Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Q and As – May 24, 2014

Big Spring Thing: The Albion chinook fishery for Fraser chinook began operating April 22. The catch for May 5 to 17 was zero, same as the past two years. Based on this, the number for Spring/Summer 5-2 Frasers is less than 25,000. So, we can expect protection measures to continue. 

DFO’s current chinook regulations are: March 1 to June 13, in Victoria areas 19 and 20, the daily limit is 2 chinook which may be wild or hatchery-marked, between 45- and 67-cm or hatchery-marked greater than 67 cm. The subareas are: 19-1 to 19-4 and 20-5, from Cadboro to Sheringham points.

Dave Blackburn: When with DFO and IPSFC, I made predictions of returning Johnstone St. diversion rates for Fraser sockeye and pinks, and am still very interested in migration routes of all species and populations of salmon. So, I was very taken by your recent comment on the Johnstone St. migration of some US Chinook stocks. I’ve not heard of this before, and presume that it’s mostly based on catches of coded wire tagged fish.

Can you refer me to any articles/papers which discuss the topic, and especially those which include any annual percentages for various routes for Chinook pops – or would they be buried in massive Chinook CWT reports?

A: Er, um, I am not aware of any research documents. I made my suggestion based on my own fishing results over the years. Sometimes there are odd migration patterns for some stocks. Let me give an example of variability for the Puget Sound, Nooksack/Samish spring springs.

I learned to fish in Saanich Inlet. After a decade, large springs showed up in April/May. We caught them several years before DFO closed retention based on our catches – not popular. But then, after several years, those fish did not reappear again, in a place where catch patterns are highly specific. For example, on the Bamberton run, there are several spots of high specificity.  I and the real old-timers, who were better than I, could predict within 30 seconds when we would get a bite.

The Nooksack/Samish fish were almost invariably caught, motoring across from McCurdy to MacKenzie Bight, and then along the wall to the Pink Lady. And one very specific spot in Coles Bay. They were all 15- to 25-pounds. Then we stopped catching them for some years and I moved my boat to the Victoria waterfront. I never caught one of those fish again, even though we had measures to protect them on the waterfront.

One would expect 100% diversion down Juan de Fuca, but some came Johnstone, but only so many years, then stopped. And another bit of variability: sockeye, pink and coho tend to cross from Race Rocks to directly south of Trial Island by several miles. They are caught at the Quarantine Buoy some years, but once a few miles across from Pedder Bay they tend to beetle across, leaving ‘blank’ water in between until becoming bity again by the third tide line south of Trial. Virtually none of these are caught close to Clover and I have never caught a pink on the Oak Bay Flats.

The big run of American fish is 2.4 million, and without doubt the offshore ‘highway’ will prevail all summer on the west coast, and be the best place to fish. But, if we get only a 5% diversion down Johnstone, that puts 120,000 big springs down east coast Van Isle. All these fish have to turn the corner at 10 Mile Point and swim against the prevailing Fraser chinook pattern coming east, and then exit at Cape Flattery, meaning a lot of fish going in the ‘wrong’ direction.

What I will do is put lots of time this summer into fishing flood tide back eddies from 10 Mile – which is the best spot because all the fish have to turn the corner here, or off Discovery Island, which can rip even on a mid-tide speed. In the area are also the Golf Course to Enterprise Channel back eddy, the eddy off south Trial Island, east Clover Point or ‘Lanceville’ as the Clover tin boaters call it, Constance Bank, and the CND Blasting eddy on Bentinck Island near Pedder Bay, as well as the east side of Otter Point.

If I catch some big chinook, I’ll let you know. Even a 5% Johnstone diversion would put more big fish in our area than all the Frasers, etc. combined, except, maybe, the Thompsons.

BC Wildlife Federation: The BCWF applauds the Government of Canada's recent announcement of a $252 million investment in the new National Conservation Plan... a significant step towards conserving and restoring marine and terrestrial habitats and connecting Canadians to nature.

“The purpose… is to maintain and restore the natural capital of Canada by protecting, enhancing, and restoring the sustainability and resilience of natural systems… the effectiveness of the plan and how the funds are invested should be measured directly against these outcomes.”

A: The BCWF is also happy the Natural Areas Conservation Program is being extended for another five years, with $100 million in new fed funding. Funds will be matched by private donations and other sources, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, for the purchase of important conservation land in B.C.

This sounds good, and I may be too cynical, but I just can’t see Stephen as a fish hugger. Sounds more like – and by all means let’s take the cash – the last good thing before the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines are speared through BC.

The Sport Fishing Institute and BCWF: laud the recent Court of Appeal decision to uphold the BC Supreme Court’s decision on recreational halibut allocation. The Court affirmed the  Fisheries Minister’s ability to set halibut quota levels, and upheld former Minister Ashfield’s 2012 decision to increase recreational halibut fisheries by three per cent [to 15].

“By effectively dismissing the appeal and awarding costs to the respondents, the court sent a strong message that commercial halibut quota holders do not “own” halibut”, said BCWF President, George Wilson, “This is clearly a victory for the over 100,000 recreational anglers who go halibut fishing in BC every year.”

SFI President, Robert Alcock, added: “It means sport fishers can look forward to predictable, sustainable public fishing opportunities every year.”

A: Along with the BCWF and SFI, DFO was a respondent, as represented by the Attorney General of Canada. Good for us. The public owns the halibut.

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