When four dead Coho salmon were found at the Reay Creek pond recently, it was a bit of bad fortune for the fish that heralded much better news for the stream itself.
During a period of high water, Peninsula Streams Society member Reg Kirkham said the Coho were caught high and dry at the dam on the pond. When the water receded, they were trapped, and died. While that’s bad news for those salmon, Kirkham said, it’s good news in that it shows Coho are returning to the creek to spawn.
“We haven’t seen Coho in this stream, this early, for a long time,” he said.
Kirkham has lived next to the pond since 1986 and has been a part of efforts to rehabilitate the stream.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this volume of salmon this far up the creek,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that.”
Peninsula Streams executive director Ian Bruce says there has been a lot of work done on Reay Creek by his organization, the Town of Sidney, the Sidney Anglers group and most recently the Victoria Airport Authority, which recently completed work to clean up section of Reay Creek on its property. It’s part of an ongoing effort to make the 800-meter waterway more hospitable to traditional populations of spawning salmon and trout and to educate the community of its impact on this and other waterways.
“The future came a bit earlier than expected,” Bruce said of the Coho salmon find. “There’s still more work to be done, over time. But it’s early in the spawning season and it’s good news, there’s a lot of fish.”
In a creek as small as Reay, Bruce noted there may be as many as 80 Coh. His plan is to do an inventory.
Kirkham added the society would like to get the pond to a state of clarity. That will involve the removal of sediment deposited there over many years of commercial and residential development, said Bruce.
In the long term, he said the society is working with municipal and airport officials to get the pond to a state where it’s possible to rear salmon.
In the meantime, Bruce said he’ll work with the town to come up with a screen to prevent future fish deaths in times of high water. He said it should be an inexpensive fix.