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Archive for the ‘Fishing regulations’ Category

Fish Selectively During Sockeye Salmon Fishing Closures

Published on Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

The non-tidal portion of the Fraser River is closed to sockeye salmon fishing after today. This year’s opening was almost a month long, so I hope everyone has had a chance to bring home some of the finest eating salmon. The good news is that the river will remain open for two salmon species – Chinook and chum salmon. Traditionally, the Lower Fraser River is closed to all salmon fishing throughout September, so several vulnerable runs, including Interior coho salmon and steelhead, can be protected. To still have some salmon recreational fishing opportunities available on the Fraser River this month is a bonus.

The key point that anglers should remember is to selectively target chinook and chum salmon only. In the past ten years, my colleagues and I in the Sport Fishing Advisory Committee have repeatedly asked Fisheries and Oceans Canada to define selective angling methods so they can be enforced during specific species closures. By doing so, it would result in more fishing opportunities for you if by-catches can be avoided. Instead, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has chosen not to do so, and continued to issue a “request” for selective fishing in fishery notices. This puts the recreational fishing community in a difficult place. While most anglers abide to that request, some would still choose to bottom bounce for chinook salmon and incidentally hook sockeye salmon in the process. When Fisheries and Oceans Canada observes and determines that by-catches of sockeye salmon and other closed species become too frequent, the entire fishery is shut down due to the lack of compliance of a “request” which cannot be enforced in the first place. It is a frustrating scenario and it needs to be changed, so your fishing opportunities would not be lost while conservation goals could be met.

The directors of the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance and other business owners of the Fraser Valley recreational fishing community have been working hard on this issue. Starting tomorrow as sockeye salmon fishing closes, we are asking all anglers to stop bottom bouncing and practice selective fishing methods only. We are not asking you to do so because you should comply to a loosely defined request by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We are asking you so the recreational fishing community can take the lead on proper fishery management, to avoid by-catches of species which we are trying to protect while enjoying the opportunities available. We want to see anglers out bar fishing for chinook salmon, and practice safe catch and release when a closed species is caught. You can also cast and retrieve lures in waters which are appropriate for the method. The take home message is that we should all avoid catching sockeye salmon, coho salmon and steelhead in the next several weeks. Thank you for the support.

The Pros and Cons of Fraser River White Sturgeon Catch and Release Fishery

Published on Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Lower Fraser white sturgeon caught by Nina and Kitty.

Last weekend Vancouver Sun published an article, Doubts over catch-and-release sturgeon fishery in the Lower Fraser River after new study finds fish endure extreme stress, which raises some legitimate concerns on this fishery, but it immediately drew negative attention from those who are not familiar with it as expected.

While post-release mortality in any catch and release fishery should be a concern, most readers of this article are unfamiliar how the Lower Fraser River white sturgeon fishery is practiced. Unlike the methodology used in the study which this article refers to, air exposure is minimized as per the catch and release guidelines developed by resource managers and the recreational fishing community. We don’t hang our fish in the air after a lengthy fight as it was simulated in the study.

The white sturgeon catch and release guidelines prohibit anglers from removing fish out of the water when they are captured. Any fish over the length of 5′ must cannot be lifted up in the air due to insufficient weight support. Fish under the length of 5′ are kept in cradles that are constantly fed with water while the fish are being measured. Catch and release has its risks and there’s no doubt that some mortalities occur, but with proper practice anglers can prevent this from happening.

Higher water temperature in the summer should indeed be a concern. Coupling high water temperature with a long fight, a fish’s survival rate can be lowered. Managers should look at these factors and adjust the regulations, rather than proposing a permanent ban as many non-fishermen would like to see.

Although the fight of a large sturgeon can sometimes be over one hour long, one should not assume that the fish’s health is jeopardized. Anyone who has fought a large sturgeon knows that most of the fight actually involves the fish swimming around without even being aware of the hook while the angler can only sit back and hold onto the rod. It is unrealistic to expect an angler to be reeling and putting pressure on a fish for over one hour straight. Physically it is impossible for most people.

Despite of these potential negative impacts, lets look at the benefits which this fishery has brought to the Lower Fraser River white sturgeon population and the Fraser Valley communities.

Since this sturgeon fishery was transformed into catching and releasing, and harvesting was banned in 1995, an ongoing tag and recapture program was also established. Fishing guides have volunteered to be part of this program since the beginning, and have tagged over 50,000 fish in the past twenty years. From the data collected (length and girth measurements, locations of their capture/recapture), it has accelerated our understanding on these fish. We’ve been able to estimate the Lower Fraser white sturgeon population size and its growth, the health of each year class so recruitment rate can be determined, their migratory patterns from capture/recapture points, and locations of their spawning grounds.

In addition, this recreational fishery has generated millions of dollars from freshwater fishing licences and conservation surcharges. A percentage of these funds have been used in recovery programs for the other endangered white sturgeon populations in this province (Columbia, Kootenay, etc) which are actually endangered. This catch and release does not just benefit the Lower Fraser white sturgeon population, but its positive impacts stretch right across the province.

While some may think catch and release is a cruel practice and those who participate in it cannot persuade those who don’t agree with it, I think we can all agree that this fishery’s benefits have outweighed the presumed negative impacts. As more conclusive information on post-release mortality is formed by researchers, the fishery can then be refined to further minimize our impacts.

Videos: Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Public Information Sessions

Published on Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Back in March and April 2016, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (GoFishBC) hosted a series of public information sessions so you can find out more about what FFSBC is doing to maintain and improve recreational freshwater fisheries in this province. During the sessions, VP of Science from FFSBC made two presentations and they can now be viewed here if you missed the sessions. The first video is an overview on who FFSBC is and what they do. The second video is about developing new freshwater fishing licencing products.

Rivers Reopen for Fishing!

Published on Monday, September 14th, 2015

Most rivers in Region 1 (Vancouver Island) and Region 2 (Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley) which have been closed to fishing in the past several weeks due to the drought conditions are now open for fishing once again! Here are the notices:

To check the daily quota of salmon for the stream where you want to fish, you should visit the following links:

Lower Fraser River Interior Coho Salmon Management Measures

Published on Monday, September 7th, 2015

Fraser River coho salmon

If you fish the Lower Fraser River for pink salmon, then you should be aware of some important regulation changes which come in effect this week. These changes include:

  • Bait ban for salmon fishing
  • No fishing for coho salmon and sockeye salmon

The windows of these changes are as follows:

Since 2001, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified these dates as the migration period for Interior Fraser River coho salmon, which are endangered. To protect these fish, managers have used these measures to minimize their mortality. Bait such as roe is known to be very effective for coho salmon in the Fraser River, so well that fish often swallow the bait when hooked. This often leads to post-release death, therefore banning the use of bait during this period is required. The Sport Fishing Advisory Committee has also made sure fishing opportunities for chinook, pink and chum salmon remain available during this period, so anglers can still cast lures, fly fish, bar fish with a spin n’ glow for them without impacting the coho salmon run. When you catch a salmon, be sure to identify it first in your landing net before bringing it onto shore. If it is a coho salmon, please release it with care so it can continue its migration safely. With your support, we can keep these fishing opportunities open while protecting endangered species.

Coho salmon and pink salmon

 

Knowing the differences between a coho and a pink salmon may sound simple on paper, but beginners often find it difficult when seeing them for the first time by the river. If you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to ask for second opinions if you are unsure about your catch. Always double, triple checks your fish before deciding to retain it. Experienced anglers should understand these challenges for beginners and assist and educate those who seem to need guidance. Coho salmon (top in the photo) have small spots across their back and the top portion of the tail. Pink salmon (bottom in the photo) have larger “thumb-print”, oval spots across their back and the entire tail.

If you are interested in reading more about Interior Fraser River coho salmon and its recovery program, please check out this document.

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