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Fish run, waters rise

August 12, 2014

salmon in creek near Yale BC - from a photograph On August 12th in the year 1889, in the midst of a record salmon run, it had not rained at Brownsville for almost six weeks.  Yet a strange phenomenon was occurring in the Fraser Valley: river and lake levels were rising.

Canneries on the lower Fraser, including Bon Accord and English’s,  were forced to shut down, having exhausted their supply of tins.
Bon Accord Cannery Label

"All the cannerymen agree that the present run of salmon is unprecedented in the history of the Fraser River, and such a run may never happen again in the present generation."

The rising water levels were attributed to the mass of salmon filling streams and lakes.

"Incredible as the statement may appear, in Woodward slough the fish were so numerous that their black fins could be seen sticking out of the water almost as thick as grass blades in a garden."

The situation was even more marked at Harrison Lake.

"Harrison River is simply a mass of salmon moving towards the lake. They are running so thickly that the water is black with them from shore to shore and boats have simply to plough a road through the fish in order to obtain a passage."

The theory advanced was that:

"The millions that enter the lake every day must necessarily displace a large quantity of water and consequently cause the lake to rise."

Is this theory scientifically correct? 
Could it happen again with another great run of salmon?

Is it happening this year? Could the level of such a large river as the Fraser be effected?

Also does  the success of the large run of returning salmon overwhelm the flow of water and increase mortality rates?

Below, chart of maximum water levels at the Mission gauge this week.

Fraser River guage at Mission

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