Welcome back old chum.
All of the sudden, salmon have returned to the fish fence on Kanaka Creek. Under the bridge on 240th Street in Maple Ridge, chum salmon are splashing around, breaking the surface as they fight, and spawning in front of the fence that went up on Oct. 1.
The first group arrived on Tuesday, which was a relief to local people who were starting to wonder how healthy the salmon run would be. Given the drop in Fraser River sockeye from an expected five million to 600,000, and the closure of all salmon fishing on the lower Fraser, naturalists were worried for the salmon runs in local tributaries.
But Ross Davies of the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society (KEEPS) said chum are appearing in Kanaka, and he checked the North and South Alouette Rivers and found them there as well.
“It has been a slow start this year, and the test fisheries numbers support that,” he said. “It’s not huge numbers, but they are coming.
“This week will tell a lot. It looks like the numbers are starting to build.”
They are scattered early comers, and the run will peak at Halloween, he said.
“It can get pretty stacked in here,” he said, noting there are typically 3,000 to 8,000 chum in the Kanaka run.
On Wednesday afternoon two Grade 8 classes from Samuel Robertson Technical walked down to the fish fence to see the spawning salmon and learn from Davies, the education coordinator for KEEPS.
He said spawning salmon always draw crowds.
“We had 175 people here on Sunday, and we had one fish.”
Coho will come in November and December, in numbers ranging from 500 to 5,000 fish.