Salmon festival set for fall return

Plans are underway for the annual Horsefly River Salmon Festival, held to welcome the return of spawning sockeye salmon

Plans are underway for the annual Horsefly River Salmon Festival, held to welcome the return of spawning sockeye salmon.

The Horsefly River Roundtable invites all to the family-friendly, all-ages celebration on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27 held in conjunction with BC Rivers Day on T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band) and Xatsull (Soda Creek/Deep Creek) traditional territory.

Activities will take place across the bridge in downtown Horsefly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include salmon-related arts and crafts for children of all ages, bannock, fish dissection,  guided riparian trail walks, information booths, Gyotaku (Japanese fish painting,) and more.

“We are anticipating another successful run this year,” says Maureen LeBourdais, Fraser Basin Council’s regional manager in the Cariboo Chilcotin.  “We look forward to welcoming the salmon back to the Horsefly River.”

From Hell’s Gate the sockeye head up the Fraser River, and then swim past the mouths of both the Thompson and Chilko rivers to the mouth of the Quesnel River (in Quesnel, B.C.). They will then traverse their way up the Quesnel River to the mouth of the Horsefly River before continuing to their spawning grounds in Horsefly, B.C. where they will lay their eggs to ensure the cycle continues. Averaging about 27 kilometres a day, it takes about 23 days for the sockeye to make the 620-km kilometre trip.

The Horsefly River sockeye run has been one of the largest of all sockeye runs in B.C. along with the Adams River. Historically it has been bigger than all of the other Fraser runs combined in some years.

According to DFO, last year’s preliminary estimates of escapement (post fishing) for the Quesnel system and Horsefly system are about 822,003 and 451,356, respectively.

This year, for the Quesnel summer sockeye run, which includes Horsefly, the median forecast of overall sockeye return (before fishing) is 387,000, using a 50 per cent probability range. However, the forecast varies between an estimated 108,000 and 1.42 million.

This year’s Horsefly River Salmon Festival is a collaborative event hosted by the Horsefly River Roundtable with support from Fraser Basin Council, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society.

For more information and updates on activities as they are confirmed visit http://horseflyriver.ca/salmonfestival/index.html and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/horseflyriver.