Reinstate Quinsam’s winter steelhead run, angler asks environment minister

The once-bustling small stream was one of the most productive on the east coast of Vancouver Island

Low fish runs in the Quinsam River have one member of the Campbell River Flyfishers concerned.

The once-bustling small stream was one of the most productive on the east coast of Vancouver Island with a run of more than 2,000 fish, says Tom Craig, but now the run is estimated to be just 200 fish.

Craig would like to see the run rejuvenated and is trying to get the provincial Minister of Environment, Terry Lake, on board with reinstating the winter steelhead hatchery program on the Quinsam River.

“The run in the Quinsam River is so low that we would like to kick start the run by releasing fry for two complete reproductive cycles (approximately eight years) and then leave the river to revert to natural reproduction,” Craig wrote in his letter to Minister Lake. “The upper river is under-utilized by both steelhead and salmon.

“We would like to enhance the upper river to increase steelhead and salmon stocks.”

Craig said Quinsam Hatchery Manager Dave Ewart is supportive of the program and funding for food for the fingerlings has already been raised by local interest groups and businesses.

Craig said the only piece missing is permission from the provincial government to initiate the program, which he said would benefit all parties.

“Reinitiating the hatchery program on the Quinsam River would be a win-win for local fishermen and your department,” Craig said. “This program would have a powerful positive impact in Campbell River in generating income for and increasing interest in the community. People from all over the world come to fish the Campbell River, made famous by Roderick Haig Brown, one of the world’s great conservationists.

“It would make their visit even more memorable if they could catch a steelhead on this great river system.”

Winter steelhead, or rainbow trout, typically enter rivers in November or December and stay until April. They can be anywhere from four to 30 pounds in size, but are on average eight pounds.