More. We've just had an exceptionally grand return of chinooks passing through our end of Johnstone Straits and adjoining passages. Terrific in number.
In sizes, mostly up to about 18 pounds, and a large portion of those on the small side. This is very good news. Those are three year old chinooks and this indicates good survival rates at sea. So we can expect, or hope, that the siblings which didn't come back this year, the ones that will mature as four year olds will come back as older and bigger fish next year.
( Backgrounder ; chinooks mature at a range of ages. Most chinooks we catch are 3 or 4 year olds. Some fewer go to 5 years, and possibly more. Another few, mostly males, will mature at only two years old. All Pacific salmon die after spawning. There are complications in counting the ages of chinooks as some go to sea in the spring after hatching, while other types remain in the stream for a year before descending.)
Big. In very interesting contrast to fish caught in the lower " Straits ", the return of chinooks to the nearby Phillips River have been big fish. Those fish are counted in the seine netting for brood stock in the very successful Gillard Pass Salmon Association chinook enhancement project. They are returning as mostly older fish, which is likely a result of the program " kick starting" that genetic line. Reports are of fish commonly in the high 20s, lots over 30, with many over that, into the 40s, and at least several in the high 50s. And, in numbers this is a great return.
I had hoped to join Rupert and the volunteer crew seining in the river this past Saturday but the plan was cancelled due to rainy weather and the river blown out of condition. As well as giving a helping hand , I would have liked to have seen those fish. Rupert will have a total assessment of the run later.
I'm also excited about prospects for the Campbell River and the Tyee Club rowing next season. There was a great improvement in the fishing action in the rowboats this year. But the fish were mostly in the smaller sizes, with quite a few in the teens, and into the mid 20s, and several 29 pounders just short of the Tyee 30 pound qualifying weight. Just 15 Tyees were registered , with two in the 40s. I'm optimistic that the 3 year olds are a favourable sign of good things to come : more older and bigger fish could be in store next year.