Simon Matthews, KEEPS chairman and hatchery volunteer, with a salmon. (KEEPS/Special to The News)

Simon Matthews, KEEPS chairman and hatchery volunteer, with a salmon. (KEEPS/Special to The News)

Salmon return to Maple Ridge rivers in healthy numbers

KEEPS hosting ‘eggs-citing’ event at hatchery on Sunday

Spawning salmon are returning in healthy numbers to Maple Ridge’s Alouette River and Kanaka Creek, according to Maple Ridge’s stream keeping groups.

They report being are excited to see chinook in both rivers, which has been rare in recent years.

“We were getting concerned about how the drought would impact this year’s Alouette salmon returns, but since the rain has appeared, the salmon have come, and in great numbers,” said Sophie Sparrow, communications and engagement manager with the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS).

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge environmental group releases tips for salmon viewing

So far ARMS has counted 6,000 chum salmon, with hundreds, maybe even thousands, stocked up behind the fish fence waiting to enter the trap for more counting.

The Alouette chum are donor stock for other Metro Vancouver watersheds, and the ALLCO hatchery, where ARMS is based, has met its target of taking 500,000 chum eggs.

They have counted 250 coho salmon to date, with more to come. The hatchery takes 75,000 coho eggs, which they hope to start taking next week.

And there have been 200 chinook salmon counted to date, which Sparrow says is “a staggering number of chinook returns for the Alouette watershed,” and “fantastic to see.”

Some 25,000 chinook eggs have been taken for the hatchery, which is the target number from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This is only the third year this target has been reached with returning Chinook in the Alouette.

ALLCO hatchery also receives 125,000 Chinook eggs from the Harrison stock, as a donor program to increase Chinook numbers in the Alouette.

Ross Davies, education coordinator for the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society (KEEPS), said so far this year eight chinook have found themselves in the fish trap at the Kanaka Creek Park Fish Fence at 240th Street. One would be considered a bit of a unicorn, and Davies said eight is unheard of, “a pleasant surprise,” and indicative of a good number of spawning chinook.

The chinook are released from the trap to spawn. Other varieties are taken to the Bell Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek Regional Park. As of Thursday, KEEPS had collected 280,000 chum eggs to stock the hatchery.

Chum returns can range between 1,000 and 8,000 on Kanaka, and it appears to be an average run this year, said Davies.

Coho are back in good numbers, and a healthy run is generally 2,000-3,000 range on the river, he added.

Pink salmon are not spawning this year.

• KEEPS is running an event to celebrate the spawning salmon and offer public education on Sunday, Nov. 6, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre. The event is called Let the Egg-citement Begin, and will teach about spawning. There will also be staff doing education at the fish fence from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

READ ALSO: UN chief warns planet is heading toward `climate chaos’


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