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spawning chum salmon
General · 3rd January 2013
Janis McLean
Enthusiastic Salmon Enhancement volunteers were busy last fall counting salmon returns on Granite Creek, Open Bay Creek, Drew Creek and Village Bay Creek. Volunteers were out at least weekly from mid-October to the end of November, counting chum and coho salmon in all kinds of weather and terrain conditions. The fall of 2012 was a banner year for chum (with lots of big ones noted, unlike last year), and coho made their appearance in most streams.

A weekly visit only gives us a snapshot of return numbers on that particular day, and conditions such as high churning water can make fish harder to see. Therefore, the following numbers have been adjusted accordingly and should be treated as estimates, not absolute numbers. In addition, coho are generally harder to count, being faster and more secretive than chum. These counts are supplied annually by QISES to the local DFO office where the data are then statistically analysed to provide valuable indicators of trends over several years. On Granite Creek, 550 chum and 4 coho; on Drew Creek, 120 chum and 9 coho; on Village Bay Creek, 705 chum and 171 coho; and on Open Bay Creek, 5500 chum and no coho. In addition, a couple of volunteers also visited Saxon, lower Luoma, Stramberg, Shadowbrook and Clear Creeks, with coho seen in all except Luoma Creek.

Landowner access was denied on lower Hyacinthe and McKercher Creeks, but we had good local observations for the lower sections of Hyacinthe Creek. Bill Dubois estimated 2000 – 3000 chum entered the creek at the bridge by the estuary over the spawning season. Thirty five coho were counted above Hyacinthe Bay Road at access points along Walcan Road as far as Mud Lake.

At the counting fence, volunteers counted 502 coho, 25 chum and 14 jacks up to November 9, when the gate had to be opened due to lack of manpower being able to visit the fence twice a day. At that point, an estimated 20 coho were passing through the gate daily. After that date, 66 coho were counted in the creek, all of which can be assumed to have passed through the open gate to the lake and then into the upper streams where they then spawn.

The QISES board of directors extend a big thank you to all volunteers who participated in the counts.

Janis McLean for Quadra Island Salmon Enhancement Society