Stream keepers

Where has all the rain gone, what was the wet coast has been the dry coast so far this winter which for the fish maybe a problem next year with limited recharge within the watersheds.

With a recent walk along Bloods Crk from Lantzville Rd to the highway and above it was gratifying to see dead carcasses still visible here and there. This section just below the highway is a hidden jewel this close to the village core, a little difficult to walk down into the gully but well worth it. { Possible park status ?]

This is the site of one of the volunteer garbage cleanups we conducted in the past where we removed a big dumpster load of garbage, it was good to find very little trash and no garbage dumped down the bank.

With all the eggs tucked away within the substrate walking the streambed is not advisable until the fry have emerged next spring. With winter we get some sea run cutthroat venturing into our streams looking for stray eggs and later on spawning opportunities for there own offspring.

The small stream called Slogar Brook which runs from the kennel property parallel to Lantzville road then down Sebastion to exit on Sebastion beach at one time was a active spawning stream for Sea Run Cutthroat as late as the 80′s fish were reported to be seen spawning.

The stream contains native Cutthroat, which remain their whole life within the stream hence being on the small size when compared to the Sea Run cutthroat. Due to urban development the only continuous wetted reach runs from the beach to Lantzville Rd.

Above very little wetted habitat is available due to being ditched over the years and overall flows restricted from diversions.

The only stream that was showing difficulty was Craig Creek due to its flow going subsurface at Northwest Bay Rd. On recent walks below the road we found carcasses and bits lying along the banks down to the estuary at the Salish Sea.

In years past when we had been walking along the upper reaches we encountered Wild Coho making their way upstream as late as January.

How do Salmon find their place of birth, often asked I usually reply that they smell the river or stream of their birth, smell how can that be they say so I go on to explain how a fishes brain is kind of shaped like a Y with the thinking part at the Y junction and on either end of the top of the Y are the olfactory organs which are connected directly to the nose allowing the fish to smell the free molecules in fresh water and hence can detect individual drops that come from the very same pool that they were born into.

This is another reason that wild Salmon are more able to survive than hatchery fish by passing on this trait to their offspring, which in the hatchery environs does not occur.

A study done on Sockeye showed that after catching fish off Haida Gwai and blinding some fish while blocking the noses of others resulted in only the ones who made it back were the ones who were blinded. Another study found that when gravel was replaced with fresh gravel often from a quarry the fish had a hard time finding a familiar place to spawn due to the smell of the gravel being different, go figure something as simple as smell would be one of the main reasons for millions of Salmon returning to there home waters.

Trees which grow in particular soil types also affect the PH of the water which in turn affects the smell that is why when a different species of tree is re-planted the PH of the water exiting the forest is changed further confusing the fishes sense of smell.

Over the holidays we planted native trees right up to Xmas mainly down in the wildlife reserve at the head of the bay, which contains Bonnel and Nanoose Creeks.

We still saw dead Chum laying all throughout the estuary mainly due to the low flows and lack of rain not flushing them out and most wildlife being sated on fish from the big runs last fall.  When they get hungry later they may still munch on those rotten old eyeless Chum drifting around the streams.

With all the eggs tucked away nice and snug in their gravel we now await their emergence from the gravel this coming spring to begin their epic life cycle and journey around the Pacific Ocean.


Fishy Fish

Estuary days

Still the water sits


Ripples stir the surface

Cronk goes Heron

Mother Salmon calls

The return begins.





Posted in Fishing Articles, January 2014, Streamkeepers
One comment on “Stream keepers
  1. Ursula Vaira says:

    Nice article John. I really enjoyed reading it.

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