Peter Rusland, Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Sep 24, 2014
Early Chinook salmon counts on the Cowichan River have conservationist Rodger Hunter upbeat about this fall's potential total.
"Four hundred and fifty Chinook just cleared the counting fence," he said Wednesday during a light sprinkle.
"That indicates early ones got the (upstream spawning) urge with the recent rain."
While far more rain is needed to help salmon swim up the arid river, Hunter, of the Cowichan Watershed Board, said the feds expect about 5,000 Chinook this year — about the same number as last year.
However, Hunter cautioned some Chinook aiming to swim the Cowichan could be dinner for Cowichan Bay's herd of hungry seals.
Still, he was also optimistic this week's rain could help set back an Oct. 18 date watershed board members believe could spell temporary closure of the job-rich Crofton pulp mill if river flows continue dunking.
The fish-counting fence sits just east of the white bridge, outside Duncan.