It is refreshing to say the least when we can get a river opening in short notice to make it possible for a host of local Valley anglers to be able to enjoy a pink salmon retention fishery in our home river over the Labour Day Weekend.
This event happened in no small measure due to the dedicated work of Bryce Gillard (our local federal fisheries office), Lorne Frisson assistant manager of the Puntledge Hatchery, and Glen Lario from DFO Regional office; also Gil Gingras and members of our local Sport Fishing Advisory Committee.
In conversation with Lorne a day or so before the opening, he reported that there were about 23,000 pinks above the hatchery fence and 25,000 below the fence in the river. This amazing return was from an estimated brood stock of 5,000 in the 2011 run. Something must be in favour of pink salmon in Strait of Georgia waters this year.
Pictured with this column are three anglers fishing above the Condensory Bridge on Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend. The angler in the middle was playing an ambitious pink. Fishing was slow at the bridge possibly because we were sharing the river with some happy swimmers below the bridge. It was a classic case of the great multi-faceted qualities of our home river – recreational swimming and fishing.
On the matter of where to fish the river I would suggest that the upper waters may be the most productive. The reason I suggest this is because the recent rains have probably encouraged the fish to move into the upper part of the river.
The specific variation order reads as follows: Therefore effective 00.01 hours Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 until Dec. 31, 2013 the daily limit for pink salmon is varied to two (2) over 30cm in the Puntledge River and the non-tidal portion of the Courtenay River.
Anglers are reminded of the following closed areas – The fishing boundary signs approximately 75m downstream from the weir at the Hatchery and the fishing boundary signs about 100m above and below the confluence of Morrison Creek.
Licensing is simple and straight forward. If you are a B.C. resident, over 16 years you need a Non-Tidal Salmon stamp ($15) on your license if you plan to keep a salmon. If you are a B.C. resident below the age of 16 years you may sport fish without any license or stamp, but you must abide by the regulations.
Single barbless hooks are required and it is illegal to foul hook or intentionally snag fish.
It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fishing in the river prior to the traditional chum fishery. May I respectfully suggest that if you catch a large salmon, as in fall chinook, just break the line and let it go rather than playing it to exhaustion prior to release.
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Food for thought – Some years ago the local manager of DFO in Campbell River made a strong case for the continued importance of stationing DFO conservation officers in the Comox office.
The case was based on a growing population and important commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries in Area 14 and surrounding regional waters. Since that time the population of the Valley has grown and indeed exceeds the Campbell River area. Our shellfish industry and commercial fishing harbour services continue to grow as does our urban population.
For some strange bureaucratic reason there is a serious rumour that the local fisheries officers are to be re-located in the Campbell River office. I find this amazing. It is like taking all the RCMP officers in the Comox Valley who control traffic and moving them to Campbell River to satisfy some imaginary efficiency by some office bound bureaucrat in a far away place called Ottawa.
The Comox Valley needs the on-the-ground services of our local DFO fishery offices in the same manner that Campbell River needs theirs. It would be interesting to hear what our Tyee catching local Member of Parliament John Duncan (who is also a minister in the Federal cabinet) has to say about this lack of local enforcement madness. May I suggest you make it a point to let your feeling be known to him in this matter at your earliest convenience?
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.