On Sunday September 23 there was definitely somethin’ fishy going on at Snootli Hatchery. The semi-annual Coho Festival is a way for the Central Coast Fisherman’s Protective Association and DFO to celebrate salmon and thank the volunteers and community who support enhancement and habitat restoration projects. This year was “eggstra” special since it was the CCFPA’s 30th birthday!
Everyone “caught” something, a Best Fishes! pen for adults or a bag of goodies for youngsters at the “Fish Pond”, plus the chance to take home a plush toy at the Fish Ring Toss game. Everyone learned something too as DFO staff and volunteers sorted through adult chinook salmon and conducted an eggtake, and then “small fry” helped to mix salmon sperm and eggs together to fertilized eggs.
Once the salmon were spawned, all could get a glimpse of the inside story of salmon physiology and marvel at how the heart continues to beat even after being removed from the body. Some young adventurers took time to skipper the rigid hull DFO Conservation and Protection fast response vessel and all tried their hand at fry ID at the aquarium.
The TV video display of “critter cam” footage taken at the back of the hatchery where outlet channels meet Snootli Creek was a popular site and was the first time for some to view wolves and a cougar. Inside the Tank Farm building visitors could see how small fish are fin clip marked and a Coded Wire Tag implanted in the nose, then how the pins are found from heads turned in to the Salmon Head Recovery Program.
People could not believe how a three number code could be stamped on such a small wire and that they could see that number in the pin reading magnifier. Visitors also took the opportunity to take a tour of Snootli Hatchery, marveling at the over six million chum eggs in the incubation Quonset. An extra thrill for kids came at the end of the tour when they could feed some of the 250,000 chinook yearlings in the ponds.
Another highlight of the event was the “Leaky Wader Relay” where four young teams took on the three challenges of salmon fry ID, scale sampling from an adult chinook and trying to unravel a “birds nest” of rope. They were all fantastic and provided much excitement for the crowd.
The final event of the day before the Salmon Barbeque was the Merganzer Eggstravaganzer Duck Race. Numbered red and yellow ducks that participants had “spawnsored” were released from a tote above the Snootli Bridge and owners could cheer them on as they were carried along by the current. Everyone got a lesson in river hydrology when leading ducks were suddenly sucked into a back-eddy at one point and then others were caught in slow water at another. It made for an interesting race! The first three ducks across the line won prizes for participants and the CCFPA coho program won support as funds will purchase fish food over the winter.
The salmon BBQ was enjoyed by all as they sang Happy Birthday and wished “Best Fishes” to the CCFPA as the executive were presented with a 30 year plaque and special SEP pins.