When it comes to recreational sport fishing around Campbell River, October is a month of thanks when the good weather brings out anglers to our river systems and lakes.
Many tourists are still arriving to fish the Campbell River and Quinsam River for catch-and-release trout and the fun fish to catch is the pink salmon that have gathered in the rivers. The pinks are stacked up in the rivers and the fly angler can cast out and catch salmon all day although the pinks are getting dark with the spawn oming to an end.
A great place to visit is the Quinsam Fish Hatchery where staff and volunteers are gathering eggs from the pinks that have returned. I was surprised to see the parking lot full of vehicles with people viewing the spawning pinks in the river. A resident black bear gets a lot of attention each day too. Once you enter the gated area there is plenty of parking space and then you can take a short walk to the hatchery.
I had a chance to walk down and check out the fishable pools. The anglers using fly gear or spinning gear were standing elbow to elbow and they were catching pinks all day. River levels are fishable at the moment and the fly guys were catching the dark pinks. Catch-and-release was happening all day.
The pinks are dark and their life cycle is coming to and end. In a few weeks the decaying fish will be all over the river banks but that is nature working.
I found it disturbing to watch a few guys hooking the pinks one after the other and they were dragging the hooked fish onto the rocks unhooking the fish then kick back the fish into the river. Since the hook is barbless most fishers will keep the fish in the water, unhook and release back into the water. Later in the month, the coho will be arriving. The rains will bring them in.
I made my way to Discovery Pier and, for the most part, the fishing activity has slowed but remember you can fish there 12 months of the year. The concession will open on reduced hours and should be closed mid-October along with the washrooms.
The anglers were hanging around the north end of the pier and one fellow hooked into something that caught the attention of few of the people who were watching the fishing activity. A net was close at hand and down it went to get down to what was hooked. A big snail was snagged and was pulled up unhooked and released.
One thing about pier fishing, you never know what can be caught.
Fishing from the pier brings out some interesting stories from people who visit, buy a license and experience pier fishing. Tourists who want to fish will often buy a cheaper rod and reel from a local tackle shop, use it for a few days or so and donate it back for someone else to use. Another bonus of pier fishing is you can view whales, seals and birds at various times of the day. You also have a good view of the boats going to the fishing grounds to try their luck.
I mentioned that the pinks are dark and so are the Chinooks that are in the Campbell. You can retain two chinook salmon per day that are under 85 cms but they are dark and in poor condition.
Since I fly fish for fun, I really have no interest in hooking a big Chinook. They can break gear in a hurry but some anglers will fish for them. A good 9 weight rod or more is needed and fly gear can be tested but over the years big fish have been landed in the Campbell River. Even though a big black Chinook is not picture perfect.