Department of Water Resources Home

Environmental Services


sutter bypass

Environmental Services

Dean Messer, Chief

3500 Industrial Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 376-9699

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001



Marking and Tagging

The Feather River Program was established to conduct Feather River fishery studies. The initial emphasis was to estimate adult abundance for both spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon, and to conduct tagging studies using young fish from Feather River Hatchery. The Program has expanded in recent years and also supports additional fishery studies commissioned for the Oroville Facilities relicensing through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Rotary Screw Trap
  Coded Wire Tagging of Naturally Produced Salmon

In 1998 we began coded-wire tagging naturally produced salmon to attempt a comparison of survival rates for hatchery versus naturally produced salmon. Fish captured in the rotary screw traps are transported in ice chests from the traps to the tagging station at the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet where they are held in holding tanks until they are tagged by a DWR CWT contractor. Although over one million fry/parr have been tagged since the inception of the program very few adults have returned, making a thorough comparison of naturally produced and hatchery fish impossible to this point.

Spring Chinook Tagging Program
  Spring Chinook Tagging Program
Early returning adult Spring Chinook are tagged at the Feather River Hatchery and returned to the river where they hold over summer. When spawning commences in the fall the tag allows the hatchery to visually identify and spawn Spring Chinook separately from Fall run.

Otilith Thermal Marking Program
The Chinook salmon run in the Feather River consists of Central Valley Spring-run and Fall-run; both heavily supplemented by the Feather River Fish Hatchery (FRFH). In order to more effectively determine the composition of the run (spring vs. fall) and the origin of the fish (hatchery v. naturally produced), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) developed an otolith thermal marking program (OTM) for the Feather River Fish Hatchery. A pilot study was initiated in 2003 where we experimented with different mark patterns, duration, and spacing on a small portion of the production. In brood 2005/06 we began 100% marking of spring and fall run Chinook at the hatchery. The following brief describes the results of our pilot study. Results for the full implantation program are yet to be determined.