Lots of room for fly fishing in Strathcona Park. Don Daniels photo

Lots of room for fly fishing in Strathcona Park. Don Daniels photo

Holiday fishing opportunities

By Don Daniels

When it comes to recreational fishing around Campbell River and Vancouver Island, the year 2020 will be long remembered for many changes to the fishing for salmon that we love.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone hard. The tourist trade was nonexistent and many locals who earn a living sport fishing had moved on and have taken up employment outside the sport fishing industry. In some cases, local guides had paid insurance and many had made repairs to boats and had to deal with customers who had paid deposits for upcoming fishing trips and often had to refund or re-book a future trip.

Local companies around Campbell River who deal with whale watching or bear watching had to close their doors and it is still to be determined when they can reopen. Social distancing is still in play and wearing a face mask is mandatory. A number of locals who have planned a trip to the south have canceled their vacation this year and they have decided to stay home and wait out the COVID-19 storm.

The salmon fishing season in the area slowly dies out in the month of October and the hunting season takes off from there. The hunting season will blend into the holiday season and since travel is out of the question, what fishing activity can you do locally and at home?

There are a handful of anglers who fish all year in Discovery Passage because they like getting out fishing. Others can’t be bothered to get the boat in the water and go fishing because of the colder weather. Those getting out know the tides and can get their limit within an hour and head back home.

Winter springs are out there and all undersize springs are released but a number of fish to 20 pounds is quite possible. Find a nice day, get out and see; if you can, get a glimpse of the resident whales. Areas to note are Surge Narrows, Hole in the wall, and Refuge Cove.

At one time, the world of steelhead fishing was active around Sayward, Campbell River and Gold River but these days there may be more anglers than fish around and the steelhead numbers have been down for years. At one time, many Europeans came over and would trek through the snow and get to the favorite pool and fish for this exciting fish which is all catch-and-release or fly only. A handful of local experts get out and can access an area with a helicopter and fish out-of-the-way rivers. Travel restrictions have handcuffed this exciting sport and many of the older anglers are staying away from hunting steelhead.

If you are looking for a gift idea for a member of your fishing family, a good fillet knife is always appreciated but remember, you get what you pay for. Online reviews are helpful, but local stores know the quality of the steel and the knife is priced accordingly.

Stocking stuffers include plugs and lures but knowing what the person fishes for is a big plus and most anglers will appreciate something for the tackle box.

For the fly tyer, various materials are now available and for a reasonable amount of money a bag of hooks and body material can be had. Kits can be purchased but I’m a believer that getting a vise with all the essential tools is a good start to get someone occupied for endless hours during the winter months. Next week I will have a story on a time capsule of boxed fur and feathers that was used back in the 50s and early 60s.

Campbell Riverfishing