Catch-and-release, fly-caught trout in Strathcona Park. Photo by Don Daniels

Putting the fun back into recreational fishing for salmon or trout

By Don Daniels

The fishing experience is alive and well around Campbell River even though we are going through some uncertain times.

During the next few months, we will not see the influx of tourists arriving to enjoy what we have here in Campbell River. A number of fishing guides had to deal with cancellations and rebooking for the fishing dates for those who want to keep a legal salmon. Sportfishing has gone through some tough times and occasionally, will have to move about the province to fish by the rules and keep the customers happy.

As of the beginning of July, many lodges are still closed and opening dates will vary from place to place. Many operators will concentrate on local clients and while travel decisions are being planned, it’s time to maybe look at what we have here in Campbell River and try to support them in planning fishing trips or boat rides around Discovery Passage.

Any given day you can watch the boat traffic from Discovery Pier and you’ll see that the boating traffic is down. A few locals are fishing the morning ebb tide around the green can using plugs. There are a number of experienced guides who simply buddy up, try some old fashioned light tackle and spend the day doing what they love, and that is salmon fishing Campbell River. There are reports of good returns of hatchery coho and those getting out are experiencing a whole bunch of fun catching a hatchery fish using lighter tackle.

Social distancing is still in place and so far, the local restaurants are opening up slowly and things will look a lot different from what we knew back in early March.

As I turn back the calendar, from late April to about mid-May, I took the one-hour drive to Strathcona Park and the weather was wet and windy, the road construction was holding things up on the highway and all gates were closed because of COVID-19. Those days are gone and last week, Graham Kelly invited me to take a short drive back to the area and throw out some flies on the river. It was a great afternoon and he hooked into a few silver trout. The main spawn was over and the anglers who congregate at the few local pools were also gone, so it was an afternoon of walking in, throwing out some flies and head back to Campbell River.

Even if fishing is not on your radar, spend a few minutes more and slowly make your way to a number of areas that you can park, picnic and enjoy the day. There are a number of lakes that are out of the way and the old gravel or rock logging roads are a challenge. If you are new to the area or have been to some of the lakes years ago, you’ll find gates are quite common now.

Get out your fly rod or spinning gear and get ready for pink salmon fishing in local rivers and already a few have been caught in Discovery Passage. Sandy Pool is a start for many and this year make sure you are social distancing.

Kelsey Bay is often the first spot people go and throw out pink BuzzBombs and Zzingers and at times, the odd big salmon is hooked.

Get a license with a salmon stamp if you are keeping fish, know the regulations and spend the afternoon getting the kids fishing for the fun salmon, the pinks.

The idea of staying home is not all that bad when it comes to social distancing. Local stocked lakes have day-use areas although some of the recreation sites have been abused by people pulling in campers and staying for a few extra days. That often happens on our holiday weekends.

Next week I’m all about saving a buck or two and using second-hand equipment is not all that bad, it can be fun and affordable during these times and yes, you can hook into fish.

Campbell Riverfishing