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Stilly Hatchery stages fish fling
ARLINGTON Volunteers helped replenish the local ecosystem Dec. 7, when the Stillaguamish Tribal Hatchery led a group of eight Snohomish County residents to five sites for this years fish fling.
Nicole Aragon, of the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, explained that chum salmon carcasses are distributed at various stream locations to simulate what once occurred naturally.
As fish decompose, they release nutrients which feed not only plants and other fish, but also animals and the ecology as a whole, Aragon said. We drop some fish on the shores beside the streams, as well, since bears often leave behind half-eaten fish on the ground.
Because of flooding this season, the Dec. 7 fish fling was the first of the year, and attracted a larger crowd than usual. Aragon estimated that such fish flings typically attract three to five volunteers, but this one had a wait-list.
Among the volunteers were Liz Van Der Meer of Everett and her family, Dave Swan of Lynnwood and his family, documentary maker Phil Eidenberg-Noppe and Brenda White, deputy director of the office of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.
Everyone came ready to get messy, but Aragon and fellow Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force member Cara Ianni brought plenty of waterproof gloves and boots for the cool, wet day.
We also have plastic covers for your car seats, said Ianni, since the volunteers would spend a great deal of time handling dead fish. Ianni demonstrated how the machete marks she left on the tails of the chum carcasses would indicate to surveyors that they were not naturally spawned fish, before she handed out hooked poles.
These are your throwing poles, Ianni said. You dont have to use these, but remember, these fish are heavy.
With an estimated 150 salmon carcasses in the tote in Aragon and Iannis truck, their volunteers got an occasionally slip-sliding workout, but they all appreciated the activity.
Van Der Meer is a fish-lover who raises five fish of her own in an aquarium, and she attended out of a spur-of-the-moment interest. Swan, by contrast, has been trying to schedule his free time to coincide with a fish fling for the past couple of years.
They dont smell as bad as youd expect, Swan said, as he passed fish down a line to his children at the stream on the Pilchuck Tree Farm. Its good for us to give back.
Its a great educational opportunity, White said.