Can you feel the anticipation in the air?

Published on August 28th, 2011 by Rodney

Fraser River pink salmon

In the past couple of weeks, fishermen have been parking their cars by the Tidal Fraser River from Steveston to Mission. They, myself included, stood and searched for fins on the surface. On most days, it has been pretty dull. Occasionally, our heart missed a beat when we spotted a rise, but yet most have not found a tug at the end of their line. We know that they will come as they always do around the Labour Day long weekend, yet we choose to look for them well in advance. This madness takes place once every two years in late August. It is the anticipation of Fraser River’s pink salmon season.

What could possibly cause these irrational behaviours? It is pretty simple really. For two to three weeks, anyone with a fishing rod has the opportunity to catch dozens of pink salmon every day without having to travel very far. There are not many places where you can enjoy this pleasure. While pink salmon are not desired by most foodies, they are very popular among anglers. They return in masses, at least 17.5 million fish in this year’s forecasted return, and they are very willing to bite a lure.

So if you live in Vancouver and enjoy fishing, be sure to experience this fishery at least once in the next few weeks. Below is a list of pointers that I think you should know before wetting your line for pink salmon in the Tidal Fraser River.

  1. Make sure you have a valid fishing licence! If you are fishing in the Fraser River anywhere downstream from the CPR bridge in Mission, then you need a valid tidal water fishing licence. If you want to keep a pink salmon, you also need to purchase a salmon conservation stamp.
  2. Know the daily quota. There is a daily limit of pink salmon that you can keep. It is four per day this year in the Fraser River.
  3. Know the regulations. There are some general fishing regulations that you need to know when fishing for pink salmon in the Tidal Fraser River. Make sure your hook only has a single point and barbless. You can read the rest on this page.
  4. Identify your catches before killing them. Among millions of pink salmon, there are two species that you need to know and release when they are caught. These two species are coho salmon and steelhead. During the pink salmon season, endangered coho salmon and steelhead will make making their way into the Thompson-Nicola region. Fishery managers are working hard to conserve these species while ensuring that our fishing opportunities remain available. As anglers, we need to work with them to minimize our impact on endangered species.
  5. Time your fishing outing with the tide. This fishery is very influenced by the tide. The magic hours are the last three hours of the incoming tide. During this time, fish will follow the tidal current into the river. There’s no such thing as the “best spot” on the Fraser River. All fishing spots can be good as long as there are fish moving through them during the incoming tides.
  6. Bring a cooler. The weather can be fantastic for fishing in late August and early September, but it is too hot to keep your fish in the river. The best way to preserve the freshness of your pink salmon is by having them in a cooler that is filled with ice.
  7. Bring a landing net. Majority of pink salmon lost are lost just before they reach the angler. Having a landing net can improve your catch success significantly. The rocky shorelines along the Fraser River can be steep and slippery at times, so a landing net can also make sure you do not fall in by trying to grab your fish by hand. Personally, I prefer to carry a landing net that has a soft mesh, designed for catch and release. This allows me to release my fish with care when needed.
  8. Respect other users. When taking part in this fishery, you will most likely be fishing among other anglers. Treat others like you would like to be treated so everyone can have a good experience. Some considerations include to avoid casting over other people’s lines, avoid talking loudly, pick up some garbage on the river bank and help others when they need a hand.

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