The Hood Canal Steelhead Project is a 16-year project (2007-2022) that aims to restore three steelhead populations in Hood Canal while evaluating the effectiveness of hatchery supplementation as a conservation strategy for steelhead.

The current project is an expansion of the Hamma Hamma River Steelhead Supplementation Project and includes three additional supplemented streams (Duckabush River, Dewatto River, Skokomish River) and three control streams (Little Quilcene River, Tahuya River, Big Beef Creek). The general strategy of this project is to collect fertilized eggs from naturally constructed redds in the Duckabush, Dewatto, and Skokomish Rivers (2007-2014). The fish are reared in hatcheries until they are released back into their natal rivers. Before, during, and after supplementation, the project monitors adult and juvenile abundance, genetic composition, and life-history patterns in all study streams. The project is a large collaborative effort to conduct work on seven Hood Canal streams. The Salmon Center’s focus is to carry out field work on the Dewatto and Tahuya Rivers and smolt trapping on the Little Quilcene River.

Partners: NOAA Fisheries (lead agency), WDFW, Skokomish Tribe, Long Live the Kings, USFWS, USFS, Point No Point Treaty Council, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

Abundance

Adult steelhead abundance estimates are based on redd surveys conducted weekly from February through June. (Redds are gravel nests  where salmon and steelhead deposit and cover their eggs.)  Outmigrating juvenile salmonid abundance is monitored annually using rotary screw traps from late March through early June.

Genetics and Aging

Genetic samples are collected from summer parr, smolts, resident rainbow trout, and hatchery-reared fish to determine if genetic changes occur as a result of supplementation. Scale samples are collected for age determination.

Life-history Monitoring

Oncorhynchus mykiss exist as resident rainbow trout and anadromous steelhead, and this project is measuring the proportion of the two forms in different streams. Supplemented and control populations are sampled to determine if changes in the proportion of resident and anadromous fish occur as a result of hatchery supplementation.

Early Marine Migration and Survival

Using acoustic technology, steelhead early marine migration and survival is being investigated by NOAA Fisheries as part of the Hood Canal Steelhead Project. Over multiple years, acoustic transmitters were surgically implanted in steelhead smolts. Unique signals from the transmitters were detected by receivers located at river mouths, nearshore sites in Hood Canal, and transects in northern Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The information was analyzed to show migration patterns and survival rates.

Volunteers

Volunteers play an important part of smolt trapping and redd pumping! If you are interested in the project, come join our efforts!