Juvenile salmon gaining weight in Cathlamet pens
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has installed floating pens at Cathlamet to raise juvenile salmon for future fisheries.
The net pens were moved from Deep River to the town dock about three and a half weeks ago, according to Kodi Buchanan, who works at the Beaver Creek Fish Hatchery. He or a coworker drives over daily to check the temperature of the water and feed the fish.
The structure houses eight pens. Each pen is 10 feet deep and holds 25,000 fish.
They experience a daily loss of approximately 10 to 15 fish, so Buchanan removes them and picks up any detritus that may have floated downriver and lodged itself on the structure.
“There is always a bit of mortality,” Buchanan said. “Some of it could be delayed mortality due to the stress of transport. And not all eggs are meant to make fish.”
At the end of March, when they reach 12 fish to a pound, the fish will be released. The juveniles currently weigh 16 fish to a pound.
“They are close to size,” Buchanan said, “so it’s just a maintenance diet and finishing off the little bit of growth before we let them go. There are studies that show if you make them smolts too fast, especially spring chinook, you get jacks, which are adult fish that return a year early. They are sexually mature but they are smaller."