Four years since the last super sockeye salmon run, people from all around the province descended on the banks of the Fraser River Tuesday to take home their share of the fishery.
An area on the banks of the Fraser behind Highway 7, the Hope bar or Scales bar as it is colloquially known, saw upwards of 70 people on the first evening of the fishery. The Hope Standard spoke to fishers from Vernon, Surrey, Chilliwack and Harrison Mills who all converged on the banks in the early evening sun.
Brad Rimek, packing up his gear after catching his two sockeye, has been fishing at this spot for 20 years. “It’s the best spot, there are very few snags…and it just seems like all the fish that come through get funneled into this one little area,” he said.
Patrick Belanger of Harrison Mills shares a love for fishing stretching back to his childhood, he recalls fishing in creeks around his home and behind his school during breaks. Belanger has only caught around 25 sockeye in his life, and the first catch this year will go to his parents.
“I share them with my family, so everyone gets some. Mainly my grandparents, aunts and uncles,” he said.
The fishing happening at the Hope bar is bottom bouncing, Belanger explained. Fishers wade out closer to where the current whips past to avoid damaging the fish if they happen to catch the wrong species and have to release them. Every few minutes, someone in the long line of fishers gets a tug and begins to wade back to shore with a fish struggling on the line.
Seven to 13 million sockeye are estimated to come through the Fraser River during the run and with an early run that came in at 135,000 sockeye, conservation efforts are looking good.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans staggers fishery openings on the Fraser — conservation comes first, followed by First Nations fisheries and finally commercial and recreational fishing.
This year, the allowable catch for the recreational fishery is two sockeye per day and four chinook, the fishery will last until Sept. 3.
– With files from Jennifer Feinberg