If you were impressed with chinook fishing last summer in the CRD, you will be happy again this year: http://www.sportfishing.bc.ca/docs/preliminary_2014_salmon_outlook_-_dfo.pdf. The overall comment is for improvement relative to 2013.
Fraser River Summer Run 4-1 chinook numbers will be higher this summer; however, Fraser 5-2s and 4-2s are still in decline and may affect retention opportunities in our area. On the other hand, all three West Coast Van Isle hatchery rivers will have higher numbers of fish. The stocks are: Nootka Sound’s Conuma hatchery; Barkley Sound’s Robertson Creek hatchery; and, the Nitinat hatchery. All three areas should provide terminal chinook fisheries good enough to consider towing your boat over the humps.
Coho stocks are improved, including the Mid- and Upper-Fraser stocks that migrate through our area as well as Georgia Strait stocks – long in decline. This may result in some wild retention in addition to marked fish. Last summer’s fishing was for marked fish - lots of action but little keeping until late, in October. Thompson coho will come home in greater numbers, too. And WCVI coho remain abundant.
Cohen Commission Fraser sockeye indicate retention possibilities. Things look good for Early Stuart, Early Summer North Thompson, Summer Nechako, Fall Portage and Fall South Thompson. Somass sockeye fishing in Alberni Inlet should be good, too, with sockeye rated in abundance. Fraser components in decline include Early Summer Lower Fraser, Summer Raft, and Henderson rivers. As DFO does DNA analysis twice per week from saltwater entrances all the way to Mission, some openings may be afforded in the Victoria area.
There are two tantalizing factors for Fraser sockeye: the research catch rate for juvenile sockeye in 2012 was the highest since sampling began in 1998; and, ocean surface temperatures were cooler in 2012 than in the previous two years, a condition associated with more sockeye.
Pink salmon will be in short supply here because our predominant run is odd-year Frasers that last year produced a huge run of 26 Million fish. For 2014, if pinks are available, it will be Puget Sound fish. Up Island, for you fly guys, the even-numbered year is the higher pink return year, from Campbell River north to Port Hardy. Targets include a good half dozen estuaries including the Campbell, Amor de Cosmos, Salmon, Eve, Cluxewe, Keogh and Quatse. Expect pinks in average supply but recall that 2012 resulted in pink numbers so unexpectedly high that most fishers caught and released more than 100 salmon in a few days. One of my trips resulted in the phenomenal release of more than 350 pink salmon, with several days over 50. This release rate implies 700 on the line and well over 1,000 bites. So cross your fingers.
Fraser chum will be in average supply which typically means 1- to 2.75-million fish. The Brown’s Bay troll fishery looks good for late September and early October. Georgia Strait chum are also expected at average numbers. The Big Q typically returns 100,000 and the Cowichan roughly 250,000. Nitinat enhanced chum should be better than the average 300,000. One year, after 1.8 million were mopped up in the lake and outside the bar by commercial/aboriginal fishers, 658,000 made it into the river and anglers literally got soaked drifting through their huge schools.
An updated Salmon Outlook is expected in April, ahead of the summer season. And if you want to see what DFO is doing with the 2014 southern BC fishery plan, take a look at: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/mplans/2013/smon/smon-sc-cs-2013-eng.pdf. This is the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. It is a superb source of information along with links on a variety of subjects for southern area stocks. The Plan for the 2014 fishery is not yet available.