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Catch and Release

Photo Essay: Tracking Salmon at Montana Creek

Photos and captions by ACRC volunteer Brennen McCulloch. Brennen accompanied graduate students Kevin Fitzgerald and Lindsey Call conducting fieldwork at Juneau's Montana Creek in October 2022, to collect juvenile salmon as part of an effort to understand how nutrients move from streams out to the ocean and how salmon growth fares in changing stream conditions.

a man stands on a river bank in the forest holding a small container of fish eggs, with wire baskets at his feet

Kevin Fitzgerald pricks a pouch of cured salmon egg bait among minnow traps on the bank of Montana Creek. The eggs are used to attract juvenile salmon to the traps for study. The juveniles are weighed, measured, and scanned for PIT tags (to see if they have been examined during a previous field outing) before being returned to the creek where they had been caught.

a man in waders walks up a stream in the forest holding a wire basket trap

a woman in waders stands in a river near a log holding a wire


Kevin and Lindsey setting the minnow traps. Pools of slower moving water make for ideal juvenile hangout spots.

small fish in a shallow dish

a hand reaches towards a small fish laying on a ruler near a scalea hand holding a small fish with a scanning device above

a man in waders holds a small fish in his hand while a woman in waders holds a scanning device over the fish

The juvenile salmon are weighed, measured, and scanned for PIT Tags. Those with tags have been caught before so their length and weight data can be compared to previous measurements to analyze their growth.

a fish jumps out of a net resting on a rock

A rebellious juvenile attempts a great escape!

a small fish in the palm of a hand

a small fish rests against a plastic ruler

The fish above is the only Chinook of the 204 fish caught and a rare sighting in Montana Creek.