Warm Springs NFH raises Spring Chinook Salmon that enhances adult returns to Warm Springs River, sustaining the traditional platform fishery at Sherar Falls for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Adult returns generally start in mid-April, peak around Memorial Day, typically end by July, with a few returning during summer until spawning time. Spawning starts typically around the 4th week in August and is generally over by the 3rd week of September.
The hatchery is located on the Warm Springs River which supports a wild run of spring Chinook salmon. The hatchery stock is progeny (descendents) of wild stock and managed through a Genetics Plan incorporating wild genetic traits. This is accomplished when returning wild run strength permits retention of some wild run individuals. The genetic plan is intended to insure that hatchery stock continues to best replicate wild characteristics, as closely as possible.
Operational practices and facility features are intended to bypass all wild stock up river and retain all hatchery stock. This is accomplished through 100% marking of hatchery stock using adipose fin clips and coded wire tags (CWT). When preseason return run predications reach 1000 wild fish, a low percentage of wild fish is incorporated into hatchery stock. If run predictions are not accurate then wild fish are released to continue their journey. No hatchery stock is allowed past the hatchery unless needed to provide a study component for tribal management biologists. Up to 620 hatchery stock can be retained as broodstock and the remaining fish are distributed to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs through their Natural Recourse Department.
Hatchery stock is randomly selected during the entire length of the returning run, based on historic return times. On spawning days, Fish and Wildlife Service crews representing Fish Health (FH) and Fisheries Resource (FRO) Management participate to collect specific information from each fish. The FH biologists collect tissue samples from each spawned fish for bacterial and viral disease analysis. The FRO biologists collect fish snouts which contain coded wire tags. CWTs contain information on specific group and age of returning fish.