Fishing Report for Nov. 7, 2017

Bob Meyer

Tuesday, November 7 2017

I have never seen a local commercial fishery last as long as the one presently being fished. Even in the old days they would commence for a week or ten days, then be shut down. The chum fishery has been going for two and a half weeks and, as of today (November 3), it is still ongoing. Most of the boats have moved, as they have now opened Cowichan Bay, and there are now fresh fish to be pursued. 

On the surface, this fishery seems very sustainable, as there are now 70,000 chum up the Nanaimo River, which is more than sufficient to preserve stocks. The same quotient applies to the Cowichan. The possible problem to me is the fact that both the Nanaimo and Cowichan River coho enter the rivers late in October and early in November. Gillnetting and seining have very high mortality rates for incidentally-caught fish. So, let’s hope these stocks are not being intercepted, as a lot of work has gone into trying to rebuild coho stocks locally.

The commercial fleet has taken about 120,000 chums locally, which is wonderful that they are that abundant. They are also getting a very high price for the chum, $1.50 a pound. I wonder what they are actually doing with these fish, as they taste terrible fresh. Could the bulk of them be smoked? The chum stocks were thought to be “bullet proof” in times past, as when the chinook and coho stocks plummeted, the chum stocks stayed intact. In recent years, the chum stocks started to vacillate wildly, with certain years showing very low returns. This was very worrisome for biologists, but the past two years have shown very strong returns. 

Apparently the orcas are pretty hip to the gill and seine nets. Thank God. Clyde witnessed the orcas cruising the commercial boats while feeding, and they shied away from any entanglements. Apparently a couple of sailboats did hang up in the nets while sailing, as they didn’t “get it.” Nothing makes a commercial fisherman more happy than watching someone blindly sail into a floating net. In the old days it was amusing watching the Gabriola ferry manoeuver around all the gillnets on its way to Nanaimo. The GPS plotter would have suggested a very drunken Captain.

Chinook fishing remains the same...tons of 3 to 5 pound chinook in the area, with keepers at a premium. We hooked and released 13 chinook on Sunday, the largest being 23 inches. These were taken Grande to Waterfall, 143 to the bottom in 140 to 160 feet of water. The Silver/Blue and Evil Eye spoons were working very well.

Prawning was beyond excellent. I tried the 400 foot depth off the Flat Tops, and loaded up with larger prawns. I tried a new recipe for prawn cakes this weekend, and it knocked my socks off. Chop two celery sticks and four green onions very finely. If you like coriander, chop a small amount of this too. Chop 50 large, uncooked shelled prawns into small pieces. Combine the juice from two limes, a small amount of freshly ground ginger, 4 tbsp. fish sauce, and 3 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce. Combine half the sauce with the prawns and veggies and mix well. Make this into small patties, and coat with egg and a layer of Panko bread crumbs. Fry in olive oil until golden brown. If desired, use the rest of the sauce for dipping. I had a small problem once keeping the cakes intact as I used too much sauce in the process and some cakes fell apart. But even if this happens, the result is delicious.

Good fishing!   

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