The 2013 Kitwanga River Salmon Smolt Assessment

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Abstract

In 2013, the Gitanyow Fisheries Authority (GFA) operated the Kitwanga River Smolt Enumeration Facility (KsF) for the 6th consecutive year since it was initiated in 2008 to enumerate sockeye and coho salmon smolts, and other resident trout and char species. The KsF operated from April 8th to June 18th, 2013. The 2013 sockeye smolt population estimate was 84,294 fish and was comprised mostly of 1-Yr old smolts (98%). The peak run of 17,308 sockeye smolts occurred on May 7th when 21% of the entire run migrated past the KsF on that day, which is comparable to previous years when peak runs generally occur in the 1st or 2nd week of May. Approximately 90% of the sockeye smolts migrated through the weir in a ten-day period from May 4th to May 14th, 2013, which is also comparable to previous years. Freshwater production estimates for Gitanyow Lake sockeye in 2013 were estimated at 69 sockeye smolts per female spawner from the 2011 adult run, which was a modest improvement over the previous two years. Coho smolt counts totaled 14,347 fish during the 2013 KsF operation, however coho smolts were still passing through in the 100’s of fish per day at fence closure. Budget constraints did not allow for the full capture of the coho smolt run. Aging results showed that 1-year-old smolts were most abundant (74.5%), follow by 2-year-old smolts (25.2%), and one fish was identified as a 3-year-old fish. A total of 12,971 coho smolts were implanted with Coded Wire Tags (CWT’s), which will help to provide an estimate of adult exploitation rates in subsequent years.