Salmon in the City volunteers reported 119 coho salmon came through the Colquitz River fish fence this year.
Volunteers visit the fish fence in Cuthbert Holmes Park on a daily basis in the fall to count salmon as they make their way up the Colquitz River. All counts are reported to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The fish fence panels temporarily trap fish that swim through so that the Salmon in the City team can monitor them and collect data. The first coho – a small male – appeared a week after the Sept. 29 installation.
The fall rains came early this year so the salmon had a clear river to swim in for spawning, noted long-time volunteer Dorothy Chambers.
The salmon came up the river sporadically through the beginning of October. Following a bout of rain, 24 cohos appeared on Oct. 18.
“You don’t get to haul fish behind London Drugs at a shopping mall very often,” says Salmon in the City volunteer Dorothy Chambers while assessing salmon caught in the fish fence in the Colquitz River. @saanichnews #yyj pic.twitter.com/vNveGjBh1v
— Devon Bidal (@devonscarlett) October 22, 2019
As the season progressed, the fish continued to head up the river. A total of 119 fish were counted before the panels were removed on Nov. 29 – 59 males, 43 females, 14 young males and three unidentified fish. Last year, 218 cohos were counted, 315 came through in 2017 and 1,121 in 2016.
Only one cutthroat, steelhead and chinook were spotted in the trap and no hatchery fish were counted, Chambers noted.
“I am so very disappointed with our returns this year,” she said, pointing out the effects of the sediment contamination over the past few years.
Chambers also noted that increased seal and otter predation likely contributed to the low numbers of salmon this year.
The daily visits from school kids and community members brightened the mood at the fish fence. In mid-November, Students from Tillicum Elementary got to watch members of the World Fisheries Trust conduct educational dissections on frozen chum supplied by the Goldstream Hatchery.