We sometimes take for granted the marvellous recreational fishing opportunities we have in our home waters. It was really brought home to me when I went on a short picture taking venture to get a picture for this week’s column. I went to a local beach that I had heard had a good run of pink salmon.
When I arrived I made a quick count and came up with 15 active anglers fishing with spinning outfits and fly casting. My first encounter was with a lovely lady from Vancouver who was fishing with a spinning outfit. She was enjoying a new wading outfit that her son had given her as a retirement gift. During the morning she had landed one nice pink salmon.
Farther down the beach I watched a picture perfect scene with about a dozen anglers silhouetted against a clear sky and a setting sun. One pair stood out as a father and son who were spin casting to some passing fish. The father appeared to be about twice as tall as the child – fishing is truly an inter-generation pastime.
In the meantime, a fly fisher in front of me connected with a nice pink salmon that was quite an active jumper. As he was playing his fish a youth closer to me also had a nice pink salmon take his fly. It would be hard to design a better picture taking opportunity than what was enfolding in front of me and none of the people were movie actors.
I stayed close to the young man as he did an excellent job of playing his fish and sliding it into the grass on the beach. The picture with this column is of Brent Rogers of Nova Scotia just out of university and he was on a fly fishing trip with his father who joined us as I talked to the youth. The fish Brent had caught was a shiny bright male pink between four and five pounds, taken on a local pink salmon fly pattern. It was silver and shiny showing no sign of the coming spawning hump on males.
We frequently speculate on the value of fish caught in the recreational fishery. In this case, here I was on the beach and had discussions with two anglers, one from Vancouver and the other from Nova Scotia. Their prime purpose for being in the Valley was to fish for salmon on our local beaches. Their transportation costs would have been over $100 for the lady from Vancouver and probably close to $1,000 for the youth from the east.
All other things aside, the transportation costs of landing these two fish were significant contributions to our tourism economy – what a marvellous way to make very good money on a species of salmon that is on the bottom of the commercial salmon market. I did not follow up with the other anglers so I have no way of knowing how many were from out of the Valley, but I suspect there were several other non residents in that fishing group.
We are nicely into the Area 14 annual pink salmon fishery. Due to the drought conditions all of the rivers in our area are closed to salmon fishing with the exception of the Big Qualicum. This means that until we get sufficient rain to open our rivers the 2015 pink salmon fishery will probably play out as a beach fishery or typical trolling from boats.
Regardless, they are wonderful fish to catch, eat fresh or smoke and can. Valley people enjoy some great fishing opportunities in Area 14.
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.