Len Carr gets Dream Weaver ready for any fishery openings this year. While sockeye numbers are low

Low salmon numbers keep nets out of the Fraser

Maple Ridge fishermen waiting for pink salmon run

They would rather be out on the Fraser River chasing sockeye, but instead local commercial and sport fishermen alike were engaged in their second-favourite pastime Tuesday afternoon – cursing Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“I haven’t fished this cycle since 1997,” groused Len Carr from the deck of his commercial fishing boat Dream Weaver, which is docked at Kanaka Landing in Maple Ridge.

“The Quesnels used to be the biggest run in the Fraser River system. Now it’s a missed opportunity. For the last three cycles we’ve tried to build this run up,” he added. “This should be fantastic fishing.”

Instead, all fishermen – commercial, sport and aboriginal – have been told “hands off.”

The estimated run size is discouragingly low, and Fisheries biologists have estimated up to 70 per cent of the spawners could die on their way upriver due to high water temperature, which is up 3.3 C.

To take stress off the sockeye, the Pacific Salmon Commission has scaled back test fishing, and cut off all sports angling for salmon on the Lower Fraser River.

The estimated size of the run was boosted Friday, as some sockeye are arriving later than anticipated in the waters around Vancouver Island. The commission now estimates the main summer run of sockeye at 2.3 million fish, up from two million.

The early summer run is now pegged at 520,000 fish, up from 475,000.

The overall sockeye run size is estimated at just more than three million, with late-run sockeye that were projected to add 583,000, not yet included in the count. That’s well below the 4.8 million run size forecast for this summer, but an improvement from the disastrous 1.6 million of four years ago that triggered the Cohen Commission inquiry into the Fraser River sockeye.

The aboriginal fishery also was stopped after a catch of approximately 270,000. There’s still no expectation of any more commercial or aboriginal food fishery openings for sockeye.

Carr is fine with that. Fisheries is right to take all means necessary to protect the sockeye fishery.

“It (the fishing closure) wasn’t a surprise to me, because of the low returns. Now you’ve got to protect these fish at all costs – sockeye are the money fish, that everyone needs.”

“Next year we’ll have a good year,” said Carr.

“You have to be optimistic as a fisherman.”

Fishing guides will find the complete closure devastating.

Chilliwack Fishing guide Dean Werk, with Great River Fishing Adventures, said sport fishermen would not kill a significant number of sockeye.

“We have done three years of hook-and-release mortality studies that clearly show a less than two-per-cent mortality on sport-caught sockeye salmon,” he said.

“We have shown clearly that we can fish for both chinook and pink salmon with an almost non-measurable impact.”

Werk said his company is fielding a number of cancellations due to the closure, including an 11-person group that was booked to fly in from Edmonton. That’s travel plans, hotel rooms, restaurant meals, all cancelled.

Close to nine million pink salmon are also forecast to arrive, however, and large numbers of that species are now being detected, suggesting an even bigger run than predicted. A big pink run could allow fishery openings in September.

– with files from Black Press

Just Posted

Class sizes dropped from among the worst in B.C.

Maple Ridge trustees review statistics

Heavy downpours expected in parts of Metro Vancouver

Heavy rain will begin to ease off Sunday evening as the frontal system moves south out of the area

Another Friday night fire in Maple Ridge

Abandoned house in Silver Valley area burns

Police investigate string of overnight fires in North Delta

Suspected arson caused damage to vehicles, signage in the area, Delta Police say

MacDuff: Memories at the kitchen table

It was tradition to attend the Remembrance Day service with my mom,… Continue reading

Maple Ridge remembers

Remembrance Day ceremony and parade in downtown Maple Ridge.

Crash shuts down Highway 91 in Richmond for hours

The stretch of highway was closed for more than 6 hours due to a multi-vehicle accident

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Most Read