Fisheries on Kamloops Lake and the Thompson River are open again as a better-than-expected return of pink salmon swim through rivers and lakes, the DFO’s area manager said Wednesday.
“We’ve seen this up and down the coast. The returns of pink salmon have been very, very good,” said Les Jantz.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans reports an estimated 26-million pinks are flooding into local waterways. Jantz said that’s nearly three times the initial estimate of nine million fish.
Once salmon leave fresh water for the ocean, they are at the whim of Mother Nature. Some years, there’s a lot of food around and few predators, while other years, the odds are against them, he said.
“They obviously had very good survival somewhere and everywhere along the way,” said Jantz. “You get a lot of variability in survival.”
Pink fisheries are now underway in both Canada and the United States and will probably continue for at least another week, or maybe two weeks on the upper reaches of some waterways.
Closer to home, fisheries on Kamloops Lake and the Thompson River that the DFO closed late last month to preserve the salmon population are open again. A commercial fishery on Kamloops Lake has also resumed.
The recreational fisheries will continue until the end of the month, Jantz said.
He has no idea why pink salmon flourished this year, but few anglers will complain.
“It’s coming with open arms. Everyone is quite happy about it,” said Jantz.
There’s also a glimmer of positive news about B.C.’s late-season sockeye returns, including runs on the Shuswap and Adams River systems east of Kamloops.
Jantz said numbers of late-Shuswap sockeye are now expected to reach 380,000, more than triple the pre-season estimate of 123,000 fish.
This is a positive for the Little Shuswap Indian Band. Fisheries co-ordinator Aaron Arnouse said a good return translates into an increase in tourism dollars and a bountiful harvest for First Nations.
“It’s better for everything, the tourism, the fishing,” he said. “It helps everyone in every area.”