The Puntledge River was a busy place this past Sunday as anglers got in some fall fishing.

The Puntledge River was a busy place this past Sunday as anglers got in some fall fishing.

Fall fishing on the Puntledge River

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last Sunday morning I took the accompanying picture from the Condensory Bridge looking downstream. From my position on the bridge I counted 44 anglers, most of them below the bridge, however there were some anglers out of my field of vision. It is safe to estimate that there were 50 anglers fishing in the waters near the bridge.

After watching the action for a considerable time one angler fishing with a fly line caught and released a salmon, I also saw two others playing fish they lost. Two ladies walked up from the river carrying salmon that I assume were chums.

My impression as of this writing is that there is not a large run of chum salmon that have entered the river so far. It is easy to see that with the current low water conditions the fish may not yet have entered the river in large numbers.

The late set of estimates by the Strait of Georgia salmon survey for chum salmon entering the river, dated Oct. 7, are very low at 15. At the time of this writing (Oct. 12)  there were certainly a  considerable larger number chums in the river. At this time during the 2013 season there were close to 69,000 chum salmon in the river.

It is however misleading to compare counts from one season to another because there are so many variables such as low water this year. After the rains of this weekend, the river will undoubtedly have a large number of salmon enter on the fresh water from the rain. This will include fall chinook, coho and chums.

With the current and on-going Strait of Georgia salmon surveys most rivers are below the four-year average for coho and chinook this time of the year. The coho run was about 2,000 fish in the current count; which is less than half the numbers of the four-year average. Fall run chinook are at about 3,200; which is about 75 per cent of what the count was four years ago.

It is easy to explain this as a result of the low water in most rivers. It does however raise a question when the Qualicum River intermediately to our south came in with a count of almost 7,000 chinook; which is above their four- year average and the river has a special opening for chinook. On the other hand their coho numbers are way down.

The rains on Monday and for the balance of the week will certainly bring salmon into our local rivers. In predicting the size of returns, much caution must be exercised because temperature and rainfall patterns are not what we normally experience. For the record, I am prepared to predict that the run of chum salmon will be below the four-year seasonal average, but there will be sufficient fish to allow an on-going recreational retention fishery on chum salmon in the Puntledge.

I will also predict we will not have a late-season retention fishery on coho or late run fall chinook. In part my prediction is based on low catches  in recreational chum salmon fishing in Johnstone Strait  and low returns of the other species so far season. I would take great joy in being proved wrong.

At a recent meeting of the Comox Valley Fly Fishing executive,  one member reported witnessing some careless releases of salmon after they had been brought to shore. It is proper to be critical of this type of behaviour on the part of some careless anglers and from the safety of the column I would encourage all anglers to be careful and respectful of the salmon they return to the river. After all the salmon we release are destined to produce the next generation and their fitness and health is important.

On Sunday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Puntledge hatchery and staff will host its annual Open House. It is a special opportunity for all members of the family, residents of the Valley and our fishing guests to take part in this educational and informative day long celebration that show cases the work of the Puntledge River Hatchery and other salmon enhancement groups in Area 14.

The staff will give graphic illustrations of their work in sorting fish, selection of those ready to spawn and the  process of stripping and fertilizing eggs for the next generation. Put the day on your “To Do List.”

 

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Most Read