RICHLAND, Wash. -- Anglers turned more than 69 wild Chinook salmon caught on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River in late October to be used as breeding stock for the Priest Rapids Hatchery, according to Washington River Protection Solutions.
The Hanford contractor provided money for the project.
"We had hoped to capture 400 native fish," said Nathan Grimm, an estimator in Project Integration and co-coordinator of the capture project, in a statement. "We fell short of our goal, but we proved that sport anglers can successfully capture wild fish and transport them to the hatchery alive."
All fish survived the transport, he said.
The project, undertaken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in conjunction with Grant PUD and the Tri-Cities chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, was a first on the Hanford Reach.
Wild fish were collected from anglers at the Vernita boat launch and taken to the nearby Priest Rapids Hatchery, which will spawn more than 3,000 adult Chinook salmon this fall.
Organizers plan to make the wild Chinook salmon capture an annual event to continue improving the genetic stock of the Priest Rapids Hatchery.
Studies show that Chinook salmon born and raised in a hatchery from parents taken in the wild produce adult fish that return from the ocean at a rate 4.69 times higher than naturally spawned fish.
The offspring of hatchery-raised wild Chinook also produce offspring that return at a higher rate.