Sunday, 16 February 2014

Q and As – February 2 – Feb16, 2014

Halibut: The new size limits for halibut are: 133 cm and 93 cm, the first about 70 pounds, the latter, 20. So says Brad Beaith, one of the good guys at DFO. And, to clarify, my previous mention of the Swiftsure Closure, I was simply restating the longstanding closed area that we are all familiar with, not that there is any new closed area.

And also, it needs to be said that all sport fishers know good people in DFO. Many on the coast are high on our list, particularly enhancement people. When we, and I include me, criticize DFO it is not the good people here, but the moribund department, mostly in Ottawa, that don’t get salmon in BC.

Circle Hooks: I attended the Esquimalt Anglers meeting recently, and we talked about circle hooks. These are better for bottom fishing for halibut. Once they meet the scissors of the jaw, they seldom come out and you land more flatties from their chewy bites.

But I would not fish circles trolling for salmon. The reason is: the bent-back point tip is the first thing the grab and run winter chinook bite hits, meaning the point is not naturally penetrating, and thus you lose fish.

Circle hooks meet their best use in freshwater fishing salmon, particularly chum. The schools are so large and dense a straight point simply buries in whatever flesh it hits and a day of wrestling 20, 20-pounders to the beach and removing the hook is a lot of wasted energy for fish and fisher. With  circle hooks, you feel the various bodies and fins it slides over, but days chum are ‘snappy’ you miss no biters.

Seals: Seals in winter can be so thick you lose most chinook. I have chased many, many seals to keep them underwater, hoping they will release the fish to get some air.

The Esquimalt guys passed along a tip from Scott Craven. Seals have gotten so good at separating fish from line it makes sense to, as he does: loosen the drag and put the rod back in the rod holder. The seal will separate the fish, or bite it off behind the head so quickly you will be back fishing in no time.

Done this way, you can continue using 25- to 30-lb leaders between flashers and lures, rather than going to 15-pound test; that approach leaves you the expensive part of the set up - flasher and anything above - important because it is difficult to know, if mainline breaks, where stretching may have weakened it above the missing ball-bearing swivel. The down side is you need to shorten leaders to transmit flasher kick to lure, particularly hootchies and squirts.

Lower test on leaders leads to another problem: keeping lower and higher test leaders separate in your tackle box. Instead of the usual inch of plastic drinking straw most fishers use (after wrapping-up the leader around your fingers), use twist ties for the lower number of lower test leader/lure combinations. Ties need to be replaced annually for corrosion reasons; they discolour leaders and, more importantly, plastic lures.

Habitat Restoration: Apparently, DFO added money to the original $10 Million across Canada over two years for habitat restoration, perhaps as much as $15 M.

BC Wildlife Federation says: “We are pleased that funding… has been increased and continued for another two years. These funds… support important conservation projects related to recreational fisheries habitat… undertaken by conservation organizations and community groups, including BCWF Member Clubs,” said BCWF President Bill Bosch. The point of the program is to leverage what conservation groups add to the process, a good thing.

You will note this in the DFO Program Objective: “The Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program forms a key component of the Government of Canada’s conservation agenda as outlined in Budget 2013 and aligns with the Government’s commitment to better protect Canada’s fisheries as reflected in the recent changes to the Fisheries Act.” The problem is all BC fishers know the important changes gutted the Act (s35 and s36) of fish habitat protection measures.

These are the FAQs: None address the question of whether the $15 M is across Canada for two years, like the earlier amount. I have asked for clarification and will let you know.

The original announcement of $10 M across Canada is:

Fish Farm Sewage: my preliminary estimate of the sewage cost to BC residents of leaving fish farms in the ocean is a staggering $10.4 Billion. To ground proof the figure, I have dredged up the stats for Scotland, and Norway (where fish farms are from). They are equally staggering, and I’ll release these shortly.

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