20 of the Trinity coho have reached the base of Elk Creek Dam, compared to just 17 stray Rogue hatchery coho and 283 wild Rogue coho.

The Trinity coho are now killed at Elk Creek, while those found at Cole Rivers Hatchery are given to the Oregon Food Bank.

For years, California biologists knew their Trinity River coho have a higher than average stray rate, but they had no idea so many of their fish headed into the Rogue this year, said Wade Sinnen, a California state biologist who oversees Trinityís hatchery coho program.

The Rogue problems would be alleviated if the California Department of Fish and Game clipped the adipose fins of the Trinity fish, something the department has resisted in the past, Sinnen said.

"Perhaps we need to consider an adipose clip," Sinnen said.

The Trinity Hatchery has released coho since the mid-1960s. The stock is a mixed breed from three Northern California streams, Sinnen said.

Hatchery workers there began clipping the cohoís maxillaries in the early 1990s, and chose not to add the adipose because it seemed expensive to do for little or no benefit.

"We didnít see any reason to," Sinnen said. "If thereís no reason to mutilate a fish more than it needs, why do it?"

The Trinity River Hatchery rears an average of 500,000 yearling coho for release annually, and their only legal harvest is by American Indian tribes, mainly the Hoopa and Yurok, during fall fishing allowed by treaty, Sinnen said.

The Trinity River gets Oregon hatchery strays as well, but not nearly in the numbers shown this year of Trinity strays in the Rogue, Sinnen said.

As to why the fish are showing here en masse, Sinnen can offer only a few theories.

Itís possible that the fish, which mill around with Rogue coho in the ocean, are attracted by the smell of Klamath Basin water piped from Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes into the Rogue system, Sinnen said.

Or it might be the herd mentality of coho in the ocean as they migrate south along the Oregon coast, during which the Trinity coho must pass the Rogue mouth.

"When those (Rogue) fish take a left turn to go up the Rogue, those Trinity fish go right with them," Sinnen said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com

12-09-2002, 06:04 PM

It seems that it would be far cheaper to simply raise the coho for these two tribes in ocean net pens and then give them to the tribes for harvest, Yes, I know that that would deprive the tribal fishermen from harvesting them in the river. But it sure seems that the only thing the two tribes are interested in is getting the fish. This way the two tribes will have more fish and they will get them at their ocean brightness.

It is a shame that there are hatcheries being operated by California so that only the two treaty tribes can fish for them. And then to have the hatcheries use mixed stock fish for their operation to boot! What a sad state of affairs.