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High waters have Chinook salmon making deeper runs into Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2017 at 6:25 pm

Lots of salmon have made it to Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This Chinook salmon was spotted today in Sandy Creek near the culvert under the Erie Canal. There were several other Chinook near this one in Sandy Creek (on the north side of the canal) at about 2:30 p.m.

It’s the annual fall salmon run, where Chinook swim upstream to spawn. Usually they don’t get too far. The streams and creeks usually aren’t deep enough for fish to go many miles into Orleans County.

This isn’t a normal year, however. The high Lake Ontario waters and recent heavy rains have streams deeper. That has Chinook salmon reaching spots they aren’t usually seen.

“We have high water all over the place,” said Mike Waterhouse, the county’s sportsfishing promotion coordinator. “It’s not a typical year.”

He has heard reports from people who saw Chinook jump up and over fallen logs to keep moving in local streams.

I wondered how far the fish could go in Albion. I stopped by Bullard Park after seeing the fish by the canal.

Someone left a fishing rod and reel by Sandy Creek at Bullard Park.

Sandy Creek is pretty shallow near the park. I followed the creek, which has many small waterfalls and a big culvert for the railroad. I didn’t see any salmon.

This culvert is impressive, but I didn’t see any fish in this part of Sandy Creek. The railroad tracks run over the culvert.

I headed over to Community Action, which is on the south side of the Canal by Sandy Creek. I was curious if any of the salmon swam through the culvert under the canal.

A waste weir is used to empty water from the canal. Initially I thought any fish on this side of the canal (the south side) would have a traumatic experience being shot through the water from the waste weir. But I think Sandy Creek runs underneath this concrete. This spot is behind Community Action on State Street, west of Brown Street.

I saw one salmon right away that had made it to this side. The fish seemed to be relaxing. The bubbles are from roaring water from the waste weir.

I wondered how far the fish could keep going. It’s difficult to get down here and the water isn’t very deep in spots, but I could see the fins of some fish coming out of the water a little farther down the stream.

This was one of two dead fish I saw (and smelled) down here. This was a monstrous fish.

This is the end of the road for the salmon. This waterfall would be impossible to get past, unless the salmon could pole vault. There were about 25 huge salmon in this area, swimming in a circle.

This is the spot where the salmon have been stopped in their spawning run. They’re hard to see in the photo, but there were about 25 at the base of the waterfall. I wonder where they will go?

Some of the salmon swim in Sandy Creek near the waterfall.

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