A HAPPY VANCOUVER resident displays a Nile Creek pink.

Pink salmon bonanza

Local waters running deep with them; check carefully to see where to catch them

From the Pacific Salmon Foundation Keystone Species 2013 Edition- Annual Magazine I found the following statement on Page 16 under a chart – State of Salmon Snapshot:

“There are seven species of Pacific Salmon that populate BC waters. This handy guide gives you an insight into how they are doing (from the smallest to the largest by weight).” Note – this list includes cutthroat trout and steelhead as salmon.

“Pink Salmon (or humpies due to large humps on males during spawning.) The smallest and most abundant of the Pacific Salmon. Pink salmon are at a record high abundance in the North Pacific, including recent returns to the Fraser River. Pinks only return to the Fraser in odd-numbered years, and in 2013 are expected to return in their usual high numbers at 10-15 million.”

As of this writing there are reports of good numbers of pink salmon showing in local waters. According to a bulletin called Area 14 Courtenay, Comox and Qualicum 2013/2014 Coho and Chinook openings and Other Closures Chart, the following inside waters are open to retention of pink salmon: Areas 14-11, that can be accessed from a boat and Area 14-14, which is open to shore fishing only until Sept. 1.

I urge you to get a copy of the above illustrated chart because finding areas where you can legally fish is confusing to say the least. We currently have no non-tidal waters where you can fish for and retain a pink salmon. The closest non-tidal recreational fishery for pinks is in the Campbell River (below the confluence of the Quinsam) – and Quinsam Rivers in Area 13. They are both open until Sept. 15 for the retention of four pinks and they are full of pinks and crowded with anglers.

It is exciting fishery if you can handle large numbers of fellow anglers sharing the river with you. It is also an economic boom for sporting goods stores who serve the needs of anglers.

In the meantime we have a long weekend in front of us and it is always nice if you can enjoy good beach fishing for pinks close to home as we have enjoyed during past seasons. With this goal in mind I took a trip along the beaches as far south as Nile Creek.

One of the best local spots this year is the foreshore in 14/14 below the hospital in Comox. However before you rush down there, the fish are staying well out from the shore and seals can be a problem. This fishery may be best suited for spinning outfits and chest waders. Depending on tide and wind it can be a good fishery on pinks moving into the Puntledge Estuary.

During my stop at Royston Bay and The Wrecks I saw several anglers fishing with both spinning and fly-fishing outfits. It was a medium high tide and the wind was coming up. I watched one angler play and make a long-distance release on a spinning outfit. There were good numbers of fish well out in the bay and the seals were enjoying a feast of pinks. During low tide, with relatively calm waters, Royston Bay will be good bet for pinks this weekend.

My next stop on my exploration trip was Nile Creek, which is one of the most successful pink salmon enhancement programs anywhere on the coast. There are fish off the creek and during appropriate tides and reasonable wind conditions the fishing is good for both spinning and fly fishing.

Off the mouth of the Oyster River and adjacent beaches the reports I have are that most of the fish are moving directly into the river, with the result beach fishing has been disappointing for most anglers. Under these conditions just possibly small boats or kayaks may put anglers in contact with moving schools of fish.

Beach fishing is a truly addictive and philosophical variety of fishing practised by a dedicated group of beach anglers. They fish for all species of salmon and do well. A day of beach fishing can be enchanting whether or not you take any fish home.

• • •

Halibut Fishing: Our catch of halibut up to July 31 was approximately 530,000 pounds. This leaves a balance of 550,000 in our allocation. As a result, recreational fishing for halibut under current regulations will continue until further notice – good news.

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.

 

 

 

 

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