Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
Well the fish showed up this past week, like they have for the past few years now in early April, off South Bowen and out on the Hump. I am sure there are some fish over in the Gulf Islands as well, but I haven’t been over there or talked to anyone who has.
Obviously with the chinook non-retention, effort is way down, and with Covid-19 there are no charters and many of the boat launches are closed, so there aren’t too many boats out there. I was able to get out once this week to do some sampling for the Avid Angler program where you record your location, fish caught, hatchery or wild, fork length, and take a DNA sample. It is this kind of data that shows through stock composition that there is a 0 to 1 % chance of hooking an interior Fraser chinook off South Bowen right now and that if we clipped all our chinook in Canada, about 50% of them are hatchery this time of year. Despite the current situation, it is important we continue to collect this data and my goal is to do some sampling once a week.
One thing that really surprised me this week was the water colour. The algae off South Bowen was gone and the water was very clear. With the bright sun, I was able to see my flasher down a good 40 feet, if not more. Not surprisingly the fish responded to this environment and went deeper. Productive depths were 130-190, while just a few days prior with the algae stained water, 110-140 were the productive depths. I was experimenting with the different coloured Silver Knight spoons and they didn’t disappoint. They seemed to be doing as good or better than some of my go to spoons like Irish Cream. The bright flash of the silver plate and the UV finish and tapes make them a natural choice for clear water and sunny days. Check out the Pacific Angler Sportfishing Instagram account for a short video of what these spoons look like in the sun. If I was heading out this weekend, I would keep an eye on water colour and then give the Hump a try or try South Bowen from Cowan to Roger Curtis in 200-400 feet of water. If it is too rough, don’t forget about the Bell and the Harbour. There were some fish hooked there this week too. Also a few at the QA. This time of year, there really are so many spots to fish, so you just have to go for it and hope you picked right!
Crabbing and prawning continues to be productive. It seems the crabbing is a bit better this year, so that is nice to see as the last few years it seemed to be getting slower. Unfortunately, there are some poachers that work the local area pretty hard as the price per crab was at record highs these past few years. I think that market has dried up with all the restaurant closures though. No high-priced market, no illegal activity. You would be amazed at the hundreds of ghost traps DFO picks up each year when they drag the bottom looking for illegal strings of commercial style traps with no floats. Some years on joint operations with Washington State they get over a thousand traps. There is a big black market for crab out there and the scale of it is astonishing, but nobody seems to talk about it. I really do think these players are off the water right now and we are seeing the positive results.
Prawning is good but it is definitely slowing down, and the well know and easy spots to set are getting hit hard. There are a lot of people prawning and crabbing with the nicer weather and some time on their hands. It will be interesting to see what happens to the commercial opening this year. The market for crab, prawn, and halibut has been decimated by the closure of restaurants in North America and around the world for that matter. I am not sure it will be viable for commercial operators to leave the dock with such a dead market.
In the meantime, go get your prawns while you can, because if the commercial fleet does go out, they scoop up the biomass pretty quick. Remember the new limit is 125 and update that Navionics map card to show all the sponge reef refuge areas and rockfish conservation areas.
Stay safe and maybe I will see you out on the water soon.