Excited Kids Flock to Fish Release
Prince George, B.C. – Superlatives are thrown around with reckless abandon these days but, without a hint of exaggeration, the turnout of youngsters for Sunday’s salmon fry release in Prince George was phenomenal.
The release of 2,000 chinook salmon fry was the first release by the Spruce City Wildlife Association and judging by the number of young “helpers” who came out in the rain, their parents are very interested in ensuring their children have an understanding about the stewardship and protection of our environment.
The kids started arriving at about 10:40 a.m. and by the time the event began at 11 the line of parents and children stretched all the way from the cement landing at the boat launch out through the parking lot and right to River Road. “Wow” said one of the SCWA members as arrived at the site from the fish hatchery. “Wonder if we’ve got enough fish.”
But they kept coming and by 11:30 the line still stretched out to River Road even as bunches of children had already gone down to the river with their bucket to release “their fish.” It really was astounding. (Above, just a small portion of the throng that took part).
Association Vice-president Dustin Snyder said “the turnout is fantastic. We were hoping that we were going to get enough kids to do one fish per kid and I’m looking and believe it or not, I think my dream may have come true. Our goal here is to make sure that we have as many kids as possible impacted, learning about salmon, the whole stewardship side of things, outdoors nature and bringing that connection to nature.”
“Nowadays there really isn’t as much of an outdoors aspect of playing as there used to be, so we’re kind of running with a motto of conservation for future generations and trying to thrown the tag line in there as well “less X-boxes, more tackle boxes.”
He said “once everybody is done here we’re going to give the kids a stamp once they release their fish and we’re going to head them over to the hatchery where they’re going to get an actual certificate saying that they’re now a Salmon Steward.” The got a hot dog, too, although based on the number of kids who turned out, a quick store run may have ben necessary to replenish supplies.
Snyder says the fish release is a great introduction for the youngsters because its an easy way to connect the child to the fish that they’re actually holding.
The reason for the fry release on Sunday? Snyder says “originally we were hoping that they’d be released about the end of May however our water temperature (at the hatchery) is a little warmer than it is in the natural world so ours grew a little bits faster and are about a month ahead of schedule so they’ve got a little more size to them.”
“Now if you release them when they’re too big, by the time they get their bearings in the river they’re usually picked off by predators. So you want to release them when they’re smaller but not too small to where they’re more vulnerable to things like the cold and pollution. So these guys are pretty much the perfect size for standing up to the elements, but they’ve got enough body fat on them to last in case they have to go a little while without eating in the real world.”
“So it’s time, it’s time to set them free.” And he thanked every child for helping as he handed them “their fish.”