Chinook, Coho, Pink, Sockeye: Is The Best Salmon Fishery In the World Doomed?

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Not according to British Columbia fishing guide Vic Carrao. He says “a word from the west, once we’re clear from this crazy, world-wide pandemic, we’re still open for business.”

Phew, we’re glad to hear it. Read on.

If you believe everything you heard or read, you would think the West Coast is closed to fishing. There is no denying the past 15 years we have seen dramatic changes and challenges in our fisheries and 2019 was one of our biggest challenges to date. Many rivers throughout British Columbia, Alaska and Pacific North West have seen dramatic declines in returns of pacific salmon and steelhead.

Reasons for declines have been blamed on everything from global warming, over-fishing, mismanagement by DFO, fish farms and even Donald Trump. My guess it is that it is all the above with the largest emphasis on mismanagement which would encompass over-fishing and fish farms.

Are there changes that need to be made? Absolutely, we need a minister of fisheries that can read data and manage the fishery based on science not politics.

Summer of 2019 was a disaster for British Columbia anglers and charter companies due to the lack of courage by Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.  Nothing will change and in fact things will only get worse until this is done.

Then a good second move would be to remove the rest of the open pen fish farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island and begin producing hatchery pacific salmon that can help rebuild some of the declining salmon stocks.

Put and take fisheries are the future of our sport, raising hatchery salmon using a fin clip system will not only enhance fishing opportunities but also protect wild salmon an ensure there is fish for the future.

The good news is that it is all not bad,  I have heard rumors that there could be a record breaking hatchery program being implemented on the Fraser River to help with the loss of salmon from the Big Bar Slide  of 2019. The Big Bar Slide occurred just north of Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon region of British Columbia causing a barrier for salmon.

The outcomes from this slide are still unknown but we do know that hundreds of thousands of salmon did not make it to their home rivers to spawn, the fallout from this will be realized in 2023 when the offspring from these fish return to the Fraser to spawn.

In the meantime, there are things that can be done to enhance the salmon fishery so that escapement goals can be reached, first nations FSC fisheries can occur and sport anglers can continue to enjoy this amazing outdoor activity called sport fishing.


On Wednesday March 11, 2020 a B.C. based expedition leaves Victoria for the Gulf of Alaska to try to help crack the puzzle of plummeting salmon stocks. Scientists from Canada, United States and Russia will be on the expedition.

The trip is being led by Richard Beamish, an emeritus scientist from the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and Brian Riddell, science advisor for the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The team will examine what regulates the lives of salmon in open ocean where they spend the majority of their lives, in hope of developing a better understanding and predictions of salmon returns. You can learn more about this here.


British Columbia has many wild rivers that contain good populations of salmon, trout and world class sturgeon fishing so it’s not all bad news. The Fraser River is one of Canada’s most productive salmon rivers and still see’s millions of salmon return each year. For sport anglers who enjoy catch & release fishing, there are still many fishing opportunities throughout the Vancouver/Fraser Valley region. The Upper Pitt River offers amazing fishing for sea-run Bull Trout, The Lillooet River offers great spring trout fishing and some excellent fall salmon fishing. The Harrison River offers both fly fisherman and gear angler’s great opportunities for both salmon and sturgeon and the list goes on. One of our most amazing fisheries is the Fraser River Sturgeon catch & release fishery which we have been a big part of since the mid 1990’s.

For those of you who enjoy a great day on the water but would also like to take a fish home to eat, there are still some good opportunities but you need to do your homework and research which areas allow a catch and keep fishery.

For example the Vancouver Harbour has a great winter salmon fishery for Chinook salmon, these fish are mostly between 10-15lbs but make for a great fishery, Halibut fishing is open on the West Coast of Vancouver island beginning March 1, the Fraser River has a strong Fall Salmon run for Coho and Chum salmon which can be combined with a Sturgeon trip.

So as you see there are still many opportunities available in British Columbia, you just need to do a bit more homework to find that special place for your next fishing holiday or give me a shout at and we’ll definitely help you out.

As I mentioned above, I have been involved in the sport fishery in BC for the better part of 30 years. I Started working in the industry in retail tackle shop in 1990, in 1994 I started a guiding business named STS Guiding Service focusing mostly on fly fishing for salmon on Harrison River and sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River.

Over the next 26 years we diversified offering guided fishing in both fresh and saltwater and became the premier guiding company on the Fraser River offering salmon, trout, steelhead and sturgeon fishing throughout British Columbia.

NOTE: Vic specializes in fishing in British Columbia and has been Pro Staff for Gibbs Delta Tackle for over 20 years and Pro Staff for Pure Fishing for over 10 years. Vic has also played an important role in leading the industry through consultation being proactive in both provincial and federal fisheries. He has been an active member of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, Sport Fishing Advisory Committee UFV, Fraser River Watershed Committee, Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society and has sat as a director on the Technical Working Group for Sturgeon Recovery, Community working group for Sturgeon Recovery, past president of the Fraser Valley Angling Guide Association and Director of business for the Mission Harbor Authority for 8 years. Vic is also the founder of STS Guiding Service which was established in 1994. Vic is now semi-retired and enjoying his time with his wife Teresa spending winters in Arizona and summers on the Fraser guiding anglers for monster sturgeon in the Fraser Canyon of British Columbia. region of British Columbia. If you’re looking for a BC fishing holiday, Vic is your man.

Vic is the past owner of STS Guiding Service. Vic’s love for white water, adrenaline and exploration lead to where Vic spends much of the summer and fall, fishing sturgeon and running the Fraser Canyon from Hope to Hells Gate. When Vic is not on the water you will find him busy working on boats, motorcycles or riding with his wife Teresa.

You can reach Vic at or call the office at 1-604-671-3474

Visit their website at

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