Alain and Helene Bellemare return to Campbell River from Tuna fishing the west coast. Photo by Don Daniels

Tuna fishing is a shared effort for a Cortes Island family

By Don Daniels

On Sunday, Sept. 14 the smoke was in the air all around Campbell River and the next day it seemed even heavier.

I decided to spend some time throwing out some lures into Discovery Passage from the pier and see if the few remaining salmon would take interest in my Point Wilson Dart. There may have been 4 or 5 anglers fishing and the afternoon crowd numbered around 10.

Visibility was poor and Quadra Island was nowhere to be seen. The concession stand is open from noon to 9 p.m. and the washroom facilities are open during that time. Social distancing remains in effect and for the most part, anglers are fishing in their required space and few people ask questions then move on.

Since there was no wind, the smoke hung around and it seemed like a movie that you saw and wondered what was happening? The pinks are gone and have darkened up in the rivers and the Chinook salmon are around from undersized to a keeper around 23 pounds and even larger. Many anglers have moved on to areas north of Browns Bay or south to Bates Beach.

The salmon are around but COVID-19 and the travel ban is still with us; people are changing their way of fishing and boating. Garbage bins are around in the parking area and still, people are throwing out used masks and they are noticed hidden between the rocks.

I noticed a tuna boat and decided to take a look at what was happening. I met Helene Bellemare and she was moving tuna from the freezer. She mentioned that she had been fishing with her husband Alain on the west coast and that she loved the lifestyle on the water and decided to fish because of COVID-19. Her husband Alain had been fishing for years with his children. The family runs a few boats and the tuna boat was fishing about 100 miles off the west coast.

This year the tuna fishing was good and the Chinook salmon fishing could have been better. The tuna fishery is regulated, like any other commercial fishery and for a number of days, according to regulations, they may be situated in an area away from it all. Alain made it quite clear, the fisheries’ airplane was in close quarters many times a day and the comment was made that he was washing up on deck and the plane was doing surveillance.

The coho salmon are around and with the rain that will come, the rivers will rise and the salmon will move into the pools and the fishermen will follow.

The local fly casters will be spread along the shoreline and if you can get the fly out, a chance of hooking a coho is quite good. The fly action will last well into October and then the action comes to a dead stop. Beach anglers will wade in around Salmon Point and stretch out to the mouth of the Oyster River.

I heard of a new game fish that is getting attention in both Manitoba and Alberta. The tiger trout is a cross between a brown trout and a brook trout and it’s a cannibal in the water offering great fun for fly and spin casting enthusiasts.

We are still a few weeks before local lakes around Campbell River and Gold River get stocked. Fall fishing is a blast and if we can be smoke-free, get out there, cast some lures or flies in our local rivers and lakes.

Campbell Riverfishing

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