Sunday, 26 October 2014

Q and As - October

Pacific Salmon Foundation: The PSF has received a major donation for its Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a five year research effort to determine the causes of major declines of Coho and Chinook salmon in the Strait of Georgia in the past 20 years.

Tony Allard, President of Hearthstone Investments, pledged $250,000 to help the cause reach its funding goals. He said he was inspired by another major donor, Rudy North, who also pledged $250,000 earlier this year.

“This donation brings the fundraising campaign within striking distance of fully funding the $10 million project,” said PSF CEO Dr. Brian Riddell. “Roughly 80% of the budget has been raised from BC foundations, businesses, and non-governmental and governmental entities.”

Allard has a long association with salmon conservation on BC’s central coast, in Rivers Inlet, where he restored the Good Hope Cannery, as a lodge. In addition, he has contributed to conservation projects for the Whonnock River, the main source of River’s Inlet’s plus 50 pound chinook and the Snootli Creek hatchery.

See:, for news on the related projects. Briefly, scientists believe changes in the Salish Sea – Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca, as well as Puget Sound – have affected the numbers of coho, chinook and steelhead. They are at historic lows. Riddell has previously been quoted as saying he believes the potential for sport fishing revenue is an additional $400 to $500 million annually, in addition to the roughly $1 billion derived from salt- and fresh-water fishing in BC.

During the same years that coho and chinook numbers have been low, sockeye numbers, for the Fraser, have been their lowest and highest, while Fraser pinks return in healthy numbers. In addition, North Vancouver Island has had some of its finest fishing for local pink runs in the past few years, with Campbell River chinook slowly climbing, as well.

Allard said he was particularly encouraged by the focus on salmon-health research within the project. The PSF will work with Genome BC and DFO scientist Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders to inventory pathogens suspected of causing mortality in Pacific salmon. Miller was one of the lead scientists at the reconvened Cohen Commission into fish farm diseases. Readers will recall her phenotypic research revealed a ‘viral signature’ in returning stocks, particularly Fraser River sockeye. Farmed chinook in Clayoquot Sound were identified as having ISA and HSMI as well.

Sooke River chum: It’s time to take your gear and fly equipment out to Sooke to do the annual chum/coho fishery in Sooke Basin, the estuary and river. For Billing’s spit gear guys, a double glow, pale chartreuse squirt has been a consistent choice, as have pink Buzz Bombs. Do note that beach access to the left can often bring anglers to staging salmon, too. The silver bridge is the deemed boundary between saltwater retention rules and non-retention fly fishing in fresh water above.

For fly guys, take a few pink Woolly Buggers, as well as white with hot pink thread, many combinations of egg, double egg and egg-sucking leach patterns in pink and purple, along with large glo-brite orange chenille. Sooke is a tea-coloured river and thus purple is the best colour. Make sure to use circle hooks as it can be a tiring day for fish and fisher when tightly packed chum are foul-hooked rather than mouth-hooked.

The other day, I saw a young fly guy who had a good idea (although I was undecided whether it passed as legal fly fishing) on a day when the fish were simply aimless as the high tide approached. Here and there a few fish were on the bottom and occasionally rising to porpoise. They were spread out in small numbers, some almost on shore.

My read of the regs say that the Sooke is fly fishing only. People who fish the Campbell River, will know there is a distinction between fly fishing and artificial fly. The latter allows for the use of a float on the mainline, a weighted tag end and a leader ending in a hook with a yarn/wool ‘fly’. 

In other words, to gear guys this means the most common approach of a dink float and the etceteras. It is the standard way to fish chinook and chum in rivers, and relies on the fish passively biting the fly, meaning it takes hold of it as the fly comes toward its nose, and then lets it go. In between, the float goes under and the angler sets the hook.

For Campbell artificial fly guys, a strike indicator above and split shot before the fly, accomplishes the same thing. The lad was doing the artificial fly approach, but I think he was using a weighted fly, which is a sliver different from a split shot ahead, and perhaps could be construed to be fly fishing. He was the only person who received a mouth-hooked fish or two.

I would add that gear guys doing the river fishing thing for salmon - in rivers where it is allowed - should, in my view, be restricted to artificial fly or some version of a float fishery, the float passing down river, rather than lure being cast and reeled in. In September it is all too common for gear tackle to be a weight ahead of a hook that is cast across a wall of flesh, and then reeled in. The hook contacts a fish and foul hooks it. Only rarely will the hook be in a mouth, and some of those will be flosses. Float fishing done properly seldom foul hooks a fish.

Addams River sockeye: I spoke with ex-DFO-enforcement, and now author, Randy Nelson, the other day. He was in the water in the river as part of the annual spawning and tourist time in the interior. Some 3.5 million sockeye have come back to the river this year, a healthy number.

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