South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition: Come to a meeting Thursday, Jan 30, 7 PM, Harbour View Salon, Prestige Oceanfront Resort, 6929 West Coast Road, Sooke.
A Powerpoint presentation will lead into discussion of a Southern Vancouver Island Chinook Revitalization Initiative. The SVIAC – please visit the site to renew your membership for 2014 – will champion a collaborative initiative to increase local Chinook salmon numbers for the benefit of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, listed as endangered in our waters. They prefer Chinook and DFO has not been successful in bringing back Cowichan stocks as well as several components of the Fraser run. We can all support local efforts in this regard, as we also will catch these fish as feeders and mature chinook returning to spawn or aggregate near net pen sites.
Halibut: The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) has announced the 2014 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for halibut. Canada’s TAC is: 6.85 Million pounds, down slightly from 7.04 M in 2013. You will recall that Martin Paish and our other sport representatives requested a 126 cm upper limit (roughly 58 pounds), the purpose of which was to keep all sport fisheries open past Labour Day. There was poundage left over and, we in Victoria, got to fish until December 31, 2013. See: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/species-especes/halibut-fletan-eng.html for 2013. Lucky us.
Currently we cannot fish for halibut, but do remember the 2013 retention regulation wording: ‘The daily limit is 1 fish, with possession limit of 2, only one greater than 83 cm.’ The sport catch will once again be 15% of the TAC. And the same fishing scenario as last year looks likely in 2014, meaning in the CRD area we will continue after the summer.
Halibut stocks in California, Oregon, and Washington are stable or rebounding. Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea stocks are still in decline, likely due to the by-catch from other fisheries, for example, the huge Pollack fishery. Their by-catch was a huge 8 M pounds – more than the entire catch in Canada. BC and the states to the south have effectively eliminated by-catch in recent years. But get these figures from Alaska: the 4C, 4D and 4E TAC will be reduced to 1.285 M pounds, but by-catch from other fisheries is expected to be a whopping 5.2 M pounds. Pretty wasteful. And it affects TACs for everyone else.
Circle Hooks: I was asked recently whether circle hooks are useful for halibut fishing. The short answer is: yes. In the past, the Siwash was the best hook all around in saltwater because it has a long, narrow point for easy penetration and with the barb holding the fish. It is also a straight shank hook and better paired with plugs and spoons so they do not ride to the side as with a Kirbed Octopus-style hook.
When DFO required all hooks to be barbless, the Siwash became the least preferable because fish just slid off the hook if rod tension was not maintained. While this really means the angler needs better technique – keeping the pressure on the fish – it makes sense to bend a Siwash from point to shank with pliers. This is true for coho as well because of the ‘coho roll’ they do at the boat in salt- or by your side in fresh-water.
Circle hooks are also preferable in beach, estuarial and river fishing for salmon, particularly chum because of their great numbers. The same can be said of chinook and pinks because they tend to sit in a mass and a hook retrieved through them simply snags a fish – not good for you or the fish. Circle hooks slide over backs and fins and only mouth hook fish that would otherwise be foul-hooked on any other kind of hook.
A circle hook has the tip of the point bent back toward the shank roughly 20 degrees; this is why the point does not foul-hook as it is does not hit the fish on the point. Just let that halibut have a few seconds to get the hook in its mouth, then set the hook. The advantage of circle hooks is that fish seldom slide back off them, so you land more fish.
DFO’s take on circle hooks for halibut is: use circle hooks as these have proven to hook halibut in the jaw or corner of the mouth. If you have to use J hooks pinch the barb to make unhooking easier. (Same URL as above).