By Eric Carlisle
For SEHAB members, coho has been a species of concern for many years and, especially, for the last two years.  I can report only on rivers I have fished.  This year, the Capilano coho run showed improvement over the returns of the past two years.  With about 10,000 swimups to Capilano Salmon Hatchery in 2005 and about 7,000 swimups in 2006, the hope was that the 2007 return would be better. As of October 21, 13,269 coho had returned to the hatchery.  The run is not over—both bright (recent arrivals) and coloured (in the river for a while) coho enter the hatchery each day, and fresh coho are still entering the river.  In fact, this morning (October 24), I caught a bright, fresh in 4 1/2  pound hatchery coho with sea lice attached and lost another bright coho.  Hopefully, the coho run, which began in the second week of May, will continue into November.  Although only 88 jack coho had reached Capilano Salmon Hatchery as of October 21, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from this low return of jacks. Hatchery Manager Reid Schrul pointed out that there have been other years with small returns of jack coho but good returns of adult coho the following year.  Only if a consistent pattern of low jack coho returns is evident at other rivers should we expect low adult returns in 2008.  Given that we are still inseason and some rivers have yet to see their main returns of coho, patience will be required before any predictions can be made about next year’s coho returns.

I have fished Seymour River only a little in the last few weeks, but a mixture of fresh run and in-a-while coho has been present.   Reports I have heard from other anglers and from Seymour Hatchery staff indicate that the Seymour’s 2007 coho return has improved over last year’s sub average return.  I have heard of several sizeable (10 pounds plus) coho encountered by anglers.

Anglers who fished the Cypress Creek mouth area in August and September enjoyed productive coho fishing.  A mixture of wild and hatchery coho was present; many of the hatchery coho were Capilano fish, but some were Seymour fish and others may have been from the Fraser system.  As usual, on some days many coho were present, but on other days only a few coho showed at the various locations east and west of the creek mouth.  I spoke to one angler who has fished the area recently; he said that it has been quiet.  Local rivers have been up since September 30, so coho have not had any reason to linger at the Stearman Beach-Cypress Creek mouth area.

I visited the Chilliwack-Vedder River on four days in September (all during the low flow period).  While I enjoyed productive fishing for jacksprings and, on the last day (September 26), adult chinook, I managed to catch just one hatchery coho adult and release one hatchery jack coho.  Still, I have had reports of productive coho fishing since the river rose almost four weeks ago.  In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, the coho would migrate up the Chilliwack-Vedder system during the low water periods of September and into October.  In recent years, however, some early (end of August-early September) coho move in, but many coho wait until rainfall occurs.

Pink salmon provided the anticipated enjoyable angling at various North and West Vancouver beaches.  This year, Indian River pinks held off Cates Park for several weeks (starting on August 4).  No pinks appeared to be present in late July (some years they have appeared in late July), so the 2007 pink return exhibited normal run timing.  However, in the second week of August I switched to fishing at Cypress Creek mouth.  Here, I had a better chance of encountering coho, and pinks (some perhaps Indian stock, but many probably Fraser system fish) were present until almost the middle of September. Since the fisheries occurred, I have heard that the Indian experienced a so-so return of pinks.  The
prediction for the Fraser system was originally 19 million adults.  In-season this prediction was downgraded to 10 million then upgraded to 11 million.  In some odd numbered years the pink fishing at Cypress Creek mouth lasted into early October, but in 2007 the runs appeared to be over by midSeptember.

I observed fair numbers of pinks in the Chilliwack-Vedder.

During my October Roundtable Report five years ago (we were staying at a hotel just south of Courtney), I commented on how the lack of rainfall and low rivers and creeks meant that salmon were unable to migrate upstream.  In fact, we could see coho jumping close to shore behind the hotel.  This year the fall rains began at the end of September, so low flows and delayed salmon migrations have not been a concern.  Hopefully, the rivers and creeks will not experience any major floods which scour the stream bottoms and destroy salmon eggs.