New Regulations

As you probably know, the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) made certain changes to the regulations in 2019 regarding the number of Chinook salmon recreational anglers can keep, and when.

The rules are different in various areas around Vancouver Island and along the BC coast.  In the areas we mainly fish around Campbell River (Areas 13, 14 and 15), here’s what we’re looking at:

  • from now until July 15, catch and release only
  • between July 15 to August 30, one Chinook per day
  • from August 30 to the end of the year, two Chinook per day

The biggest change here is the non-retention up to July 15.  That means that until July 15 hits, we’re in a catch and release fishery for Chinook salmon.

Fishing Still Open

It’s important to note that Chinook salmon fishing BC is still open. This is something that seems to get lost in translation. Somehow people hear that salmon fishing has been closed, but this is simply not true.  We can fish for Chinook salmon right now, but we have to release them until July 15th.  There is no closure.

I’m not terribly happy about the regulation changes and how they rolled out.  At the same time, those are the cards that have been dealt and for the time being we have to live with them. 

It’s got me thinking a bit about my own fishing ethic, about what I get out of sportfishing for salmon, and about how that all fits into the bigger picture.  I suppose a little reflection is never a bad thing.

What Changes For Chinook Salmon Fishing

In the Pacific Northwest we’ve grown accustomed to keeping our saltwater catch – whether we’re aware of it or not, we’ve been trained, or we’ve trained ourselves, to want to take home our limit of salmon, lingcod, halibut, and whatever else we can conjure from the depths. 

Maybe we think that way because the ocean itself seems so limitless.  And with a history of abundance behind you, it’s hard to believe anything would ever change. 

We also don’t want things to change, and we don’t want to paint ourselves in a negative light.  So we would prefer to believe that we can take what we like and not have any effect on the resource.

On the other hand, we know for a fact that things have changed.  The studies are there, but all you have to do is look at pictures of tyee Chinook salmon caught in the early to mid-20th century: in general terms, at least anecdotally, it seems apparent that both the number of salmon and the average size of salmon were higher in the past than they are today. 

We know these things even if they’re not always at the forefront of our minds. We sometimes forget that we’re fortunate to be able to take fish home.  In many fisheries with wild fish populations, catch and release has been the rule for some time.

We also know that putting a salmon on the table is only one aspect of fishing.  How important are the other aspects?  What’s the role of conservation and what relationship does the recreational angler have to it?  How do the new regulations fit with the idea of “sportfishing”, and what does it mean to practice catch and release?

There are a couple of related but distinct topics here, so I’ll break them out into separate posts.  More to come.   


Part 1: New Chinook Salmon Fishing Regulations 2019
Part 2: Chinook Salmon Retention in the Wake of the New Regulations
Part 3: Sportfishing, Catch and Release, and the New Salmon Fishing Regulations