George Bivol fights a snag at Peg Leg during the recreational opening of the sockeye run on the Fraser River over the weekend.

George Bivol fights a snag at Peg Leg during the recreational opening of the sockeye run on the Fraser River over the weekend.

Sockeye brings anglers to river

Hundreds of anglers staked out a spot on the lower Fraser River over the weekend to take advantage of a recreational opening for sockeye.

Hundreds of anglers staked out a spot on the lower Fraser River over the weekend to take advantage of a recreational opening for sockeye.

Test fishing numbers are being monitored closely to see if additional sockeye fisheries can be justified, said Barry Rosenberger, chair of the Fraser River Panel.

The pre-season estimate for this year’s total sockeye run on the Fraser is three million, and rose to four million Friday.

“Things could change,” Rosenberger told The Progress. “But the decision was made to open it up for the three days ending Monday.”

They’ve since decided the sport fishery will remain open indefinitely, instead of going with weekend-only fisheries, he said.

“We’ve been trying to give some stability to the recreational fishery,” Rosenberger added.

Even though the Fraser sockeye numbers are no where near as strong as last summer, there’s still anticipation about more fishing opportunities opening up.

First Nations have been in the river fishing for food, social and ceremonial purposes, but sales agreements have not been reached by DFO and Sto:lo bands this year. (See story here.)

A local tackle shop employee said last week that staff were answering up to 20 calls an hour about the prospect of the first recreational opening of the summer on the Fraser.

Soon after the commercial fleet got the go-ahead last week, speculation about a sport fishing opening started spreading.

“They’re having a commercial fishing opening, and that will be a litmus test for a recreational opening,” said Todd Clarke from Fred’s Custom Tackle on Wednesday. “Fishermen see there’s a commercial opening and they get all excited.”

Sockeye buzz was “definitely” in the air, he said.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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