On September 13th we were happy to receive a visit from Ashley Richter and Lindsey McCrank of CRD. We met at the mouth of the Bee Creek and spent a wonderful hour or so telling… More
With only one month into the new season, the sudden warmth has made quite a few changes.
First is the rapid growth of all vegetation surrounding the creek and more importantly in the creek has provided the trout with shelter and cooler temperatures.
Sites for gee traps, along the creek and normally in open running water showed no trout. Sites with heavy vegetation growth , normally with few trout, in all cases showed significant numbers of trout. So the trout have moved quickly to sheltered, shaded and cooler spots.
The warmth has also brought a rapid increase in the amount of food for the trout to eat, namely, mosquitos, Caddis flies and fresh water shrimp. The Caddis flies have adopted new casings and when caught in the traps and examined, they emerge quickly. Shrimp are found in abundance in site six and seven, leading to the conclusion that the trout move quickly to where the food source can be found.
Trout measured from a small three month old 60 mm juvenile to a relatively huge 190 mm trout which was likely almost eight months old. In this case, the trout was the result of any early spawning in November 2021.
We continue to monitor the creek around the new bridge where new pools have been created following rehabilitation of the creek bed and vegetation.
Season Opener for Bee Creek monitoring enjoyed a sunny and cool day of 13 degrees. Jordyn joined Daryl and me to examine six sites for juvenile cutthroat and although the numbers were low, the trout looked healthy, being from three to five months old.
Pendray House hosted the May 19th meeting steering committee of the Esquimalt Lagoon Stewardship Initiative; the first in person meeting of the group since Covid started over two years ago. The meeting agenda included a brief tour of a few Bee Creek trout monitoring sites. The committee were able to see examples of a baited gee trap and how it is positioned in the creek to ensure good trout sampling data.
The tour included a view of the new bridge, crossing Bee Creek, with an explanation on how the bridge was built while maintain creek flow and trout safety. Considerable effort was made to rehabilitate the stream bed and banks so that pools and natural cover were consistent with good stream keeping.
(from left to right) Rodney Huszar, Lindsey McCrank, Jen Tyler, Rachel Buskie, Bob Peart, Jason Nault, Judy Nault, Stephen Ruttan(for Vicki Metcalfe),
This spring we were visited by a class enrolled in the Take A Hike foundation led by Dane Cox. The program uses outdoor experiential leaning as a foundation for its success and the the visitors had a chance to experience first hand how cutthroat trout are located, trapped, measured and logged. A short demonstration on how to handle the trout to ensure they weren’t harmed during measuring allowed the class members to try their hands.
The class retrieved seven cutthroat ranging from 60 to 140 mms, all close to the mouth of the creek. In addition two large sculpins were recorded. During their visit the class was given a short tour of the creek with an explanation of how the trout enter the creek, spawn and spend up to a year or more before returning to coastal waters.
An interesting discovery was a Caddisfly Larva which had hatched in a small piece of vegetation. It was spotted by Olaf who saw the piece of stick moving, as the larva emerged from its hiding place. The larvae will eventually emerge from their casing and grow into a pupae before swimming to the surface and beginning the life cycle as a Caddisfly.
Many thanks to Lyndsey McCrank of Esquimalt Lagoon Stewardship Initiative for arranging the visit.
Season closing for Bee Creek monitoring proved to be interesting with changes to the habitat and following heavy rains. In addition a strong wind storm just prior to monitoring pushed tides higher and flooded the mouth of the creek. Creek temperatures were down to just above 7 degrees.
The new bridge crossing the creek has been completed, leaving new pools formed by logs and rocks. Jordyn and Daryl chose a new site as a likely spot for trout and it worked well with three healthy cutthroat retrieved and measured.
Overall there were 27 cutthroat retrieved ranging in size from 50 to 150 millimetres which is encouraging. The creek is thriving despite the very dry summer with higher than average temperatures. There are an abundance of freshwater shrimp to feed the trout. In addition, the plants, trees and shrubs continue to grow and provide shelter from predators plus shade from the sun.
The small channel built to steer ground water from the condominium development towards the mouth of the creek continues to grow although is still too shallow to monitor for trout.
The new season starts in May 2022.
While the creek was undergoing bridge construction we were fortunate to have had a visit from students studying at Royal Roads University in the School of Tourism and Hospitality.
Moira McDonald and Spencer Brown, both faculty at Royal Roads, brought their class to learn how trout are monitored in Bee Creek.
They started with an introduction to the location of the creek and how the trout are trapped and measured. Several traps were pre-set and the students retrieved them, measured, photographed and released them safely back into the water. One class member recorded the data, while another recorded the water temperature.
From three sites, ten cutthroat were recorded and the class enjoyed learning of the importance of taking care of the environment and each student had a chance to learn how to handle the fish carefully.
Many thanks to Moira and Spencer for visiting with the hard working class…it was a lot of fun.
The stone bridge that has been in Havenwood since early 1920s and crosses Bee Creek as the road winds its way down to Pendray House has been replaced. Cutthroat monitoring was postponed while the creek work took place.
The procedure began with blocking the creek above the bridge, and installing a pipe to allow the stream to flow naturally to below the construction site. In addition, a net placed up and down stream from the bridge prevented trout from entering the work area.
Bee Creek was effectively spit in two with a dry construction area to replace the bridge, while the water flowed as usual through the large pipe. Once the bridge was rebuilt, the pipe was removed from the culvert and creek flow was restored.
Bee Creek looks a little different by the bridge and natural elements of logs and rock were added to provide a natural habitat. Eventually the stream will likely find its way around its new path and the trout will find new pools to shelter.
The summer of 2021 continues to to be warmer than usual, although it does not appear to have effected the health of the cutthroat population in Bee Creek or the creek temperature.
Site one just north of Pendray House and closest to the mouth of the creek, allowed us to retrieve 11 trout ranging from 80 to 140 mms, with the rest of the 26 trout recorded this month spread throughout the sites.
Of special interest is the new site, just west of the stone bridge which was chosen by Jordyn last month. A logged seven month old juvenile trout suggest that spawning occurred in January, 2021. Bree’s site, also new, showed a four year old trout and is located mid way along the creek.
The stone bridge shown here will be removed next month, to facilitate traffic to phase 4 of the Pacific Landing.
The Bee Creek team plans to postpone cutthroat monitoring during August and will continue at the end of September. In lieu of a trout monitoring post in August, there will be an explanation of how the creek will be managed during the building of a new bridge.
With the summer season well under way by the end of June, we continue to see this year’s cutthroat growing quickly. By now the largest trout have a fork length of 140 mms and look like they have been eating lots of freshwater shrimp.
Freshwater shrimp in Bee Creek eat mostly algae, bacteria, decaying plant matter. The gee traps collect the shrimp overnight along with the cutthroat, and are return when the trout are released.
Two species of shrimp are found in BC lakes and streams.
“Gammarus are the most widely distributed and easily recognized, as they can reach body lengths in excess of 15 millimetres (about 3/5 inch). They are found in a variety of colours, with light to dark olive the most common. Hyalella are much smaller shrimp that rarely exceed four millimetres (less than 1/5 inch) in length and are typically much lighter in colour, with a pale olive-green to light grey predominant”. (gofishbc.com)
With the abundance of shrimp in Bee Creek, we found that some trout, certainly not all, had eaten well. Notice the distended stomach of this healthy cutthroat.
We retrieved 19 cutthroat in June with fork lengths ranging from 70 to 145 mms, or 3 to nearly 6 months old. The creek temperatures have warmed slightly, and consistent through all sites at around 13.5 degrees.
This month Jordyn and Bree each chose a new site on the creek. Site selection was based on 1: shade, to protect the trout from sun and preditors, 2: current, with a current speed not too strong that a 24 hour soak would not be too exhausting and 3: depth, to ensure the trap was submerged at a level that did not endanger the fish.
Both new sites produced three cutthroat each, confirming that the trout have dispersed well throughout the creek.
May 29th marked the sunny opening of the trout monitoring season on Bee Creek. Daryl and I were joined by ELSI volunteer Jordyn, for her third year working on the creek and Bree, who is studying Environmental Sciences at Comosun College, joined us for the first time.
The creek had a healthy clear flow, with a consistent 11 degrees and we were all pleased with a strong count of 24 sea run cutthroat.
Unlike the past four years the trout had dispersed evenly after the spawning in the spring, to throughout the creek from the mouth up to site six on Royal Roads University property. Trout ranged from 75mm to the largest juvenile of 145 millimeters. The trout are estimated to be between three and six months old, so spawning probably occurred as early as December 2020 up to March 2021.