Recreational Salmon Diet Monitoring Program?

Discussion in 'Saltwater Fishing Forum' started by Bugs, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Hello Folks,

    I am a local angler and grad student in the Fisheries Ecology and Marine Conservation Group at UVic. A couple of us were chatting recently about the lack of adult salmon diet information for Southern BC in recent years. In particular there is a near total lack of winter information. We were discussing whether it might be feasible to set up a long term collaboration with the sport fishing community to monitor stomach contents year round. This would aim to develop into an ongoing place-based monitoring program rather than a short-term research project. Since there are many engaged, informed and conservation minded people on this forum I thought this would be a good place to informally float the idea.

    The goal would be to develop a feasible program that would entail relatively modest commitment of resources and effort for everyone involved. We would start out running it off the sides of our desks and if it seemed to have momentum we would use evidence of initial success to try to find some funding to support it in the future.

    The plan would be something like this:

    1. Interested anglers would set aside the entire stomach and contents when cleaning fish, this would be bagged and frozen with a tag indicating (at a minimum) species, fork length, angling location, capture date, hatchery/wild, contact info. We would make up some waterproof tags to distribute and/or anglers could simply write the information in pencil on scrap paper.

    2. Anglers would store stomachs in their freezers, potentially we would also arrange with a couple of stores/marinas to share drop-off freezer space. Our lab manager would coordinate to pick-up stomachs every few months from anglers homes or coordinate drop-offs at the university.

    3. We would process stomachs and produce annual data summaries of prey species, sizes etc…. These data summaries would be emailed to anglers participating in the program.

    In an ideal world we would get a couple of the guides on board; however, as a former guide myself I know packaging stomachs and doing extra paperwork between trips or at the end of the day is the last thing that appeals. More likely if some of the regular local non-pro anglers were keen to be involved this would be a great start. I think we would plan to give this a try on the South Island and think of expanding if the trial was successful.

    If you have comments please PM me or weigh in here. If you are interested in being involved fire me a PM with your email address and I will put together an email list and try to coordinate something.

    Tight Lines. Will.
  2. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    Wow, this post has been out there for a day now and I'm surprised at the apparent apathy regarding this initiative. Why is that?
    islandphile and Clint r like this.
  3. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Thanks for the bump Dave!. I have received a few positive responses by PM. Traffic is probably a little low on the forum in the depths of winter so I will leave this up and hopefully response will grow. If anyone cannot participate but knows non-forum members who might be interested pass on the word!

  4. Sangstercraft

    Sangstercraft Well-Known Member

    Hey Will, I'll send you my guts! I usually cut them open anyways just out of curiosity. It's a small world, but your last name isn't Duguid is it?
    Just post how to send the guts, and I'll try to scratch out some winter springs.
  5. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    It sure is Ben! PM me your email and I will send you out some info in a couple days. Thanks for the interest!
  6. drivel

    drivel Member

    I too would be happy to play a part in this endeavour.
    I don't catch as many fish as most of you guys out there but I'd be
    eager to help with research supporting Fisheries Ecology and Marine Conservation.
    Give me the details and hopefully i'll get lucky.
  7. Birdsnest

    Birdsnest Well-Known Member

    I have a question. Why only take a samples from the rec sector?
  8. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Thanks very much... I will get some more info together and send out shortly!
  9. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Good question. At the moment this is just a side of the desk project idea to see if we can get enough interest from the rec sector to make it worth while (meaning there is no funding to support it). It this project gained momentum then collecting samples from the commercial sector would definitely be a big benefit. The rec sector has the advantage of year round fishing; the commercial sector has the advantage of a better sample size. If you or anyone on here knows of commercial trollers who would be interested in participating in an initial trial stage I would love to hear from them.


  10. Willyjim

    Willyjim Member

    agentaqua likes this.
  11. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  12. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    This is definitely an interesting issue and something we could consider adding. We have some other folks working in our lab who are focused on plastics in collaboration with VIU. I have seen plastic (rope fibres) in juvenile stomachs. The challenge in looking for very small plastic (microplastics) in stomachs is that you need super careful handling of samples to avoid contamination with plastic from sources after collection (plastic collection, storage, sorting containers, plastic fibers from researchers clothing, etc.).
  13. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    got your email.. :)
  14. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Giving this thread a bump in case any interested parties are successful out there on the hopefully calm weekend that is shaping up.

    First I would like to thank the forum members who have gotten hold of me and expressed interest in participating in this program. If you are interested please pm me or email me at I will add you to the email distribution list that we will use for protocol updates and data reports.

    I have attached our very brief working protocol and data cards to this post for any other interested parties who have not contacted me yet.

    I was able to personally supply the first official stomach of the program myself from a 72 cm wild Spring off Sooke on Dec 30. It actually turned out to be one of the more unusual stomachs I have looked at. What initially appeared to be euphausiids (krill) turned out in the lab to by mysid shrimp (Neomysis rayii). There were 96 individuals about 4 cm long. There was also one larval flatfish in the stomach and in the intestine were the clear remains (jaws and spines) of a large polychaete worm. So, all in all not typical Chinook food, but quite cool.

    I also wanted to follow up on a discussion about stomach contents that occurred way back in 2014. We had a discussion on the forum at that time about the juvenile salmon that people were seeing in Coho stomachs in late September and October off Sooke. elnino54 was kind enough to provide me with samples of 3 juvenile salmonids from Coho stomachs and I had a couple myself. These turned out to be all pinks, approximately 17 to 20 cm long. When we get another good Coho year in Sooke it would be great to get some solid data on the extent to which Coho are feeding on outmigrating juvenile salmon at this time.

    Hope to get out off the Victoria waterfront and get some stomachs myself tomorrow!

    Tight lines


    Attached Files:

    Birdsnest likes this.
  15. outback

    outback Member

    very cool stuff
  16. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Thanks to Island Outfitters for agreeing to be a depot for us. We now have a small tote in the freezer in the store where you can pick up data labels, bags and sampling protocols and drop off your stomachs. It looks like a calm weekend, good luck out there. If you have questions contact me at
  17. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    Hey Folks

    As more people are getting out there and fishing I just want to give this thread a bump. We are continuing to collect stomachs from anglers. Thanks to Bon Chovy Charters in Vancouver who have been collecting for us, to Island Outfitters who are serving as a stomach depot, and to Mill Bay Marina who let us collect samples at their Saanich Derby a couple of weeks ago. If you are interested in participating please send me a PM with your email and I will add you to our email list and send some instructions, we can also mail out waterproof data cards. In Victoria you can drop off stomachs at Island Outfitters (ask at the desk, there is a tote in their outside freezer). There are also data cards and printed instructions available for pickup in that tote. We will be putting together annual data summaries which will be distributed to participants.

    Contact me with questions
  18. fishchaser

    fishchaser Member

    Wouldn't it be cheaper for everyone to identify the stomach contents, date and area on line instead of transporting and storing guts? A simple on line form complete with visual stomach content graphics should do the trick. Otherwise you are simply creating another government subsidized organization that will be adding to our license fees.
  19. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Not sure if everyone has the expertise, equipment, knowledge and drive to do so, fishchaser...
  20. Bugs

    Bugs Active Member

    fishchaser... I understand your point. Self-reporting of stomach contents is an interesting idea for sure. One of the challenges is that it is hard to standardize this kind of information and convince other scientists and managers that it is valid (for example the identification of prey species), if it is being reported directly by anglers. Also, we are measuring weights and lengths of prey, and taking otoliths (ear bones that can be used for aging). We are also taking tissue samples from the stomach itself that could be used in future for genetic stock ID and isotope analysis (gives an idea of previous diet). Already we are finding that some items are showing up regularly in stomachs that would be tricky to identify in the field (we struggled to correctly identify them in the lab). Basically we are trying to collect as much information as possible to justify the effort of anglers collecting their stomachs for us.

    Regarding cost, at the moment this work has no independent funding. If the project gains momentum we will seek to get some modest funding to cover it, but this will not come from DFO. Primarily the goal is to use student volunteers and research interns which should keep costs low. The goal is an economical, ongoing program that brings together researchers and the rec-community and helps us keep a finger on the pulse of the ecosystem as experienced by the salmon.
    bigbruce likes this.

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