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Hatchery salmon already sold

I've noticed that there has been a pretty good run of spring chinook salmon that made it all the way up the Rogue River and into Cole Rivers Hatchery. I know in past years those guys have sold most of their excess fish. Have they sold any this year and, if so, how many and how much did they get?

Matt T., by email

Well, Matt, we at Since You Asked are well-versed in how anglers sometimes get a little miffed that fish raised for them and released into the Rogue end up back at the hatchery and sold.

This year, Cole Rivers sold 4,611 spring chinook whose costs and associated fees grossed $47,373.59, says hatchery Manager David Pease.

The buyer was American-Canadian Seafood in Washington, and the funds are put into the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's "Carcass Fund" that's later put back into the agency's hatchery system.

The prices are set before the season based on estimated run sizes, with a higher price when fish are scarce and a lower price when returns are more bountiful, Pease says.

This year's group of males fetched $10.10 apiece, while females with eggs went for $1 more, Pease says. The jacks and subjacks — those little guys — went for 5 cents apiece, he says.

That's a middle-of-the-road price, Pease says. In high-run years of yore, the fish went for $5 apiece and in some heavy drought years the price nosed near $30 apiece, Pease says.

The first fish was sold May 18 and the last was sold Aug. 10, he says.

"We're done now," Pease says. "The rest will be donated to the Oregon Food Bank."

The Cole Rivers collection as of Aug. 21 is 9,723 spring chinook.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.