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Archive for November, 2013

November 2013 Photo-essay

Published on Sunday, November 24th, 2013

November can be a rather somber month for Coastal British Columbian anglers. The air temperature dips below zero for the first time after a long summer, while most of us are still on a high driven by the return of fall salmon. River fishing for salmon usually starts tapering off by early November, but those who enjoy exploring in the frosty mornings can be rewarded with some fabulous fishing.

Last week I decided to give salmon fishing another go before packing away the rods for awhile. The short trip was well worth it as my friend Shane and I were both rewarded with coho and chum salmon. I managed to catch an exceptionally big coho salmon, the biggest one of the season in fact.

Big Coho Salmon from the Fraser Valley BC

This fish had me thinking it was a chum salmon for a couple of minutes while it fought stubbornly by staying deeply in the run. I casually played it, but became rather cautious as soon as I realized what was at the end of the line. This hatchery-marked buck, estimated to be around 12lb, was quite fresh compared to the other fish we encountered that day.

While my friend Shane was not lucky enough to encounter a similar specimen, he managed to connect with an even larger fish. It was a wild coho salmon, as the presence of its adipose fin suggested, so we gently released him back to spawn.

A Big Wild Coho Salmon

Other coho salmon we found at the end of the line were not as silver, which was not really a surprise considering we are now approaching December.

Darker Coho Salmon

Among the many chum salmon which we brought in, I noticed a few were exceptionally small. This fish, approximately 3 or 4lb, was much smaller than most chum salmon we usually see. I enquired about this small buck and my colleagues all concluded that it is most likely a 3 year old fish, rather than a typical 4 year old fish. The fish simply returned one year earlier, therefore it has missed out one extra year of feeding, resulting in a smaller size.

An Exceptionally Small Chum Salmon

In the past two weeks I have wandered around our urban streams in the Lower Mainland. Because we are seeing an exceptionally good return of coho salmon this year, it is not surprising to see these small streams filled with red spawners. My recent visit to Hyde Creek produced these photographs. Both spawning coho and chum salmon can be found along the entire creek. At some spots, hundreds of fish can be seen circling around. These sightings tell us, when given the chance, our salmon populations can thrive, even in the harshest environment such as Metro Vancouver.

Spawning Coho and Chum Salmon at Hyde Creek

While visiting the creek, I stopped by the hatchery to see volunteers from Hyde Creek Watershed Society in action. It is a rather busy time of the year for them, because spawners need to be collected, eggs need to be fertilized, and carcasses need to be counted.

Seining for spawning salmon in Hyde Creek

Collecting salmon broodstock at Hyde Creek

A Coho Salmon in Its Spawning Phase

Spawning Salmon Resting Peacefully in Pristine Hyde Creek

If you have packed away your fishing rods for the season, consider becoming a volunteer at one of many community watershed stewardship groups and hatcheries where help is always wanted. It is a entertaining way to give back to the fishery resource and gain a better understanding on the biology of Pacific salmon.

Killing Salmon for Eggs

Published on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

As the fall salmon season approaches the end, it’s not uncommon to see dead spawned out salmon scattered along the river banks. Unfortunately, among these carcasses, the work of some so-called anglers’ assault can be seen. Today, as I walked along a river, I discovered two of these abandoned dead fish with a slit abdomen.

Dead coho salmon

The first one was a hatchery-marked coho salmon, which had her eggs taken. Because it was a hatchery-marked fish, which can legally be retained, the angler may simply have lost the fish after gutting her. However, judging by the state of the fish when it was killed, the angler may simply find it undesirable as it was already quite coloured and decided to only take the eggs home.

Edit: One reader pointed out that the above fish was in fact a male. I stand corrected. I originally also identified this fish as a male due to its kype, but the scattered eggs which he was laying on gave me doubts. In this case, the individual who killed this fish for the purpose of harvest eggs could have misidentified the fish, only to discover its gender when slitting the abdomen open.

Dead wild coho salmon, illegally harvested

The second fish was a wild coho salmon, which have to be released by law in all Region Two streams. In this case, the fish could have been killed by an ignorant fisherman who was unaware of the rules, but was told otherwise and abandoned the fish after retaining her eggs. It could also have been an angler who already knows the regulations, but chose to kill the fish anyway so the eggs could be retained. Either cases make this angler a violator.

These serves as an important reminder that we must keep an eye on all anglers’ behaviours when fishing. Some may simply be unaware of the regulations, while others are well aware of them but choose to break the law. All wild coho salmon have to be released. If you decide to legally kill a fish, you must keep the fish. You cannot simply take the eggs from the fish and abandon it. If an angler seems uncertain, then please kindly assist him or her.

To report a salmon fishing violation, please phone Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s ORR line (observe, record, report) at 1-800-465-4336. If you are asked to leave a message, please be as detailed as possible (violators’/vehicle description, type of violation, the date and time, the precise location). Realistically, fishery officers are unable to attend all calls but they do their best with the limited resource available for them to protect our fish. With your support, you can make their job easier and improve our fisheries.

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