WDFW News – Hoko River Hatchery Steelhead May Also Be Identified by Dorsal Fin Height.

Action: Changes the definition of hatchery steelhead returning to the Hoko River to include steelhead with a dorsal fin height of less than 2 1/8 inches or those with a clipped adipose or ventral fin.

Effective date: Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at 12:01 a.m.

Reason for action: Returning hatchery steelhead are typically identified by a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the fin. However, the hatchery steelhead smolts released from the Makah Tribe’s hatchery on the Hoko River in the spring of 2016 and in spring of 2017 were not fin clipped because of fish health concerns due to warm river temperatures. These fish will begin returning in the coming winter steelhead season. Dorsal fin heights of hatchery steelhead are shorter than comparably sized wild steelhead. The standard of 2 1/8 inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead.

Further Information: Hatchery steelhead are released as yearlings, and return after 1 ½ or 2 ½ years at sea as 3-year-old and 4-year-old fish. Identifying these fish by the height of the dorsal fin will remain an option, along with clipped fins, for the next several seasons to allow the harvest in the Hoko River of most returning hatchery steelhead from the 2016 and 2017 releases. Hoko River steelhead smolts scheduled to be release in spring of 2018 have been marked with a clipped adipose fin.

Information contact: Region 6 Office, (360) 249-4628.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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