Spawning fish at the Hatchery

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Net the raceway
Chinook start returning to Noble Creek Hatchery about the middle of October each year. Our first spawning day is usually the last Tuesday of October and the last is the last Tuesday in November. The middle part of November has the most fish returning so we spawn on Tuesday and Saturday for the middle two weeks.

Volunteers are always welcome to come assist with spawning. We need your help to improve the salmon fishery in the Coos River basin.

Coos River STEP, ODFW employees & other volunteers spawned about 400 males and 360 females in 2009. This provided enough eggs to release 650,000 presmolts into Isthmus Slough to return to the ocean. We also provided 50,000 presmolts to be released by the students at Blossom Gulch School.

Most of the survivors will return as 3 year olds while some come back as jacks and some as 4 or 5 year olds.

Getting wet in raceway
Volunteers help net Chinook from the raceway. Even with rain gear and chest waders everyone gets soaked from the splashing of the fish.

Males waiting to be spawned
These adult and jack Chinook have been passed over the raceway and are waiting for some of them to be spawned. There are far more jacks returning than we can spawn. ODFW studies show that less than 20% of jacks spawn in the wild. We stay below that percentage as long as there are plenty of adults for spawning.

Hens waiting to be spawned
This rack is holding female Chinook that are ripe to be spawned. We attempt to have a one to one ratio of males vs females for spawning.

Waiting to be measured
All of the fish returning are measured for ODFW records. If a fish has an adipose fin clip then the snout is collected to find the coded wire tag implanted when the fish was a pre-smolt.

Spawning hen
This female Chinook is being spawned to collect all the eggs. An average 3 year old female yields about 4,000 eggs.

Crew at work
This measuring and record keeping station gets a little messy from slippery fish and their blood.

Cut carcass in two
All fish carcasses going through the hatchery have their heads removed. The carcasses will be put back in streams in the Coos River drainage to decompose and provide food for bugs and future fish on their way back to the ocean.

Carcasses to go back into streams
This partial load of spawned out fish will be put back into tributaries of the Coos River.

Chinook fry in tank
These Chinook fry are still in the inside tanks at the hatchery where they spend February, March and part of April before being moved to the larger raceway in Noble Creek.

Gary counts fish per pound
Periodically, Gary Vonderohe of ODFW weighs the fish to determine the number of fish per pound. This helps determine if we're feeding enough to get the fish to 75 per pound we want at the release in May.

Crew clips adipose fin
About 30% of the Chinook have their adipose fin clipped off before the presmolts can be released in Noble Creek. Many different volunteer groups have helped with this huge job of clipping over 100,000 fish.