Flush from heavy rains, the Colquitz River’s vibrant Coho salmon population is returning to spawn.
As of Monday, the count totalled 93 Coho salmon, broken down as 15 females, 11 males and six unidentifiable, as well as 61 jacks, which are precocious two-year-old males returning early. Sixty-five of those fish came in on Monday following the weekend downpours, said Dorothy Chambers, lead steward for the long-running fish fence.
(Inset photo: A preschool class enjoys the new viewing area along the Colquitz River fish fence in Cuthbert Holmes Park. Submitted.
“[There’s] some nice sized adults coming in …. mostly all chrome [in colour], but a few are starting to ripen up … into the bright red spawning fish that we see a lot of,” Chambers said.
Last year’s Coho numbers were dismal not only at Colquitz but around the Greater Victoria and lower Vancouver Island spawning creeks and rivers.
After some lobbying from Chambers, Colquitz underwent an environmental clean-up last week with representatives from the federal and provincial governments, and Saanich’s parks, stormwater, and environmental departments all combining efforts to focus on the lower Colquitz River.
“Six shopping carts … many bikes, a mattress, signs, large plastic containers, construction material, and a ton of small garbage debris,” Chambers said. “Multiple truckloads were hauled away.”
Chambers hopes to schedule an annual river walk before the salmon season begins to assess the condition of the river and prevent any further build up of pollution.