ANADROMOUS FISH IN THE WILD


     We feel it is very important to understand the life cycle of the anadromous species of fish if we are to assist in the preservation of their species.

     Our reference in this article is to Fall Chinook salmon. Anadromous fish are by definition born in fresh water, make their way to the sea where they reach full maturity and then return to their place of birth to spawn and die.

     The salmon throughout its development faces many hazards from predators, human and otherwise. It often travels thousands of miles between its birth and when it returns to its birthplace to spawn.

     Classically the female prepares a bed in the sand and gravel to lay her eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs and then the female flipping her tail back and forth covers them with sand and gravel.

     After participating in the spawning process, both the male and female die from the exhaustion of their adrenal gland system. Their death provides nutrients in the stream for other forms of life and the cycle continues.

INDIAN CREEK HATCHERY


     The major goal of the Indian Creek Hatchery is to supplement the natural production of lower Rogue River Fall Chinook salmon. The lower Rogue stock was dangerously low during the 1980's but has shown dramatic improvement over the past several years. It is believed that habitat improvement and hatchery supplementation can help maintain a healthy stock especially in years of drought or poor ocean conditions.

 
     Each fall, adult salmon return to the hatchery holding pen or are seined from lower Rogue tributaries. When the female salmon are "ripe" the eggs are taken and placed into sterile buckets where they are fertilized with the sperm from several males. The fertilized eggs are placed in specially built trays where time and temperature determine hatching.

     When the eggs hatch and “button up”, the tiny fry are placed outside in the raceways. They are fed continuously during daylight hours with the aid of automated feeders and watched carefully for signs of distress or disease. The temperature and oxygen content of the water are tested daily. The raceways are enclosed to eliminate predators feasting on the young fish.

     When the fish reach "smolting stage", determined by appearance, weight and readiness to go to sea, they are released into the Rogue River.

The Meaning of Our Name and Our Organization

     Anadromous ( a nad ra mous ) Literally means ascending from the sea for breeding, referring to the life history of salmon and steelhead.

     Curry Anadromous Fishermen (CAF) is a non-profit service organization dedicated to the preservation of Fall Chinook salmon while providing future salmon for commercial and recreational fishing. We are located in Gold Beach Oregon at the mouth of the Rogue River. CAF is part of the Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP), a statewide volunteer program that works with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to restore and enhance native fish runs.

Our Goals are to:

  1.   Rehabilitate and enhance the natural habitat of Fall Chinook salmon in the lower Rogue River and other south coast streams.
  2.   Increase populations of Fall Chinook salmon, by operating the Indian Creek Hatchery.
  3.   Support and promote an educational program to increase the public's understanding of Oregon's aquatic resources and the environment. We provide educational scholarships, science awards and student assistance through Gold Beach Schools
  4.   Provide the greatest possible opportunity for citizen volunteer participation.


     CAF is comprised of all volunteers. Contributions and membership dues provide us with our main sources of income.

rd-hume

 

 

     Robert Deniston Hume first came to Gold Beach in 1876. In time, he owned and controlled thousands of acres including all the tidelands on both sides of the Rogue river. Hume’s first hatchery was built in 1878 at “Hatchery Gulch”, about a quarter mile south of Indian Creek. His second hatchery was next to Mill Rock. The buildings burned in the 1893 fire that destroyed much of Hume’s holdings on the Gold Beach side of the river. Remains of the concrete pens can still be seen under the south end of the bridge. In 1890, Hume built a hatchery at Trail on the upper reaches of the Rogue. His final hatchery project was on Indian Creek in 1906 on what is now the Knox family property. Hume was a pioneer in hatchery production to supplement the natural runs of salmon. In 1907, he had about 1,400,000 fry in his hatchery pens. He fed them blood, horse meat, herring, salmon, and beef. The Indian Creek hatchery was owned and run by Hume until 1926. At that time, the state of Oregon took over the operation of the hatchery.



     In the mid 1930’s, the state closed the hatchery.

     State law halted commercial fishing on the Rogue River in 1935.

     In 1958, a group called Salmon Unlimited was organized to improve salmon production in the lower Rogue system. In cooperation with the Oregon Game Department, a salmon trap was built above Bark Shanty crossing on Lobster Creek. The fall Chinook captured there were the source of eggs placed in the Bandon hatchery. Libby Pond and an earthen pond dug at the Knoxes’ Indian Creek property were the rearing areas for the thousands of Fall Chinook fingerlings brought down from the Bandon facility. Over time, many of the people that started the Salmon Unlimited program moved away and the program ceased.

     In the 1970’s, several volunteer groups were having success rehabilitating weak salmon runs by using “hatch boxes” along the tributaries. They called themselves S.T.E.P. volunteers, indicating their purpose - a Salmon Trout Enhancement Program. In 1981 STEP received state support and organizational standing. Local sportsmen formed a club affiliating themselves with the Northwest Steelheaders, which was headquartered in Woodland, Washington. The group was devoted to promoting better fishing opportunities throughout the state. Habitat improvement was an important goal of this group. In addition, hatch boxes were placed on several tributary streams of Euchre Creek, Rogue River, Hunter Creek and Pistol River. Two of these hatch box locations turned into mini hatcheries on the Pistol River and Hunter Creek. These hatcheries were discontinued when the natural production began its rebound.

     In 1980 the Knox family had a hatch box on the back porch of Grant’s Pancake House (now the Indian Creek Cafe) on Indian Creek. They added two more hatch boxes the next year and two more the year after that. Besides providing fed-fry to Indian Creek, the hatch boxes were an educational opportunity for the customers. In 1983 the Knox family, (Bob, Charles and Scott), built a hatchery building by the earthen pond they had dug many years earlier. The water came from and old wood flume which had been the secondary water supply for Gold Beach. They received approximately 200,000 “eyed” eggs from the Cole River Hatchery. These eggs were hatched in the building and the young fish were then placed in the pond and in commercial “Doughboy” liners reinforced by cedar boards. Half of the salmon were released as pre-smolts and the other half as smolts. When the salmon were ready to be released, they just opened the valve and sent the smolts through a pipe into Indian Creek. This operation was completely financed by the Knox family. When the salmon returned, some pairs were kept at the hatchery, some were transported further up Indian Creek, and others were transported to various creeks feeding the lower Rogue River.

     In 1985, the Northwest Steelheaders, believing their membership dues should stay in this area, changed their name to Curry Anadromous Fishermen and disassociated themselves from the Northwest Steelheaders.

     The biggest year for the Knoxes was 1987 when they received 265,000 eyed eggs. Returning salmon flooded Indian Creek and drew huge crowds to watch the spectacle. Over 2500 adult salmon returned in one year, probably the highest rate of return in the state.

     By 1988, the hatchery had become a full time job for Scott Knox, the lower Rogue salmon needed help and the hatchery needed a lot of work. So Curry Anadromous Fishermen agreed to take over operation of the hatchery. Three new Doughboy pools were installed. Coos Curry Electric donated poles, lights and manpower to install the outside lights.

     Later, the Gold Beach Rotary Club built an addition on the existing building with a walk-in freezer. The hatchery was supposed to be a central distribution point for fish food for all the hatcheries in the area. This never happened and the freezer was too expensive to operate. So the door and the compressor were sold and the freezer became a storeroom.

     By 1991, with the advice and some financing from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and a Government Economic Development Grant of $300,000, a dam was reconstructed, new waterlines were brought in, a concrete fish ladder and holding tank were built, 3 metal - plastic lined raceways were constructed and improved incubators were added. Additionally, the road from Jerry’s Flat to the hatchery was paved by the County.

     In 1996 and 1997 jump pools for the fish were placed below the old dam which once diverted the water to the city of Gold Beach.

     Today, the hatchery has a strong base of volunteers belonging to Curry Anadromous Fishermen and enjoys an excellent partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is the goal of the hatchery to place 75,000 unfed fry in streams feeding the lower Rogue River and releasing 75,000 smolts into the estuary during the late summer and early fall.

The following people contributed to this accounting of historical data.

Scott Knox
Ray Rediske
Walt Schroeder “They Found Gold On The Beach”
Milt Walker

     The Curry Anadromous Fishermen work in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide local area schools with insulated aquariums, and fertilized salmon eggs. Students care for the eggs while they hatch and develop. In this way they learn about the salmon and the salmons’ life cycle. Members of the CAF regularly visit the aquariums to replenish the water and answer questions. When the eggs have hatched and progressed to the fry stage, the children take a field trip to a local stream and release “their” fish. Students come away from the experience with a greater appreciation for the resource and a stewardship ethic toward the salmon and local streams.

     Later in the year, a mature salmon will be brought into the classroom for dissection and biological identification. Students learn how the organs function to help the fish adapt to varying conditions throughout the fishes life cycle. Students also gain an understanding of the unique role that these fish play in the ecosystem as well.

     Free guided tours of the Indian Creek Hatchery are offered at 9 AM daily during the summer months. The tours start (middle of May through Labor Day).. People wishing a tour should meet at Indian Creek RV Park prior to coming to the hatchery. Call 247-7704 for directions.

     During June, there is a free fishing weekend at Libby Pond hosted by the Gold Beach Rod and Gun Club. On Saturday, there is a fishing derby for children sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Members of Curry Anadromous Fishermen are on hand to help monitor the fishing activities, provide fishing instructions and assist in measuring the days catch. Generous prizes donated by local merchants are awarded to the winners in each of three age groups.

     Curry Anadromous Fishermen is a volunteer organization. Membership dues and contributions are the primary sources of revenue required to run the Indian Creek Hatchery. In considering whether or not to become a member ask yourself a couple of questions: Are you a fisherman who has experienced (or is hoping to experience) the thrill of catching these large, uniquely spirited and hard-fighting Rogue River Chinooks?

      Are you interested in seeing Rogue River runs of these remarkable fish remain at current levels or hopefully increase in numbers for the enjoyment of future generations?


      If your answer is "yes" to one or both of these questions, you must consider a membership in Curry Anadromous Fishermen. Annual dues are only $20. A membership carries with it certain benefits and/or opportunities. For example---


      You will receive "The Riffle" a monthly newsletter which normally contains a number of interesting tidbits such as minutes of our meetings, upcoming events at the hatchery, local fishing reports, special projects, etc. If you live in the vicinity of Gold Beach or are vacationing in the area you can---


      Visit the hatchery and either observe or participate in hatchery activities.


      Observe or participate in miscellaneous other activities that are announced in the "Riffle". These include field trips to release fry in local streams and rivers, netting wild fish from the Rogue for use in hatchery spawning, improving breeding habitat in local streams, catching and relocating adult hatchery salmon for spawning in locations other than Indian Creek, etc.


      Attend meetings which are held on the second Thursday of each month. Every year the Indian Creek Hatchery places over 120,000 salmon in Curry County creeks and rivers. The hatchery is run by volunteers and supported primarily by membership dues. So if you feel (as we do) that our efforts are both valuable and indeed necessary in preserving and enhancing the runs of these extraordinary fall Chinook.


Please Join us.


To become a member:



To pay by Mail:
Please print and complete the membership form,
then mail us the form and membership fee.Curry Anadromous Fishermen is a volunteer organization. Membership dues and contributions are the primary sources of revenue required to run the Indian Creek Hatchery. In considering whether or not to become a member ask yourself a couple of questions: Are you a fisherman who has experienced (or is hoping to experience) the thrill of catching these large, uniquely spirited and hard-fighting Rogue River Chinooks?