West Coast salmon fishers in action in June. Photo by Gibran White

West Coast salmon fishers in action in June. Photo by Gibran White

The fishing culture around Campbell River and the West Coast is back

By Don Daniels

The black COVID-19 cloud that has been around our fishing area since mid-March 2020 is finally going away but there is still some work to do.

Travel restrictions are changing slowly and those people who operate fishing lodges and charters are making adjustments to have a fishing season in the months to come. A few of the locals already have made fishing trips to places like Ucluelet to go after salmon and halibut. There are local anglers who are booking full or half day trips just to get out and experience what we have here locally – to have a fishing experience and enjoy the other nature viewing sights we enjoy each and every day. The tourist floodgates will eventually open and now is the time to get out and fish when it’s not crazy busy.

I recently sat down with Henry Jung who manages fishing activity at Painter’s Lodge here in Campbell River. The docks are in and his staff is all in but they are being cautious as they get organized for fishing ahead. As of June 14, two boats were on the dock and three more will be added as guests arrive and book trips around area 13. Cruiser boats will be added to the fleet as things open up.

Some American groups have changed plans as travel restrictions are in place. Other groups have rescheduled trips until after salmon non-retention is lifted after mid-July. This year, a few of the fathers had a chance to get out and fish the 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. tides.

Gibran White, Reel Obsession Fishing, reported that there was a bump of smaller American fish coming through in early June but now bigger fish – 16 to 20 pounds – are common. The wind can be a problem and the anglers call it rock ‘n’ roll fishing. The fishing guides are fishing every day and reporting results as catches come in each day. A fishing derby had been sold out for June 22 and 23 and proceeds go to salmon enhancement and habitat restoration for the Zeballos River.

A small gathering of anglers from Campbell River had a few days’ fishing at Ucluelet and they fished through wind and rain. Halibut fishing was at a peak and salmon was slower with size range under 16 pounds. I got a few reports from the contract guides working west of Prince Rupert and catch reports were varied from sketchy to okay and size range are now coming in 20 to 23 pounds.

I think we all know the work that Ducks Unlimited Canada does across Canada. The fly-tying community will be interested to find out what the fly tying promotion will be in months to come. Lacey Schroeder, Fundraising Coordinator from DU, will give me details and I will have details here in the Fishing Corner. This will be timely, as I have a number of fly tying features coming up after we get out fishing this month and all summer long.

Whatever fishing adventure you have in mind, plan ahead, fish safe and know the rules and regulations of the area.