Murrayville resident Lyle Vaughan showed off one of the salmon collected at the Nicomekl Enhancement Society on Sunday, Nov. 17 following a heavy Saturday night rainfall. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: wet weather a boon to Langley salmon hatchery

Rain raises water levels enough for Nicomekl Enhancement Society to collect fish

When the weather forecast for Langley called for rain, volunteer Steve Lougheed spent a restless night in his truck camper in the parking lot of the Nicomekl Enhancement Society on Friday night.

He was up every two hours to see if the downpour had arrived, and if it would be enough to raise water levels so salmon could make it upstream to the Langley hatchery.

If it did, volunteers would get the call to come harvest fish.

“We need rain,” Lougheed, the fish culturalist at the society, explained.

“Probably two or three days of rain.”

After about three weeks of unusually dry weather, levels were low, too low for salmon to find their way to Michaels Brook and Hatchery Creek, two small waterways that meet at the society hatchery at 5263 232 St.

Society treasurer Nigel Easton explained the salmon were being blocked by a dam located in Surrey that has to have have a certain amount of water pressure for the gates to open to salmon.

“If we don’t have any rain, the salmon are stuck there,” Easton told the Langley Advance Times.

By Saturday morning, Nov. 16, there had been some rain, but still not enough to get levels to the depth where the hatchery could expect salmon.

But Saturday night, the heavens opened up, filling the brook and creek to overflowing and bringing out a group of volunteers to extract fish on Sunday morning.

It was a physically demanding process that involved wading waist deep in the fast-running stream with a large scoop net to catch the fish.

It was a tricky task, made harder by the fact that the rapidly running water was no longer clear, but muddy with silt and run-off.

Volunteers, three abreast, worked their way up the stream, fighting the current.

Murrayville resident Lyle Vaughan was in the middle, giving tips to a first-time harvester wrestling with a net.

“You have to drag it along the bottom,” Vaughan said.

“Heavy, isn’t it?”

By mid-morning, 10 salmon had been extracted from the stream, including the first coho of the year.

Once eggs are collected from spawning salmon, they go in the hatchery egg room, which operates under careful rules to prevent trauma, with LED lights instead of fluorescents, a ban on camera flashes and loud noises and a disinfecting pad that all must walk on to avoid contamination.

After about 100 days, when the eggs have grown into alevins, tiny fish that still carry a sac of egg yolk, they are moved to larger tanks, built to federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada designs by inmates at the Agassiz penitentiary for the society.

READ ALSO: Salmon populations in the Pacific Coast are under threat’

When they get a little bigger, the small frys end up in the same large tubs where the adult brood stock is held earlier in the season, where they continue growing until they are big enough to be released back into the rivers around Langley

READ ALSO: Trio honoured for environmental stewardship

Entirely run by volunteers, the society is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Nicomekl River Watershed, and raises roughly 400,000 Chinook, coho, and chum salmon for release into local waters in the spring and summer months.

Nicomekl Enhancement Society (NES) began as “Fish for your Future,” a conservation organization founded in 1989 by Dave Evans, described as “an avid outdoorsman” on the society website.

In its first year, the all-volunteer organization released 125,000 salmon.

In 1991, following incorporation under the BC Society Act, it became the Nicomekl Enhancement Society.

It’s stated goal is to “not only raise and release salmon, but to also improve their habitat, and to increase public awareness as well as involvement.”

That includes capturing broodstock fish for eggs, juvenile salmon rearing and release, habitat restoration, both in the river and along its banks, and other public outreach initiatives.

There are currently 50 volunteers who work at the society, but they could use more.

“We are certainly looking for people with all types of expertise,” Easton said.

Usually, the volunteers are there three days a week, but during fish returns, they are there “every day” Easton said.

More information can be found online at www.nicomeklsalmonhatchery.com.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Volunteers used large scoop nets to retrieve salmon by hand. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Collecting salmon for the Nicomekl Enhancement Society hatchery is a physically demanding process (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A trio of Nicomekl Enhancement Society volunteers advanced against the current during the Sunday, Nov. 17 collection. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Nicomekl Enhancement Society treasurer Nigel Easton lifts the cover from a ‘tub’ used to house salmon brood stock (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Some of the eggs collected from salmon at the Nicomekl Enhancement Society (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Joseph Richards Group, which operates 25 restaurants, pubs, and establishments in the Lower Mainland – including several in Langley – was presented with a collaboration award from the chamber. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Resilient Langley businesses lauded for their COVID twists

Langley chamber of commerce held its annual business award, but morphed it into a ‘community edition’

Students at Langley’s Brookswood school were among an estimated 85,000 students who cast ballots representing all 87 electoral districts in the province, mirroring the actual election (file)
How would young people have decided the B.C. Election? We have an answer.

In Langley, Maple Ridge and neighbouring Abbotsford ridings, the winners would be the same

Halloween houses around Aldergrove. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
PHOTOS: Halloween houses around Aldergrove

Ghosts, goblins, and gravestones are covering front yards this October

Fort Langley’s Jackson Jacob burned up Surrey’s Northview Golf and Country Club, burning up the course with a 10-undert par 62 and setting a UFV scoring record in tournament play as the BC Rivalry Series continued on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 (Bob Frid/UBC Athletics)
A record-setting performance by Fort Langley golfer Jackson Jacob

Set new UFV team scoring record with blistering round of play at Northview

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

Most Read