As of 2010, the NOAA currently listed the Salmon and Steelhead populations in the Lower Columbia River as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Despite being endangered, these fish are considered an important part of the economy and the lives of Oregon citizens who view recreational fishing as something that is important to them. According to the State of Oregon Employment Department, the commercial fishing industry generated $148 million in revenue last year. Through fish hatchery programs the state continues to ensure there is abundant fishing for everyone each year.
One of the most popular baits for recreational Salmon fishing is using cured Salmon eggs placed around the hook and held on with stretchy thread. This is designed to mimic loose salmon eggs floating in the stream or river, which is an important part of the diet of Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. It is also considered an important food source for many other fish and animals.
Unfortunately, many of these eggs are cured with Sodium Sulfate which, according to the Oregon Dept. of fish and game can be toxic when consumed by juvenile salmon and steelhead. Anglers can help reduce this risk to juvenile fish by doing the following when buying, preparing and fishing cured eggs:
- Choose eggs and egg cures that meet Oregon guidelines for sodium sulfites.
- If you’re making your own cure, consider using borax instead of sodium sulfite.
- When you’re fishing with cured eggs:
- Don’t add additional sodium sulfite to already cured eggs
- Don’t dump unused eggs in the river where they can be eaten by juvenile fish
- Consider the use of net bags to reduce the likelihood of young fish eating the eggs.
Through these simple yet effective precautions we can help protect Salmon and Steelhead trout from pollution. This will not only protect the native wild populations, but also on the millions of hatchery fish the state spends taxpayer dollars on providing to ensure a healthy fishery for now and in the future.