Paul Hibbert Sayward with a pink salmon from the Kelsey Bay wharf. Photo by Don Daniels

This could be the best pink fishing in 11 years

By Don Daniels

All year long I drive to Sayward and this time of year I am always waiting for any signs that the pinks are in.

July 1 is always a start date to see if anyone was fishing from the wharf. No anglers but plenty of wind coming across so it’s back to Campbell River.

But give it a few days and the pink action had really got off to a good start about July 21, when reports surfaced that about 15 anglers were fishing and catching pinks. I know many of the locals and was pleasantly surprised that Dan and Linda Fear had fished and they hooked into a few nice pinks.

Now that we are into August the fishing can be fun when the bite is on, and the fishing can be better if you want to avoid the wharf and make the short walk up around the point to get into more action. The short walk is well worth it. If you want to get a view of the wharf online, you can view the webcams on Kelsey Bay wharf. Because of Covid-19, the gift shop on the wharf is closed.

From Campbell River to Sayward it’s about a 45-minute drive, turn at the junction and there is only one road in and it goes all the way to Kelsey Bay. You will need your own fishing tackle and there is room to park and observe what is happening on the water. Whales have been spotted and the cruise ships are not sailing past this year.

The Salmon River has a good cutthroat fishery and is catch and release and the river is closed for pinks. Another area for fishing for pinks is the Eve River and since travel restrictions are in place, any camping is first come first serve and, at times, can be very busy along the river bank. Fly fishers will be at the Eve this time of year and most roads in are active logging and can be in rough shape.

A number of people are moving about the area camping and fishing and you have to know what is open for the Salmon, Eve and Adam rivers. Another great river to get out and fish is the Nimpkish. Water levels will vary and this river will have some good fishing for coho in weeks to come.

In the Campbell River, you can see a line of anglers throwing out pink flies or pink lures and the pinks offer any person a fun way to catch a salmon around four pounds on spinning or fly gear. The fly fishing-only pools have been steady and more pinks are coming in each day. The fish will darken up as we get later in the month and most pinks will take a lure if you can stay at the bottom and find the zone.

There is always a debate whether fly fishing gets more fish than those using spin gear. They both work but those who like to get out for pinks know the gear that works for them. I have seen a few anglers snagging a fish but all pinks have to be fished and hooked through the mouth and not snagged at the tail or body.

The rules are pretty much well explained and there is no room for any other interpretations if a conservation officer or RCMP member checks your catch.

Chinook salmon fishing in Discovery Passage, area 13, has been very good and those getting out are getting their quota, having fun and enjoying the experience of salmon fishing around Campbell River. Chinooks are deep and getting past the pinks on top and coho in the middle is a challenge we all can overcome all summer long.