Today was the day for transferring the chinook smolts from the Quinsam Hatchery to the grow-out pen in the Campbell River Discovery Harbour Marina. We, the Campbell River Guides Association, contribute to this aspect of salmon enhancement by providing a pen and bringing volunteers for transfer day and about twenty days of feeding, helped as well by other community volunteers. There are also a couple of other pens in different locations with sponsors and volunteers.
Hatcheries keep the young fish through the first fresh water stream part of their lives , and then, when they are ready to migrate, and change their equilibrium to live in salt water, they are called smolts. At this point they would normally be let loose into the natural stream and they'd swim down to the estuary and the sea, running a gauntlet of predators while their bodies are stressed.. It turns out that helping them though this vulnerable period by protecting and feeding them a while in a net pen increases their survival rate.
These little salmon will imprint on this location and be a little confused when they return as adults. Their internal GPS will say come here , but the river is a half mile north, so they will linger off target a little while before the smell of the river will draw them in. These are the first of an effort to breed parents of similar size. We'll see in 3, 4 and 5 years if some of these come back as representatives of the famous extra large Campbell River Tyees, which is their genetic heritage,