What Salmon??

After today's outing on the lake and spotting 14 boats working the salmon along the tracks, I felt obligated to write something about it.  That and, I have received a few emails from anglers wondering what the heck is going on out there with the guys fishing for them.  For those who have lost their fishing regs or forgot what they say, here's the scoop:

SHUSWAP LAKE (see maps Page 36) includes Little Shuswap Lake, that part of South Thompson River between Shuswap Lake and Little Shuswap Lake, Seymour, Anstey and Salmon arms and Mara Lake unless stated otherwise)                                                                                                                                                                       

No ice fishing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No fishing from line between signs on Murdock and Semaphore points, to Hwy#1 bridge, Mar 15-May 31(see map C page 36)                                                                                            No fishing in the entire area north of Albas, Mar 15-May 31 (see map B page 36)                                                                                                                                                                    No fishing Mar 15-May 31, and rainbow trout and char release, June 1-Mar 14, in the waters lying west of a line between signs at Henstridge Road and Wharf Road to a line between signs on the south and north shores of Little Shuswap Lake (see map A page 36)                                                                                                                                                            Rainbow trout daily quota = 1 (none under 50 cm), annual quota = 5 Char daily quota = 1 (none under 60 cm), annual quota = 5                                                                                        Bait ban, single barbless hook                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Conservation Surcharge Stamp required to catch and keep rainbow trout over 50 cm or char over 60 cm

OK, that's the Freshwater Regs but here is the Fisheries and Oceans Regulations on salmon fishing:

WATERS                                                                                                                                                                    SPECIFIC AREA SPECIES DATES                           LIMIT GEAR
Shuswap Lake Including Little Shuswap and Mara Lakes (see exception under South Thompson R. for Little Shuswap Lake) All Jan 01-Dec 31 No fishing for salmon.

It looks pretty specific to me, "no fishing for salmon." pretty much means, don't fish for them!  As seen on the lake though, and from talking with local CO's on the subject,  this is a next to impossible regulation to enforce.  First off and up front so as I don't look like a hypocrite in all of this, I too have caught salmon from Shuswap Lk, revived them, taken a picture and sent it back on its way to spawn.  The reason I mention this is because I know that I'm going to get mail criticizing me for saying one thing and doing another.  Am I exempt from the above regulations?  Certainly not but, I will say that how, when and where I fish are completely different than 99% of those that are out there during the salmon run season.

I fish Shuswap Lake year round, and from my guiding experience have found certain spots that have almost always produced fish for me and when guiding, for my clients.  As well, from my guiding experience I have found what works best for most species in the lake and have passed those "secrets" on to all that read my site.  Where the crux comes in with me fishing and "accidentally" catching salmon on this lake is, those spots that I have always fished are also the same ones that hold salmon!  And, the lures that I use year round are also the same ones that I have taken many salmon on in this lake, but, all of those salmon were returned to the water!

Where the problem lies is with the anglers that are targeting salmon in the lake, it's illegal!!  Don't try and tell me that out of those 14 boats there today that none of them were not targeting salmon.  I would say that at least 12  of those 14 boats were targeting salmon and, who knows how many fish were poached .  I will go out on a limb here and say that out of the 12 boat there will be a minimum of 2 that will illegally keep the fish, either through ignorance of the regs or they are just the die hard meat hunter poacher types.  Here too lies the other problem, with the problem, is how do you enforce this law, its damned near impossible.

Short of the angler being totally honest when being checked and admitting to fishing for salmon, there is no other way that it can be proven that you are fishing for salmon.  Don't worry, I'm not giving out any secrets here that the poachers or illegal anglers don't already know.  For a CO to stop them and accuse them of fishing for salmon just because they have a flasher/hootchie setup on ain't gonna fly, cause I use that setup year round in the lake for all species, and so do other anglers.  Short of them having a cut bait on their line, I have found that there isn't much that the salmon won't hit on, so there's not really any secret as to what they may be using, its a crap shoot.  Those that read my site may have a bit more insight as to what they may be biting on but I avoid giving out any definitive information as to what may be working when I do catch them, and I have caught them on everything!

If someone asked me to come up with a law that would stop this salmon fishing in Shuswap Lake, I'm afraid I wouldn't have an answer or a solution to it.  They could close off the Bay like they do in the Spring for rainbow spawning, just what we need, another closure!  Besides, you can catch these salmon all over the lake, as I have found out over the years.  How about have a limited season for them on the lake?  Say, like Mabel Lake or even Little Shuswap Lake, set a few weeks aside for anglers to keep a fish or two.  Ya, like that's gonna work!  It'll be those same poachers that wind up keeping 3 or 4 or more than they are supposed to and will still be breaking whatever law is in place.  I did talk to one of the CO's on this topic last year and he actually couldn't see a problem with a limited season on keeping a fish but, its those couple poachers that screw it up for everyone, as usual.  That's why its so important that if someone is seen doing something illegal that they are reported.  Otherwise, don't whine about them!

I have no easy solution or answer for this, and I doubt if those with "more brains" do either.  So, we will have to put up with the "salmon derby" that occurs every year on this lake.  As far as enforcement, I suppose if they had a CO stationed at the launch (and they have in past years!) to check boats as they come in, that would help.  I do know from personal experience that a set of binos from shore or from a boat goes a long ways to spotting poachers, and the onus should lie with all anglers out there, not just the CO's.  Sure, you can't stop anglers from catching those salmon but, you can certainly tell if they are releasing them or keeping them, and that phone call to the proper authority's can go a long ways.  I think we should help the authorities as much as we can in this situation.  I realize that there are many anglers out there that cannot afford to get out and catch salmon and this is a one time thing for them every year to have such a thrill, and it is a helluva thrill. But, judging by the craft I've seen out there, I'm guessing that at least half of them could afford a trip out to the coast for a salmon trip! Myself, now that I'm not guiding and am spending less time on Shuswap, I'll take that money saved and go to the "chuck" for my barby salmon!                Sherm