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PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF FISHERIES FOR THE YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 31ST,… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly [1921]

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 PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
EEPOET
COMMISSIONER OF FISHERIES
FOR THE YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 3 1st, 1920
WITH APPENDICES
PRINTED BY
AUTHORITY  OP  THE   LEGISLATIVE  ASSEMBLY.
VICTORIA, B.C.:
Printed by William  H. Ccllin, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
1921.  To His Honour Walter Cameron Nichol,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it please Your Honour :
I beg to submit herewith a report reviewing the operations of the Provincial
Fisheries Department for the year ending December 31st, 1920, with Appendices.
WILLIAM SLOAN,
Commissioner of Fisheries.
Provincial Fisheries Department,
Commissioner of Fisheries' Office,
Victoria, British Columbia, March 31st, 1921.
S  3 TABLE OF CONTENTS.
FISHERIES COMMISSIONER'S REPORT FOR 1920.
Page.
Standing with other Provinces   5
Species and Value of Fish marketed  5
The Salmon-catch of 1920  6
The Salmon-pack of the Fraser River   6
The Salmon-pack of Northern and Vancouver Island Districts  ... 6
Reports from Spawning-beds of Province in 1920   8
Salmon Data from the Sockeye Run to the Fraser  9
The Halibut-fishery   10
Whale-catch of 1920   10
Cold-storage of Fish     10
APPENDICES.
The Spawning-beds of the Feaseb Rivee   12
The Spawning-beds of Rivees Inlet   15
The Spawning-beds of Smith Inlet   18
The Spawning-beds of the Skeena Rivee   20
The Spawning-beds of the Nass River   24
Will these be a Laege Sockeye Run to the Feaseb River in 1921?    By Dr. C. H. Gilbert 27
Salmon-pack of 1920 in detail   29
Salmon-pack of Peovince, 1905 to 1920, inclusive   30
S 4 FISHERIES COMMISSIONER'S REPORT FOR 1920.
Value of Canadian Fisheries and the Standing of Provinces.
The value of the fishery products of Canada for the year 1919 totalled $50,508,479, as against
$60,250,514 for the preceding year, a decrease of $3,764,935.
During the year 1919 British Columbia produced fishery products of a total value of
$25,301,607, or 44.7 per cent, of the total for the Dominion.
British Columbia again led all the Provinces of the Dominion in the value of her fishery
products. Her output in 1919 exceeded that of Nova Scotia by $10,129,678, and exceeded that
of all the other Provinces combined by $9,267,654.
The following statement gives in the order of their rank the value of the fishery products
of the Provinces for the years 1918 and 1919, together with the amount of the increase or
the decrease:—
Value of Fisheries by Provinces, 1918 and 1919, with Increase or Decrease.
Province.
191S.
1919.
Increase or
Decrease compared with  1918.
(Inc.+ ;Dec.-.)
British  Columbia   ....
Nova   Scotia   	
New Brunswick	
Quebec   	
Ontario   	
Prince  Edward  Island
Manitoba   	
Saskatchewan   	
Alberta   	
Yukon   	
Totals   	
$27,282,223
15,143,066
6,298,990
4,568,773
3,175,111
1,148,201
1,830,435
447,012
318,913
37,820
3,250,5-14
$25,301,607
15.171,920
4,97S,074
4,25.8,731
3.410,750
1,536,844
1,008,717
475,797
333,330
s.soo
$56,485,570
+
- $1,980,616
28,863
- 1,319,916
- 310,042
- 235,639
- 388,643
- 821,718
28,7S5
14,417
29,020
-$3,764,965
The Species and Value of Fish caught in British Columbia.
The total value of each species  of fish taken in British  Columbia for the  year
December 31st, 1919, is given in the following statement:—
Salmon     $17,537,166
Halibut    4,617,4S4
Herring   1,109,870
Whales     648,868
Pilchards     371,871
Cod   368,838
Black  cod     116.5S0
Flounders, brill, plaice, etc  130,940
Soles    •  90,84S
Crabs     55,102
Clams and quahaugs    47,754
Red cod    39,413
Oysters    38,059
Perch    19,808
Grayfish     17,822
Shrimps     17,528
Smelts  14,682
Octopus     6,760
Carried forward    $25,249,993
ending S 6
Beport of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
The Species and Value of Fish caught in Bbitish Columbia—Continued.
Brought foncard     $25,249,993
Sturgeon    5,636
Skate    3,126
Oolachans     2,045
Fur-seals     1,294
Shad  667
Tomcod    498
Hake and cusk    475
Bass     336
Whiting  2S4
Eels    222
Fish-oil    35,097
Fish-offal  450
Fish scrap and fertilizer    19,306
Total  825,319,429
The Salmon-pack of 1920.
The salmon-pack in the Province for the year 1920 totalled 1,187,616 cases. It was 205,540
cases less than in 1919 and 428,541 cases less than in 1918, the year of the high record pack
in the Province. The pack of chum salmon for the season totalled but 84,626 cases, as against
372,035 cases in 1919 and 527,615 cases in 1918, the decrease being due to a lack of market for
this grade.   There was a large carry-over of the pack of 1919.
The catch of sockeye from all the waters of the Province totalled 351,405 cases, as against
369,445 cases in 1919 and 276,459 cases in 1918, the decrease of 1920 being due to a light run
of sockeye on the Skeena.
The catch of red, white, and pink spring salmon totalled 118,301 cases as against 100,551
cases in 1919 and 107,354 cases in 1918. The pack of pink salmon totalled 520,856 cases, as
against 346,639 cases in 1919 and 527,745 cases in 1918.
The 1920 Salmon-pack by Districts.
The Fraser River.—The total pack of all grades of salmon in the Fraser River District of
the Province in 1920 totalled 136,661 cases, as against 163,123 cases in 1919, 276,459 cases in
1918, and 330,209 cases in 1917, the total pack being the smallest made on the Fraser since
1916. The catch of sockeye in Provincial waters of the Fraser River system shows a gain over
the two preceding years, with a total of 48,399 cases, as against 34,068 cases in 1919 and 19,697
cases in 1918.
The season's pack of sockeye in the State of Washington waters of the Fraser River system
in 1920 totalled 62,654 cases, as against 64,346 cases in 1919.
The total pack of sockeye in the entire Fraser River system in 1920 was 111,053 cases, as
against 116,783 cases in the fourth preceding year, 1916—the brood-year of the 1920 run—showing
that for the first time in several cycles of the lean years in the system there was but a small
decrease.
The Salmon-catch in Northern Waters.
The Skeena River.—The salmon-catch in the Skeena River in 1920 produced a total pack of
332,887 cases, as against 398,877 cases in 1919 and 374,306 cases in 1918. There was a marked
falling-off in the run of sockeye in comparison with the runs in the two preceding years, the
catch producing a total pack of but 89,364 cases, as against 184,945 cases in 1919 and 123,322
cases in 1918.
Since the run of sockeye to the Skeena this year must be credited to propagation in the
years 1915 and 1916, it is of importance to note that the run of 1915 produced a pack of 116,553
cases and that of 1916 but 60,923 cases, because it shows that the run this year was the product
of the spawning of two years, one of which gave a pack greater than the average for the last
eight years and the other a pack much below the average for that period.   Only by resorting
1921 11 Geo. 5 British Columbia. S 7
to averages of catches for a period of years can it be ascertained with a degree of certainty
whether the supply is on the whole diminishing or increasing. The average of the catch of
sockeye on the Skeena in four-year cycles from 1903 to 1919 is shown in the following
statement:— Cases.
Average pack from 1903 to 1906     78,868
1907 to 1910  130,851
1911 to 1914   101,664
1915 to 1919     91,477
Considering that the pack of 1920 is less than that of the average for the four preceding
years and very much below that from 1907 to 1914, and the fact that the number of canneries
and the amount of fishing-gear employed on the Skeena was relatively constant up to 1918, also
that in both 1918 and 1919 the amount of gear was greatly increased and the price paid fishermen
was also increased, it must be conceded that conditions on the Skeena are not satisfactory and
call for careful and conservative treatment. The records there indicate unmistakably that fishing
for sockeye should be diminished and not increased.
Rivers Inlet.—The catch of salmon at Rivers Inlet for 1920 produced a total pack of 133,248
cases. It was the greatest since the high record pack of 1915. The sockeye-catch in 1920
produced a pack of 125,742 cases. It was but 5,000 cases less than the largest pack of sockeye
ever made at that inlet. The catch of sockeye made there this year, as usual, consisted of both
4- and 5-year-old fish, and in consequence must be credited to the hatches from the spawnings
of the years 1915 and 1916. The run in 1915, which produced the record pack at the inlet,
consisted of 87 per cent, of 5-year-old fish, and the catch of 1916, which gave the smallest pack
on record, contained 76 per cent, of 5-year-old fish. The run this year was therefore derived
from both the biggest and the smallest runs recorded, and both of those runs consisted very
largely of 5-year-old fish. The catch this year again demonstrates, as Dr. Gilbert pointed out
last year, that the 5-year-old group has nearly always been in the majority in the Rivers Inlet
run, the average for the last eight years being 39 per cent, of the 4-year class and 61 per cent,
of the 5-year class.
Fishery Overseer A. W. Stone, who has for the past nine years annually inspected the
spawning area of Rivers Inlet run, reports the fish found there in 1920 compared favourably,
both in numbers and in size, with those of any former year—again demonstrating that the
seasons of large catches usually show a large escapement and an abundant seeding of the
spawning areas. '
The Nass River.—The salmon run to the Nass River this year was again distinctly disappointing, the total pack of 81,150 cases being less than the average for the last seven years.
Previous to that time the pack consisted almost wholly of sockeye. The run of sockeye was
much the smallest yet recorded there. It produced a pack of but 16,740 cases, as against
28,259 cases in 1919, 21,816 cases in 1918, 22,188 cases in 1917, and 31,411 cases in 1916. The
catch of sockeye on the Nass from 1909 to 1920 produced an average pack of 28,917 cases.
Conditions there are distinctly alarming and call for most conservative action. If conditions
are not radically changed the Nass River must be classed in the list of depleted streams. Fishing
for sockeye has been more extensive than the run to that river will stand.    The drain is far
too heavy.
The Vancouver Island Section.
The salmon-pack on Vancouver Island totalled but 84,170 cases, as against 276,519 cases in
1919 and 206,023 cases in 1918. The decrease is to be attributed to the lack of demand for the
fall-running species. There being little demand for chums resulted in a pack of but 12,591
cases, as against packs of 128,013 cases in 1919, 251,266 cases in 1918, and 240,000 cases in 1917.
The catch of sockeye made by the traps on Vancouver Island is, as usual, credited to the Fraser
District, because the fish taken were bred in that river and were seeking its waters when caught.
The catch of sockeye in the traps produced a pack of only 3,801 cases, the smallest on record.
The pack of all other species was small.
Trolling for salmon on the west coast of Vancouver Island was vigorously prosecuted by
a large fleet of power-boats, but owing to rough weather the catch was less than in recent years.
Most of the fish caught were shipped in a fresh state. S 8 Beport op the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1921
Repobts feom the Salmon-spawning Aeeas of the Pbovince in 1920.
Following the custom of former years since 1901, the Department conducted investigations
of the spawning areas of the Fraser, Skeena, and Nass Rivers and Rivers and Smith Inlets.
Detailed reports from each section will be found in the Appendix of this report.
The Fraser River.—The spawning-grounds of the Fraser River basin were again inspected
by John P. Babcock, Assistant to the Commissioner. He wras assisted by Inspector of Fisheries
C. P. Hickman. In Mr. Babcock's report it is shown that the number of sockeye that reached
Hell's Gate Canyon, in the Fraser above Vale, was larger than in any recent lean year and
compared favourably with the number that reached there in the big year 1917. The fish appeared
there in larger numbers in July than for a number of years, and the run in August was also
larger.
During August sockeye were seen passing up the Thompson, the first lean year in many years
that their presence in that great tributary of the Fraser has been noticed. Several arrests of
Indians for taking salmon from that river were made in August, one Indian having taken
upwards of 100 sockeye. The Department again attempted to collect data from the sockeye
run in that river, but, not anticipating that any number could be taken there, the gill-nets
were set too late to produce sufficient data to be of value. Notwithstanding that the sockeye
run up the Thompson was noticeably better than in recent years, the Department was unable
to show that any considerable number reached any one of the tributaries of Shuswap Lake,
at the head of the Thompson River. There are many large tributaries of that great lake, in
which the sockeye formerly spawned in great numbers, which offer extensive areas for spawning,
but in none of them could sockeye be found in considerable numbers.
The Skeena River.—The spawning-beds of the Skeena, which were inspected by Fishery
Overseer R. Gibson in September, apparently were not as well seeded as usual. The number
of sockeye that spawned in several tributaries of Babine and Lakelse Lakes was much less.
The run to most sections is reported to have been no larger than in 1916, which was the poorest
year on record. Owing to freshets which damaged the weirs placed in streams by hatchery
officials, the total sockeye-egg collection at the hatchery on the Skeena was less than in recent
years, the eggs collected totalling but 7,734,000.
The Nass River.—The sockeye-spawning beds of the Meziadin watershed of the Nass River
were again inspected by Inspector of Fisheries C. P. Hickman in September. As in former
years, the extreme upper sections of the Nass River basin, which include Lake Bowser, were not
visited owing to their extreme inaccessibility. In a summary of the results of his inspection
this year Mr. Hickman states: " I am of the opinion that the run of sockeye to the Meziadin
section of the Nass was not as large as in any former year of record, with the possible exception
of 1919. The run of spring salmon was good and there appeared to be a greater number of cohoe
in the watershed than were found in my former inspection."
Referring to the condition of the fishway at the falls on the Meziadin River, Mr. Hickman
states that the salmon have no difficulty in entering or passing through the fishway. The
channel of the river approaching the entrance to the fishway has been considerably improved
by Dominion officers, but is far from satisfactory, being still partly obstructed with rubble-
rock deposited there during the great flood of 1917-18. The removal of all that rock—the entire
clearing of the channel below the fishway—is most desirable.
It has been suggested that a fishway should be constructed on the right bank of the falls.
Mr. Hickman comments on the suggestion and states that the building of an additional fishway
would be a good thing, but " from what I know of conditions before and after the present fishway
was built and up to 1918, I am of the opinion that if all the rubble-rock is removed from
the channel below the entrance to the present fishway an additional fishway is unnecessary.
Following the years that the fishway was in its original condition, there certainly was no
assembly of salmon below the falls on the right bank. It must be appreciated that it is most
difficult to do any work at the falls, because they are most difficult of access. The trail over
the Bear River Glacier has virtually been destroyed. There are now no bridges over Bear
or Beaver Rivers or Surprise Creek. No one can get in with pack-horses. There are no
residents, either whites or Indians. When the present fishway was built the trail was open
and the streams bridged, and the powder, cement, tools, and food for the men, which were all
taken in, passed over the trail on pack-horses. At present everything must be packed in by
men unless a seaplane is used." 11 Geo. 5 British Columbia. S 9
Smith Inlet.—The spawning-beds of the Smith Inlet sockeye run were again inspected by
Fishery Overseer A. W. Stone. Importance was attached to this inspection this year since it
would demonstrate the effects of the closing of Qualla Creek to net-fishing. The wisdom of
preventing fishing in that entrance to the spawning area is fully demonstrated by Mr. Stone's
report. There was a very substantial increase in the number of sockeye found on the beds
this year over those found in the brood-years of this year's run, 1915 and 1916.
Rivers Inlet.—Fishery Overseer A. W. Stone again inspected the sockeye-salmon spawning-
beds of the Rivers Inlet run.    His report is of a most reassuring character.    He states:—
" As a summary of the result of my inspection of all the tributaries of Owikeno Lake, which
furnish the spawning-beds to the Rivers Inlet run of sockeye, I submit that all the tributaries
were as well, if not better, stocked than in any year of record, and very much better stocked
than in any year since 1915. Notwithstanding that the catch of sockeye at Rivers Inlet this
year produced a pack of over 125,000 cases, sufficient fish escaped capture to adequately stock
all the beds. The majority of the sockeye found there this year were exceptionally large and
consisted of 5-year-old fish. Conditions on the beds this year were as satisfactory as in 1915,
the brood-year of the 5-year-old fish that ran this year. It will be recalled that in 1915
I reported that the beds were better seeded than in any former year of record. The great run
this year unquestionably is due to the exceptional seeding of 1915."
Salmon Data fbom the Sockeye Run to the Feaseb.
The Department collected the usual data of the runs of salmon to Provincial waters during
the year. It was again submitted to Dr. C. H. Gilbert. Before he could complete his examination and forward a report he met with a physical disability which compelled him, temporarily,
to discontinue the work. Dr. Gilbert, however, had previously forwarded a partial report on
the 1920 sockeye run to the Fraser, dealing with the appearance in the run of 1920 of grilse
and showing its relation to the 1921 run, which is reproduced in the Appendix of this report
and which will be found of especial value to those interested in the Fraser fishery, as it is in
the nature of a forecast as to the size of the run in 1921.
Fishermen and canners on the Fraser have known for a considerable period that the sockeye
■run in the year before " the big runs " was made conspicuous by the occurrence of large numbers
of greatly undersized individuals, which constituted a class apart from the main run, and that
in the small years of each cycle they were rarely present. These fish—undersized, all males,
and their flesh pale in colour and poor in oil—were, by discriminating canners, packed separately
as an inferior grade. In consequence it was possible to compare their abundance in the years
of their occurrence with the runs of four, or eight, or twelve years previous. The relative
number of undersized sockeye found in the run previous to the big year furnished some basis
for forecasting the size of the run in the big year. The reason for such possible direct relation
between the two years became apparent in Dr. Gilbert's investigation of the age of salmon.
He demonstrated that whereas the usual run of sockeye to the Fraser matured in the fourth
year of their age, the undersized males, or grilse, as they are termed, matured in their third
year and therefore made their appearance in the run one year earlier than the 4-year-old fish
which resulted from the same spawning. If the spawning of the previous big year had been an
unusually successful one, it might be expected to result in an exceptionally large run of grilse
three years afterwards, and an equally exceptionally large run of 4-year fish in the following
year. Dr. Gilbert began his investigations of the life of the sockeye on the Fraser in 1911.
Since then he has annually determined the component parts of each run. In consequence he
has shown the proportion of grilse in the runs of 1912, 1916, and 1920. In the first of these,
1912, the grilse had developed from eggs laid down in 1909. In the latter year the catch produced
a pack of over 1,500,000 cases and the spawning-beds were abundantly seeded. The grilse then
of 1912 came from a successful season and the proportion which they formed of the 1912 run
could be accepted as an approximate statement for the corresponding years of the previous cycles.
Tests made throughout that season indicated that about one fish in live of the total run was a
grilse. The run in 1912 was followed in 1913 by a run of the first magnitude. It produced a
pack of 1,400,000 cases. With this data Dr. Gilbert approached the run of 1916. The grilse
that ran that year were developed from the eggs deposited in 1913, the year of the fatal blockade
in the Hell's Gate Canyon, which cut off the run to the upper spawning-beds. His examination
of the 1916 run showed but one-fourth as many grilse as the 1912 run, and it is equally a matter S 10 Report op the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1921
of record that the pack of 1917, compared with that of 1913, showed an equal reduction. To
determine the run in 1921 the same two lines of evidence are available—that derived from the
poorly seeded spawning-beds in 1917 and that derived from the number of grilse that were found
in the run of 1920. The reports from the spawning-beds in 1917 showed that they were less
seeded than in 1913. The numbers of spawning sockeye throughout the up-river district in 1917
were less numerous than in many lean years and far less numerous than in 1913, and in consequence could not be expected to produce as good a run. The material to establish the number
of grilse in the 1920 run was collected with care at close intervals throughout the season, and
consisted of scales for age-determination and data as to length and sex of 1,900 fish. By
microscopic examination of the scales Dr. Gilbert determined the age of each of this complete
series. In the entire collection but three grilse were found. In 1912 one fish in five was a grilse
and in 1916 they were but one-fourth as numerous. " In so far, then, as the number of grilse
can be considered an index of the size of the run in the following year," Dr. Gilbert concludes,
" the evidence from the 1920 run wholly agrees with that derived by Mr. Babcock from the
condition of the up-river spawning-beds of the Fraser in 1917. From both of these lines of
evidence the conclusion is forced upon us that 1921 will range itself definitely with the lean
years of the Fraser, which for three years of the previous cycle produced an average pack for
each year of 265,000 cases, and for the corresponding three years of the present cycle an average
pack each year of 90,000 cases."
The evidence submitted by Dr. Gilbert forces the conclusion that " the big year " of the
Fraser must be recognized " wholly a thing of the past," and that " any method which might
be successful in re-establishing it would be equally successful in raising the traditional lean
years of the Fraser from their present low estate to an equality with the old-time ' big years,'
when untold millions of spawning sockeyes fought their way through the rapids of the Yale
Canyon and distributed themselves over the unequalled spawning areas of the upper river."
The Halibut-fishery. ,
The catch of halibut landed at ports of the Province in 1920 totalled 22,089,035 lb., as against
19,198,565 lb. in 1919 and 16,697,000 lb. in 1918. The landings at Provincial ports in 1920 were
over 44 per cent, of the total landing at all Pacific ports in that year. Prince Rupert again led
in the landings, with a total of 18,941,035 lb. to Vancouver's 3,148,000 lb.
The total landings of halibut at all Pacific ports in 1920 totalled 49,S16,950 lb., as against
43,534,195 lb. in 1919 and 39,212,564 lb. in 1918. The gain in the catch of the last two years
over that of 1918 is the result, to a large extent, of the taking of a greatly increased quantity
of undersized fish known to the trade as " chickens." These small fish, as was shown in the
Department's reports for 1915 and 1916, are immature. Halibut do not spawn until their eleventh
year. The fact that the fishermen bring in these small fish, for which they get a much smaller
price than for adults, is evidence that they cannot now, as formerly, make a catch of adult fish.
The gain in the total catch of the last two years over that of the low record year 1918 has been
made at the expense of the future. It has been an overdrain that the stock on the banks cannot
long endure.
Car shortage and the rate of exchange diverted many halibut cargoes from Prince Rupert
to Seattle. The bulk of the catches were made by independent fishing-vessels, many of the
company boats being laid up for most of the season owing to the cost of operation.
Whales.
The whaling-stations at Kyuquot, Rose Harbour, and Naden Harbour, in the Province, were
operated in 1920. A total of 493 whales were taken, as against 432 in 1919. The stations
produced 604,070 gallons of oil, 1,033 tons of fertilizer, and 320 tons of whalebone and meal.
Ten whaling-stations were operated on the Pacific Coast of America in 1920. A total of
1,763 whales were taken, of which 170 were belugas taken in Alaska which have not heretofore
been utilized.    The production of whale-oil on the Coast in 1920 totalled 2,129,956 gallons.
COLD-STOEAGE  OF  FlSH.
Owing to a lack of market for trawl-caught fish and the cost of operating, the trawling
companies withdrew their vessels early in the season. A total of only 13,786,000 lb. of fish were
placed in cold storage in the Province in 1920, as against 17,157,000 lb. in 1919.    It is difficult 11 Geo. 5
British Columbia.
S 11
to understand why the public does not more commonly avail itself of the sole, flounders, brill,
etc., that are offered at a much less price than halibut and salmon. They are abundant in our
waters and are equal in food value to any fish on the market.
The following statement of the salmon-eggs placed in the hatcheries of the Province in 1920
is furnished by Major J. A. Motherwell, Chief Inspector of Fisheries for the Dominion:—
Statement showing Total Numbee of Eggs PLACEn in Vabious Hatcheeies in
Bbitish Columbia, 1920.
Name of Hatchery.
Sockeye.
Colioe.
Springs.
Chums.
101,142,450
5,000,000
1,171,000
2,464,000.
880,000
83,000
205,000
234,000
569,500
3,922,000
100,000
2,108,000
4,936,000
9,577,000
4,360,000
26,000,000
12.,O77,OO0
4,370,000*
7,734,000
3,619,000
Skeena River   	
Totals	
85,367,450
3,866,000
4,591,500
5,727,000
* Collected from Skeena River basin. APPENDICES.
THE SPAWNING-BEDS OF THE FRASER RIVER.
Hon. Wm. Sloan,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sie,—I have the honour to submit the following report of my annual inspection of the
salmon-fishing and the salmon-spawning area of the Fraser River system during the season
of 1920 :—
The catch of all species of salmon from the Provincial waters of the Fraser River system
this season produced a total pack of 136,661 cases, as against 163,123 cases in 1919, 276,459
cases in 1918, 330,209 cases in 1917, and 127,472 cases in 1916. The pack consisted of 48,399
cases of sockeye, 22,934 cases of cohoe, 24,123 cases of spring, and 23,884 cases of chum. The
catch of sockeye in the Provincial waters of the system shows a gain over that of the preceding
year, and was 16,253 cases greater than that made in those waters in the fourth preceding year.
The catch of sockeye made by the traps in Provincial waters of Juan de Fuca Strait, which are
credited to the Fraser, was the smallest ever made there, producing a pack of but 3,S01 cases.
The catch of sockeye made in the Gulf of Georgia and the Fraser River proper was greater
than in any recent lean year. The fish ran earlier than usual, one-quarter of the entire season's
catch being made in July.
The season's catch of sockeye in the State of Washington waters of the Fraser River system
produced a pack of 62,654 cases, as against S4,637 cases in the preceding fourth year, a decrease
of 21,983 cases.
The total catch of sockeye in the waters of the entire Fraser River system in 1920 produced
a pack of 111,053 cases, as against 116,783 cases in its brood-year—(1916), showing that for the
first time in several cycles of lean years there*was but a slight decrease in the catch. As has
been pointed out in previous reports, minor fluctuations in the catch in the lean years do not
come as a surprise and are not of importance in view of general conditions on the Fraser.
Slight increases in the pack over that of preceding years would be without significance, since
fluctuations are bound to occur in all streams where a general decline in the catch is shown.
Though the number of men engaged and the amount of fishing-gear used in the entire
district was the smallest for many years, the catch was made at the highest cost on record.
I made my seventeenth annual inspection of the principal salmon-spawning area of the
Fraser River basin during July, August, September, and October. I was assisted by Inspector
of Fisheries C. P. Hickman, and am indebted to Dominion Fishery Officers and to local residents
both whites and Indians, scattered over the basin, for much information of value.
As a result of the season's investigations I am of the opinion that more sockeye reached the
upper section of the area of the Fraser this year than in any recent lean year, hut in no district
of the upper river were sockeye found in sufficient numbers to produce a future run of importance.
The number of sockeye that reached the headwaters of the Harrison-Lillooet Lakes section, as
will be shown later, was greater than in any previous year of which there is a record.
The number of sockeye that passed through Hell's Gate Canyon, above Tale, was unquestionably greater than in any recent lean year. Fishery Officer Scott, of the Dominion service, who
has patrolled that canyon of the Fraser for a number, of years, expressed the opinion that as
many sockeye passed through Hell's Gate Canyon this year as in the last big year (1917).
Sockeye in numbers reached the canyon early in July, more being in evidence there during that
month than in many recent years; and they were in evidence there during August and September.
Owing to unusually favourable water conditions throughout the year the fish at no time had any
real difficulty in passing through the rapids at Hell's Gate. None were delayed there this year.
The Indians, who have commonly fished for salmon at Hell's Gate, were not permitted to do so
this year.
For the first time in many years sockeye were seen passing up the Thompson River between
Lytton and Spences Bridge.    Several Indians who caught sockeye from the Thompson in August 11 Geo. 5 Spawning beds of Fraser River. S 13
were arrested for doing so by Dominion officers. One of the Indians had caught upwards of
100 sockeye.
The sockeye that passed up the Thompson are believed to have spawned in the Shuswap-
Adams Lake section, but an inspection of the principal tributaries of those lakes failed to
disclose in any one of them sockeye in sufficient numbers to produce results of importance.
Small numbers were, however, found in some of the tributaries where none have been reported
for a number of years.
During July and throughout August and early September sockeye were observed passing
through the canyon in the Eraser's channel above the mouth of Bridge River. The water there
throughout the entire season was much higher than usual, with the result that the salmon had
no difficulty in passing through the rapids. They were not delayed there this year. Notwithstanding the Dominion's order prohibiting the Indians from taking salmon above the commercial
fishing limits at Mission Bridge, a considerable number of sockeye were taken by them in the
canyon. As soon as their operations were reported to the Dominion fishery officials an officer
was placed there, and thereafter all fishing ceased. The number of sockeye taken by the
Indians could not be ascertained with any degree of certainty, but it is asserted that they
caught more than in recent lean years when they were permitted to fish throughout the season.
Because the Indians living on the Chilcotin River were not permitted to fish for salmon,
and because the waters of that river are always so discoloured by a chalky silt, it was impossible
to establish the extent of the run of sockeye there this year. From statements made to me by
Indians, who did fish in a small way at night, notwithstanding the prohibition, I concluded that
sockeye ran up that river for at least two weeks in August. Indians living at the head of
Chilko River, just below Chilko Lake, reported that more sockeye reached there this year than
in any recent lean year, but that they were at no time so numerous as to have permitted their
catching any considerable number had they been permitted to do so. The fish secured by them,
like those taken by the Indians on the lower river, were consumed in a fresh state.
Less than 500 sockeye were recorded as entering Quesnel Lake this year. The watchman
stationed there by the Department reports that the first sockeye reached there on September 2nd,
and that the last to arrive passed through the fishway on September 17th. There was a scattered
run between those dates.
The watchman at Quesnel Lake also reports that at least 400 spawning salmon passed
through the fishway this year, a greater number than has been reported since the fishway
was built by the Province in 1903.
The run of sockeye to the tributaries of the Nechako River, which enters the Fraser at
Prince George and which drains Stuart and Fraser Lakes, was not sufficiently large to be of
importance, hut it is interesting to note that a few sockeye were reported from some minor
streams in that section where their presence has not been recorded in recent years.
The number of sockeye that are known to have passed up the South Fork of the Fraser
is small, though more are reported to have reached Bear Lake section than for some years.
The watchman stationed at Seton Lake reports that no sockeye, and very few other spawning
salmon, entered that lake this year.   The hatchery there was not operated.
The number of sockeye that reached the Birkenhead River, at the head of the Harrison-
Lillooet Lakes section, this season was greater than in any year since that section came under
our observation in the fall of 1902. Conditions there this year were most satisfactory and
promised to produce a good return. The run of sockeye to this section in each of the,last two
years is believed to have been considerably greater than in any year since 1902. With the
exception of the years 1917 and 1918, the run of sockeye to that section has shown no indication
of diminishing. It is the only section in the entire watershed of the Fraser River basin, with
the possible exception of Cultus Lake, that has not shown a steady and alarming decline in the
run of sockeye. Year after year the run to the head of Lillooet Lake has been satisfactory,
with the exception of the two years 1917 and 1918. Furthermore, the Lillooet Lake section is
the only one in the Fraser basin, where hatchery operations have been conducted, in which
the run of sockeye has been maintained. The number of sockeye that spawn in that section
has not declined; on the contrary, there is evidence that it has increased. The question then
naturally arises, why has the sockeye run to that section been maintained while the runs to all
other sections have declined? The annual appearance of undiminished numbers of sockeye in
the Lillooet Lake section must apparently be attributed to one of two causes:  Either it is due S 14
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
1921
to the successful operation of the hatchery, or the races of sockeye that spawn there have not
been subject to the great drain made on all the other races that spawn in the Fraser by the
traps and nets on the fishing-grounds. Since it has not been shown that the sockeye that spawn
in the Lillooet Lake section enter the Fraser before the fishing season opens on July 1st, it is
not apparent why they should be less subject to the heavy drain by fishing than those that spawn
in other sections. Fishing for sockeye in the Fraser before July 1st has not been permitted
for over thirty years. It is a matter of record that when fishing for sockeye was permitted in
May and June good catches were made in those months. Alex. Ewen, in the early days of
the canning industry, packed as high as 10,000 sockeye in the month of May. Canning was
not at that time extensively conducted, and those engaged in the industry found it more profitable
to operate later in the season when the run was more extensive. There may still be runs of
sockeye in May and June. The fact that sockeye have not been observed in the river at Hell's
Gate until July does not prove that none enter the river much earlier, because earlier runs
could easily pass into the tributaries of the Fraser below the canyon. Sockeye may still enter
the Fraser in May or June and turn from the Fraser into the Harrison River en route to the
waters of Lillooet Lake and the Birkenhead River. If such is the case it is obvious that such
a run would not be subject to the drain of the traps and nets, and in consequence would easily
maintain itself. It therefore becomes a matter of importance to establish when the runs to
that section enter the Fraser.   The Department hopes to do this during the coming year.
iSockeye reached the headwaters of Lillooet Lake and entered the Birkenhead River early
in September. By the 17th of that month over 5,500,000 eggs had been collected and placed
in the hatchery. The sockeye-egg collection for the season totalled 26,000,000. It is believed
that many additional millions could have been secured had the operators desired to take them.
They preferred, however, to let the fish spawn naturally. The weirs were therefore removed
from the river and the fish permitted to pass to the natural spawuing-beds of the Upper
Birkenhead, which were abundantly seeded.
There were less sockeye in the lower reaches of the Fraser basin than in any recent year,
and the egg collections for the hatcheries there were consequently much less than the average
for that district. Owing to a smaller run and freshets the sockeye-egg collection for the
hatchery at Harrison Lake totalled but 5,000,000, as against last year's take of 7,500,000. Owing
to a very light run of sockeye to Cultus Lake but 1,250,000 eggs were secured, as against
10,500,000 collected last year.
I am indebted to Major J. A. Motherwell, Dominion Inspector of Fisheries for the Province,
for the following statement, giving the salmon-egg collection made this year at all the hatcheries
in the Province, which totalled 99,553,000 :—
Statement of Salmon-eggs collected, 1920.
Name of Hatchery.
Sockeye.
Cohoe.
Springs.
Chums.
Anderson Lake ..
Babine Lake ....
Cowichan Lake .
Cultus Lake
Kennedy (Lake ..
Harrison Lake ..
New Westminster
Pemberton   	
Pitt Lake	
Rivers Inlet ....
Skeena River . ..
Stuart Lake  ....
Totals   .
10,142,450
5,000,000
1,171,000
9,577,500
4,936,000
26,000,000
4,360,500
12,077,000
7,734,000
4,370,000
85,368,450
2.464,300
880,000
83,000
205,000
234,000
569,500
3,922,000
100,000
2,108,000
3,619,000
3,866,300
4,591,500
5,727,000
Respectfully submitted.
Victoria, B.C., December loth, 1920.
John Pease Babcock,
Assistant to the Commissioner. 11 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds op Rivers Inlet. S 15
THE SPAWNING-BEDS OF RIVERS INLET.
Hon. Wm. Sloan,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit my report upon the inspection of the spawning-beds
conducted at Rivers Inlet for the year 1920.
Leaving Rivers Inlet Cannery on October 7th, I proceeded to the Owikeno Lake with the
intention of going through to the head, but weather conditions compelied me to stop at Asklum
River, situated 12 miles up, so commenced the inspection at this point first. The sockeye seen
here were in great abundance, and as the river was low no difficulty was experienced in forming
an accurate estimate of the run in comparison with the brood-years 1915 and 1916. The run
was equal to 1915 and greatly exceeded that in 1916.
I wish to draw attention to a log-jam which has formed at the mouth, requiring removal
at the earliest opportunity, as if permitted to remain it will cause a serious menace to future
runs of fish up the river.
On arrival at the head of the lake camp was made and an examination conducted at Cheo
River, one of the three tributaries situated at this point, all early-running salmon-streams. The
numbers spawning on the beds right up to the falls, 4% miles distant, equalled those seen there
in 1915. Large numbers of fish in an advanced stage of spawning were observed just below the
falls, having passed under the log-jam without difficulty; spawned-out salmon and dead bodies
lying on the river-bed and the bars testified to the very large run which had prior to my visit
come in. With the exception of the log-jam referred to, no other obstructions interfered with the
movement up-stream.
The run of sockeye salmon to the Indian River shows a great improvement in comparison
with the number seen on the beds in 1915 and 1916. The gravel-bars right up to the falls, half
a mile distant, contained big numbers of spawning fish, while many were observed in a dying
condition lying helpless on the bars; dead bodies covered the river-bed at the entrance, evidence
that the run here earlier in the season had been exceptionally large.
An inspection of the Washwash River, on the extreme right of the lake, revealed conditions
testifying only too plainly the necessity of continued effort each year to counteract the evil
influence of the freshets, which have undone the good work of the Department of Fisheries to
keep the spawning-beds open to the salmon. The clearance which the Dominion officials effected
here in the spring of last year is again closed by a log-jam that blocks the entrance and will be
a serious menace to future runs if attention is not given to it. This freshet continued its work
of destruction by breaking through and opening up a new channel about a quarter of a mile from
the entrance, laying bare all that portion of the river situated below, including the stream at
the right of the Washwash. As it was in this part that a great proportion of the run last year
had spawned, and which I had commented upon so favourably in my report, it is a matter that
must be given due consideration in estimating the run which will return as the result of the
1919 spawning. If the freshet, took place prior to the hatching of that year's brood, it will
have had a corresponding effect upon the extent of the run. The course of the present channel
is a scene of great chaos, huge trees having been felled and log-jams cover every portion,
constituting a grave danger to the future run of salmon.
The number of sockeye in evidence in the Washwash this year was very gratifying; from
the entrance to the falls, 3 miles distant, countless numbers were observed spawning on the
beds, a large proportion having safely passed through the obstructions referred to above. The
run approaches very closely the number seen on the beds in 1915 and greatly exceeded the run
in 1916. In size the fish were again noted to be exceptionally large and to average much above
the runs in recent years.
The number of spawned-out fish and dead bodies lying all over the bars approximated very
closely in numbers to those seen on the beds of Cheo and Indian Rivers.
Sunday Creek, situated near the mouth of the Sheemahant flats, showed a great improvement
in comparison with previous years; the gravel-beds at the entrance were covered with spawning
sockeye of exceptionally large size, reminding me of the run of fish in 1915.
Numerous sockeye were breaking water in the Narrows, indicating that the spawning-beds
at this section will receive a plentiful supply of eggs. An examination of the Sheemahant River, the largest and one of the most productive salmon-
streams of the lake, did not appear to have received so many sockeye as has been evidenced in
other big years, but the run was very good and compared favourably with the number on the
beds in 1915. At the entrance the fish were observed in considerable numbers scattered over the
gravel-bars; as each riffle was encountered on our way up the river sockeye in large numbers
were seen, while in the deep water below the fish could be detected hugging the banks, avoiding
as much as possible the swift current. No log-jams or other obstructions interfered with the
movement of the salmon up-stream.
On arriving at Jeneesee Creek I was informed by the hatchery officials that the Machmell
River had broken through to this creek during a freshet and had carried away the trap and
fence used by them for trapping the fish; the result was many had escaped capture before a
new fence could be erected. It is from this creek that eggs for the hatchery have been collected
in previous years, and it was hoped that some would be obtained this year, but the run was
poor, only a very small number being obtained. An examination of the stream up to the falls
was a great disappointment; few adult salmon were in evidence. A peculiar feature attached
to this run is the abnormal number of small grilse that had entered, comprising 80 per cent, of
the total number of fish on the spawning-beds; a few years ago these fish were looked upon
with a degree of curiosity. A steady increase in the number each year for the past three or
four years has been noted. I examined several to find the proportion of males and females,
but they were all males. There is nothing to prevent the fish taking full advantage of the
spawning-beds, as the clearance which was made in the spring of last year to open up these beds
is still very effective. In making comparison with the number reaching here in 1915 and 1916,
I find no improvement shown in the poor runs recorded for those years.
The Machmell River, as usual, constituted a difficulty in arriving at a proper estimate of
the run of sockeye owing to the discoloration of the water, but in going farther up a few salmon
were observed in the shallows, indicating that a certain number will seed the beds. As this river
closely resembles the Sheemahant in size, it is a matter of regret that the full extent of the run
cannot be determined.
The Nookins, a tributary to the Machmell, situated on the extreme right about half a mile
from the entrance, was seen under favourable circumstances. In the still waters for about
half a mile dead bodies of sockeye salmon covered the river-bed, testifying to a very big run
earlier in the season. On reaching the rapids they were noted in large numbers spawning on
the beds, 'and the farther we proceeded up-stream the greater the number seen. It represented
a close parallel to the number recorded in 1915; the individual size was of high average and
should produce a fine run of sockeye from this season's spawning.
The next river to receive attention was the Dalley, situated about 6 miles from the mouth
of the lake. It is of peculiar interest, in that it represents an early-running salmon-stream
although located so near the mouth of the lake. In the clear still waters above the rapids dead
bodies were lying scattered all over the river-bed, having gradually drifted down-stream earlier
in the season. As each successive riffle was encountered on our way through to the falls 4%
miles distant, the sockeye in an advanced spawning stage were observed in thousands on the
gravel-beds, while the bars all the way up were covered with dead fish, from which the stench
was overpowering. Here again the salmon represented a high average in size, comparing with
those seen at the other tributaries of the lake. The high record attained in 1915 was again
reproduced in the numbers that returned to spawn this year; the males and females wrere equally
represented.
.Crossing to Quap River, situated directly opposite the Dalley, the spawning-beds here were
examined under very favourable circumstances. The surrounding waters of the lake were alive
with jumping fish, and on close inspection sockeye in dense masses could be discerned in the deep
pools waiting at the entrance; inside the entrance the same conditions were observed. The
milling mass of sockeye is without precedent in all the years of my inspection, and is proof of
the value of the hatchery in maintaining the runs year by year by the means adopted to liberate
the fry into this river. If this could only be applied to the other tributaries of the lake there
would be little fear of poor runs such as have taken place in recent years.
The spawning-beds up to the fence and beyond were covered with countless numbers of fish;
here the Indians were catching salmon for their winter's use and had already smoked a great 11 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds of Rivers Inlet. S 17
number.   It was their intention to put up about 3,000 salmon, so they informed me.    Samples
of the sockeye examined at random showed a very high average in size—viz., 8 to 9 lb. in weight.
Out of the full complement of sockeye-eggs received at the hatchery, I am courteously
informed by W. J. Reid, Superintendent of the Dominion Hatchery, that 12,000,000 eggs were
collected from Quap, 1,000,000 from the Hatchery Creek, and 500,000 from Jeneesee Creek. The
failure of the latter is significant and bears out the poor reports recorded in 1915 and 1916,
the brood-years from which the present run resulted.
As the high water which frequently occurs at the Hatchery Creek would not permit a
fence to be erected right across, only part of it was undertaken, but even with this handicap
a fair number had been collected, as will be noted from the above figures. The beds contained
a large number of sockeye of exceptional size and in numbers compared very favourably with
other years. The gravel-bars at the entrance also contained their proportion of sockeye, from
the results of which the beds should be bountifully seeded.
The spawning-beds surrounding the rancheries and along the shore-line at the head of the
Owikeno River were alive with fish jumping in every direction, testifying to a very big run to
this section.
Spring salmon were again observed in large numbers occupying the spawning-beds of the
Owikeno river, while many in the last stage of exhaustion and spawned out were seen at low
tide lying on the beach near the mouth. Both cohoe and dog salmon were noted in exceptional
numbers here, indicating that the beds will be extensively seeded from this species of salmon.
As a summary of the result of my inspection of all the tributaries of Owikeno Lake, which
furnish the spawning-beds to the Rivers Inlet run of sockeye, I submit that all the tributaries
were as well, if not better, stocked than in any year of record, and very much better stocked than
in any year since 1915. Notwithstanding that the catch of sockeye at Rivers Inlet this year
produced a pack of over 125,000 cases, sufficient fish escaped capture to adequately stock all the;
beds. The majority of the sockeye found there this year were exceptionally large and consisted
of 5-year-old fish. Conditions on the beds this year were as satisfactory as in 1915, the brood-
year of the 5-year-old fish that ran this year. It will be recalled that in 1915 I reported that
the beds were better seeded than in any former year of record. The great run this year
unquestionably is due to the exceptional seeding of 1915.
Another interesting feature is the exceptionally high average in size the run of sockeye
attained this year.
In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation for the kindness extended by G. L. Johnston,
Manager of Rivers Inlet Cannery; W. J. Reid, Superintendent of the Dominion Hatchery, and
his assistants, to whom I am indebted for a very successful trip.
I have, etc.,
Arthur W. Stone,
Fisheries Overseer.
Rivers Inlet, B.C., November 8th, 1920. S 18 Report op the Commissioner op Fisheries. 1921
THE SPAWNING-BEDS OF SMITH INLET.
Hon. Wm. Sloan,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sie,—I have the honour to submit the following report of the inspection of the spawning-beds
at Smith Inlet for the year 1920 :—
Considerable interest was attached to this inspection, as it permitted me to observe for the
first time the full effect that the withdrawal of the drag-seines had upon the run of sockeye
salmon to the spawning-beds at Long Lake. Formerly the seines were operated at Qualla Creek,
situated inside the gill-net boundary, and took toll of an immense number after they had escaped
capture from the gill-nets distributed over the fishing-grounds at Smith Inlet.
It was long contended they were a serious menace to conservation, and if permitted to
remain as a contributive factor to the salmon-pack would eventually work to the detriment of
the salmon run each year; the Department of Dominion Fisheries, realizing the situation, took
measures finally to counteract this danger by eliminating them from the fishing-grounds entirely,
with the result that the fish are now permitted to reach the spawning-beds unmolested.
The effect of such a measure was clearly demonstrated by the substantial increase in the
number that had reached the spawning-beds this year in comparison with the run in 1915, and
greatly exceeded the run of 1916, the brood-years from which the present run resulted.
The low tides prevented access to the spawning-beds for a couple of days, so the opportunity
was taken to examine the run of cohoe and dog salmon at the head of Smith Inlet; both species
were in great abundance.
After accomplishing the ascent of the Docee River (the overflow to the lake) camp was
made for the night. An examination of this river showed that the run of spring salmon had
not fallen off in comparison with former years, but is well up to the average; in the clear water
above the rapids they were seen in very large numbers and of exceptional size; many were also
observed breaking water along the shore-line at the mouth of the lake. No cohoe salmon were
in evidence at this time.
Proceeding to Quay Creek the next day, I was impressed by the considerable number of
sockeye which were making full use of the gravel-beds at the entrance, and outside the fish
could be seen breaking water in all directions. The restricted spawning-beds inside the creek
were covered with spawning fish and at the foot of the falls many were making futile efforts
to surmount them, but were hurled back helpless to die unspawned.
Last year I pointed out the disadvantage under which the fish laboured in finding suitable
spawning-ground here, and suggested that if a fish-ladder could be constructed over the falls
and the log-jams removed from the creek leading direct to a lake half a mile inland, some
valuable spawning-beds could be opened up. I have no doubt if these measures were adopted
it would add greatly to the value of this tributary as a contributing factor to the run of salmon.
The Delabah River, situated about 2 miles from the head of the lake, was exceptionally well
stocked with sockeye and reminded me of the remarkable numbers recorded here in 1914; a
considerable improvement was shown in comparison with the 1915 run, and is entirely due,
I believe, to the steps taken to conserve the run of salmon to the spawning-beds this year.
The river-bed from the entrance to the falls, 1% miles distant, was literally covered with
spawning fish; schooled up in the deeper parts thousands were seen waiting until ready to
deposit the eggs; dead bodies lying on the river-bed and on the bars were observed in thick
masses and created a most offensive odour. In the bay outside the sockeye were breaking water
all over, and on close inspection could be detected in the clear waters of the lake schooled up
in thousands, testifying to the exceptionally big run here. The outlook is exceedingly bright for
a big return as the results of this season's spawning. A noticeable feature in connection with'
the run this year is the high average in size attained by the fish, and is in marked contrast
to the runs which have returned in recent years.
The run of sockeye salmon to the fine spawning-beds of the Geluch River, situated at the
head of the lake, exceeded the numbers recorded in 1915. The 3% miles of spawning-ground
ending at the falls was crowded with a seething mass of fish, while the inspection of the small
mountain streams which empty into this river showed that the beds will receive their full
proportion of salmon spawn from the very large number in evidence there.    This situation is 11 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds of Smith Inlet. S 19
only manifest during the years of the big runs, as on former occasions, when the run has been
a small one, few salmon, if any, were seen in these streams.
No log-jams or other obstructions were encountered; consequently the fish were permitted
to utilize every portion of the beds for spawning; the males and females were fairly evenly
distributed.
The gravel-bars that cover the entrance to the Geluch and along the shore-line at the head
of the lake contained their full quota of salmon, no falling-off being noted in comparison with
other big years. In the surrounding waters of the lake salmon could be seen jumping in every
direction.
Returning once more to the mouth of the lake, the Docee River was again closely inspected
for signs of the Cohoe salmon, but none were in evidence.
In summing up the results of the inspection of this watershed, I am of the opinion that
the improvement which is evident in the increased number of sockeye salmon on the spawning-
beds is entirely due to the timely action of the Dominion authorities in preventing the operations
of the drag-seines.
The size of the pack, amounting, I am reliably informed, to 20,000 cases this year, is in
striking contrast to the big pack of 35,000 cases put up in 1915, one of the brood-years from
which the present run resulted, and clearly demonstrates the value of conserving the run of fish
to the spawning-beds.
The falling-off in the run of salmon to the spawning-beds in 1915, and mentioned in my
report for that year, has, I am glad to say, been fully restored, and should result in a very big
run of sockeye salmon to this section from this season's spawning.
In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation for the courtesy extended by Mr. Blakey,
caretaker of the Smith Inlet Cannery.
I have, etc.,
Arthur W. Stone,
Fisheries Overseer.
Rivers Inlet, B.C.. November 8th, 1920. S 20
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
1921
THE SPAWNING-BEDS OF THE SKEENA RIVER.
Hon. Wm. Sloan,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—Tn obedience to your instructions, I beg to submit the following report on the inspection
of the spawning-beds of the Skeena River for the season 1920:—
I arrived at Donald's Landing, on Babine Lake, on September 4th, and proceeded the
following day to 15-Mile Creek, where I met Mr. Karnock, the assistant to Mr. Crawford, of
the Stuart Lake Hatchery. Mr. Karnock informed me that they had not commenced spawning
in 15-Mile Creek, as they were then busy spawning in Pierre Creek, but they would do so later
in an effort to get their full complement of eggs for the Stuart Lake Hatchery, a total of 6,500,000
eggs. At the time of my visit there were about 2,500,000 eggs in the baskets which had been
spawned by Mr. Crawford in Pierre Creek, and he had gone back to Pierre Creek for as many
more eggs as he could get without seriously interfering with the natural propagation in that
creek. There were very few sockeye in 15-Mile Creek, and Mr. Karnock said it was much
similar to that of 1916, which was one of the poorest years on record so far as the spawning-
grounds are concerned. For about a quarter of a mile from the lake this creek is an ideal
spawning-bed, but beyond that there is a succession of rock-obstructions and many waterfalls
which prevent the salmon going farther up the creek. In average seasons this is considered one
of the best spawning-creeks on Babine Lake, and I am informed that a hatchery with a 10,000,000-
egg capacity will be built on this creek next year. A peculiar feature of this creek was the large
number of undersieed male sockeye in comparison with the others of average size, especially
those that had gone through the fence or barricade erected for spawning purposes. A good many
of these undersized sockeye, or " runts," as they are commonly called, would not exceed 10 inches
in length. These " runts " are all males, but are not used for artificial spawning, although I am
informed they give in proportion to their size as much milt as the average adult male. There
were no Indians at the mouth of this creek catching or putting up fish, which was proof of the
scarcity of the sockeye this year. As there is now an off-year in the cycle of the sockeye-run,
it is evident that some restrictions will require to be imposed in the years 1924, 1928, and so on,
during the sockeye-fishing season in order that the sockeye may regain the average of the other
three years. Should a hatchery be built at this creek next year as is contemplated, it will
increase the run considerably, especially to the upper end of the lake, and will offset the taking
of the eggs for Stuart Lake Hatchery and planted in the Fraser.
I called in at 4-Mile Creek the same day, but this creek Is too small to be of any importance,
as one can jump across it almost anywhere. There was not a single live salmon in the creek,
but I should judge a few sockeye had gone up a month earlier when the water was high, and
since spawned, as was evident by the ten or twelve dead sockeye in the little pools in the creek.
The following morning I proceeded on to Beaver Creek, at the head of the lake, where there
were two Stuart Lake Indian families fishing with nets near but not obstructing the mouth
of the creek. While I was there the Indians overhauled their nets, but only caught two sockeye,
although the nets had been out all night. Their smoke-houses and racks had a fair supply of
fish, so evidently they had been more successful in catching salmon the previous three weeks.
I went up Beaver Creek in a boat for a distance of about 3 miles. This creek for the first
3 miles has practically no current, is discoloured, and has a muddy bottom resembling a slough,
making it almost impossible to see whether there are any sockeye in that particular stretch.
On going farther up the creek I met with many log-jams and beaver-dams which would entail
considerable expense to clear, but the current was more noticeable. A few sockeye were seen
in the pools and gravel patches between the log-jams, but it was impossible to estimate the
number owing to the darkness of the water. »
It is apparent that only a limited number of sockeye can get over these obstructions while
the water is high earlier in the season. A number of dead sockeye were seen between and above
the log-jams, but as this creek is considered one of the earliest spawning-creeks in Babine Lake,
there were evidently not a great number of sockeye successful in overcoming the obstacles.
On returning to the mouth of the creek and patrolling round the head of the lake, there was
only an occasional sockeye seen, although the head of the lake is considered a fine spawning-
ground, the water being shallow for some distance from the shore with a fine sand and gravel
bottom. 11 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds of Skeena River. S 21
On September 7th I visited Pierre Creek and was agreeably surprised at the large number
of sockeye seen. The creek had been cleared of all the big rocks and logs by Mr. Crawford,
the Superintendent of Stuart Lake Hatchery, and was in splendid condition for spawning. I did
not see Mr. Crawford here, but from the number of dead salmon near where the barricade had
been I should judge that he had been successful in obtaining the majority of his complement
of eggs for Stuart Lake Hatchery. Although there were a few undersized sockeye to be seen,
the majority were of an average size and in good condition, the males and females being evenly
balanced. In the lake around the mouth of the creek there were a large number of sockeye
plainly seen spawning in the fine gravel and sand that had been washed down from the creek.
This creek will .be exceptionally well seeded, and to the knowledge of the hatchery and Dominion
officials it will be far in excess of any previous year. There were no Indians at the mouth of
this creek, so apparently there will be nothing to disturb the sockeye in their natural propagation.
Pierre Creek is the earliest creek on Babine Lake for sockeye spawning, and I am informed by
the Dominion Guardian that the first sockeye were seen in this creek on July 21st. From all
reports the sockeye are running much later than last year, from no apparent reason unless it
is attributed to the exceptionally high water in June and July.
On September 9th I arrived at Salmon or Hatchery Creek and proceeded up the creek to
the hatchery, a distance of about 3 miles. This creek was also in fine shape, being free from
any obstruction, with large numbers of sockeye clearly visible in the many big pools and many
spawning in the numerous shallow gravel patches. The sockeye in this creek were of an exceptionally good size and should, in my opinion, average in the neighbourhood of 8 lb., a good many
being nearer 11 lb. in weight. At the hatchery I met Mr. Gibbs, the Superintendent, who informed
me that during the high water in July his barricades had been washed away and an unknown
number of sockeye had escaped into Morrison Lake, at the head of the creek. This would
naturally cause artificial spawning to be later than usual, as the ripe sockeye are generally
found near the barricades. Mr. Gibbs did not expect to get as many eggs spawned as last year,
but he thought that the number would not be much below the average of former years. There
were a large number of sockeye jumping at and trying to get through the barricades, but sacks
of hay all along the foot of the barricades prevented the fish from being injured when they fell
back. In the creek the males and females were evenly balanced, but near the barricades the
males predominated. Mr. Gibbs informed me that last year he spawned 8,760,000 eggs and
commenced to liberate 7,924,000 young sockeye-fry in the month of May this year. Although this
hatchery has a 10,000,000-egg capacity, Mr. Gibbs believes that better results are obtained with
a less amount, as it allows more room for the young fry. This hatchery has been in operation
for a good many years, and as proof of the results it is stated that in previous years the eggs
for this hatchery, were obtained entirely from Babine and other creeks; whereas, without
exception, the eggs are now all obtained in this creek, and, incidentally, right at the door of
the hatchery. The reason for this is the run is now changed, the fish, as is well known,
returning to their place of origin. Illustrative of this point, I may say that while I was there
ten or twelve sockeye had made their way through the intake-pipe into the hatchery and were
spawning in the retaining pond. There were four Babine Indian families at the mouth of this
creek and their smoke-houses and racks were fairly well filled.
On September 10th I arrived at Fort Babine and the following morning I went down the
Babine River a distance of about 10 miles. It is on this stretch of water that the Babine Indians
(approximately a hundred families) catch the bulk of their fish, and their. smoke-houses and
racks are scattered here and there along the shores. All their smoke-houses and racks had a
good proportion of fish, but on questioning a few of the Indians as to the general run of the
sockeye, they would say: " No fish." With the Indians it is either a case of lots of fish or no
fish; they apparently never get a " fair " catch. There are good spawning-grounds in this stretch
of water, especially near the bridge at Babine, but there were very few sockeye to be seen.
In the vicinity of the old barricade-site on Babine River the Indians were catching a fair amount
of spring salmon in addition to the sockeye. The following day, September 12th, I visited Fulton
or Tachek Creek, where there were four Babine Indian families putting up their winter's supply
of fish. Their smoke-houses and racks were also fairly well filled. On questioning these Indians
as to the run of sockeye, they complained of not getting enough fish owing to the poor run.
I went up the creek a considerable distance, and although there are fine spawning-beds for at
least 2 miles there were very few sockeye to be seen.   As this is the last point of interest on S 22 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1921
Babine Lake, I may say that, with the exception of Pierre Creek and Hatchery Creek, the
sockeye run in the Babine District was very poor, the number of sockeye on the spawning-beds
being much below the average and on par with the year 1916. Hatchery Creek was well up
to the average of former years and Pierre Creek better seeded than iu any previous year.
I returned to Burns Lake and arrived in Hazelton on the 19th, and on the following day
visited Awillgate Canyon, on the Bulkley River, where the Hazelton and Awillgate Indians catch
their winter's supply of fish, chiefly by means of basket trails. The Indians do not now catch
many fish at this point, as they are more industrious than the Babine Indians and do not make
fish their sole winter food. Although there are a number of smoke-houses at the canyon, only
two had been in use this summer. The Dominion Guardian at this point informed me that the
water had been exceptionally high in July and it was impossible to estimate the run of sockeye.
He was of the opinion, however, that the run was retarded by the high water and was below
the average of former years.
I left Hazelton on September 21st and arrived at Lakelse Hatchery on the 23rd and there
met Mr. Catt, the Superintendent. This is a new hatchery with a 10,000,000-egg capacity, and
although the dwelling-houses are not yet completed the hatchery is in operation. The hatchery
is situated on Granite Creek, about 2 miles from Lakelse Lake and almost at the other end of
the lake, where the old hatchery was at the junction of Coldwater Creek and Lakelse River.
Judging by the results Mr. Catt has obtained this year, the off-year of the cycle, the success
of this hatchery is assured. At the time of my visit there were a little over 7,500,000 sockeye-
eggs in the hatchery that had been spawned from Schallabuchan, Williams, and the branches
of Granite Creek. Mr. Catt also had the regrettable experience of having his barricades washed
away during the high water in July, and but for this loss of the early run of sockeye he could
have obtained his full complement of sockeye-eggs. To make up his full complement, Mr. Catt
has spawned 2,000,000 pinks and cohoes and he fully expects to have 8,000,000 sockeye-eggs by
the time he is through spawning. The two principal soekeye-creeks on Lakelse Lake are
Schallabuchan and Williams Creek, where the majority of the spawn is obtained.
Schallabuchan  is  a  slow-running  creek  with  a  good  sand  and gravel  bottom  for  some
considerable distance from the lake.   As this is the earliest-spawning creek in the lake, there .
were very few live sockeye to be seen, Mr. Catt informing me that he had commenced spawning
here on August 1st.
Williams Creek is a big swift-running creek of great length which becomes broad and
shallow near its mouth. The sockeye do not appear to go very far up the creek, preferring to
spawn in the shallow sand and gravel patches near the lake. There were numbers to be seen
spawning here, and also in the lake at the mouth of the creek, where spawning conditions are
ideal. Granite Creek branches off below the hatchery in five different streams on its downward
course to the lake. Each of the little streams is too small to be of any importance for spawning,
although the sockeye try to make their way up. If Granite Creek was cleared of the rock and
log obstructions below the hatchery it could be made to continue its way in one'channel to the
lake instead of five different streams as at present. This would enable the sockeye to go up the
creek in large numbers and afford better protection from the bears that abound in this vicinity.
All the sockeye seen were of average size and in good condition, and although Mr. Catt informed
me that the males and females were evenly balanced at the beginning of the run, the males
predominated towards the end of the run.
Blackwater Creek is quite close to Williams Creek, but although I went up this creek a
considerable distance there were few live sockeye to be seen. This is also an early-spawning
creek, but from the number of dead salmon seen it was poorly seeded and much below the
average. On September 25th I visited Lakelse" River and Coldwater Creek, which were both
literally swarming with spawning pink salmon. Lakelse River is the only outlet of Lakelse
Lake and joins the Skeena River some 12 miles distant. Sockeye do not spawn in Lakelse River,
but go right through to the lake. There were a few spring salmon to be noted among the pinks
in Coldwater Creek, but there was no evidence of any sockeye, and I am informed by Mr. Catt
that the sockeye do not go up this creek.
In summing up the Lakelse spawning area, I may say that, with the exception of Williams
Creek, which was near the average of other years, the spawning-beds will be sparsely seeded
and below the average of previous years, although, from all reports, a little more hopeful than
that of 1916. 13 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds of Skeena River. S 23
As this was the last point of interest, I returned to Terrace and arrived in Port Essington
on September 26th.
I wish to express my thanks to the Hatchery Superintendents and men, also Stuart Norrie,
Dominion Fishery Overseer, to whom I am indebted for information supplied and hospitality
shown.
I have, etc.,
R. Gibson,
Fisheries Overseer.
Port Essington, B.C., October 1st, 1921. S 24 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1921
THE SPAWNING-BEDS OF THE NASS RIVER.
Hon. Wm. Sloan,
Commissioner of Fisheries, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit the following report in respect to conditions existing on
the spawning-beds of the Meziadin watershed of the Nass River:—
I left the town of Stewart on September 15th with two Indian packers, and after a very
strenuous journey owing to the inclemency of the weather—encountering heavy rain and snow
when crossing the Bear River Glacier—we arrived at the head of Meziadin Lake in the evening
of September 19th, where I was fortunate in being able to hire an Indian canoe, which saved
the trouble of making rafts, to journey down the lake to the fishway.
On making an inspection of the upper part of the lake, I did not observe as many sockeye
on the spawning-beds as in former years and there were not as many to be seen leaping in the
lake. It will be recalled that the run of sockeye to the Meziadin Lake was very poor in 1919.
Conditions there this year did not compare favourably even with 1919.
On the journey down the lake I inspected the Hanna River and McLeod Creek. Only a few
sockeye were to be seen at the mouth of these streams.
After leaving the lake and entering its outlet, Meziadin River, we shot the McBride Rapids.
Below these rapids are the principal spawning-grounds of spring salmon in the Meziadin Lake
watershed. The run of spring salmon to this point must have been good this year, as there
was evidence in abundance that these grounds were well seeded. The only bad feature of these
spawning-grounds is the great number of enemies to the spawning salmon. The pools below
these rapids simply abound with rainbow trout, Dolly Vardens, and a species of whitefish.
We fished from the canoe for only a short while and landed seventy large rainbow trout and
many whitefish and char. When thrown into the canoe they disgorged spring-salmon eggs in
great numbers, which proves that they do an enormous amount of damage to the spring salmon.
I have called attention to this matter in previous reports, and I again suggest that something
should be done to try and lessen the number of these, the natural enemies of the salmon.
From an angler's point of view I do not see that there could be any very serious objection,
as this place is very difficult to get to and very rarely visited.
We arrived at the cabin at Meziadin Falls in the evening of September 21st.
On September 22nd and 23rd I made a thorough inspection of the river at both the upper
and lower falls. There were a fair number of salmon congregated below the falls this season,
one noticeable feature being the larger number of cohoe salmon than is usual to be observed
there. The channel of the fishway is little changed from last year. The fish which enter it
have no difficulty in passing through it. Numbers were passing through at the time of inspection.
The condition within the fishway itself is much the same as reported upon last year. The
Dominion Fisheries Department has done some temporary repairs, putting in a number of extra
braces to hold up the crib-work, and has also removed some of the rubble-rock from the river
at the entrance to the fishway. This temporary work should hold the bank and crib-work in
place until some permanent work is done, provided it is not left too long. Quite a lot of rock
has fallen into the three lower pockets, but this does not seem to interfere with the salmon
going right through when once they enter the fishway. But the channel approaching the entrance
is far from satisfactory, being partly obstructed with rubble-rock deposited there during the
flood of 1917-18 and the high waters since then. Dominion Fishery Overseer Collison, with the
means at his disposal, did some excellent work there this year, and the approach to the entrance
is considerably better than it was last season, but, in my judgment, is still not entirely satisfactory and will not be until the old channel is fully restored.
During the great flood of 1917-18 a great mass of broken rock formed a reef in the channel
between the main fall and the entrance to the fishway, that projects some yards below, and which
diverts many salmon from the natural channel leading to the fishway. Many of the fish that
approach the falls along the left bank of the river—their natural approach to the falls—are
diverted from the channel leading to the fishway by the reef of rock mentioned. Many pass
to the left of the reef and thence reach the water immediately below the fall. From that place
they cannot enter the fishway or pass over the falls. This was evidenced by seeing some of the
fish pass that way and by the fact that salmon were to be seen in all the waters just below 11 Geo. 5 Spawning-beds of Nass River. S 25
the fall and clear across the channel, more being assembled at the right side of the falls than
at other points. Having worked their way over to that side, they did not appear to be working
back again. It will be recalled that during the several years before the fishway was constructed
it was demonstrated that almost the entire run of sockeye in the Meziadin River in approaching
the falls passed up the channel close to the left bank of the stream, and that the channel there
was the easiest and most direct approach to the falls, also that few fish passed up in the channel
along the right bank. After the fishway was built it was demonstrated that the run continued
up the left bank and passed without diversion into the fishway. The floods of 1917-18 deposited
the rock that now constitutes the reef and also partly obstructed the channel leading to the
fishway. The fish no longer are naturally led to the entrance, many, as stated, being diverted
by the reef of rock. If this reef was partly removed and the rocks in the channel immediately
below the fishway were entirely removed, former conditions would be restored. It is not, in
my judgment, necessary to remove all of the reef. If a 10-foot opening is made in the reef at
a point just below its union with the right wall of the fishway, the fish that are now diverted
from the channel will pass from the foot of the fall into the fishway. It was noticed that the
fish which reached that point rested there. If the opening suggested is made, the fish will be
naturally drawn that way and thus reach the fishway. The rock constituting the reef is broken
and can be easily removed.
. The further removal of rock from the channel directly below the fishway and between the
reef and the left bank of the falls is most desirable. I am very certain that conditions below
the fishway can be made as satisfactory as they were before the damage caused by the big
flood of 1917-18, and at comparatively small cost.
In Stewart I had a conversation with Dominion Fishery Officer Collison, who had just come
in from a visit to Meziadin falls. He told me of conditions there. He informed me that when
he arrived at the fishway he found that the entrance was practically cut off, and that he and
his men cleared the channel as far as they were able at the time. Mr. Collison favours the
building of an additional fishway on the right bank of the falls, and I understand that he is
recommending its construction to the Department. There can be no doubt but that the construction of a fishway at that point would be a good thing for such fish as attempt to pass up
on that side. The fish that now reach there cannot make the ascent of the falls on that side.
But from what I know of conditions after the present fishway was constructed and up to the
big flood of 1917-18, I am of the opinion that, if the changes are made below the entrance to
the fishway which I have already suggested and which I understand Mr. Collison advocates in
his report, all the sockeye, with few exceptions, that reach the falls will be able to ascend them
and pass on up to the lake. Following the years that the fishway was in its original condition
there certainly was no assembly of fish below the falls on the right bank.
It must be appreciated that it is most difficult to do any work at the falls, because they
are most difficult of access. The trail over the Bear River Glacier has been virtually destroyed.
There are now no bridges over Bear or Beaver Rivers or Surprise Creek. One cannot get in
with pack-horses. Everything in the way of food and materials must be packed in on the backs
of men. There are no residents, either Indians or whites. When the present fishway was built
the trail from Redcliffe to Meziadin Lake was open, and the powder, cement, tools, and food for
the men employed, which were all taken in, passed over the trail. Now everything has to be
packed in by men over the glacier and down the lake, unless a seaplane is used. It is a difficult
job to get in any considerable load. There is little chance that the old trail will be restored for
some years to come.
Attached hereto find a set of photographs taken at the falls this year. They are not good
owing to weather conditions.
We left the Meziadin Falls on the return journey on the morning of September 25th. On
the way up the Meziadin River we were fortunate in seeing two fine moose. They took to the
water and swam across to the opposite bank. On the night of September 26th we reached the
cabin on the interior side of the Bear River Glacier. Here we were held up until the morning
of the 28th on account of a heavy rain and snow-storm on the glacier, it being too dangerous
to attempt to cross.   We arrived back in Stewart in the evening of September 29th.
In making a summary of my trip of inspection, I am of the opinion that the run of sockeye
to the Meziadin section of the Nass was not as large as in any former year of record, with the
possible exception of 1919.   The run of spring salmon was good, and there appeared to be a "
S 26 Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries. 1921
greater number of cohoe salmon in this watershed than were found on my former inspection.
I would once more like to emphasize the importance of getting rid of the natural enemies of the
salmon at the particular place mentioned in my report—viz., foot of McBride Rapids. The trout
are practically confined in a small area and a large number could be taken with a net or some
other method.
I have, etc.,
C. P. Hickman,
Inspector of Fisheries. 11 Geo. 5      Will there be a Large Sockeye Run to Fraser River? S 27
WILL THERE BE A LARGE SOCKEYE RUN TO THE FRASER RIVER
IN 1921?
By Dr. Charles H. Gilbert.
It may be assumed that any indication of the probable size of the sockeye-salmon run to
the FTaser River in 1921 will be received at this time with lively interest. Fishermen and
salmon-packers and all who are concerned with the salmon situation are aware that 1921 is a
lineal descendant of those " big years " on the Fraser which, prior to 1917, occurred without fail
in every fourth seaspn, and brought such incredible hordes of salmon to the fishing-grounds and
into the river. Even after the depletion of the river had become pronounced for the three " small
years " of each cycle, still the quadrennial big years remained unimpaired. And they would
probably have maintained themselves until now but for the accidental blockade of the Yale
Canyon in 1913, precisely in time to intercept the spawning run of that big year.
The coincidence was most unfortunate. Had the blockade occurred a year earlier or a year
later, comparatively little damage would have resulted. There would have been time to apprehend
the seriousness of the situation, and to remove the barrier—as was subsequently done—before
a big year should come round. But in 1913 the catastrophe had become irreparable before
adequate measures of relief could be taken. The canyon was already full of struggling salmon
destined for up-river spawning-grounds, trying in vain to force the blockade. Myriads of them
subsequently weakened and died, still retaining their spawn, and they formed decaying masses
on the bars and shores of the river below Hell's Gate. Thus the up-river spawning-grounds in
1913, for the first time in any big year, were left relatively bare of fish.
These facts were fully set forth by J. P. Babcock in the Report of the Commissioner of
Fisheries of British Columbia for 1913, and their bearing on the unfavourable prospects for
1917 was plainly stated. As the season of 1917 approached interest in this problem became
intense. The question was much debated whether the immemorial big year on the Fraser would
again repeat itself, or whether the warnings of the experts would be justified in the event. Some
of the packers took counsel of their hopes rather than their fears and made preparations for the
usual pack of a big year. The result is still painfully fresh in our minds. By most strenuous
exertions and an intensity of gleaning never before witnessed a pack of 560,000 cases was
produced;   little more than one-fifth the pack of the big year of the previous cycle.
Two entirely independent lines of evidence had pointed to a greatly decreased run in 1917.
One of these we have already mentioned, based on the insufficient seeding of the up-river
spawning-beds in 1913. The other method forms an interesting side-line of prophecy, which
could not be developed in that cycle until 1916, the year before the season which so anxiously
was being awaited. We shall proceed to discuss that second method more in detail, inasmuch
as it is now equally applicable to the year 1921.
It is known to all packers and fishermen that the year before the big run was always made
conspicuous by the occurrence of large numbers of greatly undersized individuals, which evidently
constituted a class apart from the main body of the run, and in the small years of each cycle
were rarely encountered. They were not only undersized, but they were all male fish, and
their flesh was relatively pale in colour and poor in oil. Being thus of small value to the trade,
they were not very welcome visitors. The canners who were jealous of the quality of their
pack put them up separately as an inferior grade, and were thus in position to compare their
abundance in the year of their occurrence with that four or eight or twelve years previously.
From observations made in this manner, it came to be currently believed that whenever the
number of small fish was relatively large, then the big year which followed would be correspondingly increased in comparison with other big years. It was believed that some basis for
forecasting the size of the big run was furnished by the relative numbers of undersized sockeyes
that were included in the run of the previous year.
The reason for such possible direct relation between the two became apparent in the course
of our investigations of the ages of salmon. It then became known that whereas the usual run
of sockeyes to the Fraser were maturing in the fourth year of their age, these undersized males
—or grilse, as we call them—were maturing In their third year, and they would therefore make
their appearance in the run one year earlier than would the 4-year fish which resulted from the
same spawning. If then, the spawning of the last big year had been an unusually successful
one, this might be expected to result in an exceptionally large run of grilse three years thereafter, S 28
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
1921
and an equally exceptional run of the 4-year fish which would constitute the big run* of the
following year. The number of 3-year grilse in the year before the big year might well, therefore, give a clue to the probable size of the big year itself.
Our investigations for the Provincial Fisheries Department of the Fraser River sockeyes
began in 1911, and have permitted us but three opportunities to witness this run of grilse—in
1912, in 1916, and now during the last season, 1920. In the first of these, 1912, the big years
were still undisturbed, for the grilse of that year had developed from eggs laid down in 1909,
when the pack of sockeyes of the Fraser River had totalled over 1,500,000 cases. The 1912 grilse
came from a successful season, and the proportion which they formed of the 1912 run could
be accepted as an approximate statement for the corresponding years of previous cycles. Tests
made throughout the season indicated that about one fish in five of the total run was a grilse.
This condition in 1912 was followed in 1913 by a big year of the first magnitude, resulting in
a pack of well over 2,000,000 cases.
It was with these data in our possession concerning the relation of grilse to big-year runs
that we approached the season of 1916. The grilse that would run that year would have
developed from eggs deposited in the year of the blockade in the Yale Canyon. Should they
show a decided reduction in numbers compared with 1912, their condition would reinforce the
argument from the impoverished spawning-beds of 1913, and a dismal outlook would be presented
for 1917. It is a matter of record that the grilse of 1916 were only about one-fourth as
numerous as in 1912, and it is equally a matter of record that the pack of 1917, compared with
that of 1913, suffered an equal reduction.
For the year 1921 the same two lines of evidence are available—that derived from the
condition of the spawning-grounds in 1917 and the independent evidence to be derived from the
numbers of grilse that made their appearance in the run of 1920. As to the condition of the
spawning-grounds, we have again the testimony of Mr. Babcock, and from this the prospect
seems gloomy indeed. Not only was no improvement found over the conditions which had
produced the curtailed run of 1917; the situation, on the contrary, had become definitely worse.
The spawners throughout the up-river district seemed scarcely more numerous than in many
of the lean years of past cycles and could be expected to produce nothing better in their turn.
Material to establish the numbers of grilse to be found in the run of 1920 was collected
with great care under the supervision of Mr. Babcock. Collections of scales for age-determination,
accompanied by data concerning the length and sex of the fish, were obtained at frequent
intervals throughout the season. When the receipts of the cannery were small the entire catch
was examined. At other times liberal samples were obtained, taken at random as the fish lay
on the cannery floor. Secured in this manner, the 1,950 individuals which we have examined
can be safely accepted as presenting a reliable cross-section of the entire run.
We have now, by microscopic examination of the scales, determined the ages represented in
this complete series. In the early part of the investigation, as first tens, then hundreds of
individuals passed under our observation without a single 3-year grilse appearing, it seemed
that this group must be entirely absent from the run. But our 355th specimen, taken June 28th,
proved to be a 3-year male; a second, the 515th fish to be investigated, appeared in the catch
of July 5th; and a third, which had been taken August 16th, was the 1,666th sockeye of our
series. Thus, in 1,950 sample sockeyes taken throughout the fishing season, but three grilse were
included. In 1912 an equal number of samples contained approximately 200 grilse, and in 1916
an equal number, collected in the same manner, and including the entire run, contained 63 grilse.
In so far, then, as the number of grilse can be considered an index of the size of the run
in the following year, the evidence from the 1920 run wholly agrees with that derived by
Mr. Babcock from the condition of the up-river spawning-beds of the Fraser in 1917. From both
of these lines of evidence the conclusion is forced upon us that 1921 will range itself definitely
with the lean years of the Fraser, which for the three years of the previous cycle produced an
average pack for each year of 265,000 cases, and for the corresponding three years of the present
cycle an average pack each year of 90,000 cases.
The " big year " of the Fraser River, it seems, must now be reckoned wholly a thing of the
past. Any methods which might be successful in re-establishing it would' be equally successful
in raising the traditional lean years of the Fraser from their present low estate to an equality
with the old-time " big years," when untold millions of spawning sockeyes fought their way
through the rapids of the Yale Canyon and distributed themselves over the unequalled spawning
areas of the upper river. 11 Geo. 5
Pack of British Columbia Salmon, Season 1920.
S 29
PACK OF BRITISH COLUMBIA SALMON, SEASON 1920.
Compiled from Data furnished the Department by the B.C. Salmon Canners' Association.
Red
Springs.
Pink and
Bluebacks
Grand
Names,
Sockeyes.
White
and
Cohoes.
Pinks.
Chums.
Totals
Springs.
St^elheads
(Cases.)
Eraser River District—
21,555
9,816
3,509
3,867
7,261
101
1,186
47,293
J. H. Todd & Sons, Eraser River	
4,081
J, 348
71
99
6,427
3
11,029
Gosse-Millerd Packing Co., Ltd	
4,802
1,414
708
20
2,078
3
1,829
10,854
1,463
364
73
79
11
1,990
St. Mungo Canning Co., Ltd	
2,425
1,729
3,477
815
8,446
Great West Packing Co., Ltd	
4,205
1,520
33
368
1,985
115
8,226
Glen Rose Canning Co., Ltd	
4,051
2,439
1,897
413
8,800
2,016
1,061
168
730
12,735
19,512
36,222
J. H. Todd & Sons (Esquimalt)	
2,247
2,247
Sooke Harbour Eg. & Pk. Co., Ltd..
1,654
48,399
1,554
19,691
4,432
4,522
22,934
12,839
23,884
136,661
Skeena River District—
15,388
13,245
1,096
205
5,543
36,990
265
72,732
Anglo B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
11,897
3,708
1,083
48
859
32,187
19
49,801
J. H. Todd & Sons	
6,420
6,071
891
6,051
11,093
30,526
5,041
1,178
222
257
336   •
11,299
663
18,996
8,995
1.808
603
38
1,585
8,302
34
21,365
Northern B.C. Fisheries, Ltd	
8,042
.    3,343
319
341
1,596
15,404
5
29,050
6,500
1,653
578
32
345
10,594
126
19,828
10,607
2,108
566
17,649
31,230
Can. Fish & Cold Storage Co., Ltd..
6,078
2,734
345
409
12,586
1,205
23,352
Gosse-Millerd Packing Co., Ltd	
9.222
1,106
140
259
742
18,265
1,418
31,161
874
449
40
38
36
3,310
99
4,846
89,064
37,403
5,321
1,218
18,068
177,679
3,834
332,887
Rivers Inlet District—
33,489
12,683
123
33
82
212
41
4,721
1,074
39
43
3S,617
Anglo B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
13,923
J. H. Todd & Sons	
8,724
8,679
1,271
12
87
2,316
271
4,225
3,519
718
57
15,995
Provincial Canning Co., Ltd	
13,884
B.C. Canning Co., Ltd	
15,428
24
21
1,884
17,357
12,468
40
19
22
1,366
8
13,913
Gosse-Millerd Packing Co., Ltd...
14,322
31
3
8
2,422
79
16,865
13,255
6,694
33
14
271
38
6,446
25,647
282
19,768
6,694
Totals	
125,742
1,522
2,908
1,226
157,522
Nass River District—
2,991
3,947
1,134
148
370
240
207
164
351
223
1,556
10,300
661
1,757
7,270
Anglo B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
16,788
3,722
2,075
510
126
1,227
12,341
3,213
23,214
3,974
199
1,620
15,171
5,287
26,251
Western Salmon Packers, Ltd	
2,106
16,740
30
151
1,271
63
279
3,774
1,227
7,630
3,586
560
3,700
43,151
12,145
81,153
Vancouver Island District—
J. H. Todd & Sons	
462
785
4,517
3,697
482
2,178
3
60
4,435
2,005
4,195
51
24
8,115
2,910
5,551
14,091
6,191
Quathiaski Canning Co., Ltd	
19,188
Clayoquot Sound Canning Co., Ltd.
4,711
1,481
138
469
1,572
8,371
Redonda Can. & Cold Stor. Co., Ltd.
15
165
435
186
1,357
28
2,186
7,539
551
2,283
196
10,569
Gosse-Millerd Packing. Co., Ltd....
6,689
505
781
137
8,112
Sooke Harbour Fg. & Pk. Co., Ltd..
1,072
96
2,449
69
1,525
5,211
1,014
6,987
38
3,531
435
3,752
4,775
14,391
672
10,251
Totals	
25,680
20,555
12,591
84,170
Outlying Districts—
B.C. Packers' Association	
22,802
2,527
2,785
3,208
12,180
28,500
855
72,857
Anglo B.C. Packing Co., Ltd	
* I.S88
972
2,928
4,985
27,508
133
38,414
Gosse-Millerd Packing Co., Ltd	
3,116
606
5
21
3,984
32,365
18,017
68,303
3,207
411
218
186
140
7,078
1,641
12,881
7,211
30
79
53,154
60,474
5,336
1,161
991
306
6,713
68,314
4,078
75,899
20,913
15
1,953
14,956
6,815
43,652
1,524
143
12,584
358
14,609
855
462
4,773
12,690
49
18,829
Totals	
64,473
8,101
7,532
3,721
10,456
33,807
101,972
247,149
30,946
84,628
395,223
351,405
85,983
22,318
520,858
1.187,616 S 30
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries.
1921
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S 31
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