Looks like neither the commercial fleet nor the recreational anglers will get a crack at the sockeye fishery in 2012.

Sockeye returns spell bad news for sport fishery

It looks likely that neither the commercial fleet nor recreational anglers will be getting a crack at Fraser River sockeye this year.

The 2012 Fraser River sockeye run is running out of steam.

It looks likely that neither the commercial fleet nor recreational anglers will be getting a crack at the prized red salmon this year.

The run size estimate for the summer run of sockeye remained unchanged Friday at 1.3 million, and about 2.3 million for the total Fraser sockeye returns, according to the Pacific Salmon Commission

“The late run sockeye is the limiting factor,” said Barry Rosenberger, co-chair of the Fraser River Panel, and also DFO’s area director for the Interior.

They would need the late summer run to reach about 300,000 fish to trigger a commercial fishery opening for sockeye.

“Currently we’re only at about 250,000 fish,” he said.

At Fred’s Custom Tackle, the lack of a 2012 recreational sockeye opening will mean an estimated quarter of a million dollar hit to the bottom line just for the retail location in Chilliwack, said store owner Fred Helmer.

He figures it’s another $350,000 in losses at the Abbotsford store.

The fishery is a huge economic engine for the region, and many are frustrated by the poor returns.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “And I’m just one guy. You just got to go with whatever is out there and hope that Mother Nature cooperates next year.”

It was an exceedingly tough year for the sport fishing retail and guiding industry, starting with the challenges of high water over a prolonged wet and cold spring, and early predictions for poor Fraser sockeye returns.

“You always hope somewhere deep down they’re going to be wrong. The estimates aren’t an exact science,” said Helmer.

One of the issues in the summer run is that stocks of concern, like the dwindling Cultus Lake sockeye, are intermingled with other stocks coming through the system.

“I think at this point there’s an attitude of resignation out there now among recreational anglers,” said Rod Clapton of the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers.

DFO is still expecting a few more sockeye to come up the river but it won’t like change anything, and no one is expecting a recreational opening.

“Whenever the Late Summers show up, it shuts down the fishing, so it’s not looking too positive for this season,” Clapton said.

The big hope is for the year after next, when a record run is set to come back on its four-year cycle.

“We’re just holding our breath that it will be a wonderful year.”

DFO officials are not expecting things to change much for the rest of this season, but they’ll continue to monitor daily test fishing catches.

“So we’re still looking for some more fish, but things are winding down,” said Rosenberger.

Aboriginal fisheries on the Fraser have taken a total of 288,050 fish to date, according to the PSC.

That is for all of the First Nations communities to share on the Fraser.

“The thing is it’s either feast or famine in the Aboriginal food fishery,” said Ernie Crey, fisheries advisor to the Sto:lo Tribal Council. “The DFO can try to spin this season saying it’s marginally better than four years ago, but there were fewer taken this year.

The abundance or dearth of fish stocks depends on migrating patterns and conditions, which vary wildly from year to year.

Impoverished First Nations communities along the Fraser watershed will have to work “really hard” with DFO officials, as well as commercial fishermen, conservation and sport fishing groups to restore these runs, he said.

“Only when the spawning beds are reseeded and the strength of runs restored will the Aboriginal priority to fish truly be respected.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Recruitment set to start for the Molson Coors Brewery at Chilliwack

There were about 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and some staff now being sought

Sunshine Valley crews fight fire in burning vehicles

Fire in vehicle and camper along Highway 3 Saturday under control within 15 minutes

PHOTOS: Super sockeye run draws a crowd

Banks of Fraser River busy Tuesday as recreational fishery opens

Chilliwack goes cluck-cluck for chickens ahead of civic election

With an election in sight, urban chickens supporters ramp up their efforts for legal acceptance

Wildfire smoke brings in air quality advisory for Lower Mainland

People with health conditions are urged to avoid the outdoors

PHOTOS: Spuzzum First Fish Ceremony

The annual ceremony included an awareness campaign for the old Alexandra Bridge.

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Drug-checking started as pilot in four B.C. communities to test for fentanyl

Substance is mixed with water on test strip, and result is revealed in minutes

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Ontario will sell pot online when legalization comes in the fall

There are further plans to have pot in private retail stores in early 2019

Most Read