Steelhead in the News

Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead COSEWIC assessed: SARA listing recommended

 VANCOUVERFeb. 13, 2018 /CNW/ - Following a seldom-used fast-track process, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) concluded today that two populations of sea-going Steelhead Trout breeding in the Thompson and Chilcotin river systems in British Columbia are at imminent risk of extinction. Both populations were assessed as Endangered and COSEWIC recommended an emergency listing order under the federal Species at Risk Act. A mere 177 fish returned from the sea to the Thompson River in late fall 2017, and only 58 returned to the Chilcotin River. This is an all-time low since records began in 1978, and the endpoints of downward trends that started over a decade ago. The main threats include inadvertent bycatch of adults by net fisheries targeting Pacific salmon and poor ocean conditions. Steelhead Trout are a form of Rainbow Trout that are born in fresh water, but that migrate to the ocean as juveniles, much like salmon. Also like salmon, they return as adults to their natal streams to breed. Steelhead Trout are typically much larger than their freshwater Rainbow Trout counterparts, and contribute to highly valued catch-and-release sport fisheries.

Both COSEWIC and the public have been concerned for some time about the Steelhead Trout that breed in the British Columbia Interior. Two recently submitted citizens' applications to COSEWIC precipitated the emergency assessment. COSEWIC only rarely decides that the gravity of a situation necessitates a fast-track process. The last time was in early 2012, when the committee recommended that three bat species decimated by fungal disease in Eastern Canada should be listed as Endangered under an emergency order.  The bats eventually received legal protection in late 2014.

The new COSEWIC assessments have been forwarded to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, who  will now make a decision on the recommendations for Emergency Listings of the two wildlife species. The record small numbers of overwintering BC Interior Steelhead Trout begin to lay their eggs later this spring. More here:

Coquihalla: Dynamite to the rescue for a stranded stock of steelhead

 "..Fisheries management here has always been challenged by two factors: the presence of both summer and winter steelhead runs, and Othello Falls, a natural barrier that slows the migration of fish. It’s this cascade that separates the summer- and winter-run fish stocks.In the spring of 2014, the balance shifted - creating an almost impossible situation - when a railway support abutment (a remnant from the now-defunct Kettle Valley Railway) slumped into the river, pushing a particularly large, problematic boulder into the channel .."


See the rest of the story here:

Thompson Steelhead

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: