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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.

First Q&A Video

Published on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Fraser River Sockeye Opening, What You Should Know

Published on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Fraser River Sockeye Salmon

Whether you are into fishing or not, by now you most likely have heard about the anticipated large Fraser River sockeye salmon return this year. Fish returning this year are offsprings of the exceptionally large run in 2010, so it should not be a surprise to see another high return in the same cycle.

The current estimated range of this year’s return is 7.5 million to 75 million fish. 7.5 million fish being the most likely number, while 75 million fish is least likely achieved. Most reports prefer the 75 million number, but realistically the more accurate predicted return size is between 20 and 30 million fish. The large range of estimates is the result of uncertainties caused by the much larger return in 2010.

Recreational sockeye salmon fishing in the non-tidal portion of the Fraser River in Region Two begins on August 6th. Most consider this as a harvest fishery, as the fish rarely bite due to poor water visibility so they are mostly flossed (accidentally hooked in the mouth) and retained. It is a popular fishery, and on a good return year like this all participants can enjoy taking home some fresh sockeye salmon. Here are some important notes which I think you should be aware of before trying this fishery out.

Before heading out to catch your sockeye salmon, the very first thing you should be doing is to buy a freshwater fishing licence and salmon conservation surcharge, which allows you to retain your catches. You can do so by going to www.fishing.gov.bc.ca. The money you spend gives you access to all freshwater fisheries in British Columbia and it is also good investments for the recreational fishing community. Funds from the licences are allocated to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. Both organizations are responsible for the development of BC’s freshwater recreational fisheries and conservation projects.

If the return becomes as large as predicted, then it is possible that the daily quota will be raised from the current 2 fish per day to 4 fish per day. Earlier this year, members of the Sport Fishing Advisory Committee in the Fraser Valley have made this recommendation to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. By raising the limit to 4 fish per day, it allows participants to quickly catch their limit and leave, so other participants can also have a chance to fish. Secondly, when the daily quota is kept at two, participants are likely to continue fishing after retaining the limit for a chance to retain a chinook salmon. In the process, too many sockeye salmon are often caught and released, which only does more harm than good. By raising the limit to four sockeye salmon per day, hopefully it can eliminate this behaviour. If the daily quota is changed during the season, we will have it published on the website or Facebook page so be sure to check back often before each trip.

If you decide to partake in this fishery, you should know that there are other species migrating among these sockeye salmon. Wild coho salmon and steelhead, are encountered sometimes and they need to be released with extreme care. Too often fish are dragged onto the beach immediately prior to being identified. In some cases, fish are not identified correctly and protected species are killed. Wild coho salmon and steelhead travelling in the Fraser River often come from endangered stocks, so it is up to every participant to ensure the survival of these fish. To do so, you should carry a landing net so the fish can be scooped and kept in the water prior to being identified. Know your fish species so you can identify each fish correctly. When a fish cannot be identified, please release it.

The Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery can be a family friendly, but whenever fishing pressure is high, an unpleasant environment can develop quickly. In the past, conflicts among recreational fishery participants and with First Nation fishers have occurred. In 2009, a serious incident between a band chief and two recreational participants resulted in the creation of the Fraser River Fisheries Peacemakers. This group is made of key representatives from the recreational fishing communities and First Nations in the Fraser Valley. Together, the group has developed many excellent initiatives in the past four years. One of these accomplishments is the document Fishing Together on the Fraser, which is designed for those who are trying out the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery for the first time. One important resource available in this document is the fishing map produced by the Fraser Basin Council, which shows various fishing spots, First Nations’ land, boat launches, and other important landmarks. You can download these resources at the following links.

While there is a lot of attention on the good fishing, too often water safety is neglected. Quite often we see participants standing in waist deep water and forgetting how turbulent and dirty the Fraser River is during this time of the year. One slip can sweep you away and help is not always nearby. Personal floatation devices are inexpensive and can keep you alive if you are swept away. Better yet, you can avoid getting into these situations by not wading too far out. Observe the current in the river prior to walking in the water.

The high abundance of returning sockeye salmon is not the only good news. This large biomass will have both direct and indirect effects on other inhabitants in the Fraser River watersheds and other fisheries. Rainbow trout and bull trout which reside in large lakes such as Shuswap Lake, will be able to enjoy feasting on the abundance of eggs being deposited by these sockeye salmon. By this fall, these trout and char can be anywhere from 1lb to 8lb and actually provide an excellent catch and release fishery for anglers. Because there isn’t a lack of food, these will be some of the strongest trout and char you can encounter. Bears and other predatory mammals also benefit from the return. The feeding process also brings well needed nutrients to the forests when these animals drag their catches into them. The feasting continues next spring when juvenile sockeye salmon hatch from these eggs. Overall, a salmon return at this magnitude is not only welcoming news for the all fishery sectors, but more importantly it revives all the ecosystems connected to the Fraser River.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to catch a couple of sockeye salmon for dinner, be sure to dispatch and bleed the fish immediately. The fish should also be placed in a cooler full of ice. Any fish being kept in the river will lose its freshness fast, as the water temperature is quite high in the shallow parts of the river right now. Have fun, be safe and please share your experiences of this fishery on our website.

2014 Preview

Published on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

2013 was yet another memorable year on Fishing with Rod. The arrival of our son meant we had to change our work pace completely to accommodate the new lifestyle. The biggest challenge was to ensure that our website content, particular video content, continued to grow. We managed to do that and the result was yet another year of growth beyond our expectation.

Our YouTube channel gained over 10,000 new subscribers and the videos were viewed over 2 million times. This kind of support motivates me to keep bringing quality content to our audience so you can enjoy, learn and experience the fisheries British Columbia has to offer.

We’ll once again continue the momentum in 2014. With the support from GoFishBC and several other returning and new sponsors, we’ll take you to some new fisheries which we have not covered in the past. This year will also see more collaboration in instructional videos between myself and other fishing guides who are much more knowledgable when it comes to some fishing techniques.

Many thanks to all of you for continuously supporting! Stay tuned for new content coming up in February. If you have any questions or feedbacks, you are always welcome to contact us.

2013 Chilliwack River Clean-ups

Published on Monday, February 18th, 2013

2013 Chilliwack River Clean-ups

Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society has finalized this year’s river clean-up dates with the City of Chilliwack and Fraser Valley Regional District. They are:

  • April 20th at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve
  • July 20th at the Great blue Heron Nature Reserve
  • September 29th at the Chilliwack Fish and Games Club

This will be the twelfth year since we started the group. In 2012, participants racked up 2,464 volunteer hours, collecting 5.72 metric tonnes of garbage from the Chilliwack River. This shows the importance of having these clean-ups. Not only are we maintaining the Chilliwack River valley so it is a pristine recreational corridor for all to enjoy, we are also minimizing garbage from being washed into the Pacific Ocean. Please support these three clean-ups once again in 2013.

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