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General News · 23rd October 2022
FOCI Streamkeepers Christine
I trip over rocks & logs,
Sometimes I am fierce and can take things away,
In winter, I can be still,
In summer, I disappear,
Who am I? (Lily - creek)

Well, nearing the end of October, the water in Cortes creeks is at historic, disturbing lows.
Water is still trickling, and there are shallow pools in the lower reaches of the main fish-bearing creeks, but there is not enough water to make it possible for spawning salmon to move up the creeks and spawn.

The sound of rain on Sunday afternoon and evening is welcome music from above. We need steady rain, followed by serious rain for days to swell the creeks and welcome the chum. We all know this, and if the weather cooperates, there should be time for this.

Klahoose and key individuals monitored salmon presence in the four main Cortes creeks (Basil, Hansen, Whaletown & James Creek) since the 1980s. FOCI Streamkeepers began formally monitoring and documenting salmon returns in 2014. These records indicate that chum have shown up in Basil Creek (for example) as early as the end of September, more commonly in the last two weeks of October, and as late as the first two weeks of November. On years with large numbers of returning chum to Basil Creek, there is an early run through to the end of October followed by a second run through to the middle of November.

The chum life cycle is usually considered to be four years, so what can we hope for this fall?
In Basil Creek, the 2018 chum run was modest (about 300) and extended from October 14 to November 14, and these will be the fish we hope to see return soon. In Hansen Creek, there were over 100 chum counted in 2018 from Oct 13 to Nov 18, but since then, the numbers significantly dropped, so this year becomes especially important. In Whaletown Creek, spawner numbers have been low, but 2018 was the first year that chum eggs (20,000) were incubated in specially designed boxes over the winter and released as fry into Whaletown Creek in March 2019, which makes this fall the first year we hope to see a significant number of spawners returning.

What can you do to help? Be extra eyes and ears around the Cortes shoreline and bays. Watch for any fish and wildlife action in the bays – small feeder fish, jumping adults, sea lion and seal activity, flocks of congregating gulls, increased eagle presence. In the creeks, perhaps you will be the first to see fish splashing their way into the creek mouths, or in the evenings, you may hear them. If so, please contact one of the following FOCI Streamkeepers – Cec & Christine Robinson (6428), Chris Napper, Mike Manson, Chris Dragseth, Leona Jensen

A final thank-you goes to the property owners adjacent to the creeks that support monitoring and enhancement of creeks and salmon by streamkeepers and thereby being of benefit to all.