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Author Topic: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017  (Read 4759 times)

Every Day

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2017, 10:09:26 AM »

I know I talked with you in person recently Dave, but a few observations from what I've seen on the island....

You had said that you strongly believe that the fish spawn quickly and leave, maybe within days. I really believe this to be true. I've seen it on a number of island systems where we have even caught kelts with sea lice on them still (meaning they entered the river, spawned, and are in the process of leaving within 7 days). I find this to be more true with females however. I find that bucks will often guard the nesting area for quite some time - up to weeks (so it makes sense in Centennial that you're seeing single bucks from y experience). I've rarely seen a healed up/mended buck, they seem to always get so beat up that they stay in the same general area until they die.

Maybe counts twice a week would help see more fish if you had more people able to do it. Unfortunately, without tagging, etc, it will be impossible to know if you're counting the same fish twice in case a few do stay longer than a couple/few days, etc. I also suggested that maybe you are not seeing all the fish. I'm not too familiar with the channel, but if there are undercuts, etc, it's possible that fish may be holding out of sight until certain times of day? Only a person in the water physically looking under cuts, stumps, etc would help with that.

I'm glad to see you doing water temperatures now. It's interesting looking at your past recaps at how 2014 and 2015 had earlier spawn times (or higher numbers on those dates anyway), as those were the warm/low water years. This year it seems to have started late with your best numbers seen recently. This has also held true on the island. This year we decided to take water temperatures every day. We didn't fish a river over 4.5C up until mid march. Not surprisingly, I found fish showed up later than normal this year in the systems where they tend to come in and spawn quickly. To give some perspective:

- One small river we fish often was producing good numbers from late Jan to mid Feb in 2015, and had very few fish by March. This is the river that the fish typically enter, spawn, and leave within a week. 2016 was slightly cooler early season, and we didn't see fish in it until late Feb through till mid March. This year, we caught very few fish until the Mid/End of March. The peak this year was Easter long weekend when water temperatures finally hit 8C. The beginning of entrance time this year was at approx 6C.

It seems in the small coastal watersheds, the fish hold out in the ocean until water temperatures hit a certain range and then they enter. In larger rivers like the Vedder, perhaps they use the large river as their "ocean" and only enter the small side spawning channels once water temperatures are appropriate.
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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2017, 09:30:52 AM »

Thanks for your thoughts Dan, they are comparable to the findings of Washington State conservationist Bill McMillan, who is doing steelhead monitoring of Skagit River tributaries.  More on this later.
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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2017, 08:05:01 AM »

Trip # 7 seven was made on Tuesday, May 23 by Buck and I - after last week’s fish bone incident I  reluctantly decided to leave Emmathedog at home.   As expected Chilliwack Lake was higher than last week, making viewing in the staging area impossible, but we did see 18 fish on the gravel.  This is the second latest we have counted this site so there are not many comparable years; in 2012 we saw 8 fish; in 2013 we saw 1. Water temperature was 11° C                                                   
Centennial Channel had 5 fish, a single male and a group of 4 (1 female, 3 males).  Conditions for observations were poor so no doubt we missed a few.  In 2011 we saw 19; in 2012 we saw 7; in 2013 we saw 1; in 2014 we saw 0.  Water temperature here was 9° C
The Middle Creek site was too high for counting, and only 2 were seen at the Chilliwack Hatchery overflow.

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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2017, 12:26:59 PM »

Buck, Emmathedog, and I made our 8th and final trip into the upper river on Monday, May 29th  but in hindsight we should have stayed home.  Chilliwack Lake was about 2’ higher than last trip and visibility was very poor.  4 fish on the gravel were seen, however, and most likely there were more.  This is the latest we have counted at this site so there are no past year comparisons.  Water temperature was 13° C.

We decided not to bother with Centennial Channel because we knew from last week’s observations any fish present would be extremely difficult to see because of the increased streamside foliage and shadows caused by sunlight.  Again, we have no past data for this site at this approximate date. The Middle Creek bridge site was far too high for observations.

All in all we feel this year’s count of early run wild fish are comparable and in some cases higher than previous years, leading us to think the poor returns of hatchery fish were not just a product of poor ocean survivals, but probably the result of the release of smaller than optimum, and disease compromised, juveniles.

We are shocked with the recent announcement DFO’s habitat restoration unit is being curtailed. The work they have done on Centennial Channel, the Middle Creek bridge site, and especially the huge gravel augmentation at the outlet of Chilliwack Lake is to be commended and is a factor in why wild steelhead still exist in this system.  Sadly, without this group maintaining these sites we fear for the future of these fish, and the other salmonids that use them.  Shame on DFO’s senior management people for making this shortsighted and ridiculous decision.

One can only hope social media and the power of the people will overturn this ... I urge all readers to get involved; talk to others about this, sign petitions, contact your MLA's.  The future of wild salmonids is on the balance.

« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 05:00:03 PM by Dave »
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wildmanyeah

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2017, 11:03:30 AM »

Dave thanks for all the work you have done with these reports incredibly value information.


I also have been using this report over the years when i want to do some out of the way steelhead fishing. In it it references Chilliwack rivers float counts but i could not seem to find it would be intresting to see how the float counts compare to what u are now seeing these days.

http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/acat/documents/r1555/Alouette,Coquitlam,Chehalis,KanakaSnorkelFloats2002_1096923066994_acb6ef35b3924711b238f1fd186c107d.pdf
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 11:06:07 AM by wildmanyeah »
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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2017, 03:31:00 PM »

I used to have all the data from the Vedder-Chilliwack float counts, starting in the 70’s, but can't find it now.  The information is still available however ... I was involved in a few of the earlier counts and I remember one when over 750 were seen.  Considering only a portion of the total population would have been observed, that number is impressive.  Having said that, comparing what Pete and I see now to those past float count numbers would be very misleading as the entire river was floated back then … we only count 3 spots.
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firebird

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2017, 09:41:15 PM »

I used to have all the data from the Vedder-Chilliwack float counts, starting in the 70’s, but can't find it now. 
Trade ya for a cane rod rebuild  ;) ;) ;)

This should suffice http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/acat/documents/r2210/chilliwack_adult_2001_1106349746675_e5c96f8eb41e4f4b8c1eb5150a80e5f7.pdf
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 10:00:01 PM by firebird »
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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2017, 10:29:09 PM »

Thanks Firebird, thought you'd come through ;)  Let's talk about that rebuild ...
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Dave

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2017, 06:22:50 AM »

Was told the other day the recently resurrected Habitat Restoration unit of DFO will be placing more (lots more) spawning gravel in the upper river this summer ... good news.  Also, they plan to extend and improve the Peach Creek channel in the lower river.  Thank goodness Ottawa listened to the people who spoke out about the plan to disband the most important group working to improve wild salmonid habitat :) 
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bigsnag

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Re: Upper Chilliwack River steelhead counts, 2017
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2017, 07:59:05 PM »

Fascinating read. Thank you.
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