Sunday, 26 April 2015

Salmon Fishing Forecast 2015

The forecast for salmon fishing hereabouts is good, good, and good.
 You want more details ? 

 Chinooks. The official agencies are predicting good returns to most river systems. The proof already is in the pudding. Here, around Campbell River, we've had very good winter fishing. Basically, there is food around for salmon, A lot of large herring stayed around all last summer , into fall , and winter. Winter fishing was excellent. In early March herring congregates for a mass spawning and fishing patterns get scrambled for a short while. On those few occasions when the fish weren't right close by on the doorstep ,very good fishing has been within range for a day trip. So, in theory, chinook fishing is good, and in practice it is proving to be good. Past patterns indicate it only gets better as migrating fish come in and have dinner with the locals.

Cohos. There is a science research ship that does a survey in September in Georgia Strait with a trawl net. The numbers of juvenile cohos that are caught in September correlates well with the population of cohos that will spend the following summer inside Georgia Strait.  That test has good results. Also, I think it looks likely that we will have a catch limit like last year in which one of your two cohos can be a wild one. The juvenile coho and the herring are feeding at a similar level on the food chain and it just looks like there is good nutrition in the Georgia Strait soup.     

Pinks. This is the year for the Fraser River pink salmon run . Pinks are very strong in odd years as the migrate past us. These are the smallest but by far the most plentiful of the salmon. They are growing out at sea and come by in mid to late summer. This is great fishing for anybody, but especially for families. Lots of action.

Sockeyes vary a lot from year to year, last year was good, and we won't count on them this year, but there could be a mid-season announcement as the fish come in.

Chum salmon. Chums migrate last of the salmon, coming at the end of September and through October and later. This years. run is  expected to be better than last. These fish are terrific fighters..

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Juvenile rockfish are a good sign.

There seem to be quite a few juvenile rockfish about. Rockfish take many years before they reproduce and have inconsistent reproductive success from year to year. This may be a good sign.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Avid Anglers DNA samplers

Today was the annual meeting of the Avid Anglers. That's the group of volunteers who are taking tissue samples of the salmon we catch to provide DNA for biologists to analyze in order to determine which rivers these salmon are from. Three of us from the Campbell River and Quadra Island area  traveled down to Nanaimo together.

To those of you who are waiting to hear where the fish you caught , or released, came from, please be patient a little longer. This past summer, 2014, there was a push to get a lot of coho data in order for DFO ( Dept. of Fisheries ) to adjust regulations . There was a big sockeye run, and a by-catch of coho to consider in the intensive commercial fisheries.  Among the improving coho stocks are some weaker stocks, primarily upper Fraser River cohos to be careful with. Our sampling contributed to the data which showed that we are not effecting those fish very much.
And thereby we helped support the retention increase to allow us to keep a few more cohos.

The processing of all those coho samples held all the other sampling back and there was also a technical glitch in the equipment after that. We are told that all the data will be sent out in a few weeks.

 One of the interesting things that was learned is that a much larger percentage of both cohos and chinooks that we catch in Georgia Strait come from the mainland coast rivers than was previously thought.

Thanks again to all of you who helped in my boat taking samples.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

salmon smolt delivery

The chinook smolts from the Quinsam Hatchery were transferred today to the grow-out pen in the Campbell River Discovery Harbour Marina.  We, the Campbell River Guides Association, contribute to this aspect of salmon enhancement by providing the pen and bringing volunteers for transfer day and about twenty days of feeding, helped as well by other community volunteers. There are also a couple of other pens in different locations with sponsors and volunteers. 

Hatcheries keep the young fish through the first fresh water stream part of their lives , and then, when they are ready to migrate, and change their equilibrium to live in salt water, they are called smolts.  At this point they would normally be let loose into the natural stream and they'd swim down to the estuary and the sea, running a gauntlet of predators while their bodies are stressed.. It turns out that helping them though this vulnerable period by protecting and feeding them a while in a net pen increases their survival rate. 

On this day we volunteers were needed to carry and drag the hose a very long way from the tank truck to the net pen. And at the end, to get the hose back on to the truck. 

When the little salmon were flowing through the pipe I noticed that they face upstream, as they would in the river, while travelling backwards. I mentioned this to Bryan from the hatchery and learned that this delivery is a gentle gravity flow, but in some other deliveries the speed and pressure is too great and can damage the gills as they hit the sea backwards. In those situations they aim the pipe upward so that the little fish can do a cat-like spin in the air and dive in head first. 

The new arrivals to the pen were olive in colour, but they turned to a darker blue-black in a short time to camouflage in their new surroundings. 

The Quinsam is a tributary of the Campbell River.  A fraction of these little salmon will survive to return to the river . They'll come back at different ages, mostly 3 or 4 years, but some 5 and possibly 6.  The big ones, over 30 pounds, will be some of the famous Campbell River Tyees.  Swim little salmon, grow big and strong, and we'll hope to see you again on the return trip. 

250 830 8680

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Whale watching is like fishing

  This time the Orcas were closer, but they kept moving.  I asked neighbour Stan if he wanted to go again for a short trip. . He did. We got in view again when they were a mile south.

There was another boat with people watching and shadowing in parallel from the respectful distance. We didn't stay long.  While tying up back at the dock we heard on the marine radio about what we missed. The group of five Orcas travelling south was met by a group of five coming from the opposite direction, and milled near Cape Mudge Lighthouse. They had made a kill of one or two seals, which is often quite a sight. Well, we just missed that. Stan says it's like fishing, sometimes you just miss them and you might never know. ( I say everything is like fishing.) 

 About 6 pm I saw Orcas again from the Quadra ferry when I was crossing to attend the Campbell River Guides Association meeting.  

I have a hot and luke-warm attitude to the Orcas. These are truly magnificent  animals. Some fishermen aren't interested in seeing them, and some of those believe that the Orcas ruin the fishing. In my father's time they were called Blackfish and not thought of kindly. 
There are two types of Orcas locally, one kind that eats fish and one that eats mammals. In parallel, humans come in two types. Some people are enthralled by the idea of Orcas and go to great effort to see them. Other people would not move an inch to see them ,or might go away to avoid them. 
 I love to see them, but one has to give them space for their own sake, and if you don't respect that , there is regulation to restrict your behavior. It takes patience to see them well.  In my guiding life Orcas are often second priority to fishing, but when possible I try to provide a "big picture" experience of all of that is around.  
These last recent posts were very short trips with my friend and neighbour Stan who isn't much interested in fishing.  Incomprehensible but true. 

250 830 8680

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Dolphins today

Today's show was a group of thirty to fifty or so Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. They called to me to come out and snap a few pics. 

 The dolphins kept on moving along, but these gulls are finding food for themselves.  The small Bonaparte gulls are picking tiny stuff. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Orca distraction

These Orcas were just lazing around in Discovery Passage. 

I couldn't help myself. I was fussing with this blog to try to get the videos to work better, but that was a distraction from what I should be doing, which is invoicing my carpentry projects. So these whales are an extra distraction. I grabbed my neighbour ,Stan, who I knew would love this, 

These photos make it look like we were very close , so I have to say that the telephoto lens and then cropping the photo does wonders. I don't want people thinking I can take my boat as close as this looks. 

  Everyone would like to get close , but that is a no-no. The whales need their space.  Especially in these modern times when so many people come out to see them.  The technology of cameras is kind of a good and bad thing. Good that you can get a shot without bothering the animals, and bad if seeing some photos raises people's expectations unrealistically. 

April Herring and Eagle videos

You can see how the eagle reaches the herring from his talons to his mouth in mid fight.

I can't seem to get the quality of  the videos to transfer to Blogger, nor length.  These give an

Thursday, 9 April 2015

April herring and eagles

There was a wonderful surface show of herring in the Cove again today. First I noticed a few eagles and then more, lots more eagles. I kept an eye out, and then , at the end of the ebb, about 3pm, herring marked the surface at the base of a mossy rock bluff where I could get above them .   I found a ledge above the herring and below the eagles.


This time the herring are eating something other than euphausiids.  There is a variety of small stuff, but I think they are targeting the white wiggly thin things with the  bigger heads that look like sperm cells. Sometimes a  school of herring would rush forward, all with their mouths open, and a few skimming right off of the surface. Then they would turn back again. 

These eagles include a majority of adolescent eagles which are marked by their motley colours , in contrast to the regular adult resident pairs which have the white heads and dark bodies of mature eagles. 

There are twenty or so eagles generally hanging around the Cove. The young ones camouflage well in the trees. I wonder where they were since the last time they congregated here in large numbers , back in early April.  And are these different birds ? They certainly mark the herring .  

This last picture doesn't look like much, but that's what an angler's eye notices.