It‘s that time of year again when young salmon begin to hatch out from their eggs. Around western Washington, coho salmon fry are beginning to emerge from the bottoms of rivers to search for food and shelter.
Coho fry in the Big Quilcene River are no different; this year they just need a little help finding a home above the hatchery. For numerous reasons, no adult coho salmon were allowed to pass above the hatchery to spawn this year. This, however, did not stop staff at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery from ensuring that there would be plenty of juveniles to occupy the river upstream. With some hard work and a little extra care, the hatchery staff was able to rear and hatch several thousand fry. The goal was to plant these fry in sections of the river above the hatchery where adult fish were not able to spawn.
With the help of staff from our office, over 25,000 fry were released last week in several locations in the Big Quilcene River to find shelter and food. Small aquatic insects flourish in these sections of the river and are prime locations for providing the fry with plenty of food to grow. As these fish grow, the need for larger food will increase and they will move farther away from their release site. Eventually they will move out to Hood Canal and then out to the Pacific Ocean.
As adults, these fish will return to the Big Quilcene River where they, too, will have the opportunity to produce offspring that can enjoy the bounty of this magnificent river.