Friday, September 04, 2009

Latest Skeena region sportfishing update

Here is the latest Skeena regional sportfishing update courtesy of Oscar's Source For Sports, Smithers.

The point about fish handling is extremely important. Commercial fishing lobbyists assert the sportfishery kills a great deal of steelhead. We disagree strongly with that assertion, but encourage steelhead anglers to treat their catch with the utmost respect. Keeping the fish in the water while any measurements or photos are taken is paramount. Just imagine yourself running a marathon then someone holding your head underwater....How well would you fare? This analogy describes the steelhead's side of the catch and release story very well.

So, please be smart and considerate towards our fantastic quarry. Moreover, dont give the commercial lobbyists any ammunition to criticize our fishery with poor fish handling techniques.

The image shows a well handled and photographed fish.

Sweet September

For an angler and especially a Steelheader few months hold the magic of September. Cooler nights, pleasant days, glorious colours and some of the biggest Steelhead in the world make their way home to the rivers and streams of North Western BC. It is our favourite time of the year. All Steelhead water is beautiful, but none more so than the magic of the Skeena and Nass drainage. The Kalum, Copper, Kispiox, Sustat, Babine, Bulkley and Morice are whispered wherever Steelheaders talk of their own personal Valhalla, Nirvana or Steelhead Paradise.

September holds the promise of a postcard day, and a willing chrome buck or doe rising through the gin clear water to take your offering. It is also much more than that. It is the mountains framing the river, the eagle in the tree across from you, the black bear browsing the bank and the old friends and new acquaintances you will meet. The only problem with September is that it doesn't last long enough.

Steelhead and the waters they live in are special and that is why we need to insure that we take the greatest care in preserving these values. Hooking a fish is great but the proper landing and release insures that fish survives.

Most steelheaders take great care in the proper playing, handling and release of their fish. Steelhead should be played with adequate tackle strong enough to do the job quickly. A fish played too long on light tackle will tire the fish unduly. Most of us use line/leaders of 12#-15#. Play the fish as quickly as tackle will allow. Bring the fish to hand in a couple feet of water. Fish should never be skidded up on shore to thrash around on the rocks. All hooks must be barbless which makes hook removal easy. Cradle the fish under the pectoral fins and around the tail until fully recovered. A fish released too early may seemingly swim away but succumb later. Take the time for proper release. Trout studies have shown that a fish out of water for 60 seconds may have 60% mortality. Keep the fish in the water.

We all like a memory of the fish and everyone has a digital camera now. If you want a picture compose the picture beforehand. Choose your background, how the fish is held, angles, framing in advance. Many shots are spoiled by the glare off the fish's side, so agree beforehand to tilt fish up or down to avoid that spoiled shot. With everything planned ahead the fish can be lifted and the picture taken quickly.

Most pictures are the Cheesy grins we have all seen. One of the best pictures I ever had of myself with a steelhead was taken by a fishing companion who gave me the best advice on fish pictures I have ever had. When I looked at the camera with that usual cheesy grin John told me "I don't want to see that ugly mug, it's all about the fish, look at the fish." He was right. Anybody looking at the picture knows it is you, the fish is the subject.

Prime time on Steelhead water can make for some crowding. Etiquette is important to insure yours and other anglers trips are pleasurable. It is nice to be the first into the run but that is not always possible. If other anglers are present either move to another hole or ask to fish above them as they move through the hole. A common practice is rotation. When fishing in a group, if the downstream angler gets a fish, after landing that fish he steps out of the water so the upstream angler now has a chance for the next fish. By rotating like this it allows a number of anglers to fish the run.

Never step in below another angler on the same run. That would be the same as cutting in line at the supermarket, theatre or ski lift. No manners, no respect.

One day in July four of us went on a trip to a coastal river for salmon. The river is very popular, especially it's lower reaches. Upon arrival we saw one angler firmly planted right in the centre of the run. As we walked out to the bar we discussed what we should do. He was a visiting angler from Italy. His English was strained but he understood the rotation ideal "Ahh, rotundo to circle." The now 5 of us spent the next eight hours helping each other land springs, chums and pinks on the fly and swapping fish tales. He thanked us profusely when he left for including him in the group and we all enjoyed his company. Sometimes it just takes a little communication.

Bulkley River
River looks great but continues to drop and even the rain we got doesn’t affect it too much. Still lots of Pinks around with the males starting to get quite a hump on their backs. Quite a few Coho are being caught as well as Steelhead. Lots of anglers heading out for the long weekend, and prospects look good. A late Spring (around 25lb) was caught in Moricetown this past week.

Morice River
Pinks are still dominating this beautiful river but guys are landing Steelhead and Coho. The Coho being caught are mostly between 5-8lb.

Kispiox River
River and weather look fantastic. Fishing has been a bit tougher but there are Coho as well as Steelhead still being caught throughout the river. Pinks are still thick and you have to watch where you step so you don’t step on one!

Douglas Channel
Coho fishing around Kitimat is the best it has been in years. Good Coho at Money Point, Sue Channel and Jesse Falls. Most Coho in the 10-14 pond range but some high teens starting to show up. Hoochies and anchovy most popular baits but Apex and Coyote spoons also working well. Kitimat Chamber of Commerce Derby this weekend with some great prizes. Call 250-632-6294 or 1-800-664-6554 for more info. Good fishing in the Harbour.

Kitimat River
Great fishing for Coho in the river with impressive numbers of fish. Many hooked but less landed. Coho are just that way. So wild and easy to lose on the barbless hook, Make sure hooks are sticky sharp, Hotshots size 25 drifted are good as well as Gibbs Koho spoons in blue or copper, Vibrax spinners.

Prince Rupert
More Northern Coho being taken out of Rupert. Great catches on Coho with some fish now getting close to 20 pounds. Anchovy and hoochies best bets but spoons, Apex and drift-jigging also very productive. Halibut on jigs and bait. Big Ling and Red Snapper in outer islands.

Terrace Area
Steelhead throughout the Skeena watershed. Pinks and Sockeye getting towards tailend of their cycle. Early returns on Steelhead in Nass and Skeena are promising.

Thank you and have a wonderful long-weeked!

Oscar's Source for Sports
Box 550, 1214 Main St.
Smithers, B.C.
V0J 2N0
ph250 847 2136
fx250 847 3679

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