Q: With the recent rain, are any Vancouver Island rivers open for fishing?
A: The Nitinat River is now open for retention of salmon, specifically 2 chinook, only one over 77 cm and 2 coho until the end of September. Oct 1 – Oct 14 the river has a salmon closure. On Oct 15 there is retention for 2 coho and 2 chum until Dec 31.
Please note that while this is one of the best opportunities for a shore angler to go home with a 30 pounder, please fish responsibly. Gear anglers should fish with a dink float setup that has a leader with a yarn ‘fly’ and weight as the tag end of the mainline. After casting, the float is allowed to run down stream with its fly at fish mouth level. When the spring mouths the fly passively, the float goes down, the rod is truck and, voila, the fish is hooked in the mouth.
It is not sporting to cast a weighted lure, without a float, across the school and reel in, snagging a fish on most every cast. That is harassment, and I hope anyone doing so gets a ticket.
Typically the Stamp also allows chinook retention, and has a larger flow than other Island rivers. I will let you know when it is opened. Chinook need 10 to 12 inches of water to migrate upstream, and many smaller streams may still not have had enough rain after our summer of drought.
Q: Are there any new coho limits on Van Isle saltwater?
A: As of Sept 11, the coho limit in areas 12, 121 and 123 to 127, West Coast of Van Isle becomes four. Fraser coho have now passed and WCVI are rated at 4 this year. The following weblink gives you the water-specific area closures: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/index-eng.html
As of Oct 1, in Areas 18 and 19, you may retain two coho, one of which can be unmarked. Separation Point to Chery Point, as of Nov 1, both can be unmarked/marked.
And from Owen Point in Port Renfrew and the rest of Juan de Fuca, Area 20, you may retain four coho, 1 of which may be unmarked.
Q: How many Fraser sockeye have there been?
A: The cumulative total of early, summer and late sockeye, respectively, are: 347,000; 1,333,000; and, 109,000 = 1,789,000. This is very low. The question is how much prespawn mortality has there been. Apparently not much, but I am not aware of Dr. Miller’s viral signature work being done on the fish.
By comparison, the Alaska pink run has exceeded 177 million, with a total for all species (includes sockeye) now at 227 million. While Alaska does ocean ‘ranching’ of pinks, the question is why the difference in numbers, particularly when the Stamp, Port Alberni figure was a healthy 1.8 million sockeye. It may prove to be fish farm lice on fry, but this can’t be suggested plausibly at this point.
Q: What about Fraser pinks?
A: DFO has reduced its pre-season estimate from about 15 million to 6, or poor pink numbers, with 59% of Johnstone Strait fish and 67% of Area 20 fish being Frasers. In other words, there are pinks still showing up in ECVI estuaries, and some Juan de Fuca fish are destined for Puget Sound.
Q: Where are the Fraser sockeye now?
A: The Fraser run has more than 100 subcomponents and sockeye spread out into their natal streams all over the interior of BC. In addition to saltwater seines in Johnstone and Juan de Fuca, there are river counting fences, wheels, hydro-acoustic sites and other quantifying methods, including eyeballing the numbers. There is a considerable amount of work done by DFO to figure out returns, as the following stream by stream counts indicate:
“The sixth upstream escapement report was released by DFO this week [Sept 5]. Sockeye in
the Nahatlatch River are reported to be in the early stages of spawning.
Sockeye in the Upper Chilliwack River are at the peak of spawn. The Nadina
River Channel was operational the evening of August 14th; 18,267 sockeye have
been counted into the channel to date. Fish in the channel are reported to be
primarily holding and in good condition. The counters at Gates Creek and the
Gates Creek spawning channel were operational August 7th, and 9,039 sockeye
have been counted into the channel with an additional 8,964 sockeye counted
into the creek upstream of the channel to date. Sockeye in the channel are in
the early stages of spawning. The counting fence on Scotch Creek was
operational on August 9th; 3,498 sockeye have passed through the fence to date.
Most sockeye observed are reported to be in good condition, but some have
lesions. Visual surveys of Early Summer-run streams that are tributary to the
North and South Thompson Rivers began on August 10th. Sockeye have now been
observed in the Lower Adams, Anstey, Eagle, Lower Momich, and Seymour Rivers as
well as Cayenne Creek. Sockeye in the Upper Barriere River are reported to be
nearing peak of spawning. The first aerial and ground surveys of the Bowron
River were conducted on September 2nd. Sockeye are reported to be nearing the
start of peak spawning activity. The Chilko River hydroacoustic site was
operational on August 8th. Sockeye numbers continue to steadily increase with
very few observations of pre-spawn mortality to date. Carcass recovery efforts
began on September 1st. Most sockeye appear to be in good condition. The
Quesnel River hydroacoustic site was operational August 13th. Sockeye
migration into the system has remained steady but overall migration levels are
relatively low. Visual surveys of the Quesnel system began on August 27th.
Sockeye have only been observed in the Horsefly River thus far, and fish there
are reported to be either holding or in early stages of spawning. The Stellako
River hydroacoustic site was operational August 22nd. Sockeye continue to be
in the early stages of migration into the river. Visual surveys of Summer-run
sockeye streams in the North Thompson drainage began Aug 11th. Sockeye in the
Raft River continue to be reported to be in good condition and nearing the peak
of spawn. A visual survey of the Bridge River was conducted September 2nd.
Sockeye are reported to be near the peak of spawn. The Birkenhead
hydroacoustic site became operational August 26th. Sockeye migration past the
site is still in the early stages. The counting fence at Sweltzer Creek (Cultus
sockeye) was operational as of July 20th; 240 sockeye have passed through the
fence to date and 25 sockeye have been retained for broodstock.”
The Cultus number is promising, given that in one recent year there was only one fish, and another where samples proved positive for piscine rheovirus.
A: One last thing: I sent in two unmarked chinook heads from the Oak Bay Flats in June. While they had no Coded Wire Tags, the June CWT fish from Juan de Fuca are from, with percentages: Georgia Strait – 3%; WCVI - 3%; Lower Fraser – 17%; Upper Fraser – 27%; Puget Sound - 20%; Lower Columbia – 20%; and Upper Columbia – 10%. In other words salmon show up in odd places.
A: One more last thing: The 13 pound, three year old, male chinook I took on the Oak Bay Flats last week, bit on a Spatterback Coho Killer on a Gibbs Lemon Lime flasher at 110 feet. The Spatterback is a combination blue/green spatter on a slim spoon resembling Flats baitfish, which are needlefish. The same lure and Flasher did the deed for Lance Foreman in Port Renfrew last week, also on springs, most 2 and 3 year old fish.