Barrie Goodwin

Barrie Goodwin

Saanich volunteers have fingers crossed for solid salmon season

Colquitz River fence helps stewards monitor returning coho numbers

The arrival of fall brings with it cooler weather and colourful foliage, but for the stewards who oversee the Colquitz River, it also marks the start of salmon season.

A small dedicated crew of volunteers recently installed a fish-counting fence in the river behind Tillicum Centre. The fence allows the stewards to keep a close eye on the coho salmon that will return to Saanich to spawn in the coming months.

“There’s scientific value in knowing what’s migrating up the creek and what’s coming down; that’s why we do the counting. The count results give you an indication of the health of the watershed,” said Chris Bos, a board member with the Colquitz Salmonid Stewardship and Education Society.

For a dozen autumns now, volunteers have visited the counting fence daily as part of their monitoring of the waterway’s health.

Stewards not only count the number of fish heading from the Gorge up the river, they identify species and sex, measure each fish and inspect its visual health.

The fence funnels fish into a temporary holding cell, from which volunteers remove them one at a time for counting. They’re then released upstream from the fence.

Since its installation on Oct. 5, the fence hasn’t caught any fish – though volunteers acknowledge it’s still very early in the season.

While the water level is still quite low in the Colquitz, Bos said, a few coho made it up the river in late September when the region was hit with heavy rain and wind.

While the number of fish counted each year fluctuates, Bos is cautiously optimistic this will be a good year, which would indicate a relatively healthy creek.

“Last year we had good (coho) returns in the Gorge, Portage Inlet, Craigflower (Creek) and Colquitz. This year should be pretty well the same,” he said. “The reason we can say that is (because) we’ve seen a lot of coho out in the ocean area in Juan de Fuca and off of Victoria. We’re expecting a pretty good return.”

Since fall 2011, stewards have played a much more prominent role in monitoring the health of the creek, as multiple home heating oil spills and leaks have hit the Colquitz during salmon spawning season. While short-term impacts were felt in the form of some adult salmon turning up dead, there’s still no indication what the long-term impacts will be on the Colquitz’s health.

While those risk factors remain, work on the Craigflower and Johnson Street bridges create other possible hazards for marine species that inhabit area waters.

“Those projects could pose potential difficulties for the fish, but I know that both (projects) are being undertaken under the supervision of consultants and fish biologists,” Bos said. “Right now there are fish returning – there are potential dangers for them – but there’s nothing as bad as an oil spill going on at this stage.”

To check out the fish fence, walk along the trails in Cuthbert Holmes Park right behind Tillicum Centre. It’s located alongside the pedestrian footbridge.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

VicPd are asking for the public’s help in finding Camper, a lost pit bull who ran away after their owner’s van was reportedly attacked by a man with a hammer on June 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Edmonton man reportedly smashes van’s windows with hammer while woman and her dog inside

VicPD are asking for help to find Camper, the woman’s dog who ran away during the Friday incident

Red arrow shows the existing warehouse that is home to a variety of specialized equipment used by the Capital Region Emergency Services Telecommunications (CREST). The service provider is looking for a new home that will protect the equipment in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. (Google Maps)
CREST telecoms look to find a post-seismic facility in Greater Victoria

The move will better protect equipment vital to its 50 emergency service clients across the CRD

A client and a staff member embark on an art project at Oak Bay United Church. (Christine van Reewyk/News Staff)
VIDEO: Oak Bay group of adults with developmental disabilities promotes community inclusivity

Victoria Community Connections moved to Oak Bay late last year

(Black Press Media file photo)
FRESH AND LOCAL: Greater Victoria farm markets ready to greet shoppers

A list of markets on the go this spring and summer, right into fall

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Most Read