In Pictures: the annual Kokanee Fish Festival

Every autumn is a special time here as kokanee appear in our creeks and streams to spawn. Normally, hundreds show up. But this year — to everyone’s surprise — there were none.

But that didn’t stop Hailey Ross of the North Columbia Environmental Society from organizing this year’s Kokanee Fish Festival. Kids from Grades 2, 1/2 and 2/3 classes at Begbie View, Arrow Heights,. Columbia Park and Ecole des Glaciers were all bused to Bridge Creek on a bright, clear day just before the Thanksgiving weekend.

There they learned everything there was to know about our local redfish and their place in the natural world.

Here is a selection of photos we hope you’ll enjoy:

There weren’t any kokanee in Bridge Creek this year but that didn;t stop the Kokanee Fish Festival from going ahead. BC Hydro biologist Karen Bray brought a bucket of fish she scooped rom a creek near Brisco so activities involving fish, including painting with fish, went ahead. Hailey Ross photo
Painting with fish? Well, yeah. Kids slathered kokanee with the colour of their choice and then artist David Rooney placed them on a canvas. Hailey Ross photo
Each young painter had to gently press their painted fish onto the canvas, which not every child found was a pleasant task, to ensure as much of its body was imprinted on the canvas as possible. There was a canvas for each of the city’s schools: Arrow Heights, Ecole des Glaciers, Begbie View and Columbia Park. Hailey Ross photo
These are some of the canvases each school will receive on Friday. Hailey Ross photo
The North Columbia Environmental Society’s hydrology display showed kids how water helped form the landscape. Kids sprayed water onto a diorama of the mountains and watched it flow down their papier mache slopes. Hailey Ross photo
Ooooh! Look! Dead kokanees! Karen Bray’s dissection of male and female kokanees was a hit with the kids. Some of hem even managed to score fish eyeballs — a regular source of fascination at the annual fish festival. Hailey Ross photo
Karen Bray shows the physical differences between males and females during the annual spawning run. Hailey Ross photo
Neil Brookes of the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre near Enderby talks to children about the ways the kokanee and their migratory cousins, sea-going sockeye salmon, are keystone species. Hailey Ross photo
Parks Canada’s Verena Blaisy talks about the different fish in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. Hailey Ross photo
Kids even managed to do a little fishing themselves. Hailey Ross photo
Kokanee are an important prey species for local black bears and grizzlies and Bear Aware Coordinator Sue Davies discussed that with the curious children. Hailey Ross photo
High school students talked to younger kids about their experiences with the Glacier Adventure Stewardship Program. Hailey Ross photo
And, just to tie everything up, the young students learned, too, about how aboriginal peoples used local plants to create the twine they used to make nets and other devices. Hailey Ross photo