Winners drawn from salmon returns

James McClure, manager of Les Schwab, draws a winning ticket as Dave Kuehn, president of South Coast Fishermen, looks on.

It was wet and dreary outside, but that didn’t stop around 10 anglers from gathering to celebrate a successful salmon fishing season with awards to three people who turned in snouts to better help officials track salmon.

Dave Kuehn, president of the South Coast Fishermen, said the snouts are collected to look for wire tags that give information about the fish. By collecting the information, such as age, when they were put into the water and when they returned, state officials can get a gauge on the overall salmon fishery.

To encourage people to participate and turn in snouts, the club raffled off three fishing poles to those who participated. The drawing was last Thursday at Les Schwab Tire Center in Brookings, one of the key sponsors of the drawing.

“It’s noting their original and return site, where they were released in the river,” Kuehn said. “It’s very valuable data.”

Most of the salmon caught during the spawn are three years old, but there are some two-year-old and even some ages four or five.

Every year, hatcheries released 40,000 tiny salmon that are tagged into the Ferry Creek Reservoir, where they can stay for two weeks to get acclimated before moving into the river for the trip to the ocean. Another 40,000 tagged salmon are deposited directly into the river system. Almost 180,000 additional salmon are released without tags.

“It’s a study to see if the return rate is the same or does it matter where they were put in,” Kuehn said.

During the salmon fishing season, anglers face a challenge because salmon in fresh water are no longer eating. The key to catching them is to put bait right in front of them, where they will react out of instinct and not hunger. Anglers can keep two salmon a day, only one that can be wild. All hatchery fish are marked.

Kuehn said the study so far shows fish that have time to acclimate return better than those put directly in the river. In 2020, 58 snouts were turned in and 29 had tags in them. All of those people were eligible to win the new rods and reel packages.

Jason McClure, manager at Les Schwab, drew the winners Thursday. He said his company participates because it supports important community endeavors.

“Our community is super important,” he said. “They drive our business, and it’s why we’re here. That’s what keeps Les Schwab strong, our customer base.”

On a personal side, McClure enjoys fishing himself. As a relative newcomer to Brookings, he is looking forward to salmon fishing.

“I got my first opportunity on a steelhead last week, so that was fun,” he said.

Les Schwab purchased one of the rod and reel packages for the winners and Jim Carey with Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach donated the two other packages.

The winners of the drawing were Kay Krug, David Satterlee and Dave Castellanos.

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