For the past few weeks we have enjoyed recreational sockeye salmon fishing out of Browns Bay that has been bountiful by all standards. One day last week I joined Charley Vaughan and Bruce Bell in a fishing adventure that had as its main objective to catch some salmon for this old man. It was a successful venture as the picture illustrates and I came home with four prime sockeye.
We fished just across Johnstone Strait in an area called Plumber Bay outside the closed area. At one time I counted approximately 140 recreational boats and two commercial troll boats fishing around us. It was crowded, although I was told that as many as 300 recreational boats have fished this area one day last week.
I have no idea how many fish were caught, but boats around us were constantly playing fish and at times there were tangles as boats came too close to fighting fish in other boats. It is the kind of trolling that requires the person at the steering wheel to be constantly on the alert as to how close the other boats are in your immediate space.
The fish we caught were prime fish by any standard. We were on the water by 8 a.m. and there was certainly a hundred boats in the area. Most dedicated sockeye fishers try to be on the water as soon as possible in the morning to catch the early morning bite prior to an ebb tide.
By noon the fishing had slowed down, but we were still getting action. Twice during the day we had two fish on at the same time. In crowded conditions this action calls for some good netting techniques and alert steering on the part of the person at the controls. Later at the cleaning table I talked to a person who told about having four fish on at one time in their boat and netting all four of them – pretty good I would say.
This fishery is based on the late-season Adams River run that occurs every four years. The last time it was spectacular and this year it seems to be headed in the same direction.
As I write this column on Aug. 31, I have had reports this morning of thousands of salmon being caught in gill-net fisheries at Port Hardy. The Fraser River Panel reports a diversion rate in Johnstone Straits of at least 95 per cent of the run.
It makes me think that there is a traffic diversion notice at the top of Vancouver Island warning all sockeye salmon that there is a climate change event in the waters off Oregon and they would be wise to go down Johnstone Straits on their home journey to the Fraser and Adams River. Currently there is a huge body of unusually warm water caused by global warming off the Oregon Coast and it is affecting water temperature up the coast.
This run is a four-year event and has all the qualities of an Olympic event that attracts thousands of participants from around the globe, and Campbell River is benefiting financially from all the attention as are sporting goods stores throughout the area. Recreational fishing is a profitable way to sell sockeye salmon.
When you read this article I suggest there will be at least a couple of weeks of good sockeye fishing still to be had. The best action to date has been out of Browns Bay, but do not write off local waters at Bates Beach and Cape Lazo. Remember, it is a once in four years event.
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Halibut Fishing – as of Sept. 1 the daily bag limit for recreational caught halibut has been raised to two fish until Dec. 31. The possession limit is still two fish and no change in size limits.
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Put Sept. 27 on your calendar for the annual Pacific Salmon Foundation Fundraising Dinner at the Filberg Centre. Tickets are available from Gone Fishing Sporting Goods or Judy Ackinclose at $50 per person. It is not too early to put a table together for our salmon enhancement.
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Hunting season is open in the Interior and on Vancouver Island, but we have been so involved with a great fishing season that it has taken a small back seat. I am not the only one with a delayed season start.
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.