Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Fraser 4-2 Chinook and Summer 2014 Victoria Fishing

DFO’s current chinook regulations are: March 1 to June 13, 2014, in Victoria areas 19 and 20, the daily limit is 2 chinook which may be wild or hatchery marked, between 45- and 67-cm or hatchery marked greater than 67 cm. The subareas are: 19-1 to 19-4 and 20-5, and correspond to waters from Cadboro Point to Sheringham Point.

Do take part in the Sport Fish Advisory Board talks, and the person to whom you can address questions about management measures to protect and conserve Fraser 4-2s, is Brad Beaith, on the Island, at: 1-250-756-7190 – not in Ottawa. 
The summer regs have not yet been developed, but you can expect, given the ongoing Fraser Spring 4-2 low numbers that retention opportunities will reflect that. The document of concern is DFO’s Southern BC Salmon Integrated Fishery Management Plan (IFMP). Here is a summary document: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/mplans/2013/smon/smon-sc-cs-2013-sm-eng.pdf.
From this document, the entire sport sector, as represented in the Survey of Recreational Fishing in Canada, which is done every five years by DFO, shows that in 2010, total expenditures for tidal sport fishing were: $689.7 million by BC residents, non-resident Canadians and non-Canadian non-residents.

The freshwater fishery typically adds another $500 million, so total fishing expenditures in 2010 exceeded a billion dollars, at $1.19 Billion, as it usually does. While the data collection and massaging methods differ, in comparison, the BC Stats figures for all of aquaculture, calculates a very small GPP contribution of $61.9 Million, showing fish farms should be taken out of the water, something the Province can do in 60 days by cancelling leases.

In addition, Pacific Salmon Foundation CEO, Brian Riddell, whose great interest is bringing back St. of Georgia coho, has suggested that would add an additional $400- to $500-million to the saltwater sport stats. So getting fish farms out of the water is a no-brainer – but DFO is in Ottawa.

I should add that DFO did lots of science on farmed chinook in the Discovery Islands near Campbell River, through the 1990s, showing, with much work done by Michael Kent on salmon leukemia virus (SLV), the farms, which were on the out-migration route of Fraser chinook smolts. These were removed circa 2008, and Fraser sockeye/chinook, generally rebounded.

But not the 4-2s. These are followed by coded wire tagged Nicola River (turn right off the Coquihalla onto the 5A near Merritt, for a stellarly beautiful drive through rolling grass hills and solitary pines to the east side of Kamloops) chinook released from the Spius Creek hatchery which are the exploitation indicator stock (the Cowichan is another for a coastal ‘stream’) for CDN/USA fisheries.

Based on CWT recoveries, Fraser 4-2s have largely been encountered in Fraser First Nation net fisheries, Fraser River and tributary sport fisheries, marine troll fisheries (e.g. WCVI and North Coast), and recreational fisheries in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Strait of Georgia, with lower rates in other marine sport fisheries.

Returns of 2013 spring 4-2s came primarily from a parent generation of only 844 spawners in 2009. This is an exceptionally low number of fish to base a fishery upon, hence our retention problems in Victoria, in the early summer.

Spring 4-2s return early March to late July. Migration peaks in June in the lower Fraser. These populations primarily mature at age-4 (90%) with lower numbers at age-5 (7%) and occasionally at age-3 (3%). Once they are past Victoria, we get improved opportunities, with as well all know, Harrison River white, and some Vedder River chinook.

They are now often the largest fish – the Columbians used to be our early, biggest fish – of our summer, with Harrison’s typically topping the Island Outfitters Leader Board in September from the Owen Point ledge to Camper Creek run in Port Renfrew, often plus 40-pound fish. Also, these are taken in September on late afternoon rising tides at Creyke and Aldridge points in the bay between Beechy Head and the Bedfords. If you timed your fishing correctly, some of these big fish would be slipping from Folger to King Edward, to the Cape Beale apron, just in time to fish Bamfield in the Port Alberni Labour Day Derby.

June one year, a young lad took a 50 pound chinook from the Turkey Head at Oak Bay Marina, and staggered in to the shop to stagger everyone there. I would bet it was a falling tide and the fish stopped on the east side waiting for the push. And the trench in McNeill, as well as Ten Mile Point would also be good on the ebb. In McNeill, do note there are tide and current changes, and that the latter spill this way and that by Trial Island, meaning get there two hours before the low to ensure your big one is still trapped in the gulch.

Here is the IFMP for 2013 – 2014 (the 2014 – 2015 plan comes out in June): http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/mplans/2013/smon/smon-sc-cs-2013-eng.pdf. This document shows that DFO does a terrific job at research in this 226 page document (there is a North Coast plan, too), that I heartily recommend you taking an hour’s cruise through. We all know the issue is habitat restoration and enhancement, things that DFO is remiss at – that could have solved the 4-2 problem a decade ago – rather than doing a wonderful job at documenting their demise.

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