As the 2012 Squaxin coho fishery kicked off on Monday September 10th, Squaxin Natural Resource staff starts commercial Coded Wire Tag (CWT) recovery sampling. Using a specially designed wand to detect CWT’s, our Resource Technicians go through the commercially caught coho to recover the small tag that is implanted in to the snout of roughly 2.5% of the coho that are released from Squaxin Net Pens. Squaxin Net Pen Coho have a distinct CWT numbers, so we can find out when and where our fish are caught through all fisheries. Commercial CWT recovery sampling data is a useful tool in salmon fishery management, hatcheries practices, migration timing, and stock assessment to name just a few uses. Video of Squaxin Resource Technicians Commercial CWT Recovery Sampling (O’Connell 2009)
In the past two years Squaxin coho catches were at all time lows with 3,500 catch in ’10 and 5,200 catch in ’11. There are some high hopes for a good coho fishery in 2012. Over the past few weeks we have been hearing good reports that the sport fishery has been very good in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and central Puget Sound. Now we are seeing coho showing up in Peale and Pickering Passage. It is still to early to project how well returns will be but the first four days of the fishery has been very consistent, with catches to date exceeding previous two years catches. Current catch estimates to September 13th are at 1,530 coho, averaging 6.85 lbs per fish.
An estimated 41,373 Squaxin Island Net Pen coho are forecast to return in 2012, from 1.53 million net pen releases in 2011. In the next eight weeks our Resources Technicians will sample the Squaxin commercial coho catch trying to sample at least 20% of the catch in an effort to recover CWT’s.