Wednesday, 30 April 2014


The chinook salmon population is looking very good . The Chinook Technical Committee, which is a group of both Canadian and American stock assessment biologists, has made a very positive forecast for 2014. 
Chinook salmon migrate across borders, as do all salmon species, so under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, both countries cooperate in measurement and regulation for conservation. For example, offshore of the west coast of Vancouver Island the majority of chinooks caught are from Washington and Oregon rivers, while a large part of BC chinooks are caught in Alaskan waters.  60 % of the Campbell River/Quinsam River chinooks are caught in  Alaska !  So , there is good reason to make an accurate assessment.
For management purposes the entire coast is divided into a few large areas and, in simplified form, the allowable harvest ( including commercial and First Nations ) for each of the large regions is increased from last year in a range from an 80 % increase, to 2 1/2 times ! 

I wrote a previous post on the remarkable increase in local coho populations because of an increase in survival rates, and because of the improvement in the vitality of Georgia Strait which caused many of those fish to stay and live in these inside waters, rather than moving off shore. And the forecast for sockeye is so high that everyone is being a bit cautious to believe that it could even exceed the phenomenal parent year 2010. 

We fishermen are optimists always, but even the objective measurements are in our favour.

 If you would like to read details about the stock assessments mentioned in this post, Jeremy Maynard has written an article about this in the Campbell River Courier-Islander newspaper .  Only a limited number of his columns are available online. .

Jeremy is my source for much of the salmon management information that I pass along,  either through his columns, or in meetings, or in person. I count him as a friend, but I think anyone should recognize him as an exemplary, valuable, resource to sport fishing. He has been involved in the organizations and “ politics “ of sport fishing in more ways than I can keep track of.  His most recent column tells the history of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board ( SFAB ), and typically, he doesn't mention his own roles over the years, which include Chair of the whole, Chair of the local committee ( of which I am a member ), and Chair of various sub-committees. Back in the year 2000 he was recognized with a National Recreational Fisheries Award, for 25 years of contributions up until then, and he has not slowed down. He is a delegate to represent Canada and the sport fishing view in international negotiations at the Pacific Salmon Commission.  He is a director of the Tyee Club. I know I've left some things out. Much of what he does is out of view , but I think his greatest contribution is educational through his columns, and I think they should be distributed more widely.  And, oh yeah , he is a fine fishing guide.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


 This morning was clear and bright after a couple of grey days. But the calm and quiet in Q Cove was interrupted by a grating, penetrating sound , like cats fighting.  No, not cats, otters mating. They "wrestled" along the edge of the water for 15 minutes or more until another otter came galloping noisily along the stone beach. The couple broke up and a great chase ensued out around , in, and under the docks, and the boats. More noise, and then quiet. 

Soon after, one of the otters headed off along the shore and another otter gave chase in the shallow water. They traveled a hundred feet or more in this race until it became clear that the one in the water was gaining. The lead otter went into the water and still the pursuer was closing in. It took another several minutes, by which time they were far up in the bay, but a tumble of water and another growling cry was the result.  Those two soon emerged from the water apart from each other,so I suspect the chase may have been a male and his rival.  

 These are not to be confused with sea otters. These are river otters but that is really not a good name because they are so common in the ocean. They are sleek , long tailed rascals that eat fish and travel pretty well on the shore, den on shore ( including under houses ) and climb out on docks to sun and play. They are so cute and fun to watch when they are just playing around. They often climb into boats, which you will know about if they leave a deposit. They left me a cleaning project this spring. And, they frequently challenge your territory by reacting to the smell of your hands and leaving a crap exactly on the line where you have tied the boat to the dock. I recently learned that the smell of Pinesol cleaner does dissuade them somewhat. 

Minks are also common to see on these shores. They look very similar. The minks are smaller, and uniform in colour. An immature otter and a mink might be hard to tell apart if they are both wet. They tend to weave in and out among the rocks as they move, which makes it harder for an eagle or a photographer to get a good shot. There was a mink posing for photos last week, just waiting for me to include him in a post.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


        Tonight's show on the waterfront at the Quadra Vacation House.


Last week from the ferry from Campbell River to Quadra , which is just ten minutes, I saw two orcas (killer whales) .  They were a little too far to get a good photo. But later I remembered this photo which looks like possibly one of the same animals. The whale experts can really do this and accurately identify individuals by their fin shape and the unique pattern of the white patch on their "saddle", which are documented in a catalogue of photos.

 We see orcas all year round now. But this wasn't always the case. In summer, salmon eating orcas are quite dependable to set up camp in the funnel shape of Johnstone Straits and feed on the mature southbound migrating salmon. But there are two types of orcas around here, and the second type eats primarily mammals. They just turn up unpredictably as they hunt for smart prey like seals and porpoises and dolphins. For a couple of decades the seal population in Georgia Strait ( the Salish Sea ) was growing madly. Then several years ago some orcas discovered , or rediscovered , this bounty.

There is something good happening right through the food chain in these inside waters on the sheltered side of Vancouver Island. I described good prospects for salmon in a previous post titled Bright Future.

 Pacific White Sided dolphins are also quite common to see now, whereas they were not here regularly prior to the mid 1990s. Over recent years we have been seeing them more often and in larger groups. These energetic showoffs are probably eating mostly herring. Herring spawn in massive collectives in a strategy to overwhelm predators by shear numbers, and one of the dominant locations for the whole coast of British Columbia is the mid-section of Georgia Strait on the Vancouver Island shore.  DFO ( the federal fisheries department ) keeps track of that population of herring, especially for determining the acceptable harvest amount. This year's measure looks smaller than in the previous few years. But, there isn't much attention given to herring spawning in other locations. Those minor populations were disappearing for years, and now some seem to be making a comeback. As always, the message is mixed and complicated.
 A special good news story has been the reclamation of the terribly polluted old industrial zone around False Creek right in downtown Vancouver and this year had the first successful herring spawn in 100 years, estimated at 20 tons.
This follows the rebound of spawning herring at Squamish, at the head of Howe Sound, with help from a group of volunteers, which is a larger story for another time.

So in recent times, lucky people have observed orcas chasing seals or dolphins in various locations around
Georgia Strait.  More herring, more dolphins, more orcas to see. It is amazing to think of the vitality of the soup to feed the forage fish that support  pods (herds) of large, 300-400 lb, warm-blooded, energetic dolphins, swimming in cold water, with big brains that also need lots of calories. And they certainly need reserve energy to dodge those Orcas.

Orcas in downtown Vancouver
Orcas chasing dolphins at Squamish
Orcas chasing dolphins at the Nanaimo ferry landing
 Orcas chasing dolphins , Hyacinthe Bay, Quadra Island

Interestingly, when the Pacific White Sided Dolphins started appearing here in larger numbers, it took a couple of years for the Orcas to learn strategies to catch them. .

                                          Pacific White Sided Dolphins,       and Bradley.   

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


If it's a grey day, we've got bright yellow and red clothes to cheer things up. 

Rick Hackinen



                                                SEAGULLS EATING KRILL IN THE SHALLOWS ...

                                                                    EARLY SPRING DAFFODILS



Rick Hackinen