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Adult steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and salmonid smolt migrations at the Keogh River, BC – Winter 2021 and Spring 2022

author Ratzburg, A.
published year 2022
document type government
species coho, steelhead
location Keogh River, British Columbia
subjects counting fence, spawner estimates
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The estimated number of adult steelhead trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss) returning to the Keogh River between December 1st, 2021, and June 15th, 2022, was 63 as determined by the resistivity counter (20 females and 43 males extrapolated from biological sampling data). Additional validation of the counter was undertaken this season and therefore this count estimate should be considered to have high degree of confidence. The resistivity counter estimate of 63 returning adult spawners is similar to estimates produced since 2017 and is consistent with the decline in adult steelhead returns to other Northern Vancouver Island Rivers.

A total of 3,940 juvenile steelhead (2,566 smolts and 1,374 parr) were enumerated at the fish fence in 2022. Smolts per wild female spawner estimates are 14.4 and 31.6 for 2016 and 2017 brood years, respectively (with five-year-old smolts from 2018 to be sampled next year). The 2019 brood year has produced 47.5 smolts-per-female to date, with four-year-old smolts to be counted in 2023. The estimated smolts-per-female-spawner has substantially increased as the spawner population has declined without a concurrent decline in smolt production.

Estimated marine survival for the 2019 brood year was 1.8%. This is an increase from the low of 1% in 2017 but remains below the average marine survival since 1990 (1990 – 2021: mean = 4.6%, range = 1.2 – 14.6%), and is less than half of the long-term marine survival average of 8%. To date, marine survival is estimated at 2.0% for the 2020 brood year, but this will be adjusted as five-year-old steelhead adults return in 2023.

A total of 75,881 juvenile Coho Salmon (O. kisutch; smolts: 75,174; parr: 707) were enumerated at the fence. This is similar to the long-term average of 69,365 smolts (1977-2021). This year follows a year of high Coho smolt production (2021 smolts: 129,231) that appears to be unrelated to adult spawner escapements.

The juvenile counting fence was operational for all days except between 17:00 on May 18th and 13:00 on May 20th when high water prevented safe and effective operation of the counting facility. All juvenile fish counts within this report are unadjusted counts of individual fish encountered during daily operations. Estimates are not provided for days the fence was not operating and some fish likely bypassed the counting facility. Estimates for missed days may be calculated in future years and would affect statements made in this report.