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Elk River anglers: radio-tagged fish must be released unharmed

GOLD BEACH, Ore – Elk River anglers are reminded to release unharmed any radio-tagged fall chinook salmon caught. ODFW is conducting a research project tagging up to 100 hatchery and wild fall chinook below Elk River Hatchery.

Radio tags can often be mistaken for leaders as only the antenna is visible protruding from the fish’s mouth. ODFW encourages anglers to check carefully as it is illegal to harvest these fish.

This telemetry study will help determine the spawning migration pattern of returning Elk River fall chinook. Researchers want to establish whether hatchery origin fish return to the hatchery and fall back before spawning or spawn selectively below the hatchery.

Research leader Shannon Richardson says this is important to better understand potential interactions on spawning grounds between hatchery origin and wild fish.

“The wild Elk River fall chinook were identified in our Coastal Multispecies Management Plan as a population of concern,” Richardson said. “We need to attract hatchery fish that escape the fishery back to the hatchery to reduce the amount of interaction they may have with wild chinook.

Anglers may encounter radio-tagged fall chinook into February. Staff installed fixed-station receivers to track the fish weekly and will conduct spawning ground surveys to recover tags.

This study is part of a larger effort ODFW is engaged in with partners including the Oregon Hatchery Research Center, Oregon State University, University of Washington, and the U.S. Geological Survey.