Juvenile Salmonid Trapping 2017
***IMPORTANT*** Before reading this article it is important to know that any kind of fishing on Mosquito Creek is strictly prohibited. Additionally, juvenile trapping without DFO approval is considered a serious offense. This project was approved by DFO and conducted by two of it's members, I was there only for observation and support. ***
Setting the Traps, April 4th
On the afternoon of April 4th, 2017, myself and two of our local DFO officers went to place traps in the Griffin & Fell Channels to observe numbers and size of fish species utilizing this habitat.
Eight traps in total were set. Four traps in the Griffin Channel and four traps in the Fell Channel.
During set up we observed a trio of Cutthroat Trout actively spawning in the Fell Channel, an activity never before observed by Scott, who has been working in the industry for over 20 years.
As we continued down the channel habitat we also spotted Coho "fry-of-the-year," tiny fry which had just hatched this year. The fry were only spotted in one pool, and there were approximately 5 observed. We estimate that they had emerged from the gravel within the last week or two.
The fish we expect to observe from the traps are Cutthroat Trout, Coho Salmon, & Steelhead (Rainbow Trout).
Griffin Channel Results, April 5th
On the morning of April 5th we returned to the traps to see what, if anything, was inside. There was great anticipation and everyone had a good feeling about today, especially me.
The first trapped was pulled from the Griffin Channel and it was alive with juveniles. I literally could not believe my eyes. As a volunteer on Mosquito Creek I frequent the creek and like to think I know the state of the sections of the creek and how much they are being utilized by fish.
I had suspected there must be fish in this section, but I had no idea how many or how large the fish would be in this piece of channel habitat. For a normal passer by one might think this deep pool with slow moving water is a "water-tundra" of sorts, all but barren except for the pieces of woody debris and sandy bottom coated with decaying leave litter.
Above you can see the photo of the fish pulled from the first trap . (We had transferred them into a pail at this point).
I was hoping for about 5 fish, to me that would have been a successful trap. To my delight there were 21 fish in the first trap! The majority were Coho juveniles, 1-2 years old, with a mixture of juvenile & adult resident Cutthroat Trout.
Sandie pulled the second trap, this trap was placed in the same pool as the first, and it too had fish in it, this time only 6, but a hugely positive result.
As we continued down the Griffin Channel, more positive results, lots of healthy fish!
***All fish were measured, counted, and released unharmed - without the use of any sedatives.***
Fell Channel Results, April 5th
The Fell Channel runs more narrow, and does not have the same large slow moving deep pools with the gradient of the Griffin Channel. For this reason, three of the four traps in this section were placed in faster moving and shallower water.
We expected fewer fish and this was indeed the case, the three traps averaged three fish per trap, also as expected the species observed were Cutthroat Trout by a large margin.
There are really only two areas of deep slow moving water on this channel, one of which was the area where the fry of the year were observed, and so we did not set a trap in this area.
The other deep slow moving pool proved to be utilized by Coho Juveniles as expected, 3 Coho and 3 Cutthroat were observed in this section. One of these Coho was the largest observed on this day, 111mm in length. We expect this is a smolt that will be heading out to brave the ocean waters very soon.
Final Tally & Thoughts
Although no Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) were observed, the results were simply amazing, the final count was 59 Coho & 21 Cutthroat, an improvement from years past.
Today I learnt how vital these man made channels are to the health of Mosquito Creek. I had always suspected that metre for metre these were much more valuable than the main stem, and today proved it.
With the help of community individuals, businesses, and other organizations I hope to further improve existing habitat and where possible add new beneficial features and channel habitat.