Today may be the best day of the rest of your 2014 saltwater fishing season with the opening of the season for lingcod and rockfish in local waters.
Fishery Notice FNO244 gives opening dates and limits for Areas 14 to 19 and portions of Area 12, 20 and 29.
Lingcod – Effective May 1, 2014 to 23:59 Sept. 30, 2014 fishing will be open in local waters. The size limit for lingcod is 65cm, with a daily limit of one and a possession limit of two. The annual limit is 10 lingcod.
Rockfish – Effective May 1, 2014 to 23:59 Sept. 30, 2014 fishing for rockfish including Yelloweye Rockfish will be open in local waters. Areas 12 to 19, 20-5 to 29-5 are included. The daily limit is one fish and two in possession. There is no size limit for rockfish.
For clarification on season limits I suggest you go to pages 38-39 of the 2013-2015 British Columbia Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide. In other words, check my column to make certain that I have things correct because in the final analysis the only rules that apply are those in the Sport Fishing Guide and official in-season announcements from DFO.
The full impact of this opening is that we can now fish for and retain salmon, halibut, lingcod, Pacific cod, rockfish and flounders during a day on the water. The photograph with this column is of chinook salmon, lingcod and rock fish from a day on Area 14 waters and illustrates the bounty of recreational fishing opportunities we have close to home.
It is possible to spend the entire season in local Area 14 waters in small, 14- to 16-foot boats that are ramp-friendly and low-cost to operate and catch all the seafood you could possibly want.
We are frequently lured to other waters in search of big catches that fill the freezer when it is possible to spend a season on local waters that offer much. True, we do not regularly take spectacular catches in the waters from Kitty Coleman to Qualicum Bay, but they are local and do produce a steady harvest of marine fish.
On the other hand, our local waters do produce some enviable salmon fishing plus all the other species that add to local fishing. I recently had a chat with a local salmon fisherman who fishes by himself and in the 2013 season he filled his chinook card in Area 14 with chinook salmon and had several fish in the 30- to 40-pound class.
The highlight of going fishing this weekend is that we can concentrate on catching a prime lingcod that ranks as one of the finest-eating fish in the Pacific Ocean. Location, location, is the all important message when you are targeting these somewhat underrated fish.
Lingcod like to inhabit rocky outcrops, often covered with good kelp forests, and lie in wait for smaller fish such as their cousin the kelp greenling to carelessly come within their attack zone. They also inhabit rocky ridges and uneven bottom structures up to 200 feet in depth and will frequently take jigs baited with large herring.
The waters of Area 14 contain the islands Denman and Hornby, plus several other small island groups. The coastlines of these islands are rocky and as such make ideal habitat for both rockfish and lingcod.
For anglers new to the Valley who are considering taking up saltwater fishing, you might be wise to think of Area 14 as a large lake (for example, Shuswap in the B.C. Interior.) Get all the appropriate marine charts and navigational information you can collect on the area and set out to learn these local waters. Use lake psychology to learn the hot fishing areas and concentrate on them. Frequent sporting goods stores, coffee groups, hang around the ramp, and just plain start to absorb all the local stuff you can gather.
We are coming into a period when travelling long distances for extended trips will become quite expensive. On the other hand if you learn to fish locally your transportation costs will be moderate and, possibly more importantly, your fishing activities can extend throughout the summer and fall seasons for the costs of one expensive trip away from home.
Area 14 waters are on the migration routes of five species of salmon, and many other species of fish and marine life – fish locally and enjoy.
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.