Four year old Lachlan Ross was eagerly tipping pails full of fish fry into a protected weir at Douglas Creek of Mount Douglas Park on Friday.
His was the first of about 35,000 chum fry that were stocked into the creek. Ross will be seven when the first of the chum return to the creek, though some male cohos which were placed in the creek in January are expected to return as soon as this fall.
“It’s quite remarkable when you think about it, how these salmon will find their way to the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) and all the way back to this creek,” said Peter McCully of the Howard English Hatchery at Goldstream.
McCully and his crew backed a truck down the narrow trail to get to the creek, about 10 metres from the houses of Robinwood Drive in Gordon Head.
The weir acts as a natural holding tank where the chum salmon spend 48 to 72 hours “imprinting” the scent and taste of the Douglas Creek water, where they’ll return in three to five years after circling a good portion of the Pacific Ocean.
“Once the fish are released, they’ll immediately make their way to the ocean, some faster than others, all the while continuing to build the imprint which will guide them back here one day,” McCully said.
The stocking is part of a five-year plan to restore Douglas Creek to its former glory as a salmon-bearing stream. The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society is overseeing the project with support from Saanich Parks as well as the Pacific Salmon Foundation.