Test fishery to determine Fraser opening

LOWER FRASER RIVER — Gord Botkin spends more time fishing for the Pacific Salmon Commission than he does for himself these days.
 
Every day from July through September — except during rare commercial openings on the Fraser River — the commission contracts Botkin to motor out from Ladner harbor in his 11-meter gillnetter, Miss Delta, to a navigational buoy at Cottonwood near Tilbury Island industrial area.
 
During one 45-minute trip this week, he remarks to The Vancouver Sun that the boat is plying the murky waters directly over gridlocked George Massey Tunnel. “No rush hour on top of it,” he jokes over the industrial hum of the vessel’s 170-horsepower motor.
 
Fishermen on the lower Fraser River like to set their lines as the tide begins to flood and the salmon, preferring the path of least resistance, start to move upriver.
 
This day’s 30-minute test fishery starts at 5:15 p.m., just past slack tide, as more than 200 meters of nylon gillnet are rolled off the stern section, forming a long wavering curtain of death to fish swimming its way.
 
“There’s a few fish on the sounder,” says Botkin, watching a screen overhead. “Some sign of life. Now, if we can get them in the net.”
 
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