Monday, 8 June 2020

Fantastic June Fishing for Science

 Chris and son Patrick had a short drive up-island to take part in some citizen science fishing .  We are taking tissue samples from which biologists will be able to extract DNA and identify the river of origin of these fish .  How cool is that !  We are also recording the length of these fish and area and day caught .  I have been doing this sampling for years as part of the Avid Anglers program . 

 In the early season this year, and last year, there is no retention of chinooks in order to protect some weak runs that migrate early and spend the summer swimming upstream to the upper reaches of the Fraser . The announcement has been delayed but we expect the regs to be as last year , with retention for chinooks starting July 15 .  It feels odd to have such extreme measures for a line of fish of which extremely few pass through these waters, and in the midst of extreme abundance.  We'll be helping the resource managers to understand which fish are really here , and when. 

 And boy , oh boy , are there fish HERE !   Chinook fishing this morning was as busy as it can get . Patrick had the first fish on before his Dad's line got in the water , and that happened repeatedly.  This is a great sign for the season to come . 

 BC Health has guidelines during this Covid virus time including required wearing masks, and additional procedures like wiping down surfaces with sanitizer .  It isn't too much inconvenience really , but the fellows like to pull down their masks for photos ( telephoto lens ), or if they are in the back corner of the boat at the greatest separation from the helm .  BC has been good about respecting the virus safety measures, there are very few cases here, and the borders are closed or highly restricted, so running across the virus seems unlikely .  But we play safe anyways . 

  The procedure is to net the fish , leave him lie a bit in the net in the ocean to settle down while we get organized , and then bring him to the cooler full of new seawater so we keep his head and gills wet as much as possible , take a sample with a paper-hole punch from the trailing edge of his tail , a quick measure of length and return him to the sea in minimal time , with perhaps a quick pause for a photo along the way .

Did I mention that the fishing was terrific ? !   These are aggressive feeders in their growing years , exciting and rambunctious fighters .  We sampled 16 chinooks of all sizes, the largest at 80 cm length . ( 31.5 inches ) .  

 I also have to mention that the hot lure was the Loony Spoon ,which is just now out of the development stage , designed by Cameron Neufeld  ( ).    Cameron and I have been in touch while he was getting his ideas into a working product .  So it was extra special when it turned out the fish agree that this is really something attractive . I ran a series of lures on the opposite rod trying to find something that worked as well , but the Loony Spoon usually got bit first . It is an unusual lure , shaped a bit like an Apex , but with a better tail wag , and crippled herring action .  It doesn't really matter what I think , the fish like it . 

 If you are interested in this kind of fishing experience, while contributing to the knowledge base for salmon , get in touch .   I'll give a price break for these special circumstances . 

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