The annual migration of U.S. and B.C. Chinook Salmon are flooding through our waters. Clyde and Steve were D.N.A. sampling off the Fingers this week, and boated 24 Chinook in an afternoon sitting, 70% of which were of hatchery origin. Dave from Predator Charters fished Bowen Island, and had very similar results. Matt and I fished while the prawn traps soaked on April 22nd, and Thrasher and the offshore fishery was alive with 8 to 13 pound Chinook, all of which were gently released. The hatchery Chinook flowing to the U.S. must leave the Americans very happy, as the B.C. fish migrating through Alaskan waters are intercepted at a very high rate. Why we cannot retain these fish, and the very healthy B.C. stocks coming through right now is a mystery. We intercept the troubled Upper Fraser river stocks in this mix locally at a rate of around 1.5%. What is being done to restore these stocks so that we can continue sport fishing in a reasonable manner. Why can we not retain a single hatchery Chinook when the abundance is very high? This is politics, not science. Our heritage has been stolen by skewed political pressure, and D.F.O. is at the heart of this problem.
Ling and Rockfish open on May 1st. The structure at Entrance and Gabriola Reef provide great habitat for these fish. I prefer fishing the humps in 35 to 65 feet of water for these species, but sometimes they are found much deeper. Herring on sliding sinkers, jigs, and plastics will entice these fish. Please remember to limit your catch on both the Ling and Rockfish. There is increased pressure on these species because of the Chinook closure. I release any Ling over 15 pounds, as they are the female spawners, which keep the populations viable.
Prawning is fantastic off The Flat Tops. Commercial prawn season opens around May 6th, so get your fill now. Competing with the commercial prawners usually ends up with poor results, and intentional tangles.