In Spawning Season
Spawning season is determined by the rains and the fish themselves, but generally occurs mid-October to late November. Hordes of fish surge up the Charters from the Sooke River, as the waters swirl and thrash with snouts and tails in full play as the salmon prepare to renew their species and complete their own pre-ordained life span. While the Charters is a coho and chinook river, they are outnumbered in the fall run by the thousands of chum salmon which contribute their important role in nature’s food chain as well. The river is home to cutthroat and steelhead trout as well.
Partnering with the Capital Regional District Parks, the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre, and the river itself, become a teaching ground as trained naturalists lead school groups through the life cycle and spawning process of the returning salmon. At times, visitors to the site have the experience of watching bears harvest salmon, stocking up on their calories to tide them over the winter ahead.
During the spawning season, group tours can be booked for school classes and for all age groups, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays but must be booked and confirmed in advance to be accommodated. Cost for these group tours is $3.00 each. Phone 250-642-4200 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Harvesting of the eggs from the female salmon and milt from the males takes place during this time, with the Society’s volunteers undertaking these responsibilities. For a period, the fertilized eggs are handled very gently as they develop into fry, and can be transferred from their incubation trays into tanks so they can swim, feed and grow. After a few months, the fry can be released into their home river, the Charters, to begin the four-year cycle all over again. Volunteers keep a small number of fry in the tanks for observation by school classes.
Programs In Balance Of Year
While the Centre does not have regular hours December through February, queries for group tours can generally be accommodated. Daily hours are posted on this website for the balance of the year. During spring and summer, Independent browsing has an admission fee of $2.00, while guided group tours have a fee of $3.00. Recognizing the importance of all volunteers engaged in salmon enhancement work throughout the province, this Centre offer free admission to such volunteers visiting the Charters. As well, the Centre offers free admission for children up to age 12 who are accompanied by parents.
The Centre is on-call throughout the year for school groups who wish to study fish-related aspects of the eco-system as relevant to the region.