General News · 30th November 2013
November is coming to a close, as is that incredible salmon cycle of life and death. 2013 has been a been a good year for spawning chum returns when measured against recent years, although not to be confused with the historic runs of forty and fifty years ago.
The major rains that swelled our creeks on November 1 triggered the beginning of chum returning to several Cortes creeks this fall, and within a few days, the first chum began splashing their way up Basil, Hanson, Whaletown and Frabjous Day Creeks.
Basil Creek in Squirrel Cove has supported the largest spawning salmon returns on Cortes in recent years. Spawning salmon were seen in Basil Creek from November 2 for about 3 weeks. Although a total count for the year of returning salmon is difficult, on November 15, about 70 chum and 72 carcasses were counted within an hour between the mouth of the creek and the culvert under the main Squirrel Cove road. Klahoose monitor Basil Creek and other Cortes creeks, in conjunction with the Quinsam Hatchery, and usually do fish counts of returning salmon every fall.
Hanson Creek empties into the Gorge Harbour at the bottom of the Gorge hill. Ben & Ann Fulton cast a careful watch over fish that are returning to spawn in Hanson Creek. The last two years have been poor, but this year, their estimation was that about 50 chum returned to spawn between the mouth of the creek and the second bridge leading up the Gorge hill.
Whaletown Creek has a small salmon run. The Robertson’s have been monitoring returning salmon for years as they pool in Whaletown Lagoon, and then find a suitable patch of gravel somewhere in the creek between the lagoon and the culvert under the main road. We look forward to checking with the Robertsons to get their estimation of returning chum for this year.
A delightful, little-known creek called Frabjous Day (check Jabberwocky/Lewis Carroll) runs into a small bay and estuary northeast of Cortes Bay. This small creek miraculously supports a small return of chum most years. In early November this year, a count of 9 live fish and 16 carcasses was made on one morning.
Equally surprising, was the sighting by Ryan Harvey and home-schoolers of about 5 fish pooling at the head of Manson’s Landing Lagoon, just below the waterfall. One carcass on November 18 was the only remaining evidence.
Many people from Cortes were drawn to Basil Creek to witness this remarkable annual phenomenon, including school & after-school children, and home schoolers. Thanks to Delia Becker for sharing her salmon knowledge with the children.
FOCI formally endorsed a stream stewardship and adopt-a-creek programme at their recent AGM. Cec & Christine Robinson will coordinate this, and look forward to working closely with the expertise from Klahoose. Spring fry observations and fall spawning runs will be monitored, and added to the historical data collected over the years by the Klahoose Fisheries Programme and other committed fish folk. This will be stored with FOCI and the Cortes Museum.
We are also looking for further information on salmon in James Creek and Carrington Lagoon; please give Cec or Christine a call at -6428.
How wonderful that many people in our community are drawn to witness returning salmon and this timeless renewal of life.