salmon spawning

Lois (formerly Eagle) River

Aerial view of Lois River Watershed

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Maximum estimated returns from 1947 to 2018* (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chum salmon for Lois River. *Site was last monitored in 1998.

Lois River, formerly known as Eagle River, empties into the Malaspina Strait just south of Lang Bay. The Scanlon Dam was constructed in 1924 without a fish way. Several lakes were flooded to create Lois Lake. Operation of the dam has resulted in water level fluctuations of 2-4 meters on Lois Lake. Currently there are a series of impassable rock falls located ~300m upstream of the mouth of the river. It is not clear that these falls restricted up-stream fish migrations prior to construction of the dam. Resident Cutthroats are found above the rock falls, in Lois Lake and throughout the Lois watershed.

Records dating back to 1947 show that the largest escapement for Chum in Lois River was approximately 800 fish. Coho, and to even a lesser extent Pink, have occasionally spawned in the area. The peak maximum escapement of Chum for 1989-98 was 484. In 2007 approximately 700 Pink entered the river. A private hatchery was established in Lois Lake in 1987 which produced Chinook and Coho of which some have escaped. The farm is currently producing Rainbow Trout, which are marketed as “Steelhead”.

In 1993, a biophysical survey of the lake and others in the drainage system was conducted noting the presence not only of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout but also of Kokanee. The latter are apparently the remnants of a Sockeye run. This report also noted the changes to fish habitat caused by the artificially maintained water levels and the surrounding industrial (logging) activity. Dolly Varden has also been reported. Stream Classification surveys on numerous proposed logging cut blocks in other parts of the watershed during 2004-2006 succeeded in capturing Cutthroat trout. Coastal Watershed Assessments were conducted on My and on Scanlon Creeks in 1997. An assessment of flow needs for salmon and Steelhead also was completed in 2009 but not released to the public. Locals report catching Coho at the mouth of the river which adds weight to the idea that the river still has significant values for fisheries.

Periodically, operators of the aging Scanlon Dam spill large volumes of water down the river, which is problematic for the system’s struggling salmon populations.

View of Eagle (Lois) River estuary

Eagle (Lois) River estuary

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