Dead salmon smolt at Courtenay river remain a mystery

Vancouver Island Free Daily

Nate Orasuk was fishing out on the Puntledge on a Tuesday afternoon this month when he came across a disturbing scene – and smell.

After moving once or twice over a few hours, he’d come back to a spot near the Condensory Bridge in Courtenay and discovered hundreds of dead fish lying in the shallow waters of the river, gills up.

“We were fishing in a spot on where the water runs over rocks,” he said. “All over the pool were dead salmon smolt.”

Orasuk had been in the same spot only a couple of hours before on Oct. 6, and there was no sign of the dead smolt.

“I didn’t see anything dead then,” he said.

Wearing his waders, he leaned closer toward the surface of the water and got a whiff of something noxious. He has fished for much of his life and knows the odour of spawning salmon. This was not that smell but something more caustic.

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