First day of tagging, Bear Valley at the Poker Meadows bridge

This photo is from the bridge looking downstream.  The canyon that contains the middle fork of the salmon river is just to the left of center of this picture.  We have started our first day of tagging here for over 10 years.  The collection crew walks downstream about 1 mile and starts working their way up.  The usually pass by around 9:30am and continue upstream until they have collected about 500 tagable chinook. 

The tagging station.  I will talk about this later.  The bridge in the background is a nest site for cliff swallows.  There are hundreds of nests and the adults fly back-and-forth all day long bringing in juicy, tasty bugs for their brood.  Occasionally a baby falls out and drifts off downstream.  That chick is a goner, if the huge cutthroat trout don’t get them, the cold water will.  The parents don’t even give the chick a glance.  This stream is considered a trophy fishing stream in Idaho, all trout are catch and release.  Brook trout can be kept, I think they are better to eat anyway.

This picture from 2009 shows our tagging setup.  We haul in all the gear and people with multiple rigs.   The trailers carry all the tagging and some of the camping gear.  The square blue containers in the water are live cages.  They are screened at both ends and water can flow through, keeping the captured fish alive.  We bucket the fish from live-cage to the tagging station, then return them after we are done. 

The first day is usually pretty hectic.  Equipment lost, misplaced or forgotten, recalcitrant electronics, inexperienced new comers, excited dogs.  This year I had to deal with low batteries and a new tag injection system.  We got the bugs ironed out, but I didn’t have much time to take pictures.  I am teaching the project leader the new tagging system and I will have to make time for photos.  Praxy will be down tomorrow and she will be able to shoot some pictures.  I’m also pretty sure she will want a go at tagging these tiny fish. 

I’ll go through details pretty much daily.  There is way too much information for one blog.  This will take a month.


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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