Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Q and As – September

Hybrid salmon – I mentioned last week that one of the fish we caught in Quatsino Sound was a chinook/Atlantic salmon hybrid and this sparked comment. The distinguishing feature was big black spots on the fish’ gill plate, a farmed salmon trait. On the other hand, it had a black mouth and looked and smelled like a chinook. I took it for a hybrid Jack and turned the hook.

This is the third fish in the past decade that I have identified as a chinook/Atlantic cross, all taken from Campbell River north. In all cases I turned the hook, as all were undersized Jacks, and thus not legal to take. I let 99% of all fish I catch go anyway, so would not have taken it if it had been legal.

In addition, I have caught two other odd crosses: a lavender Jack – a cross with a char? – from the North Island; and a Jack with three distinct stripes of grey on a blue background in the Nitinat where there are no Dolly Varden char.

I have an image of an 8 pound summer steelhead from the North Island, that upon looking closely at the images came to believe it was a coho/summer cross, they both being present in late fall. And the most common hybrid on Vancouver Island are cuttbows, a cutthroat/summer steelhead cross. I have caught/photoed dozens of these over the years, as well as seen spawning steelhead populations with lots of small fish, presumably cutthroats or residualized ‘rainbows’.

It was suggested that I should have photoed the Quatsino fish, retained it frozen, and sent it to DFO for DNA identification. Without doubt I will photo such fish in future – I have a waterproof camera and will carry it. And I have sent a note to Minister Gail Shea asking her to authorize me to retain such a fish and forward it to DFO for their identification.

Also commented on, I have two PDFs of interest: more than 7 million Atlantic salmon were released over earlier decades of the 20th century in BC, but as no spawning populations took hold that seems proof they cannot reproduce in BC rivers, hence we catch no adult Atlantics. I have wondered why and perhaps have the reason. Our rivers are severely damaged by logging practices, with shifting mountains of silt and small gravel still being disgorged a century later. We have monsoons of heavy rain in the fall, high temperatures with low O2 in summer and our rivers tend to be of high gradient.

Of the few Atlantic rivers I have seen, all were characterized by large boulders – not gravel – and flat; they received less rain and didn’t look logging damaged. Maybe these differences account for the lack of Atlantic spawning success in BC.

The second PDF is the pairing of eggs and milt from the five species of Pacific salmon, steelhead and Atlantic salmon. The result was negligible numbers of fertilized eggs, which is to be expected. In other words, the chances of hybrids are slim to none. I can send the PDFs to anyone who wants them, and will try to attach them when I put this post on www.onfishingdcreid.blogspot.com.

I would be interested to hear if any reader has also encountered Atlantics, as anecdotally we hear of them. Perhaps I have seen more because I fish more often than the average angler and in many different bodies of water, for example, I have fished 40 different rivers/estuaries on Van Isle as well as saltwater. I may just see more fish. For example, this year I have released about 500 salmon/trout/char, and will probably release another 100 before the end of the year.

Sooke: Salmon are now in the Sooke Basin for fly and gear anglers. Above the silver bridge is fly fishing only. The river receives chum, coho and Chinook. You may want to connect with the Westcoast Flyfishers Association - http://sooke.org/flyfishing/ - that calls the town home.

The Association is having a fish out Sunday September 28, and you may want to join them in future. Billings Spit has had fish the past few days, and with the recent heavy rain, the fish will be moving into the river.

The expression for the west coast is: the first few inches of rain fill up the forest and the next few fill up the river. What this homily means is that since most of the coho go up De Mamiel Creek at the campground, the coho should be in, but not able to rise into it yet. And so should be there presented for you to fish.

The year I was hobbled with a hip replacement, I went down the rocks on hands and knees, only to find myself in calf deep water surrounded by several hundred coho too close to angle, and I too hobbled to move. Now there is a set of stairs for all, and you might try casting before getting into the water. The tides for Monday, September 29 are pretty flat, but I’ll take a look: 8:01 AM/6.6 ft; 10:50/6.2; and, 17:14/8.9.

Fraser River Sockeye: The Fraser Sockeye Panel wrapped up its year September 25. Migration past the Mission hydroacoustic site was strong last week with 2.7 million passing in seven days.

DNA analysis has shown that of the Whonnock test, 13% are Summer run (Harrison’s comprising 12- of the 13-%); and 87% Late run. So far 9.492 million sockeye have passed Mission.

2015 Calendars: David Lambroughton, brilliant fish photographer, is sending out the last of his calendars. He says: “For one $15 each, for two $25, for orders of 6 or more they are only $9 each and that includes free gift/mailing envelopes. I pay for the shipping on all orders and will include an invoice in the package.” Email davidlambroughton@telus.net. They are beautiful.

Port Renfrew Salmon Enhancement Society, Sept 28: Most of you will know Bob Gallaugher, President of the Society (See the Times Colonist of the same date for a large piece on their activities). The society is implementing a new five-year Chinook Salmon Marking Program.

Bob says, “We are very pleased to announce a five-year program to mark and code wire tag at least 40,000 chinook fry per year and raise them in our ocean net pens.” By 2024 they will be able to confirm the likely higher survival from hatchery bred, but ocean net-pen raising from the fin-clipped, coded-wire fish, heads turned in by anglers.

Fry are raised at the San Juan hatchery to 3- to 4-grams, then transferred to net pens in Fairy Lake and grown to 6- to 7-grams, then transferred to ocean net pens in San Juan Bay. A volunteer gets to go out every day and take various measurements and feed the fish – they stress that this lucky person has to go out in all weather conditions. Several weeks later, at 10- to 12-grams, the fry are released from the ocean pens.
Having watched fin-clipping, I can tell you the fumble-fingered need not apply – you’ll lose some digits. And the coded wires are so small – .25mm by 1mm – that 10,000 of them fit in a letter envelope. See: www.portrenfrewsalmonenhancement.ca. Thank you DFO and Society.


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