Hoy and Scott Creeks contain 5 species of salmonids: pink salmon, coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead (rainbow) trout and cutthroat trout (both cousins to the salmon), as well as the odd stray Chinook salmon from the Coquitlam River. Occasionally, when there's heavy rain and the creek is high when the Chinook find their way from the Coquitlam River into Scott and Hoy Creek. Since 2008, this has happened twice.. These fish use the creek at various life-cycle stages and it's impressive to watch large adult salmon returning to their original hatching grounds each fall. Other freshwater fish in the watershed include long-nosed dace, sculpin and three-spined stickleback. Salmonids are anadromous, which means born in fresh water, spends most of its life in the sea and returns to fresh water to spawn. The key difference between trout and salmon is that trout don't die after they spawn, whereas salmon die after spawning. Visitors are encouraged to view the fish from the bridges and viewing areas such as those near the salmon hatchery.
Please do not disturb the fish or creeks at any time. Salmon eggs residing in a nest in the stream bed are highly sensitive to mechanical shock and either a human or animal walking in the stream near a nest could kill the eggs.
(The above video features chum salmon who returned to spawn in Hoy Creek in October.)
Life Cycle of the Salmon
Salmon can spend about one to eight years (depending on the species) in the open ocean before returning to their natal streams to spawn. Chinook can spend the longest time in the ocean whereas the shortest would be likely a Coho jack.
Eggs: Adult salmon lay their eggs in special nests in the gravel called redds in late autumn in freshwater. The eggs hatch into alevins in the spring time under the gravel depending on the water temperature. In the HSWS salmon enhancement program, this is an assisted process by way of milking male salmon for sperm, and taking female salmon for eggs. When the eggs are fertilized they are placed in our incubation room at the hatchery.
Alevins: The life stage after the eggs have hatched. Alevins have yolk sacs which they live off of for food while still buried in the redds. When they are around four to six weeks they emerge from the gravel. This is also called the swim up stage when the fry swim to the surface to take their first breath of air, fill their swim bladders which then make them buoyant and allow them to travel throughout the water column.
Fry: Once the yolk sacs is used up, the alevins have to start to feed, and at this point they are known as fry. Growing quickly in their first year, they feed off small insects. At the Hoy Creek Hatchery, the fry are moved into the Capilano trough room and are fed daily and throughout the day with mechanical feeders.
Parr: Juvenile salmon or trout as evidenced by the parr marks which are the vertical bands on the side of juvenile salmonids.
Smolts: In the spring of their second, third or fourth year, the parr change into smolts, almost ready to head out to sea. A very distinctive silver colour smolts head out to sea in shoals during late spring. At the hatchery we release our smolts in May at our public SALMON LEAVE HOME event.
Adult salmon: Adult salmon travel great distances at sea to rich feeding grounds in cold northerly waters and, depending on the species, feed on krill or smaller fish (e.g. herring, sand lance etc.) The salmon return to the rivers and streams in which they were born after being at sea for one to four years.
Adult salmon that return to spawn after one year at sea are known as grilse. Adult salmon that stay more than one year at sea are known as multi-sea winter salmon. Once the salmon start their journey from their feeding grounds, they do not feed – even when they are back in our rivers.
Kelts: Salmon that have completed their spawning ritual are known as kelt. Kelts look tattered and scarred. Spawning triggers “programmed senescence,” or rapid aging and deterioration due to the completion of spawning, the lack of eating, and the drain of corticosteroids in their bodies.
For every species of Pacific Salmon, both males and females, spawning marks the last event of their lives. Their immune system and organs fail rapidly, and the exhausted kelts die within a few days to a week of spawning. None survive to spawn another day.
The nourishment supplied by their decaying bodies will return to both land and water and become available to the hatching fry, and to every other species, both flora and fauna, within the riparian environment of the stream.
Types of Salmon Raised
During odd numbered years (e.g. 2017) pink salmon may be found in Hoy Creek and Scott Creek in September to early October. They are not typically found in large numbers, but if the water conditions are adequate and high enough, you may find pink salmon in various areas of the stream.
Chum salmon begin to arrive in early to mid October through to early November. Generally, the peak of the run is around the 3rd week of October.
Coho salmon arrive in late October through to late December. Typically, the peak of the run is the 2nd or 3rd week of November. Typically, there are very few fish around into December but in occasional years, there are still good numbers of fish in the stream through to mid-late December such as in 2013 and 2015.
Although they don't favor smaller streams like Hoy Creek and Scott Creek, occasionally, Chinook salmon from the Coquitlam River find their way into the creek. This may happen under heavy rainfall conditions when the water levels in our streams and rivers are high. The occasional fish find the current in the creek attractive and detour away from the heavier flows in the Coquitlam River.