In early August a run to the fish hatchery some 20km up the Chilliwack Lake Road was suggested in order to witness egg-taking from returning salmon and to have an overall look around the facility. An enquiry visit was made and advice given that an egg-taking from returning Summer Chinook salmon was being scheduled for Wednesday, 31 August. Advice was also given that a visit by the Club would be quite welcome and for better security, parking within the facility could be arranged, rather than at the public parking area near the road.
A notice was circulated to the membership along with a request for return advice of intent to come on the Run so that adequate parking could be arranged. Eleven replies were received and the Hatchery Manager advised that we could park on the grass near where we’d be witnessing the egg-take.
31 August being a Wednesday was a bonus as Wednesdays are our preferred day for Runs. The weather forecast was for a sun and cloud mix with up to 29deg C in the afternoon. The start from Parking Lot # 7 on the UFV Chilliwack campus was set for 9:30am, a bit earlier than usual so we could arrive around 10:00am, the time envisaged for the start of the second egg-take. The day dawned quite smokey due to forest fires south of the border, with visibility around 1,500m, but it got better as the day progressed. By 9:30am eleven cars had lined up – six 2-seater convertibles, three saloons, one drop-head coupé and one 4×4, and off we set…….
Early on there was some roadside tree cutting with traffic control near the On-The-Way store and several of the rear cars got separated, so there was a pull-over at the Tractor Grease Café to let them catch up. Out on the open road the smoke haze was getting less noticeable and we arrived at 10:00am without further incident. All eleven vehicles were able to park on the grass as envisaged.
The egg-taking was from Summer Chinook salmon and we were able to witness the whole operation. Fish were lifted out into a sorting trough to separate males from females and females found to be unripe by a feel for ovary size were returned to the channel. All the selected fish were euthanized, with males then put to one side and females strung up to drain. When forty sets had been gathered, the egg-taking was put in hand. The females were opened and the eggs allowed to pour out into a bucket. We were advised that the yield was around 4,000 eggs each time. A male was then brought over and his milt was squeezed out into the bucket. The two fish were than taken to one side where tissue samples were clipped from their tails for use in recording their DNA, all so the genetics of returning hatched fish could traced. The buckets were taken away for the egg/milt mix to be washed in fresh river water which mimics the natural conditions and is necessary to activate the conception process.
Having seen the egg-taking, a number of our group went for walks around the facility to see the various rearing channels and some went as far as the river to see the recent changes in its course.
We left at just after 11:00am and motored back to Thompson Park for a picnic lunch. It was noticed that there have been some nicely executed improvements with a covered seating area using massive tree trunks for the columns, refurbished toilets and a well-appointed children’s play area. There is also now a Memorial to the airmen who over the years have lost their lives on a variety of training and operational flights in the area.
People started to pack up and leave around 12:15pm. By all accounts, all got home safely, though one vehicle’s actual arrival was somewhat late due to engine failure. Following a call for help, the problem was traced to the ignition coil. Once it was replaced, the engine fired up and the journey home was able to be completed.
Photos by Michael Hamilton-Clark and Shirley McCulough with video by Susan Antak