Back at the keyboard after a couple of months away from writing the column, many projects and the big one was I put a new roof on my house which took a month working around the rain and believe it or not in the beginning the hot sun melting the shingles, one friend said I was not applying them fast enough, I thought I did very well hand nailing every shingle at 65 running around on the roof.
Over the very hot year the volunteers where super busy rescuing wild Coho fry and Trout’s from drying streams and taking them up into the hills to year round wetted habitat. Around 15000 + where moved ensuring that these valuable Salmon have a chance at survival. The streams remained dry all the way up to October and Bonnel was still dry by November. Many wild Chum salmon arrived to find no water flowing and most came up on the high tide to find themselves stranded when the tide left.
Being stranded in small pools made for a smorgasbord for wild life. Blackie the Bear had a great feast with Racoon, Mink, Otter, Marten and all the avian life feasted for over a month until flows where sufficient to allow passage further up stream.
It was fun to watch the Chum spawning within the tidal zone of the creeks with as you can see by the attached picture spawning area was limited resulting in this Chum being half buried by another digging its redd.
No wild Coho showed up until the middle of November with still very little flow for them to each the upper reaches of the streams. Today December 1st we found several carcasses of wild Coho on Bonnel which is great as if we found carcasses then at least some made it up stream to spawn and hopefully we will get a few more over the next few weeks. We have in the past had wild Coho entering the streams as late as Xmas eve so fingers crossed that we get more.
Over all this year was the driest we have seen the streams since I started in 85 and as stream keepers since 99 when we officially became a society. Even now as of today the flows are at all time lows, as we walked in the estuary this morning we reminisced about the years when the whole estuary was under water with wild Chum swimming around in the grass. Past years saw water overflowing the dyke around the DU pond but as of today the water is still low and as one volunteer said it looks like it does in July when we begin to think about draining it to allow the trapped salmon smolts to leave.
We need more rain though it has been overcast and seems like fall we have had no rain to recharge the upper watershed. Over the summer we continued with our habitat work made easier with no water giving us more time to tie logs back into the banks helping to create pools and prevent undue erosion of the banks.
In Lantzville I had a few calls about the Beaver dam on Bloods at the beach. My recommended action was to leave it alone as the Coho can jump over and even Chum can navigate small dams. During this time I had Steve from the public works department follow me home one day to exclaim joyously that he had been at the end of Oar Rd watching wild Coho jump the dam. Bloods gets every year a few wild Coho returning to spawn all the way up above the highway and every year we get a few wild Chum returning spawning all the way up to the highway culvert.
In the early new year we get Sea run Cutthroat spawning in Bloods, Knarston, Slogar brook [Sebastion Beach in the middle] Bonnel Nanoose, Maelstrom and Crags creeks. As you can read all streams are very much alive and functioning as best they can consider all the abuse they have experienced over the past 100+ years of urban and industrial development when no one cared about the fish let alone any other wild life. Hopefully we will have a good base to carry us into the future and our great grand kids can still see Salmon spawning along these urban streams.
This fall we lost a long-time volunteer Errol Tucker who passed away peacefully after eating his desert and falling asleep. He will be missed as he was a fountain of knowledge when it came to tree planting after spend many years running Silva culture operations around the coast. After the holidays we will be having a dedication ceremony in the estuary to place a plaque by the tallest Spruce tree Errol planted many years ago.
Best Fishes to one and all and may you all have a great time with your families and remember all those who have no home or family at this time of year and give generously to the food drive in Lantzville and surrounding communities.
If anyone out there buys a live tree in a big pot and want to donate it to be planted next to a stream then contact me through the comment section below.