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Experience the chase for chinook salmon around Campbell River

By Don Daniels
Replica of Tyee salmon on display at Painters Lodge from days gone by. Don Daniels photo

By Don Daniels

There are a number of contract fishing guides who have worked from April to September at lodges outside the Campbell River area and they have returned home; their fishing season ended.

Some west coast guides have changed their gear over for tuna fishing near Zeballos.

Local anglers who still fish in September will start getting ready for the deer hunting season and the thought of getting a Chinook is still on the minds of people who come here in September to experience salmon fishing well into October.

I recently visited the Marine Centre at Painters Lodge and the tourists coming here are from Germany and the Netherlands and it’s split fifty/fifty for salmon fishing with whale watching. Bear watching has also started up for the operators.

On the catch reports, salmon size ranged between 14 and 18 pounds with a mix of coho and a few pinks. You can check online to see when the fishing season ends for each individual operation.

In the river systems locally, it was a fun year to get out and catch pinks.

The old standard pink flies used in the past have been working but at times the pinks were picky; so I made of point of going green and I might stay with what has worked for me the last few months. Other fishers have used a red and yellow streamer fly with very good results.

Last week at the Oyster River estuary, a number of anglers were targeting coho and Chinook but the day before the fish were more aggressive. A number of fishers gathered at the area. The rolling salmon was a bit farther than their casting distance but as the tide changed, salmon came closer. Rain is needed to get them moving into the pools. River levels, last week, were still low.

At the Oyster River you can beach fish and there is an abundance of geese to watch. The sounds of them can be heard as you approach the estuary from the trail that goes from the parking area to the estuary area. You have to watch the tides and not get caught as the water changes and can get over your waders. When we got back to shoreline, you could see whales not that far away.

During the hot weather we had here in Campbell River, trout fishing slowed down but now is the time to get out and hit local lakes such as Echo and Beavertail. Conservation officers will check anglers for life jackets, along with inspecting your catch of the day or days. At Beavertail, an angler had a cooler with trout. Since he was fishing and camping for a few days, he had to explain to the officer why he had more trout than allowed for the day.

If you are camping for a number of days and can’t get home, maybe try taking a photo of your fish the first day, that way you don’t have to explain why you have too many fish in the cooler the second day.

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