2nd day of tagging at Bear Valley campground


We had a good day of collecting and tagging, yesterday, we only needed 450 more chinook for our 1000 at Bear Valley creek.  We got a bit of a late start, but the day went pretty smoothly.  There was the usual amount of minor headaches associated with the first few days of the trip; battery problems, misplaced equipment, and bureaucratic problems from high up the food chain.  Annoyances that have to be overcome.  Whoever heard of not being able to buy chest waders when your working with fish in 48 degree waist deep waters?  Obviously a desk jockey that is 9 to 5 in a cubicle.  Moron!

Whatever.

Regrettably, I didn’t have time to photograph the collection crew as they went by.  I’m going to get pictures of the beach seining operation tomorrow at the big whole near the mouth of Elk creek.  We usually get plenty enough fish from that one hole to keep us busy all day.  The crew then has to continue upstream with electrofishers.  I’ll go into details about these when I get time for pictures.   I going to try to explain the operation in an orderly manner.

  • 1.  Get here
  • 2.  Get set up
  • 3.  Fish collection
  • 4.  Explain the tagging station
  • 5.  Tagging
  • 5.  Releasing the tagged fish
  • 6.  Somewhere in all of this try to give you an idea of what it takes to do the job

The tagging station was welded up in our shop in Pasco.  Made from aluminum, it has to be very strong, portable, and light weight.

 

Here we are set up at Poker Meadows bridge yesterday.  On the far left is the fish tub that contains the unsorted collected fish.  Just to the right is the tub that holds the tagged fish with the pre-loaded needles in the foreground in front of the blue tub.  The little yellow thing to the right of that is the injector gun.  Then a 400 gram balance, and on the far right is a drawing board.  The board is set up to take the length of the fish plus add comments such as fin clips or fish condition.  The yellow hoop on top is the radio scanner that reads the tags.  All this information is sent to the computer on the far right in back.  The whole thing is powered by the gel cell battery on the ground underneath the station.

A close up of the tags and gun.  I will have pictures later of the fish being tagged.  Each Passive Integrated Transponder tag (PIT) is a miniature send/receive radio activated by the radio waves from the yellow hoop.  These tags are 1/2 inch long and about 1/8 inch in diameter.  I’ll set up a get a close up photo tomorrow of a tag.  The fish carries this for life, it’s own little social security number (or mark of the beast for some folks).  The fish migrate downstream to the ocean the following spring and we can track their movements at fish traps and dam sites throughout the Snake and Columbia river systems.  Interrogation is handled by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, PSMFC.   www.pittag.org  There you can get some information about the system.  It is quite technical, but there is some general information and some simple queries that will allow you to see what the fish are doing.  The project leader’s coordinator ID is SA.  You can plug his ID into the system and track our fish at different sites.

Egad, this is involved.  23 years into this project and It’s all second nature to me.  It’s very hard to explain this to someone that has never heard of this kind of thing before.   I’m glad I’ve got 7 weeks to fill in some of the holes.

A sneak peak at electrofishing.  I’ll explain how it works a little later.

After we were done, Praxy and I headed to town for a few groceries.  I wanted to take her for a drive to see a few sights, and here we go…

The Sawtooth mountains, or at least a few of them

Praxy with some of the high desert north of Stanley.  This is on the Nip-and-tuck road.

 

Stanley from the Nip-and-tuck road.

The Sawtooths from Valley creek.

Enjoy everyone!

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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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