A project to raise 17,000 coho salmon smolts on the Saanich Peninsula is well under way.
The Sidney Anglers’ Association along with the Tsawout First Nation installed a net pen at the James Island wharf two weeks ago and will be rearing the coho smolts — which came from the Goldstream Volunteer Hatchery — for the next month before they’re released into the wild.
“This is the second year of a Department of Fisheries and Oceans pilot project,” explained Larry Dalziel from the Sidney Anglers’ Association.
“Last year we raised 8,000 smolts in the net pen project, and this year it has increased to 17,000. The project is scheduled for another year so hopefully it will go ahead in 2014.”
Dalziel added that the hope is the smolts will return to the area to spawn in local waterways like Tetayut (formerly known as Sandhill) Creek and Reay Creek.
The Sidney Anglers’ Association is no stranger to projects to enhance local salmon stocks. The association frequently donates and assists in stock conservation efforts as well as habitat improvement projects, all through funds generated from events like their annual salmon derby which was held last month.
On May 4, the association welcomed 294 fishers into their derby which raised around $25,000.
“This year’s derby and dinner were a huge, huge success,” said Dalziel.
“We sold out the derby entries and the dinner was fantastic with 350 people. It was just a great turnout.”
The derby winner — who walked away $5,000 richer — was Chris Clements who caught a 22.2 pound spring salmon. Close on his heels was Mike Banyard with a 21.3 pound spring and in third place was Bob Hamilton with an 18.1 pound spring.
The ladies category winner was Joanne Hodgson with a spring salmon weighing in at 10.4 pounds.
“A big thank you should go to all the volunteers who helped out during the derby and the dinner,” said Dalziel.
“We couldn’t have done it without them.”
For more information on the Sidney Anglers’ Association, visit www.sidneyanglers.com.