Report Abstract


Bull Trout Spawner Escapement in the Salmo River Watershed: 2012


Gerry Nellestijn




Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) escapement has been studied in the Salmo River Watershed continuously since 1998. In 2012 a total of 23 redds, equating to 46 adult spawners were enumerated.

The first ten years of the studies were a component of the environmental monitoring required by BC Hydro's addition of their fourth turbine at the Seven Mile Powerplant on the Pend d'Orielle River. The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society (SWSS) has continued the studies since then with support in 2012 from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. This report summarizes the data collected in the 2012 bull trout escapement study.

Redd surveys have been conducted annually in Sheep Creek, Clearwater Creek, the upper Salmo River (the Apex Creek and Clearwater Creek confluence to Barrett Creek) and the South Salmo River since 1998. These survey areas were identified after 3 years of radio telemetry (Baxter J.S. and Nellestijn 2000).

In 2009 Baxter and Decker recommended that redd surveys begin after Oct. 1st to ensure that adult spawning bull trout had completed their spawning migration . Redd surveys conducted by the SWSS in 2010 and 2011 still found spawning activity in the first week of October. Consequently the 2012 redd surveys were conducted from October 9th to the 22nd. The fall rains started on Oct. 20th and by Oct. 23rd the project lead felt the water flows and turbidity made redd identification uncertain and discontinued surveys. Areas left unsurveyed were the Anderson Campground to the 'Rest Stop' section and the upstream barrier to the Stagleap Creek confluence on the South Salmo River (SSR). The SSR upstream barrier is located in an extremely remote location in the US with access complications exaggerated by international border crossing difficulties since 9/11.

Because of continuing low bull trout escapement in the watershed, the SWSS was also interested in surveying other potential spawning areas not identified in previous telemetry work but suggested through local knowledge. However these areas, lower Lost Creek, Hidden Creek and lower Erie Creek were not surveyed due to habitat compromise by the fall rain.

When the actual number of redds identified within the watershed are expanded to provide an estimate of escapement, 2012 marks the lowest escapement estimate over the 15 years the study has been undertaken with only an estimated 46 spawners.


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