WDFW reports that fisheries comanagers have taken their efforts to rebuild chum salmon runs to another North Sound basin.
Some 5.2 million eggs were collected at Kendall Creek Hatchery on the North Fork Nooksack this fall, a significant increase from previous years, according to WDFW.
The state agency says it worked closely with the Nooksack Indian Tribe and Lummi Nation on the project to boost chum broodstock collection and eggtake.
“These eggs are now being spawned in a large, retrofitted incubation trailer which staff have nicknamed the ‘ChumZilla.’ The fry they produce will head out to Bellingham Bay and the Strait of Georgia in early-spring 2024,” the agency states in a Medium blog post today.
It follows on similar efforts on the Skykomish River the past few years with the help of local anglers and guides, as well as on the Skagit beginning in fall 2022.
Puget Sound chum runs peaked in the early 2000s but have declined since then. While far from as coveted on the table as Chinook, coho and sockeye, chums do provide a pretty good tussle on a rod, allow for late-season commercial fisheries, and represent fairly important seasonal forage for southern resident killer whales.
Recent years saw 1.9 million chum eggs collected at Kendall Creek in 2022, 2.7 million in 2021 and 3.1 million in 2020.
“Due to frequent high-water conditions in November and December, and because chum will “stray” from their natal spawning area to nearby creeks, sloughs, and even other watersheds, collecting returning adult chum for hatchery broodstock can be a challenge. We’re thankful to all the anglers, fishing guides, partners, and co-manager tribes who are making these efforts possible!” WDFW says.