That's a Wrap! Spring and Summer at the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Hatcheries

In this continuing series of blog posts, we will take you behind the scenes at each Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC hatchery through the seasons. Let us tell you what’s going on this spring and summer.

Spring and summer are very busy times at our hatcheries. Some staff are working tirelessly to acquire fish eggs at collection stations, while others are busy stocking fish into lakes across the province.

Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery

With over 830,000 fish – rainbow, cutthroat, and steelhead trout – released into 104 lakes and streams across the province, it was a productive spring. These fish were released from our Abbotsford location to as far away as Fort Nelson.

As well as releasing fish, staff were busy collecting rainbow trout eggs for next year’s releases. During the month of May, staff gathered almost two million rainbow trout eggs from the Dragon Lake egg-collection station. These eggs were incubated at the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery. At the eyed stage, just over one million of these eggs were transferred to our Clearwater, Kootenay, and Vancouver Island hatcheries. The remainder will be reared at the Fraser Valley Hatchery until next spring.

Anadromous cutthroat and steelhead trout, collected this past winter and early spring, are also being reared on-site. They are currently being fin-clipped to identify them as hatchery fish, and will be transferred to several off-site rearing locations. They will be released as smolts into several rivers and streams in the Lower Mainland – including the South Alouette, Stave, Little Campbell, Chehalis, and Fraser rivers – in the spring of 2019.

Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery

Some 65,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout were released into 37 lakes on Vancouver Island this spring. An additional 150,000 rainbow and cutthroat trout yearlings were released over the past four months. A summer highlight for Society staff was using a helicopter to stock Battleship, Circlet, and Kwai lakes in Strathcona Park.

After the spring stocking was finished, facility upgrades were completed at the hatchery. A new energy-efficient well pump, using the latest Variable Frequency Drive technology, was installed, which will reduce water usage and save energy. Further upgrades included installing a new stainless-steel transport tank on one of the five-ton trucks used for stocking.

Kootenay Trout Hatchery

During 109 releases this spring, 371,000 fish were stocked into the region’s lakes. Fish species included eastern brook trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee (a landlocked sockeye salmon). The hatchery also released 1,400 white sturgeon into the Columbia River at sites near Revelstoke, Castlegar, and Trail.

The Premier Lake egg-collection station was a huge success, with more than 1.6 million rainbow trout eggs collected. All of these eggs were taken to the Kootenay Trout Hatchery for incubation to the eyed-egg stage. These eggs were then either shipped to another Society hatchery, or kept at the Kootenay facility to be raised for release this fall as fry, and next spring as yearlings.

Connor Lake, in Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, is the site for collecting eggs from westslope cutthroat trout. Society staff collected enough eggs during four days in early June of this year to raise 45,000 fish for release this fall and next spring.

Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre

Along with daily tours and over 1500 visitors to the hatchery, lots of white sturgeon conservation activities occurred this season. Seven white sturgeon females that were spawned in May 2018 are currently being raised in the hatchery. An additional 337 white sturgeon eggs were collected from wild-egg mats, and brought back to the hatchery for incubation and rearing.

Reared from wild eggs captured in the river during 2016 and 2017, juveniles are being held at the hatchery until they reach 70 centimetres in length. Studies have indicated increased survival of fish stocked at that size. Another 32 large hatchery-raised juveniles were radio-tagged, had their length and weight recorded, and were then released into the Nechako River near Vanderhoof on July 20. These fish can be tracked up- and downstream using radio telemetry devices to help provincial biologists learn more about behaviour and survival.

Summerland Trout Hatchery

Overall, it was another successful season at the Summerland Hatchery. Despite environmental and lake-access challenges, the Summerland Hatchery provided a total of 151 stockings, with over 500,000 fish released into the local and Cariboo region’s lakes.

Three million rainbow trout eggs were gathered from two egg-collection sites. Now that all of the eggs have been collected, Society staff can move on to the next stage of fish rearing. These eggs will be ponded for the release of autumn fry in September. Yearling fish will then be ponded after the fall fry are moved.

Clearwater Trout Hatchery

Society staff were busy with spring fish releases all over B.C. In total, over 2.5 million fish from the Clearwater hatchery were stocked into 223 lakes across the province. Fish species included rainbow trout, eastern brook trout, and kokanee salmon. 2.2 million eggs were collected from Dragon, Premier, Beaver, and Pennask lakes, and moved to incubation rooms at the Clearwater hatchery. Once the eggs hatched in July, they were moved from incubation trays to tanks for their first feeding. After all stockings were complete, Society staff began preparing for the fall stocking, and for gathering kokanee eggs at collection sites.

 

Use the stocking report tool to find out what fish we released, where, and when. 
 

Author: Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Staff
Photo Credit: Eiko Jones; Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Staff