members of the Curry Anadromous Fishermen (CAF)
in Gold Beach knew what was in store for them
on Wednesday morning, they probably would have
gone to bed an extra hour earlier. They
definitely had their work cut out for them.
year the CAF begins the process of gathering
salmon, sorting the fish in tanks by gender
and ripeness, and starting their yearly
volunteer work at gathering 150,000 Chinook
salmon eggs indigenous to Indian Creek so they
can spawn the next generation of late fall
salmon returns. It is a task that everyone
takes very seriously.
Creek is a tributary of the Rogue River and
the Indian Creek Hatchery is located one-half
mile from the river mouth.
one of ODFW's many STEP facilities located
throughout the state that helps to enhance the
pleasure of salmon fishermen by providing
extra fillets in their freezer, and enlightens
anglers and non-anglers about nature's
the spawning of the Indian Creek Salmon is
like kicking back in your Barcalounger and
flicking on an exciting episode of Nova. The
only difference is that at Indian Creek you're
transformed from a couch potato into a bona
a real-life setting in which you get to
witness first-hand one of the most spectacular
miracles of nature from start to finish.
stick around for all these episodes, you will
be privileged to watch fish entering the fish
trap; you will become mesmerized with the
wonderment of watching thousands of lives
materializing before your eyes. Wednesday was
just the beginning of many more days to come
in the next few weeks.
in case you're not around to watch every
single installment of this series, Chris
Underhill, the volunteer coordinator of the
facility, has a well documented collection of
photographs and various test-tubes containing
fish in different stages of development. Using
these visual aids helps her educate people of
comes out of this facility without a smile on
their face, and a brain teeming with
interesting facts that will stay with them for
the rest of their lives.
Rogue River fall Chinook salmon run has been
thrilling anglers of all ages for years. One
of its strengths is that the run is 100
percent fully autonomous.
major part of the run starts in July, when
fish start stacking up in the lower estuary in
preparation for the fall rains, which trigger
them to start trekking upriver through the
narrow canyon above Agness and through the
Rogue's wild and scenic section.
innumerable obstacles to overcome, including
the highest waterfall on the river at Rainey
Falls and predators including black bears,
they soon find themselves at the mercy of
Mother Nature. Soon they are in the expanses
of the middle Rogue River, where there are
several areas in which they spawn.
spawn in the mainstem while others spawn in
the tributaries. Others are bound for the
Applegate River, while the rest are trying to
make it over the hazards of Gold Ray Dam and
into the far reaches of the upper Rogue River
below Cole Rivers Hatchery.
Indian Creek facility was devised to enhance
this already existing fall fishery.
Specifically these fish were designed to
return in October to Indian Creek, and provide
additional adrenaline rushes for
sport-fishermen after the main fall Chinook
run was coming to an end.
definitely fulfilled all those dreams – and
of CAF, under the direction of John Weber,
ODFW STEP biologist is to spawn 150,000 eggs.
Of all the eggs that are fertilized, 75,000
are reared to the smolt stage and released
into the Rogue Bay the following July, August
and September, so they can come back every
75,000 eggs are reared to the buttoned up fry
stage and are released into creeks that are in
need of enhancement. Traditionally they have
been divided up to four creeks: Edson Creek,
Saunders Creek, Shasta Costa and Foster Creek,
near Foster Bar, but the locations could
change in the future.
Costa, which is located in the Agness area, is
a real success story.
seen redds up in Shasta Cooper," said Harvey
Wright, a CAF member.
salmon is determined to be ripe enough for
spawning, it is killed by a swift blow to the
second-graders say that's their favorite
part," says Underhill.
females are slit open and the eggs come down a
disinfected chute and fall into a sterilized
from the male is obtained by gently squeezing
his abdomen and the liquid is collected in
after enough salmon are collected, the milt
and eggs are gently swirled together.
Fertilization occurs immediately but the
containers must remain stationary for at least
15 minutes before the eggs are trayed up in
the incubation room where they are kept for
the white eggs are picked out to avoid fungus
and bacteria. The next two weeks are crucial.
Any vibration to the eggs will kill the lives
procedure will continue taking place until
about 175,000 eggs are raised. On Wednesday,
four females were fertilized, filling about
five trays in the incubating room. The
hatchery has about 55 left to fill before that
stage is over.
75,000 eggs reared to the smolt stage, between
1 and 2 percent (750 to 1,500 salmon) will
return back to the estuary to be caught by
fishermen. The rest of the fish will return to
75,000 buttoned up fry, an even lesser amount
that don't survive become fodder for larger
fish, birds and other animals. The rest
succumb to the elements.
wooden plaque hangs over the door to the
facility, in memory of Kathy Moore, the former
volunteer coordinator who gave selfless years,
time and dedication to the Indian Creek
salmon were being seined at Huntley Park,
Kathy often fondly referred to the Indian
Creek Salmon as her children. Kathy will be
missed but never forgotten.
contact the Curry Anadromous Fishermen for
membership visit www.rogueriversalmon.org/, or
call Chris Underhill at (541) 247-0396