Over 550,000 pink salmon return to Quinsam Hatchery, attracting anglers and bears

WatchThe Quinsam Hatchery has recorded over half a million Pink salmon returning this fall and is hoping for high numbers of Coho and Chinook as well.

The fishing is good this fall on the Quinsam River in Campbell River and fishermen are lining the banks hoping to land the “big one.”

“The coho are in right now and they’re good for smoking and eating and they’re a good time,” said angler Sean Stevenson.

The run of returning pinks to the Quinsam Hatchery has more or less ended as cohos start to come in but the high number of pinks was a pleasant surprise to those who work at the hatchery and are now harvesting millions of their eggs.

“We’re a little bit surprised to get as many as we got,” said Edward Walls, Quinsam Hatchery Watershed Enhancement Manager. “We were thinking we might see maybe 150,000 to 200,000 fish (pinks) this year based on what we’d seen migrating out and ocean survivals but it’s looking like the run is going to be closer to 550,000, maybe even a little bit more than that.”

Over one million pinks returned in 2013.

Walls says the healthy return is likely due to good ocean conditions and he’s hoping for strong coho and chinook returns as well.

While the anglers are getting their fill, so are the local bears and they’ve been putting on quite the show as they fill up for the winter.

“It’s the same bear that I’ve seen recently, even last year you get familiar with some of the local bears that come around and you usually run into them sooner or later,” said Stevenson.

They’ve been getting lots of attention on social media and people are travelling to the area specifically to see them.

“The largest predator we’ve got is a wolf or a fox so it’s great to see a large, large bear,” said Michael Pedersen, visiting with his family from Denmark.

People are even lining up at the gate in the morning waiting to get in to see them.

“People want to come and see a bear, a lot of tourists come, a lot of people come here from all over the world to get a picture of a Canadian black bear,” said Walls.

The chinook run is expected to last through the end of November.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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