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2020 a year to forget for fishing but things are slowly moving forward

By Don Daniels
Painters Lodge will have a fishing season. Photo by Don Daniels

By Don Daniels

It was mid-March last year when the big change in how we live hit us because of COVID-19.

On Discovery Pier one year ago, a lone angler was wearing a mask and those walking around had to observe social distancing protocol. Local stores had shut down and placed notices that you could phone in an order and pick up your items at the door.

Remember the smoke-in-the-air days that came from forest fires burning in California!

Tourism was ground to a halt and everyone was adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who work in the fishing recreation industry were dealing with health and social distancing measures and group travel never got started. Local fishing guides at some lodges got very little or no hours on the water.

Here we are, more than a year later, it’s the warmer weather fishing months and there’s some movement towards opening for the summer months, even at limited activity. Painters Lodge is opening the Marine Center and people have booked trips in the month of June.

Locals can go jigging nearby on certain tides or take a longer boat ride to just get on the water and enjoy the Campbell River fishing experience, even during the non-retention regulations for chinook salmon. Or you can take a longer boat ride to Toba or Bute inlets or Francis Bay.

If you are inclined to fish for lings, reports have been coming in that jigging or using a spreader bar has gotten good results if you can find the bait around the cans. Day trips can be arranged with local guides or even half days but calling ahead and booking a trip locally is recommended.

A number of campers at Kelsey Bay are able to get out on good weather days but when the wind blows, it’s stay at camp and wait it out. Since we are still with stay local to go fishing, check with local tackle shops or marine suppliers. The regulations are quite clear. Know the area you are fishing and know what species is non retention. In Area 13, Discovery Passage, a number of chinook all undersized have been caught; they were released.

A number of local lakes are fishing very good at the moment and the next four weeks will be ideal to get out, use small plugs fished from a boat or get out in a pontoon boat or float tube and fish the shallows early morning or late evening. Bait anglers will fish with worms or artificial eggs fished from shore at Echo, Fry or Beavertail Lake. Roberts Lake is good on plug or fly but a bait ban is on so bait anglers cannot fish Roberts Lake.

Some of the best dry fishing is located between Campbell River and Gold River. Once you get past Strathcona Park, you will see a number of vehicles parked in the popular spots and at times it can be shoulder to shoulder fishing. Last week my boat ride got canceled because of rain but getting out behind Quadra Island will be the destination and reports will be coming here in the Fishing Corner.