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Selective Fishing for Fraser River Salmon Requested

Published on Friday, July 31st, 2015

Salmon fishing opens for the tidal portion of the Fraser River on August 1st and for the non-tidal portion of the Fraser River on August 3rd. The openings are for three species, chinook, pink and chum salmon, while sockeye salmon fishing remains closed because their abundance is currently not high enough for an opening.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has requested all anglers to fish selectively, meaning that you should specifically target species that are open while avoiding catching sockeye salmon.

“There is no retention of sockeye salmon permitted at this time. Given the low abundance of sockeye and the expected en-route mortality, impacts on sockeye are to be minimized and DFO is working with all users of the resource to limit impacts on sockeye.

While fishing for pink, chinook and chum salmon, anglers should avoid using fishing methods that catch sockeye salmon and fish selectively. The first principle of selective harvesting is to avoid catching non-targeted stocks. This means that anglers should use methods that do not catch sockeye. The following fishing methods enable anglers to catch pink, chinook and chum salmon and rarely intercept sockeye salmon:

Bar Fishing
Trolling Spoons at Creek mouths
Float Fishing
Pulling Plugs
Fly Fishing

We encourage anglers to continue to use these methods to target pink, chinook and chum while avoiding sockeye.

Please note that bottom bouncing is NOT considered a selective fishing method and is strongly discouraged. The Department requests that selective fishing techniques be used and will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure impacts on sockeye are at a minimum.

Should DFO feel that the rate of compliance is insufficient to ensure the adequate passage of sockeye, spot closures or a “no fishing for salmon” restriction may result.”

In the summer months, especially this year, water temperature is not as tolerable for salmonids so fish which are released always have a chance of dying due to stress. It is important for the recreational fishing community to demonstrate that selective fishing practices can be done while protecting runs which are closed for fishing so future stocks are not jeopardized. If the department observes too many sockeye salmon being caught and released, then the fishery will most likely be shut down once again to ensure the safe passage of these fish.

Sockeye salmon in the Lower Fraser River generally do not bite as they travel upstream. During a sockeye salmon recreational fishing opening, fish are usually caught by flossing (or more commonly referred to as bottom bouncing), which involves the use of a long leader so the fish are accidentally hooked in the mouth as it swept across the river. This technique is not encouraged when sockeye salmon are not open for fishing, because it is not selective. Instead, anglers are asked to catch chinook, pink and chum salmon by bar fishing, casting and retrieving lures, float fishing with bait, etc. The chance of hooking a sockeye by using these methods is significantly lower than flossing.

Bar fishing is done in the non-tidal portion of the Fraser River, usually between Hope and Chilliwack where the current is adequate enough to troll a spin-n-glow at a stationary spot. If you have never experienced bar fishing before, please check out the following links for more information.

In the tidal portion of the Fraser River, chinook salmon are typically caught by plunking freshly cured salmon roe. This technique can be very successful for jacks, which are males returning one year earlier than other fish in the same run. The video, Tidal Fraser Bottom Setup, gives you an idea how this is done.

For pink salmon, which don’t enter the Fraser River until the end of August, they can easily be caught by casting and retrieving spoons and spinners. The article, Fishing for Tidal Fraser Pink Salmon, provides an overview of this fishery and explains the technique used to catch these abundant fish.

Have a great long weekend! We will have some fantastic salmon fishing opportunities coming up in the next four months across Southern British Columbia so lets enjoy it without impacting closed species. By complying to these requests, the recreational fishing community can lead by example when it comes to protecting vulnerable salmon stocks.

2015/2016 Lower Mainland Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes

Published on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

As we enter another new fishing licence year, some freshwater regulation changes have been implemented in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Region Two). Regulations are reviewed every year and some changes are often made to accommodate angling quality and conservation. Here are some major changes which you should be aware of before going fishing:

Night Time Fishing Closures

Until now, daylight only fishing regulations have only been limited to salmon in some streams. Starting on April 1st 2015, daylight only fishing will also apply to all species for the non-tidal portion of the Fraser River, Lower Pitt River and Harrison River. This means you can no longer fish at night from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

Fraser River night time fishing closure

This change was first proposed late last year as a way to reduce poaching of white sturgeon, which often takes place at night. By having complete night time fishing closures in these three main systems where sturgeon fishing usually takes place, conservation officers hope to catch poachers more easily and see a significant reduction on sturgeon poaching.

The changes have been controversial because representatives of most sport fishing organizations have opposed it, believing this is yet another loss of sport fishing opportunities which the community will never get back. By having a blanket fishing closure, families can no longer enjoy fishing for other species such as Northern pikeminnow by the camp fire at night in the summer. Most of the poaching also take place in the tidal portion of the Fraser River (downstream from Mission, regulated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada), where it remains open for night time sturgeon fishing. It is hoped that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will soon follow these changes which the province has made, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose of this closure.

Releasing Big Wild Trout and Char in Selected Lakes

Wild trout and char over 50cm long now have to be released at Chehalis, Chilliwack, Cultus, Harrison, Lillooet Lakes. There has been very little understanding on the trout and char populations of these lakes, which are connected to the Lower Fraser River. Some have long believed that anadromous coastal cutthroat trout and bull trout travel between these lakes and the Fraser River.

Cultus Lake coastal cutthroat trout

A good example is this hatchery-marked cutthroat trout caught at Cultus Lake during the pikeminnow fishing derby several years ago (above photo). Hatchery-marked coastal cutthroat trout are only released in several Northern tributaries of the Lower Fraser River, therefore this fish must have travelled from one of these tributaries, through the Fraser River, up the Chilliwack/Vedder River before it reached the lake.

By requiring anglers to release large wild trout and char at these lakes, we can further protect the vulnerable anadromous trout and char stocks of the Lower Fraser River.

Ross Lake Brook Trout Retention

Until now, anglers are required to release all native char (bull trout) at Ross Lake where the Skagit River drains into. In recent years, brook trout, which have been stocked in a couple of lakes connected to Ross Lake in United States, have become more abundant. They can now be found in both Ross Lake and Skagit River when targeting rainbow trout and bull trout.

Ross Lake brook trout

Biologists fear that these introduced fish will have a significant negative impact on the native fish populations, therefore retention of brook trout is now allowed at Ross Lake, up to five fish can be kept by one angler per day. The challenge now is to make sure anglers will identify the chars which they catch correctly. Bull trout and brook trout can look somewhat similar to those who have never caught them before. If bull trout are mistakenly retained, then this regulation change can potentially backfire.

Other Region Two regulation changes can be found in this PDF file (highlighted in blue in the water-specific table).

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