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Oct 04 2010

Chatting with DFO

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We left the fish hatchery and walked toward the beach. I saw a boat and a truck and a figure in brilliant orange vest and waders putting fish nets in the boat. Gordon was already taking a photo of a dead sockeye when I headed toward the waders.

dead and dying salmon

dead and dying salmon

“Hello – Hi – Hello” “have you got a few minutes to chat?” The orange and waders turned around. I was moving pretty fast by now when a very dead and decomposing fish came up under my foot. I launched myself forward, narrowly missing it’s glassy eye. “Hi, I’m Priscilla and I’m blogging about salmon.”

Chatting with DFO

Chatting with DFO

We chatted. There are two DFO crews working the Shuswap below the Wilsey Dam. They use jet boats to collect Sockeye and Chinook.

Chinook in the Bessette

Chinook in the Bessette

He tags the fish in order to count them. I asked if he tags every one of them. He explained it like this: Think of it like having a box of white marbles – we take some of those marbles and put a black mark on them. Then we toss them back in the box and mix them up. Later when we take a handful and count the number of white and the number of black we get a good idea how many salmon came here to spawn. I asked him if that number is used to estimate how many can be caught by the fishery when this run returns in 4 years. He said it was more complex than that but it’s an important number.

Spawning Coho Salmon in Bessette Creek

Spawning Chinook in Bessette Creek

I commented on the fabulous Sockeye return to the dam and told him about the fish ladder that’s been promised since 1929. He said he thought we would likely need political will. The salmon below the Wilsey Dam are wild sockeye that don’t go up the Bessette. I asked him about the endangered Coho in the Bessette. Told him that I was mistaken about which salmon were which.

The Coho are expected to arrive around the 2nd week of October so with any luck they’ll be here when we walk the Lumby Salmon trails with Alexandra Morton on October 13th. DFO doesn’t interfere with a small run like the Coho up the Bessette but returning numbers even on small runs are looking good. It’s not official but I was really happy to hear that the Louis Creek salmon numbers look pretty good so far. I said that I’d heard several complaints about the jet boats going up and down the river. I said that people don’t know what DFO is doing. I suggested that DFO put a note in the paper or send fliers to inform people what to expect.

DFO Jet Boat

DFO Jet Boat

It would be nice for people to know how many times a day to expect DFO crews driving up and down the river. He agreed that people ought to know what DFO is doing. At that point the other boat was approaching. He said he had to get going. It was coming in pretty fast but slowed as it neared us. The two boats left. I waved as they went along the beach – salmon under their bow. As we walked back to our car they started their motors – absolutely deafening – screaming.

I hope they wear hearing protection.

DFO jet boats over salmon

DFO jet boats over salmon

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