Weaver Creek Spawning Channel

Contact

Phone: 604-796-9444

Fax: 604-796-3186

Mail:
16250 Morris Valley Road
Agassiz, BC
V0M 1A1

Email: Don.Johnson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Location

Near Harrison Mills in the Lower Mainland - British Columbia

Directions

From Vancouver, drive one hour east on Highway Number 1 (Trans Canada) and take exit 92 at Abbotsford to get to Mission. From Mission, drive east on Highway Number 7 for about 20 minutes. Turn north onto Morris Valley Road (paved) at the Sasquatch Inn and the Hemlock Recreation Area sign. Follow Morris Valley Road for 12 kilometres. You will see our sign.

Hours of Operation

The Weaver Creek Spawning Channel will be open to view spawning sockeye salmon starting October 6th and ending November 1st. The site will be open to the public from 8:00 am until dark.

Peak spawning activity is from Oct.15 -20th.

There is no admission charge.

Species

Sockeye, Chum and Pink Salmon

Production

Annual fish releases are available through either the Mapster project, or through a query to the release database

Background Information

Salmon enhancement has a long history in British Columbia. It originated at Weaver Creek in 1885. In the fall of that year, eggs obtained from sockeye salmon were first transplanted to other streams in the province.

Salmon were abundant in the late 1800s. In fact, the commercial gillnet fishery at the mouth of the Fraser River was largely over for the season by the time the sockeye salmon returned to Weaver Creek in October. As a result, up to eight million eggs per year were available for transplant to other rivers and streams in British Columbia.

Decline of the Sockeye

Between 1943 and 1959, an average of 20,000 sockeye salmon spawned in Weaver Creek every year. For the next eight years, from 1960 to 1968, however, that average declined to 12,000 sockeye annually. The main reason for this decline was the destruction of the salmon spawning grounds in Weaver Creek due to flooding.

Abundant rainfall along the coast of British Columbia means that small streams such as Weaver Creek are subject to large variations in water flow. In the 1960s, this natural problem became more serious when extensive logging in the Weaver Creek watershed contributed to intermittent flooding of this creek and its main tributary, Sakwi Creek.

Flooding affects salmon adversely. Scouring of the gravel kills salmon eggs. Fewer eggs mean that fewer adult fish are produced in subsequent years.

Just as fewer sockeye salmon returned to Weaver Creek to spawn, the commercial catch also declined. Prior to 1960, an average of 94,000 sockeye were taken every year. Over the next eight years, from 1960 to 1968, the commercial catch dropped to just 24,000 fish per year.

Clearly, action was required to save this valuable run of sockeye salmon and to reverse its drastic decline in numbers.

Building the Channel

To provide additional spawning habitat for sockeye salmon, a spawning channel was built beside Weaver Creek in 1965. This channel is a shallow stream with a gravel bottom and sloping sides built up with rocks. In this channel, which is 2,932 meters long, sockeye and smaller numbers of chum and pink salmon deposit their eggs naturally.

The decision was made to build a spawning channel rather than a hatchery because juvenile sockeye and pink salmon do not survive well in a hatchery.

Since this channel is a man-made extension of Weaver Creek, more salmon can spawn naturally than in the creek alone. The spawning channel provides a stable flow of clean water that is maintained while the salmon eggs are incubating in the gravel. In other words, flooding in winter cannot occur to dislodge and kill those eggs deposited in the spawning channel the previous autumn.

The Water Supply

Three separate sources of water ensure a dependable supply to the Weaver Creek spawning channel at all times that fish or their eggs are present.

An underground pipeline diverts water from Weaver Creek to a large settling basin. In this large pond, silt and other suspended matter are allowed to settle out to the bottom of the pond. A second pipeline then delivers clean water to the head of the spawning channel.

When the water level in Weaver Creek is low, additional water from its tributary, Sakwi Creek is diverted by pipeline into a settling basin and then discharged into Weaver Creek above the main water intake.

A third water supply can be drawn from Weaver Lake in the event of extreme drought or if Sakwi Creek is frozen or its water excessively dirty.

All water is discharged from the downstream end of the spawning channel and returned to Weaver Creek.

The Successful Result

Since its construction in 1965, Weaver Creek spawning channel has proven a great success. The run of sockeye today is more than 200 times the size of the run produced from Weaver Creek alone prior to 1965.

Stable water flow and clean gravel in the spawning channel are the reasons for this dramatic increase. Whereas only eight sockeye fry are produced for every 100 eggs deposited in Weaver Creek, up to 80 percent of the eggs deposited in the spawning channel produce healthy from every year.

Between 1965 and 1997 almost 1 billion sockeye, 80 million chum and 10 million pink fry have been released from the spawning channel built beside Weaver Creek.

In recent years the average commercial catch of Weaver Creek sockeye has been 296,000 fish annually, up from an average annual catch of just 24,000 sockeye before the spawning channel was constructed in 1965.