Sunday, 3 September 2017

Swimming with salmon in the Puntledge River, Courtenay, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
       On Saturday, September 2 we headed to Puntledge Park in Courtenay since temperatures were in the high 20’s and we needed to cool off. Normally we either swim or tube in the Puntledge River but on our recent trips we have been snorkeling to see if there were salmon returning to the river. Since we had seen so many fish on trip earlier in the week we decided to film them on this occasion. We started at the fish hatchery off of Powerhouse Road where we had seen lots of fish 2 days before and we were not disappointed. Unfortunately it was late in the afternoon and much of river below the hatchery was in shade which we thought wouldn’t produce good underwater video so after 2 quick swims we headed down to Puntledge Park. 

The Pink Salmon run is in full force
     Fortunately this area was in full sun. We headed for the pool just off the gravel beach and in no 
There are thousands of salmon in Puntledge River
time at all we were blown away by the quantity of fish in the water just below the rapids. There must have been thousands of pink salmon in this area alone! The current is strong in places and the rocks are slippery so you need to pay attention to avoid being swept down river. We always wear kayak booties to protect our feet from rocks. Beside that all you need are a mask and snorkel! Be prepared to be amazed at what is lurking below the surface of the water. With a few more warm days forecast you still have time to see this special natural phenomenon and click this link for a video which shows what awaits you!

  Just remember that water levels can change dramatically on the river and that currents can sweep unwary swimmers downstream very quickly.

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