Steelhead in the News

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Northern Branch Telkwa Coho Ponds Update

 The Northern Branch has been hard at work over the last 3 years rehabilitating critical fry rearing habitat on the Telkwa River. This spring was the first time in over a decade that fry were able to enter, and utilize the rearing ponds. The project will be ongoing as site improvements are slated for this coming spring and ongoing routine maintenance is required to ensure functionality.

Below are a series of photos from the last 3 years.

The outflow from the pond complex to the Telkwa River. Note how there is no water.



This is the outflow once a series of beaver dams and other obstructions were removed.


Volunteers repairing fencing used to keep beaver from building dams and blocking fry access to the upper pond complex.



One of the old debris traps.


New debris trap installation. Once installed the water from the ponds was able to flow freely through culverts under a FSR Road to the Telkwa River.


A series of information signs placed around the pond complex to educate visitors on the importance of this unique rearing habitat.




The Northern Branch would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers and donors for their support:

Oscars Source for Adventure

Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge

Smithers Secondary School



Fish ID License Paper

SSBC made up and distributed copies of a basic salmon identification document to lower mainland tackle shops. The Northern branch also has a copy for distribution in the northern part of the
province. The idea being that when a customer purchases or renews their angling licence that it is printed on the blank side of this salmonid identification document.

Fertilizers boost declining B.C. fish populations

VANCOUVER - Young steelhead and salmon grew dramatically in streams seeded with sacks of slow-release fertilizer, a method that shows real promise to help rebuild collapsed spawning populations, according to B.C. biologists. The method has proven effective at improving steelhead growth and survival in Vancouver Island streams in programs dating back to 1989.

Steelhead fry in treated areas are typically about 95-per-cent larger than those in untreated streams, while coho fry are about 40-per-cent bigger. Fish counts in the Keogh River found a 50-per-cent increase in the number of coho that survived the freshwater stage of life.

Read full article on the Vancouver Sun website:

Getting the rearing ponds back into action

Telkwa Rearing Ponds

The Northern branch of the Steelhead Society of B.C. spent a couple of cool afternoons working on the Telkwa Coho ponds in mid-November, one of the projects the group has decided to work on this year.

On Nov. 13 and 14 a group of seven people each day went to the ponds, located at the side of the Telkwa River, to set traps to see what state the ponds were in and to tidy the place up a bit.

On Sunday the group began a clean-up to prepare for more work in the spring.

The weekend was headed up by Jessea Grice, the chair for the Northern branch of the society.

When the traps were pulled on the Sunday the group discovered that the ponds were not in use as they found no fish or fry.

Group member Alison Smith said that they spent Sunday putting back up fencing that had come down and got the pond’s culvert working again.

“It was a work bee weekend,” she said, adding that they had to pull a fair bit of garbage from the area, from paint bottles to metal scraps.

Read the full story:

More photos from the day:

Coho Ponds 1

Coho Ponds 2

Coho Ponds 3

Coho Ponds 4

Coho Ponds 5

Coho Ponds 6

Coho Ponds 7

Coho Ponds 8

Coho Ponds 9

Coho Ponds 10

Coho Ponds 11

Kokish River Steelhead Urgently Need Your Help With a Letter

British Columbia's Kokish River Steelhead need your help to stop a large scale IPP development on the East Coast of Vancouver Island near Telegraph Cove.

This project will divert 10km of salmon habitat into a intake pipe, and a further 17 surrounding streams would be impacted by its construction and operations.

We have just until November 18th to submit letters to the Environmental Assessment Office, jump right to the form to leave a comment or learn more below.

Let's break down the following map, submitted by Brookfield Power:

Kokish IPP Map

Note the area that shows "intake location"; now look for the words above it that say "approximate penstock route".

The area in between these two points is a summer run steelhead over wintering ground, and soon to be re-directed into a pipe, for 10km down to almost the point where the river enters telegraph cove.

Here is an area right in between these two points:

Those grey shadows you see are summer run steelhead.

Steelhead can't write letters but you can.

Please take 5 minutes out of your day to write your comments about this project to the Environmental Assessment Office, the deadline for public comment is November 18th 2010.

Leave your comment here:

February 6, 2004 The Comox Valley Echo, "Restoring the Puntledge"

Restoring the Puntledge
Larry Peterson - Puntledge River Restoration Committee

After decades of closure, the Puntledge River was open to sport fishing for the third year in a row. The fishery closed at the end of last month, but during the season, which started October 1, there were 12 to 30 cars at the Condensory Bridge every day.

One day in October, four motorhomes, each carrying two Italian fishers, found their way to the Puntledge. One day last month, four Japanese visitors roamed its banks.

The abundance of fish and the generous but reasonable opportunities to retain coho, chum and Chinook were strokes of good fortune and good management.

So how has all this come about?

Many factors and many people played have played roles. First, about six years ago, the Courtenay Fish and Game Club, the local chapter of the Steelhead Society and other concerned citizens staged a large rally to insist on a predator control program for seals in the lower river. These seals were taking up semi-permanent residency in the inter-tidal zone and intercepting adult spawners on their way up-river. More importantly, the seals were feasting on young, downstream migrants on their way out to sea. Over half of all Puntledge River smolt production was being intercepted and consumed.

Secondly, the Puntledge River Restoration Committee reformed and began lobbying politicians, provincial and federal fisheries and BC Hydro to initiate and carry out a revitalization program which would see stepped-up fish production so there would be enough bodies out there to prejudice the odds towards survival instead of against it.

The second half of the equation was habitat improvement so that fish had abundant areas to spawn and rear and suitable water flows to guarantee efficiency of spawning and rearing.

Over the past five years, the Puntledge River Hatchery staff have been pumping out coho, Chinook, pinks and chums to the point that salmon production has almost returned to historical levels.

BC Hydro has paid for and worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for side-channel construction and gravel placement at such places as Bull Island (a semi-natural, $200,000 project just upstream of Stotan Falls), the power-line area and the Courtenay game side-channel.

Altogether, about $227,000 has been spent on restoration.

BC Hydro has guaranteed flows which are favorable for fish and provincial fisheries has both a cutthroat and steelhead program in their early stages. There is a spirit of cooperation which is showing obvious positive results.

There is also another part to the effort. Ocean survival in the past four years has been excellent with subsiding of El Nino and the rich upwellings of nutrients in the North pacific.The impact on salmon species has been pronounced and positive. Whether conditions are also starting to favor steelhead and cutthroat is still unknown, and all we can do is continued to plan and work and hope. We also need to get an estuary complexing study, still in the planning stages, under way.

We are not there yet. Much work and good fortune are still needed, but the Puntledge is on its way to once again becoming a world-class river.

Meanwhile, funding applications for monitoring Bull Island and further restoration on other parts of the Puntledge have been submitted to BC Hydro’s Bridge Coastal Program.

The largest project being considered is restoration of spawning habitat for summer-run Chinook downstream of Comox Lake Dam.

Courtesy of The Comox Valley Echo – Dec 16, 2003