The past month we have been active clearing the logging road of overhanging branches on the way to our smolts box and Swan Lake. The water temperature has been around 7c with no fish moving downstream until last Tuesday the 8th when the temperature came up to 10c. We had 3 Wild Coho around 85 to 95 mm on the Tuesday and then, by the following Saturday, the temperature rose to 12c, but only one fish was in the box.
No fish at that temperature could only mean one thing: we had a hole somewhere on the fence and the fish were getting through bypassing our two pipes. Sure enough, the wire mesh separated at the bottom of one panel with the water pushing open a large hole. We placed a piece of plywood over the hole until we could return on the following Tuesday. We repaired the hole and then counted the fish in the box. There was 45 wild Coho and one water beetle. The size of the smolts at 85 to 95 is a result of the cold spring last year. The fry were late in emerging and did not get enough thermal units to grow larger over the past year. Among the 72 we had last week (the 18th of May) we had some measuring around 112 to 125mm.
These would be 2 year olds that remained in the lake an extra year and will go to the ocean for two more years before returning as 5 to 6 pound adults. This is an amazing journey while putting on all that weight in just two short years. We expect the numbers to be steady until the end of June when they all will be heading out to the Salish Sea. Last month, we had a meeting with Environment Canada, Ducks Unlimited and DFO regarding the estuary at the head of the bay. We met at the hall in Nanoose in the morning then went for a walk in the estuary and then up Bonnel Creek in the afternoon to view the small woody debris log jam that had formed over the past year. DU had concerns about the stream jumping the bank and eroding a new channel into their pond. There was talk of bringing in a machine to clear it out, which I was not too happy with as the machine would have had to take out some live trees on the bank to access the site. The other alternative was to walk the machine up the creek, which also would have resulted in tree removal and damage to the existing habitat. Thankfully, the lady from DFO concurred with me and the decision was made to leave it alone and allow nature to take it course. On the left bank, there is a small channel which allows for fish access both up and down stream around the logjam. Over the summer months, we will be salvaging stranded fry from drying pools. This is a great time for the kids to see real wild salmon in their natural habitat and do some thing to preserve our wild salmon for the future.