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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.

10,000 YouTube subscribers!

Published on Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Fishing with Rod reached a milestone today. Thanks to your support by watching our videos, subscribing to the channel and providing us with your feedbacks, Fishing with Rod is now the first Canadian fishing YouTube channel to reach 10,000 subscribers!

We started producing online video content in 2006 when YouTube first hit the internet. Our videos in the first few years were done on what was then a rather expensive DV camera. Since then, our videos have evolved to 1080p HD that can be viewed on your large screen television. Our goal has been to share our experience in fisheries that are family friendly, which you can also enjoy later on.

Many thanks to our commercial supporters last year, including Shimano Fishing, Islander Reels, Pautzke Bait, Yakima Bait and Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. Without their support, our video content could not have grown and improved.

This year, we will once again be producing long video blog episodes to show you different places to fish in British Columbia. There will be instructional videos as requested by many viewers.

To celebrate our milestone, we will be running some contest give-aways in the next several weeks, so please check our contest section often.

10,000 YouTube Subscribers

July 2012 Updates

Published on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

The first half of 2012 has been extremely busy for us so the above video is a short update on what we are working on. For more information on Fish for the Future, please go to the event website.

Two video features that we recently produced for the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC are now available online. You can watch them below. The first one is an overview of Green Timbers Lake, which is part of its “Fishing in the City” program in the Lower Mainland. The second video features Nick Basok demonstrating how you should clean your catches.

Our July video feature “Jungle Monster Trout” is now available!

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