About 75 fishing enthusiasts lined the bank of Social Security Bar Thursday to watch as Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials and Oregon South Coast Fishermen members draped a giant seine across the Chetco River, drew it closed and wrangled 40 adult Chinook salmon into their arms and up a bucket brigade to two large holding tanks.
Fish had to be at least 86 centimeters in length — almost 3 feet — which resulted in fish weighing between 20 and 40 pounds.
The broodstock didn’t go without a fight and thrashed around in the water in attempts to elude their captors.
They were then transported to the Elk River Hatchery near Port Orford where their eggs and milk are extracted to create next year’s stock of smolt.
Some of the giant fish were tagged, indicating they returned to the Chetco River after being allowed to imprint on the river in Ferry Creek Reservoir, about a half-mile up the hill.
The effort is part of an ODFW project, eight years in the making, to keep a vibrant Chinook fishery in the river.