Coho salmon found in Spencer Creek

Enviro group says new pump station allows fish to access new rearing territory in Albion flats

Six coho smolts were found recently in Spencer Creek, near Planet Ice. KEEPS says it's because of access provided by new pump station.

Six coho smolts were found recently in Spencer Creek, near Planet Ice. KEEPS says it's because of access provided by new pump station.

It took awhile, but the little guys found their way up there.

Six of them, coho salmon smolts found their way from Kanaka Creek, up through the new pump station and into Spencer Creek which winds through Albion flats and stretches to Albion subdivisions farther east.

Ross Davies found them, after setting two traps last weekend in Spencer Creek, halfway between Planet Ice and the Albion sports fields.

The reason they’re there, he says, is because of the new pump station at Lougheed Highway and Tamarack Lane. The station, installed in 2010, allows fish to move upstream while the pump station regulates water flow. A $310,000 grant from the Pacific Salmon Foundation helped pay for the new pump station.

While salmon may not spawn in a smaller stream the younger salmon can use the quieter waters to feed and grow.

“This opens up quite a bit of rearing habitat for them,” Davies said Wednesday.

Previously, because of the old gate, most fish were blocked when they tried to move up into the creek from Kanaka Creek.

Davies figures the salmon moved into Spencer Creek last fall, during the high water, or possibly during the previous spring.

Since then they’ve been growing and getting stronger in preparation for their trip to the Pacific Ocean.

“These ones are ready to go.” They’re about 12 to 13 centimetres long and “completely silver, ready to roll.”

“I would imagine it ups the ante a bit from an environmental perspective when it comes to the future of the area,” said Davies with the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society.

Spencer Creek runs from the Albion area subdivisions, through Albion flats where it empties into Kanaka Creek at Tamarack Lane.

Albion flats has been a contentious area in Maple Ridge. There are plans to develop business parks, recreational areas and shopping malls, if permitted by the Agricultural Land Commission.

It’s not that coho are have never been in the creek before, but sightings have been few and far between, Davies said.

Combine the unimpeded access, along with stream improvements on the upper reaches of Spencer and, “I would say Spencer has come back. It’s a salmon-rearing stream.”

Davies adds that the lower portion is too slow and muddy for salmon during the summer months but “eight or nine months of the year, it’s really good.”

During a scouting gathering on the weekend, he left two of the coho in the trap to show passers by.

“People, they couldn’t believe it. There was salmon in this little stream.”

 

Maple Ridge News