Red snapper released with descender device. Photo by Ron Fife

If you hook them, deep-return them with a descender

By Don Daniels

Already in the month of June, the activity for fishing and getting outdoors is interesting and challenging, and some notable changes are being made.

We continue social distancing and slowly we are getting out to go boating, fishing and camping around the Campbell River area. On any given day, you might see a few boats out in area 13, Discovery Passage, but with the tourists staying away and the Chinook salmon fishing being non-retention, there is plenty of room out there at the Lighthouse, the Hump and Red Can. On weekends you will see a little more traffic if the weather is warm and people simply want to get out and enjoy a day on the water. Others who have recently purchased a boat have put on hold getting their boat in the water because of non-retention for Chinooks or, at times, can’t be bothered trailering the boat to a launch and paying for parking.

There are families who have lived in Campbell River for years and they have rented slips at the local marinas and the boats stay there year-round. There are a few that live in Campbell River and if they get out fishing on a regular basis, they will move their boat to other areas of the province to fish because of current regulations pertaining to what you can keep or not.

June salmon fishing has been consistently good, even though it’s catch-and-release for Chinooks. Some local charter guys have been out with customers and there is plenty of action for catch-and-release Chinook salmon and, as of June 1, the daily limit is two for hatchery Coho. Those fishing for halibut have been hooking Chinooks.

Hooks have to be barbless and a descending unit must be on board to release certain species of rockfish back to the depth of where they were caught. I am getting mixed reviews on some of the basic descender devices and for the most part, the newer electronic units can be purchased for around 100 dollars.

All anglers must know what has to be released and the main idea is to release a rockfish or snapper at the depth caught, which at times can exceed 150 feet of water. A while back, we fished an area and the snappers were in about 300 feet of water. For the fun of it, you can troll a small minnow imitation fly and since the hook is barbless, you can flip off a fish without doing it any harm or stress.

Local tackle shops know what the fish are hitting; that may include Tiger Prawn and Army Truck hootchies. Spoons include five-inch coyotes and an assortment of Tomic plugs might be the answer. There are reports of a few bait balls but they have been few and far between.

If you’re so inclined, delay your fishing activity, get out and do some prawning or crabbing. Leaving your pots or traps longer than 24 hours can be risky; there have been people pulling gear and taking it away which is poaching. At times, people will tie up their gear to a log boom area and next morning, everything is gone. If it’s not your crab or prawn gear, leave it alone.

Next week I will have a summary of trout fishing activity for mid-June and make a report on a few fly patterns that are working locally. The hot days of summer have not hit us yet but when they do, the larger lakes get more fishing pressure and conditions will change.

There is lots of room out there on the water, so practice social distancing, have fun and explore the lakes and rivers we have locally.