Sockeye fishing enthusiasts had been blessed with 10 days of friendly weather — but it was pretty impressive to see the numbers who still came out, despite the guaranteed soaking they’d be getting during Monday’s deluge.
Fishing buddies Paul Niemi, John Coburn and Kit Larouche were carrying a few extra kilos of rainwater with them when they sloshed into the local Tim Hortons on Monday afternoon to warm up on soup and coffee.
They looked like drowned rats but they were invigorated by the good fortune they had just had at a local fishing bar. Niemi and Coburn have cabins at Sunshine Valley and Larouche came down from Kamloops for the fishing.
“We’ve been going at it since last Tuesday,” said Coburn. All three have gotten their daily limits of sockeye, and Coburn has landed four springs and Niemi one.
“I’ve never seen so many springs,” claimed Coburn, who has owned property at Sunshine for about ten years.
“I caught a pink today too,” added Niemi, who resides in Langley. “They put up a good fight, coming right out of the water. The fish are a nice silver colour this year… just like when they’re in the ocean.”
Though the water levels are unusually high for this time of year, the trio agreed that the flow is receding, opening up new areas for fishing.
“The water has really dropped since Saturday,” figured Larouche.
“Yeah, probably a foot a day,” guessed Niemi.
After Timmy’s, the friends headed down to Cheyenne Sports to pick up some gear and get a reel re-spooled.
Employee Rebecca McDonald said, “This morning, when we opened, it was just nuts. People were replacing the gear they lost over the weekend, the weights, hooks and line. The river’s a thief!”
For fishers expecting as easy a time as they had during last year’s phenomenal sockeye run, McDonald cautioned, “It’s not like last year, when everyone was catching them. You will have to put in your time.”
She acknowledged that springs were being caught as well, mostly on bottom-bouncing rigs intended for the sockeye.
“It’s hard to target the springs without bar fishing,” she explained.
Problem is, you can’t use a stationary bar rig where everyone else is sweeping the river with their Bouncing Betties.
The Rupert Street Bar has largely been ignored this year, as it’s easier to snag up a bottom bouncer there— but this makes it more viable for bar rigs. Cheyenne employee Eric Laaback said he saw a six foot sturgeon landed there on Sunday.
With the pink salmon now appearing — and a huge run expected — fishers will have another option to pursue.
“Pinks traditionally get busy at the end of August and the beginning of September,” said McDonald. “You can use a spinning rod or a fly rod, or drift a float with a jig. Anything pink on your hook is what they go after.”
The mouth of the Coquihalla is a popular spot for the pinks — and there’s plenty of legal parking there, unlike the parking that is happening on Highways 1 and 7. Westbound at exit 170 on Highway 1, there is a large sign that states parking is only allowed for emergencies. And that’s precisely where the parking begins.
“I guess that’s their emergency… to go fishing!” said Larouche with a laugh. He and his friends have been parking along Tom Berry Road.
Local RCMP officers are currently issuing written warnings to cars parked in restricted areas along the highway, but Staff Sgt. Suki Manj says that will change if the problem continues. The detachment has received reports from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about parking complaints. Manj said there are safety concerns for drivers as well fishers trying to access their vehicles on the highway.
“Any time there’s high speeds and vehicles involved, it’s a dangerous situation,” he added.