Doug Turko with a greenling caught at Discovery Pier. Photo by Don Daniels

Keeping it local fishing, a new look for Campbell River

By Don Daniels

During the continued COVID-19 pandemic, things are slowly getting back to a somewhat regular routine when it comes to getting outdoors, fishing for trout or salmon.

Since non-essential travel is not recommended, the tourists will not be arriving as in previous years. There are salmon to be caught even though it’s catch-and-release for chinooks until mid-July, but, coho is open and these sport fish will arrive later in the summer and you fish according to regulations. Independent charter companies had to contact clients that booked fishing trips months ago and plans will have to be adjusted for trips in the future. Simply put, this summer everyone will have to change their plans for fishing, boating and camping activities. But you can experience local sightseeing and wildlife and support the sportfishing industry.

Discovery Pier is open to the public but things will be different when it comes to fishing. There will be no rod rentals and if you need a license, you will have to get it online. Washrooms are closed to the public and a notice is placed along the rails with instructions to what you can do to social distance, and keep everyone safe from COVID-19. The concession is open with limited hours and the pier is a great place to see the boating activity on Discovery Passage while enjoying a coffee or having an ice cream.

Doug Turko and his wife get on the pier almost every month of the year to fish. Doug has a way of catching salmon and he spends countless hours fishing for all species of fish.

I had a chance to speak with Doug and this month he has bagged a few flounder and greenling and his name comes up every year on the scoreboard, but this year there will be no scorekeeping for salmon catches on the pier.

The angler numbers will be down this year and if a salmon is hooked during the time that Chinook retention comes into play after July 15, hopefully, someone will have a proper net to bring the fish in. There are some senior anglers that come to Campbell River to fish Discovery Pier but they will be missed this year because of travel restrictions. Since I fly fish most of the time, I plan on getting a tidal water license and get it later, in mid-July.

Before I give you a fishing update for Chinooks around Campbell River, it is still catch-and-release and the catch reports are good. Some of the local fishing guides are taking out clients who want the fishing experience and they come back with halibut, lings and prawns. Coho salmon fishing is open but it’s still early in the season for hatchery fish.

At Kelsey Bay, the commercial prawn boats headed out the first Wednesday of the month and at the same time, the halibut catches were 40 and 60 pounds.

I had some reports from Port Alice and the kids had fun fishing with Deadly Dick lures and a 32-pound salmon was caught, along with ling and halibut. Remember that area has different regulations than here in Campbell River.

With only essential travel, more locals are getting out camping locally and if the weather stays reasonable, you will see more highway traffic and even at the Sayward Junction things are on the move. A number of zodiac boats were being pulled up to Telegraph Cove and the kayakers are getting settled into a routine of getting from point A to point B.

On the trout fishing scene, a black or purple leech pattern has been catching trout on our local lakes. I am seeing more couples fishing from an inflatable boat using spinning gear. At Buttle Lake, I met a few fly fishers and I think local rivers that are fished with a dry fly will see added pressure in weeks to come.

Spread your wings while fishing locally and always practice good fishing etiquette anywhere around Campbell River.

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