One part of DFO’s science activities is monitoring Fraser River sockeye sub-components in salt- and fresh-water. It makes estimates based on brood years and then authorizes fisheries with in-season test seine and gillnet fisheries in Johnstone and Juan de Fuca straits, as well as in-river. As below, you can request to be put on the list, which runs all season long, twice per week.
Here is the beginning of the Friday August 25, 2018 Panel review:
days with daily catches being around 180 for Cottonwood and 170 for Whonnock.
Daily Mission escapement estimates have declined from 164,200 on August 20 to
70,700 on August 22 followed by an increase to 125,500 on August 23. The
estimated total Sockeye escapement past Mission to August 23 is 3,072,100. This is
comprised of 121,400 Early Stuarts, 1,002,000 Early Summers, 1,646,800 Summers and
301,900 Late run fish. Stock identification analyses from recent samples taken in
the lower Fraser River indicate that Early Summers are making up from 11% to 15%
of the stock composition while Summers make up about 80% and Lates are ranging
between 6 and 11%. Within the Early Summer run group, the later timed South Thompson
Early Summer stocks continue to be the dominant stock with very low levels of Nadina
continuing to be present. The Summer Run run timing group are primarily
Chilko/Quesnel with lower proportions of Late Stuart/Stellako and Raft/North
Thompson. The current estimate for holding Late Run fish is approximately 770,000.
While most sockeye have passed through our area, with the exception of Harrisons, here is how to
fish for them:
In the sixties, it was figured out that a red Krippled K and a red Gibbs flasher would take sockeye and thus the sport fishery got off the ground. Both sport and commercial troll fishers used the same tactics: slow, straight and short. In other words, sport guys would troll as slow as possible, tossing out a pail on a line to slow the boat down below its normal trolling speed.
Short referred to leaders, in the 23- to 25-inch length. Straight meant to troll in straight lines. The other characteristics of sockeye is that they are good followers, as in, once locked on a lure, they will follow it for some time, before committing to a bite or moving on. Further, they like flash.
Over time, the rig that developed paid attention to the following/flash behaviour. Put down three flashers on each downrigger. The upper and lower ones, with five to ten feet of 25-pound test to a release clip, do not have lures and are simply there to draw in the sockeye to the flash. The middle flasher typically trailed an orange squirt or a tin spoon. In addition, scent was put on this lure. So once following, the rig kept the fish there until they spotted the lure and whacked it.
See this Butch McPherson site for a history of ‘Krippled’ products: http://www.krippled.ca/recreation/about.htm.
In the nineties, things evolved further. We found that instead of being in the top 50 feet, coho, began returning as deep as 125 feet in Juan de Fuca Strait. Surprisingly, sockeye seemed to migrate with them, so also deeper. In addition, in the odd years, the Fraser pink salmon could be spread down the water column just as deep.
And, good for us anglers, the presence of up to 3 species, and a growing USA coho load, had the effect that all the fish competed with one another for lures. I would guess that more fish with the same amount of feed lead to the competition.
Another useful feature became apparent. I noticed one day fishing Sooke, while deep in my forward compartment, that when I popped my head back up, I was almost on the rocks and cranked a hard 90-degree turn. In that instant, I received a bite and shortly landed a nice sockeye.
Another thing also came clear. One could increase trolling speed because one target was coho which like a faster lure, and pinks are opportunistic. The coho part also meant for increasing leader length to as much as 35 inches, and fishing tide lines, particularly their leading edge (as in where the bait were coming from, to then be sandwiched in the tide line). This also has the advantage of covering more territory in the same amount of time, and so presenting before more fish in shorter time.
Every now and then crank a 90-degree turn, and darned if you didn’t get a sockeye that may have been following for some time. So, straight, slow and short became, not so straight, faster and longer.
Contact DFO with questions and request to be put on their list for receiving the Sockeye Panel emails that go on all summer long: DFO.OpsCentreFisheryPacific-CentreOpsPechePacifique.MPO@canada.ca