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.
The end of the trout monitoring season showed some good numbers of Cutthroat in Bee Creek, plus a healthy 50 mm Coho Salmon fry. In warm sunny weather we were joined by Nicole, our new ELSI volunteer and she learned how set traps, measure water temperature, measure fork length and record the data. She learned a lot in a few hours.
The Coho fry was its third stage of its life cycle, coming after eggs and alevins. Although they are always found in Colwood Creek just north of us, it is rare to see one in Bee Creek.
With winter arriving, the annual summary of findings will begin, but based on initial results 2020 appears to have shown that creek is remaining healthy and that the cutthroat numbers are staying consistent.
September brought healthy numbers of cutthroat in Bee Creek. The trout ranged from 65 to 130 millimeters and with the exception of site 2, which held a small sculpin, we were able to retrieve trout from all sites.
Heavy rains preceded the trap drop, so water levels were higher, somewhat faster and warmer.
Jean joined us for the trap retrieval and did a great job with Daryl measuring a record 30 cutthroat. With the season coming to a close next month it looks like the monitoring season will be successful this year.
Sculpins are interesting fish. A sculpin is a type of fish that belongs to the superfamily Cottoidea in the order Scorpaeniformes. As of 2006, this superfamily contains 11 families, 149 genera, and 756 species. Sculpins occur in many types of habitat, including ocean and freshwater zones.(Wikipedia, 2020)
With summer end brings cooler weather and healthy cutthroat numbers in Bee Creek. We retrieved 20 trout today with fork lengths ranging from 70 to 120 millimeters…a mid range fork length as opposed to last year, when we saw 40 to 180 lengths.
Best numbers appeared in site 1 and 5 with few trout in between, so this month they seem to have spread out upstream to Royal Roads property or have remained closer to the mouth of the creek. Trout colours look good and the creek recorded temperatures of around 11 degrees.
Overall, the creek looks to be healthy with trout numbers similar to last year.
We were happy to see Jordyn and Jean come and join us, since the weather was fine and the trout numbers have improved.
The warm weather has changed our trout count and we can see some healthy numbers of Cutthroat especially close to the mouth of Bee Creek. Water temperatures are rising gradually and the creek is getting heavily covered at site 1 with weed, horse tail and other shrubs. Each site produced trout and we measured 28 in all.
Site 5 which is a pool just north of the bridge, produced five trout including one which had died. It is uncertain if the trout died then floated into the trap, or died after swimming into the Gee trap, but it looked as if it had been dead for some time. A photo of the trout, which had hardly any colour was sent to our colleague at Royal Roads for comment.
The trout seemed overall healthy, with good colour and very active while being measured.
June brought one new site to explore on Bee Creek. Just north of the bridge at Pacific Landing, this site is located just under a large log, to provide shade and just out of the main flow of water. The pool also has good depth. We recovered only one trout here, but like the site as it is just south of the Royal Roads site. We were joined by Jean, our new ELSI volunteer who measured the water temperature and was taught by Daryl how to measure the trout. Jean is pictured here at site 1 with Rod and Daryl, where we retrieved four Cutthroat.
On May 31st, we began our third season of monitoring Cutthroat on Bee Creek. Site one was quite active, much like last year and we were happy to see the trout back in the creek. With sizes ranging from 90 to 110 mm, it looks like last years trout were still close to the creek mouth.
Further upstream a few similarly sized trout were observed and recorded. A total of eight trout is a quiet start to the season. June will likely see an increase in activity in the creek
Rod is pictured here by the stone bridge which which crosses the creek and will be widened this year.
The end of our Cutthroat monitoring season with Amy, Jordyn, Rod, Daryl and myself was great fun. We have now established five productive sites where we can expect to document a consistent trout count.
One of the new sites is hidden inside the riparian zone and provides a pool just under where the creek flows over well placed logs. Here Jordyn lands the gee trap directly into the pool where four trout were found.
The second is a very small pool just above where the creek falls over logs and is deep enough to hide trout. The trap needed to be hidden under the bank overhang. Daryl found a healthy 95 mm trout there.
After placing traps, we decided to try another new site just below the bridge. The small quite shallow pool produced four Cutthroat
On retrieving the traps on October 27th, the range of fork lengths provided food for thought. The smallest Cutthroat retrieved measured 45 millimeters, suggesting that the trout for this year, have spawned well up in Bee Creek.
This Cutthroat, with a fork length of about 170 mms was very healthy, well fed, with great colour. It was retrieved from site 5, approaching the creek source in Royal Roads property. Freshwater shrimp are active here which may explain a consistent trout count.
The smallest trout measured about 50 millimeters and was retrieved just below the bridge where we tried a new site. Fortunately we found three Cutthroat here. This one appears to be a year one juvenile cutthroat.
September brings us close to the season end of monitoring cutthroat trout on Bee Creek, so the team has decided to drop a couple of sites that have not shown any trout population. One site we dropped is along Cottonwood Lane (Site 5) which hasn’t shown any trout, partly due to the fact that it is landlocked and is a popular for dog swimming. So we will concentrate on sites south of here and explore two new sites that look interesting.
The new site 3 looks promising since Bee Creek creates a fairly deep pool which is seen at the top of the picture. Look closer and you will see the Gee trap neatly submerged. We retrieved two mature healthy cutthroat here, which was interesting in a number of ways. As we get to know the creek, we note that the numbers are smaller approaching October, yet consistent now.
The second new site (now site 4) also showed a healthy 140 mm trout. Located just to the north of site 3, it provides cover where the creek undercuts the bank.
This month we were joined by our neighbour Paulette and her family of helpers; Jay who helped measure the trout, Xavier who gave us GPS readings, Thomas who took the water temperature, and Briana who advised on names for every of the 11 trout retrieved.
At two thirds of the way through the cutthroat monitoring season, we took extra care in gee trap placement this month. The trout are well dispersed throughout the creek and numbers recorded were down. Jordyn joined Daryl and me and recorded a healthy, lively 160 mm cutthroat at site 1 just north of Pendray House.
Sites 2 an 4 continue to show no signs of cutthroat and so we decided to test two new sites throughout this month, to determine if there are any healthy pockets of trout.
Amy and Jordyn took several video shots of the trout being released back into the creek after measuring. You can see the care that is taken!