Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pink and Chum Fry

The Bella Coola River and its tributary streams are well known in the salmon world for the pink and chum salmon runs.  The chum salmon run has sustained a commercial salmon fishery for many generations of fish and fishermen in Bella Coola.  The Atnarko River - one of the two major rivers that form the Bella Coola River (the Talchako River is the other one) is famous in history for the size of its pink salmon run - while the last 10 years runs have been small and more modest there are years like 1962 and 1988 where the total stock of returning fish exceeded 10 million pink salmon.  On a really good year the Atnarko River should see 1 million pink salmon spawn (the rest are caught in salmon fisheries) but even 2 or 3 hundred thousand is impressive.  Historically the even years are the strongest run, while 2010 wasn't that strong a year, whatever fish were in the system were devastated by the Great Flood of 2010. 

Last weekend when the sun was bright and the water in the Bella Coola River clear would normally be perfect conditions to walk along the shore and see pink and chum salmon fry along the margins, as they wait for darkness to migrate downstream on their way to the ocean.  Try as I might this year I haven't seen a pink or chum fry, so the effects of the flood from September 2010 by anecdotal observations suggest a near wipe out of the spawn from those fish.  It will be a dry few years coming up in 2 years for pink and 3,4, and 5 years for the chum salmon returning to the Bella Coola River.  Grizzly

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