Chum heading to spawn

High expectations for this year’s Chum returns

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

According to data on the Pacific Salmon Explorer website, Northeastern Vancouver Island’s Chum runs have tended to be about 42% lower in the last decade. 2016 was an exception. Pete Calverley, from the Quadra Island Salmon Enhancement Society, recently told the National Observer,  “This year’s chum spawners are the result of a strong parent run four years ago.” The final numbers are not in yet, but there are high expectations for this year’s Chum returns. 

Chum salmon in front of the culvert in Basil Creek – Roy L Hales photo

Chum returns: Southeastern Vancouver Island

Terry Palfrey, Resource Manager with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the numbers further south, along the Nanaimo, Cowichan and Goldstream Rivers, are already much better than last year. 6,000 chum returned to the Goldstream. Between 45,000 to 50,000 are expected on the Nanaimo and over 160,000 on the Cowichan River.

Chum returns: Cortes Island

The numbers are lower on Cortes Island. 

There were only about 50 last year, but we have already greatly exceeded that. 

Will this year’s count match 2016’s, when more than 1,300 Chum were counted?

Cortes Island streamkeeper Cec Robinson emailed, “We are hoping that the bulk of the run is still to arrive, in the next few days, with this rain raising the stream levels. So far, as usual, Basil Creek is the most active. First chum counted just today (Wednesday, Nov 4th) in James Creek. A very few so far in Hansen. Nothing yet in Whaletown.”

It has been almost three weeks since October 17th, when a group of young streamkeepers from the Cortes School counted 197 Chum at the mouth of Basil Creek, in Squirrel Cove. This appears to be the highest of four tallies made that day. 

More fish arrive every day.  

While Cortes Currents’ visit to Basil Creek a few days ago was not a count, several dozen chum were reported. There were more waiting in Squirrel Cove, just outside the entrance to the creek, and in the segment of the creek between the mouth and culvert. Others had already swam upstream. 

Top photo credit: Chum salmon entering a river to spawn by marneejill via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)