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chum at Basil Creek culvert
General News · 29th November 2019
Cec Robinson
The numbers of chum returning to spawn in Cortes Creeks for October & November 2019 are disappointingly low, and are reflective of below average chum returns in the overall South Coast and Johnstone Strait area. We always hope for strong returns each year, but realistically, we can make some general expectations based on past years. Chum will generally return in a 3-year or 4-year cycle.

Our counts of 2015 and 2016 indicate that 2016 was a very strong year with our highest overall numbers of spawning chum in Basil, Hansen & James Creeks and Chris’ Lagoon. In addition, 2015 was also a good year (second to 2016) for chum in Basil Creek. The chum in Basil Creek seemed to return in 2 distinct runs for each of these 2 years, which may be a result of higher numbers naturally spreading over 2 runs to improve their spawning success. Our count for Basil Creek in 2015 is 812 and for 2016 is 1954, although our counting methodology has room for improvement and these numbers may be inflated.

This year, our best estimate of chum in Basil Creek for 2019 is 60 fish. Hansen Creek may have had around 10 chum, and the total number of chum in our other spawning creeks may be less than 10 fish. This is very low, but not at all unique to Cortes.

There are so many variables that contribute to each year’s annual salmon returns, and many of these factors are unknown, so we can only hope that there will be a massive wave of chum on a 4-year cycle returning to Cortes creeks in 2020.

Many thanks go out to all the streamkeepers who wrestled with salmonberry bushes and fallen trees to count spawners. Our youth streamkeepers were Naio & Tristen, and the Cortes Streamkeeper troupe was joined by Wayne Roberts & Murray Lovell.
Thanks, also, to the watchful eyes of Ben & Ann Fulton, and Melissa Rickey & Gavin Livingstone, and the great support of landowners on Basil Creek.

2019 SPAWNER COUNTS
Basil Creek - Oct 26 to Nov 24/ 60 chum (Chris D, Rick & Deb, Cec)
Hansen Creek - Oct 26 to Nov 20/ 10 chum (Chris N, Leona)
James Creek - Oct 26 to Nov 22/ 5 chum (Max, Wayne, Murray, Christine, Cec + Children’s Forest youth)
Manson’s Lagoon Creek - Nov 12 / 1 chum (Mike, Christine)
Chris’ Lagoon - 0 chum (Mike Manson)
Frabjes Day Creek - Nov 17 / 0 chum (Gavin Livingstone, Melissa)

Aproximate Total - 75 chum (live + dead)