Summer sockeye stocks have been returning to spawning grounds at Scotch Creek and Anstey and Seymour rivers while late-run sockeye that call the Shuswap home, including the Adams and Eagle rivers, will soon be on their way. (File photo)

Nearly 7 million late-run sockeye due to return to Shuswap

Officials hope promising Scotch Creek early-return bodes well for Adams River run

And so it begins.

Millions of late-run sockeye salmon are due to return to the Shuswap in this the dominant year of a four-year cycle.

Mike Lapointe, senior biologist with the Pacific Salmon Commission, says some 157,000 late-run sockeye have already entered the Fraser River and test fisheries indicate another 200,000 to 250,000 are holding off near the mouth of the river.

“There’s no big build-up yet,” he said Aug. 16, pointing out the numbers only account for about 357,000 to 407,000 of the 6.9 million forecast for Shuswap Lake late-run sockeye. “The run is building now but they were expected to meet their 50 per cent timing run by Aug. 17.”

Lapointe was hoping more salmon would arrive near the mouth of the Fraser River in the following few days.

“It looks like it has been a slow start, but things have picked up and we’re seeing a significant abundance,” he said. “Most of the sockeye are coming from the Juan de Fuca Strait, through the U.S. and back up to the Fraser River.”

Lapointe says about 75 per cent of the run is coming that way with the other 25 per cent heading from the north.

While test fisheries are giving officials a “so-far-so-good” degree of confidence, Lapointe has concerns for the fish that have already entered the river for the 600-kilometre-plus voyage to their Shuswap spawning grounds.

Related: Help conserve salmon

“It’s so early to really know, but the handful of early starters have a pretty poor chance to survive to October,” he says of the peak spawning time on the Adams. “In the first two weeks of August, the temperature in the river was 22 C or above.”

Water depth and temperature play a huge role in the survival rate of migrating sockeye, with a temperature of more than 20 C being a real cause for concern.

“It’s interesting, in the last few days the temperatures have been lower than forecast,” he says, noting the presence of smoke from a number of wildfires is possibly having a mitigating effect. “Right now the river is crappy and the fish in there now are going to have a tough time.”

Comparing the river to a bathtub, Lapointe says shorter days and cooler overnight temperatures should also help. And he’s hoping the rest of the sockeye and other stocks that are not on their way yet will encounter temperatures that are more hospitable.

Related: Salmon Society to host symposium

Lapointe is also hopeful a new assessment tool that compares the ratio of late-run sockeye to early summer stocks returning to Scotch Creek, Seymour, Anstey and Eagle rivers might bode well for the Adams run.

He says estimates for the early summers are creeping up to the median forecast of 1.8 million.

Smolts from both runs would have left for the Pacific Ocean at the same time and if the forecast for early summer stocks proves right, it could mean later stocks will do just as well.

“If we get 1.8 on the early run it would suggest the late run might be a bit better than originally forecast,” he adds. “The smolts are reared in the lake, are coming out at the same time and in the same ocean, so hopefully they’ll have the same survival rate.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kelowna classroom where child allegedly overdosed re-opens after cleaning

An 8-year-old was unresponsive and unable to walk after ingesting an unknown substance at school.

Video: Rain doesn’t deter Terry Fox runners in Salmon Arm

Dozens showed up to continue the Canadian icon’s marathon of hope.

Friends and family gather for Parkinson SuperWalk in Salmon Arm

Word on the street: How has Parkinson’s Disease affected you or your family?

Vote online to help light up the Larch Hills

Larch Hills Nordic Society competing for Kraft Heinz Project Play funding

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Road block was costly legal battle for Summerland

Resolving Garnet Valley dispute took six years

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Most Read