Salmon represent a crucial resource for Canada’s Pacific coastline. They are important ecologically, culturally, and economically, and every year they infuse the landscape with an abundance of nutrients.
The five types of Pacific Salmon are Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Pink Salmon. Anadromous Rainbow Trout, known as Steelhead, are one of the most renowned species of fish to target on the fly. They are also found along BC’s coast, and the Skeena and Nass Rivers have some of the last truly wild populations of steelhead in the world. Each species has unique life histories, ecological values, and provide different fishing opportunities.
How well do you know the species found along BC’s coast? You can test out your Pacific Salmon ID skills by taking our Pacific Salmonid ID Quiz below.
Pacific Salmonid ID Quiz
Test your Pacific Salmon and Trout ID skills with this Pacific Salmonid ID Quiz.
The five types of Pacific Salmon include Chinook Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Pink Salmon. Also included on the quiz are Steelhead (anadromous Rainbow Trout).
Warning: THIS TEST IS VERY DIFFICULT! It is meant to help you learn and appreciate the nuances of fish ID. All fish are from the Skeena and Nass River systems in Northern BC.
The quiz has 20 questions.
It was a pleasure living and working in the Northwest, being immersed in the world of salmon every day for a summer. In the video below, I highlight some of my encounters with various species of fish (and wildlife) in the Skeena and Nass River systems.
At Bushwhackers, we are staunch advocates for the conservation of Pacific Salmon runs across the province of BC and beyond. We have compiled this list of resources to help make getting educated about Pacific Salmon and getting involved in Conservation easy. Check out the list of resources below!
Pacific Salmon Stock Assessment
Ever wonder how the DFO estimates the size of salmon populations in BC? Well, they actually deploy several techniques. In the summer of 2023, I was lucky enough to work for the DFO doing Salmon Stock Assessment in the Skeena and Nass Rivers; two of BC’s most important Salmon Rivers. Some of the methods for estimating salmon populations are outlined below!
- Fish Ladders/ Counting Fences: One of the best ways to determine the size of a salmon run is to install a counting fence. These fences force fish to migrate through a small area, in where fisheries staff can control the passage of fish and physically count each and every passing fish. For example, I worked at the Meziadin Fishway; up to 80% of sockeye in the Nass River use the Meziadin river. Throughout the season, we counted each and every one that passed into the Meziadin system, providing a highly accurate estimate of the run. We also sub-sample a portion of passing fish to collect important biological data that provides insights into the population structure. Another counting fence is located on the Babine River; up to 90% of Skeena River sockeye return to the Babine System.
- Test Fisheries: The most important estimator for Salmon returning to the Skeena river comes from data collected from the Tyee Test Fishery. This is a gill-netting operation that runs daily at the mouth of the Skeena. Based on the amount of salmon captured each day at the test fishery, an index then calculates the estimated # of salmon that enter the Skeena each day. This is some of the most important data that helps managers determine recreational and commercial fishing openings.
- Aerial Counts: In some systems with clear water, counting Salmon from a helicopter is a great way to estimate the size of a salmon run, especially for larger fish such as Chinook.
- Hydroacoustics: In some areas where logistics prevent the feasibilty of a counting fence, hydroacoustic scanners can be installed which use sound to identify passing Salmon. This has been shown to be highly accurate in some systems. An example of a Salmon run that is estimated with hydroacoustics is the Stellako river, an important Sockeye run for the Fraser River.
Salmon biology is very complex and requires getting data from a variety of sources to make the best predictions and estimates possible! Many users groups are highly interested in this data, including indigenous communities, commercial fishers, recreational fishers, and charter fishing guides. Ultimately this data is used to determine how many fish should be harvested in a given year, whether recreational fishing is open to the public, and how indigenous communities should go about harvesting salmon for both sustenance and economic opportunities. Not an easy job!
The West Kootenays are a region I hold near and dear to my heart. However, this landscape has been robbed of its Salmon runs for the last 80 years because of dams, both in Canada and the USA. Check out this article I wrote about Reintroducing Salmon to the Columbia River in Canada!
Thanks for taking the time to educate yourself about Pacific Salmon! I hope this page has highlighted what a unique resource they are and why we should continue to prioritize conserving them. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want to discuss further.
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