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Archive for August, 2008

Protecting threatened salmon runs and your fishing opportunities

Published on Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Starting on Tuesday September 2nd, anglers should be aware of some changes in the Fraser River salmon fishing regulations (read the fishery notice). These changes include a bait ban, non-retention of coho and sockeye salmon. These implementations will take place until early October when Interior coho salmon run ends.

Until about two years ago, the only management measure used during the Interior coho salmon run-time in the Lower Fraser River is a total salmon fishing closure from in September and part of October, except limited openings on pink salmon during their run years since 2003. The SFACs (Sportfishing Advisory Committees) requested the option of limited fishing opportunities for chinook and chum salmon as a management measure during this period around two years ago and Fisheries and Oceans Canada has provided it. This is particularly good for two user groups. Recreational anglers who lack the mobility and do not wish to travel far can still enjoy a salmon fishery during this period. The opportunity also provides an alternative option for Fraser Valley guides and their clients in case conditions of nearby do not favour their trips.

A bait ban is in effect during this period due to the effectiveness of roe on coho salmon. Coho also have a tendency to swallow roe, which results in deep hooking and a possible increase of mortality rate. This would counter the effort in conserving the Interior coho salmon run.

Anglers are requested to use fishing methods that would specifically target chinook and chum salmon. We are requested, not limited, because coho salmon can be caught by all methods (barfishing, spincasting with lures). Although this is the case, what all should realize and should not ignore is the fact that the questioned method (bottom bouncing, or whatever you want to call it) has a higher tendency to foul hook fish. Foul hooked fish require longer fighting time, result in longer recovery time and possibly higher mortality rate.

The fortunate yet sad reality is that the protected populations make up an insignificant percentage of all the returning salmon during this management period, therefore the percentage of by-catch is in fact quite small. This does not suggest by-catch in the sportfishing sector is not a problem, because when a species is threatened, any mortality is a concern.

The point is, as an educated angler who is aware of the fragility of Interior coho salmon and late sockeye salmon runs, one should take these into consideration and practice fishing responsibly. Spincasting for coho salmon can actually be good in the tidal portion of the Fraser River around late September and early October, but many choose not to practice catching and releasing them because some of these fish being targeted are the ones that we are attempting to protect. Bait fishing for trout, char and steelhead is in fact not prohibited during this period, but one should not use it as a loop hole to target salmon with roe and claim to be fishing for trout, char and steelhead when being checked by conservation officers.

There are dedicated individuals on the SFACs who have worked hard to provide these additional salmon fishing opportunities for the angling community. It would be unfortunate if people choose to have these taken away by fishing however they prefer that may counter the conservation effort set out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Keep in mind that the goal here is to protect species, not to save fishing opportunities. The status of these species will indirectly impact your fishing opportunities. If their status eventually becomes endangered, then the only management measure would be no fishing for all species.

Not as easy as it may seem

Published on Friday, August 29th, 2008

Since encountering the mother load last Saturday, water clarity in the tidal portion of the Fraser River has degraded rapidly because of all the rain that we have had. I made some casts briefly on Monday and Wednesday, with no responses on the other end.

This afternoon I gave myself a head start to the long weekend. Water clarity was worse than earlier in the week. I gave it a go anyway and ended up tangling with this one. It must have very good eye sight.

Updates of our photo gallery

Published on Thursday, August 28th, 2008

I’ve made some updates in our photo gallery this week. A new photo blog has been started and one new photo will be added on a daily basis, or as regularly as possible.

The album for Islander Precision Reels has also been updated. Islander Precision Reels is one of our major sponsors and we spend a considerable amount of time and effort to test out its products and capture the images of what these products can do.

We hope you enjoy the photographs!

Brief scouting bags the mother load

Published on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

After a few months of playing with mykiss and clarki, it was time to try something completely different. Armed with my ultralight spinning rod, today I took advantage of the last bit of sunshine that we were getting by taking a brief scouting trip to Garry Point Park in Steveston. Normally this time of the year, the tidal portion of the Fraser River is clear enough for spincasting. The high abundance of northern pikeminnow makes fishing pretty fast at times and there is also a chance of connecting with salmon and trout.

The initial plan was to give it a try before flood tide in the morning, but after gluing to Olympics on TV another night, this was not going to happen. I headed down just after 1:00pm. Tide was already on its way out but there was certainly enough depth for spincasting.

It was discouraging to see that the water clarity has degraded after last week’s heavy rainfall. At just over a foot of visibility, I had to wonder if fish would be able to detect my spinner. That skepticism was quickly erased as a pikeminnow grabbed the spinner hard. It took me by surprise as I was still trying to find a stable rock to stand on. The noodly spinning rod bent wonderfully to take away the tension on the 4lb test line. Fish number one was soon in my hand for a quick photo.

The second and third fish came in the same area where I was casting, but they were smaller. I then switched spot to another bay after I felt the first spot was well fished. At the second location, I quickly hooked up to a fish that did not behave like a pikeminnow. The silvery flash on the surface revealed that it was a healthy coastal cutthroat trout, roughly around 14 inches long. Trout and char are rare during the summer months in the Tidal Fraser River, but they become more abundant in fall when salmon arrive in masses.

After the pleasant by-catch, I moved to another spot where it has been very productive in the past. Upon arrival, I could see a couple of big boils by the rocks, which was very promising. After several casts, I connected with the first fish, which took some robust runs.

Second fish came a couple of casts later. The third one soon followed. After two more, it was apparent that I had hit the mother load of northern pikeminnow. One hour later, I managed to bring 11 fish to shore.

All of the fish landed were between 14 and 20 inches. One cannot complain about 14 northern pikeminnow and 1 coastal cutthroat trout in a few hours of spincasting.

Get ready for the Vedder fall salmon fishery

Published on Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Fresh hatchery coho salmon (identified by the absence of the adipose fin) such as this one are common on the Vedder between September and November.

It is that time of the year once again. The temperature is steadily dropping, rain is falling occasionally, leaves are turning yellow and salmon are arriving. The Chilliwack/Vedder River system is the most heavily used recreational salmon fishery in British Columbia, but it also yields a very large return of salmon due to the Chilliwack River Hatchery. Although it may get crowded, good salmon fishing experience can be had with some exploration. Three pacific salmon species are targeted between September and December – Chinook, coho and chum salmon. Each year, I put together a guideline for those who want to give the Vedder fall salmon fishery a try. This year we will once again provide river level updates on a regular basis. For more information, please go to this link.

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