Fishing Report for March 13, 2019

Bob Meyer

Wednesday, March 13 2019

I attended the S.F.A.C. meeting on March 5th, and left with a slightly stunned feeling of again dealing with D.F.O. Apparently, there is now a Proposition C on the table, with A being no Chinook retention April through July, and B being a one Chinook retention April through July. Scenario C is most probably a mix of slot size wild Chinook, mixed with retention of any hatchery Chinook. The details were very vague, as this is a discussion between D.F.O. and S.F.A.B., and no resolution has been formed as to which avenue they’re agreeing upon. It would be nice to know our future at the earliest available date, but this process was begun late, and resolution will probably be later than most anglers would like! Reaction the the dwindling Fraser Tributary Chinook stocks is very late, too, as just now are there monies being dedicated to stream rehab and more efficient hatchery techniques. 

In an astoundingly honest discussion, D.F.O. has most probably decided to cut our sport take of prawns from approximately 15% of total catch down to 7 1/2%, with no consultation with sport fishing groups. They have now instituted conversation with S.F.A.B. at the last moment, and The Nanaimo S.F.A.C requested that the proposed 50% reduction be lowered to a 15% reduction in the daily 200 prawn limit. Ottawa had decided to give one half of the sport fishing share to First Nations, as they have requested this for an addition to their food fishery. It would also tend to lengthen the commercial fishery as there would be more prawns to catch before hitting the spawning index. There is no science, no shortage, no reason for this change. It is pure politics, being directed from Ottawa, and again, the sport fishers are the recipients of the lowered catch. 85% of the spot prawn catch caught commercially is exported for big dollars. Two years ago, in Whole Foods in Vancouver, spot prawns cost $12 for 100 grams. $54 a pound. Dungeness Crab were selling for $30 apiece. Because of the high efficiency of the prawn fleet, the commercial season only lasts about 5 to 6 weeks. During this time period, if you know a local commercial prawner, and go to the dock, you can buy a pound of prawns for $20 to $30. So, about the only way to access them on a year round basis is to go sport fish for them, or have a friend that does so. So, here we go again......... possibly 92.5% goes to two groups, 7 1/2 % goes to the 350,000 people who buy licenses to sport fish.

I did not attend the herring meeting at the Roxy, as I was attending the S.F.A.C. meeting in Nanaimo. I did broach the herring issue at our meeting, and directed my same complaints to attending D.F.O. (retired and active) members. A very high level ex manager agreed with me that the herring fishery should be abolished. In his early years, he commercially fished herring, and commented how all the really large herring had been fished out, and their gene pool extinguished. Dick Beamish, considered by many to be the pre eminent fisheries scientist in B.C., has stated that this fishery should have been abolished years ago. My point is that D.F.O. has never performed a stock assessment on Gulf herring. The bulk of the herring come from the West Coast, and intermingle with our stocks to spawn. Seine nets do not differentiate between Gulf and West Coast herring. D.F.O. has no idea what they’ve done to Gulf herring populations with this fishery. And, the herring feed every Chinook they are supposedly worried about. Prices are way down for these fish, and everything but the roe gets made into fish meal. I have never talked to anyone who favours this fishery. Who in D.F.O. perpetuates this madness? Are they that indebted to the commercial herring fishers?

Chinook fishing has been worthwhile Grande to waterfall, off Entrance and Thrasher, and off the Fingers. Some days, some nice legal fish are being caught, some days lots of undersized. Bottom bouncing in the 160 to 220 foot depths has been the go to method. Evil Eye or Kitchen Sink spoons, or the T-Rex or Blue Meany hoochies are head turning lures.

Prawning was superb last week. I have never seen the average size so large in full sets, and the numbers are great, too.

Good fishing!

Bob Meyer is the owner/operator of Silver Blue Charters. 250-247-8807