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STS Guiding Service Updates & 2015 Pre-season Forecast

Posted on January 2nd 2015, by STS Guiding Service

STS Guiding Service is a team of professional guides that are some of the best in the business. Each guide has their own way to get through those long days on the water but one thing that they all have in common is the dedication and hard work that it takes to put fish in the boat day after day.

Before I begin discussing 2015 I would just like to thank all of you who have fished with us over the past 20 years. 2014 was a special year for us as we celebrated our 20th season guiding on the Fraser River. Our customers ( you) are awesome and because of you we have enjoyed this incredible journey that we all shared. Please accept our sincere thanks and we truly hope that your adventure with STS Guiding Service was a great one. We hope that you and your family had a great Christmas Holiday and wishing for a prosperous new year.

Vic Carrao
STS Guiding Service
1-855-223-5453 or local 604-671-3474

2015 Season Outlook

How do we predict fisheries?

Do you often wonder how Fisheries and Oceans Canada plan or estimate what will take place the following season? If your answer is yes, you're not alone. Even after 20 years of sitting on fishery committees, I still often find myself shaking my head in disbelief.

A good example is the pre-season estimate of sockeye for 2014. We heard numbers like 50 to 70 million and as low as 20 million. I think most of us who work with fisheries didn't believe the high numbers and felt it would be closer to 15 to 20 based on the 4 year cycle which was 30 million last go around. Regardless, the numbers were in and everyone got excited for the summer of 2014. So far the reports that we are getting is that the final numbers for 2014 sockeye season was between 16 to 18 million. I don't think any of us are surprised by the low numbers even though on the larger scale of things, these numbers are excellent and we should expect another great run in 2018.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has just released their preliminary 2015 salmon outlook, this outlook is for the entire province of British Columbia but for the purpose of this discussion we will only discuss the South Coast Region. The South Coast Region is divided into smaller sub-regions, the Vancouver/Fraser River is region 2. Each run stock is rated between 1 to 4, below is the table used. I have provided you with a peek into what 2015 is going to look like, and also included Vic's Picks for 2015.

1 - Stock of Concern Stock is (or is forecast to be) less than 25% of target or is declining rapidly. Directed fisheries are unlikely and there may be a requirement to avoid indirect catch of the stock.
2 - Low Stock is (or is forecast to be) well below target or below target and declining. Directed fisheries are uncertain and likely to be small if permitted. Allocation policy will determine harvest opportunities.
3 - Near Target Stock is (or is forecast to be) within 25% of target and stable or increasing. Directed fisheries subject to allocation policy.
4 - Abundant Stock is (or is forecast to be) well above target. Directed fisheries subject to allocation policy.

A Look into 2015

2015 sockeye pre-season forecast is looking fair to good, most of the early runs that enter the Fraser in June/July are rated 1 or 2 but summer runs ( August/September) are rated between 2 to 4 with the Chilko, Late Stuart, Nechako & Quesnel looking to be strong. Harrison stocks are also looking very strong for 2015. We will probably see some directed fisheries on the summer runs in August/September.

Fraser chinook pre-season forecast is encouraging, for the past 4 or 5 years the early Spring run of chinook has suffered with rating of mostly 1 ( stock of concern). For 2015 these early runs (spring run 4.2 and spring run 5.2) has been rated as 2 (low) which is encouraging. Hopefully with continued management actions these stocks will rebuild so that we can once again enjoy some early season bar fishing on the Fraser.

Like sockeye, the stronger runs of chinook will be in the summer time period with good returns of summer run 4.1 & fall run 4.1. My favorite run of chinook to target is in middle of August when water clarity is good on the Fraser. August 10 to 25 is best for these fish.

Fraser/Thompson coho have been rebuilding over the past years, although they are still being forecasted as a 2 (low Stock) it is encouraging to see these stocks improving. The lower Fraser has seen some excellent coho fishing the past 4 or 5 season and we expect the same for 2015. The Vedder coho fishing was excellent in 2014, best fishing was early September through to October. Many of these fish are intercepted while fishing the Sumas and Fraser mainstem. Duncan Bar , Two Bit Bar and several others in the lower river were fishing exceptional in early October.

Pink salmon forecast for the Fraser is rated a 4 (Abundant) with expected above average return. The average is 13.8 million so you can expect some excellent Pink salmon fishing through the entire month of September. This will also provide some incredible sturgeon fishing.

Fraser chum salmon escapement trended downward from 1998 to 2010. The escapement decline was halted and reversed with an estimated 1.1 million spawners reported in 2011. The increasing trend continued in 2012 with an estimated 1.4 million spawners. In 2013, spawner escapement was estimated at 980K. The escapement goal for Fraser chum is 800K. The in-season estimate of the terminal return (provided on Oct. 20, 2014) was approximately 1.3 million chum salmon. The Fraser River chum is rated at 3 (near target)

West Coast Vancouver Island salmon is much more complicated than the Fraser River, ratings range between 1 to 4 depending on if we are talking about wild or hatchery fish, south island or north island etc. The Quatsino Sound/Winter Harbor area is where we target our salmon, halibut and ground fish during June/July, it is some of the best fishing found anywhere on the coast. If you are looking for an amazing trip, please send us an e-mail.

There are many other fisheries that we target but have not mentioned in our pre-season forecast, these fisheries are either not listed in DFO pre-season forecast or they are directly related to some of the fisheries mentioned above. For example the Pitt River offers some excellent trout and salmon fishing, Fraser Sturgeon, Vancouver Harbour salmon fishing.

Below I have provided some of our favorite fisheries and best time to target these species.

Vic's Picks for 2015

Spring – Fraser River sturgeon fishing really gets going by early to middle of April lasting through until early June. The Gulf Island chinook fishery heats up by the middle of May lasting through to the end of June and the Pitt River sea-run trout fishery starts first week in June lasting through until middle of August.

Vic's Picks:

  • Spring Sturgeon – April 7 to May 31
  • Gulf Island Chinook – May 15 to June 21
  • Pitt River Bull Trout – June 10 to July 15

Early Summer – Early Summer is time to fill the freezer with salmon, halibut and lingcod, we head over to the West Coast for 6 weeks and offer daily salmon/halibut charters from June 21 to July 31, this is some of the best fishing British Columbia has to offer. The Fraser is running high with run off from snowmelt so your best bet for action is either West Coast salmon/halibut. Sockeye are starting to move into the Pitt and some decent salmon fishing in Vancouver area for coho.

Vic's Pick

  • West Coast Salmon/Halibut – June 21 to July 31
  • Pitt River Bull Trout & Sockeye ( catch & release)
  • Vancouver Harbour Coho – July 1 to July 21

Summer – The Fraser river is expecting another good return of sockeye and a large run of pink salmon of over 13.8 million fish. This will also turn on sturgeon and make for some incredible fishing. Sturgeon feed on both sockeye and pink salmon so we will offer daily combo trips for both species.

Vic's Pick

  • Fraser River Sockeye – August 15 to Sept 15
  • Fraser River Pink Salmon – Sept 1 to Sept 30
  • Fraser River Sturgeon – August 21 to Sept 30

Fall – Most people know this as the primetime for sturgeon, chum and fall chinook. Fishing can be excellent in both main stem Fraser and tributaries such as Harrison, Sumas, Dewdney and Stave Rivers. People from around the world flock to the Fraser to experience some of the great fishing opportunities.

Vic's Pick

  • Fraser River Sturgeon – Sept 30 to Nov 15
  • Fraser River Chum – Oct 15 to Nov 15
  • Fall Chinook ( Harrison & Fraser)- Sept 21 to Oct 15
  • Fall Coho – ( Fraser /Harrison) Sept 21 to Nov 15

If you have any questions, comments or would like to book a trip, please call toll-free 1-855-223-5453, 604-671-3474 (local) or e-mail us.

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