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Anglers Help in Steelhead Collection at Mad River Hatchery

Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) trained 21 anglers at Mad River Fish Hatchery this week to aid in the collection of wild origin steelhead from the Mad River to meet Hatchery production goals. These anglers, called Mad River Steelhead Stewards, will follow all sports fishing regulations. Upon the capture of a wild adult steelhead, the steward will call Mad River Hatchery personnel or CDFW fisheries staff, who will determine if the fish will be processed to help meet hatchery production goals or be released.The Mad River Hatchery’s genetic management goal is to utilize 50-67 percent wild origin steelhead in breeding program. Last year, not enough wild origin steelhead were available for the hatchery to reach this goal.“We are looking to new and innovative ways to increase the wild origin segment of our hatchery steelhead spawning population,” said Philip Bairrington. “Last year we tried seining, but that effort didn’t produce enough wild origin steelhead broodstock for the hatchery’s needs. This year we are going to work with trained volunteer anglers.”This unusual volunteer angling program has been used successfully on some Oregon rivers to meet hatchery needs. CDFW’s hatchery and genetic management plan (HGMP) for Mad River Hatchery requires more wild steelhead be used during spawning operations so that the genetic makeup of hatchery steelhead remains the same as Mad River wild steelhead. Last year, the number of wild origin fish available was insufficient and resulted in the rearing of only 40,000 steelhead smolts. Historically, the hatchery releases approximately 150,000 steelhead smolts annually.