General News · 10th December 2020
FOCI Streamkeepers - Christine
The 2020 chum spawning season is over: the ripe aroma of morts (dead salmon) is gone, the carcasses have been well picked over, the feathered & four-legged predators have feasted, and hopefully, there are a million chum eggs snuggled in their redds.
This was a good year for chum returns to Basil Creek (Squirrel Cove), but a disappointing year for other Cortes creeks. The season spanned about 4 weeks, from mid-October to mid-November, with a total count for all the Cortes creeks of close to 1100 chum.
Here are our approximate numbers for each creek: Basil Creek – 1050 fish; James Creek through the Children’s Forest – 26 fish; Hansen Creek – 16 fish; Manson’s Lagoon Creek – 2 chum; Chris’ Lagoon (below Sprungman’s pond) - 5 chum; and Whaletown Creek – a very disappointing no fish.
Cortes creeks are relatively small and bank walking in teams of two or three is the best method of counting. Huge thanks to all the active FOCI Streamkeepers this fall for their heroic efforts scrambling through thick salmonberry bushes and climbing through log tangles: Dave Ewart, Chris Napper, Leona Jensen, Mike Manson, Chris Dragseth, Rick & Deb Kolstad, Wayne Roberts, Max Thaysen, Elizabeth Anderson, the awesome team from the Children’s Forest youth (Katie, Orlando, Clemente), Murray Lovell, Maureen Williams, Ralph Garrison, Tosh Harvey, Trinity Robertson, Mark Appleyard, Cec & Christine Robinson. We would like to make special mention of Dave Ewart, who wears both streamkeeper and fisheries hats, and has been our invaluable, behind-the-scene advocate on many salmon projects on Cortes.
Whaletown Creek spawners continue to be a concern and a mystery. Anecdotal reports from nearby residents suggest that a small number of chum returned to Whaletown Lagoon this year, as in past years. However, there were no chum seen in the creek above the arch culvert where streamkeepers have access. FOCI Streamkeepers are installing 2 incubation boxes (a welcome donation from Pacific Salmon Foundation) into Whaletown Creek this winter in the hope that this will initiate chum returns in four years. The Tla’amin Hatchery in Powell River will provide 40,000 chum eggs for Whaletown Creek, in addition to chum eggs going to the Klahoose Hatchery.
Even in a pandemic, the natural world carries on, and so must the salmon! We are truly grateful that Fisheries, Klahoose and Tla’amin will be able to make this happen in a covid-safe manner. The eggs will hatch into chum fry in March, and once they are ready to navigate their world beyond the incubation boxes or hatchery, they will hang out for three weeks in a creek before they swim out to sea and freedom. In 2024, we will look for the successful chum to return, and hope that 25-50 fish will make their way up Whaletown Creek.
Instream incubation boxes.