Salmon in the City


The Millstone Estuary is  a hotbed of fishing in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia when Pink Salmon arrive. This viewpoint is from the Harbourfront Walkway  that extends for 4 kilometers along the waterfront in Nanaimo. This portion is in Swy-A-Lana Lagoon Park (Canada's only man-made tidal lagoon),

 Here is a video describing how this came to be.  Pink Salmon 2009


Fishermen must follow rules if they're out to land pink salmon

Fish must be caught in the mouth or they must then be released

Robert Barron, Daily News

Published: Friday, August 20, 2010

Fisheries officials are advising pink salmon anglers in Nanaimo that any fish taken must be snagged in the mouth by a hook to be legal catch.

Pink salmon, which are returning to the Nanaimo area by the thousands in recent weeks thanks to a successful 10 year-old reintroduction program, are easy to snag along their fins and other body parts but they must be released unless caught in the mouth.

Dozens of recreational fishermen have been gathering at the mouth of the Millstone River downtown, Departure Bay and the Nanaimo River in recent days as fishery officials predict returns to these areas this year to exceed 25,000, with the main concentration expected in the next two weeks

We're tickled pink by the success of the program after so many years of hard work," said Bernie Heinrichs, a member of the Island Water Flyfishers organization, one of a number of groups that teamed up with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to reintroduce pink salmon in the Nanaimo area.

Pink salmon in the region were likely over-fished in the early 1900s, leading to their demise and near extinction in the Nanaimo harbour until the introduction of the program, started in 2001, to release hundreds of thousands of pink salmon fry into local waterways soon after birth.

About 55,000 returned last year, much to the delight of local anglers who must obtain a fish licence to fish for them and are limited to catching four per day.

Ken Carlson, who was fishing at the mouth of the Millstone River Wednesday, said he's delighted to be able to fish for the pink salmon so close to home.

"However, I've already lost two to the seals who take them right off the hook," he said.





This is a string of emails exchanged between the Nanaimo River Stewardship Society (I am a Director) and others. There are some interesting facts and stories.


Bernie Heinrichs
Hi Mel,
We did a swim today on the Nanaimo, spot checks from the Highway Bridge down to Raines Rock. Our count was 9,250. This is down a few thousand from last year's swim at this time. We did only count 38 adult Chinook, so lets hope that picks up.
I have heard more reports of pinks jumping out around the fingers and Rocky point last week, and a few fisherman catching them while trolling, so it sounds like they are still moving in.
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Brian Banks
Co Manager
Nanaimo River Hatchery

Thanks Brian, looks promising. I also observed pinks jumping at Neck point a few days ago.

Note - Mel is Mel Shanks from Fishery and Oceans

From: Wayne Harling []
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:26 PM
Subject: Re: Nanaimo Pinks

 Those pinks at Neck Pt. or Five Finger I. had better be our Departure Bay returns or else. Just our luck that most Pinks are opting to remain "offshore" this year instead of homing in on the net pen sites. Paul Rickard advises me that he, too, is observing the same thing. "HIs" pinks are holding at Cherry Point but have not yet entered Cowichan Bay.
Thankfully, a relatively small school showed up at the Millstone estuary on August 1and have remained there all month providing a great shore fishery for up to 40 anglers daily. Were it not for these fish, it would have been embarrassing. The best part is that entire families are participating together. Hundreds of onlookers were also delighted to witness the fish being caught (whether by anglers or seals).

From my numerous observations at the Millstone, almost everyone is behaving themselves, using the approved gear for this site (or at least when I have advised them that buzz bombs and/or treble hooks could result in a hefty fine, they are quick to inquire just what gear is permitted and they change over immediately. I have yet to be told to F--- off. I did notice that a few fish "snagged" in the head area were kept but those that were hooked in the back or tail were, with one exception that I observed, were released. Hopefully, the recent rain will entice some fish to move into Departure Bay if for no other reason than to get those damned fly fishers out of the water at the Millstone so that us "casters" can get to the fish (just kidding Bernie).

I have also been told that handicapped are being allowed to fish from the Newcastle I. float. I have not confirmed this with the ferry folk but the concept is a winner. I will approach the operators and Parks B.C. to determine if this indeed occurred or if it can be formally allowed. I would envision "wheel chair only" access to the float.
Thanks or the update, Wayne
I too heard of the fun people are having by Millstone.
The story i heard last nite was -
A fella caught a pink, and was so excited he had caught one, he actually fell in the water (off the rocks he was standing), but he would not let go of his fishing rod.
So he climbed back onto the rock, (still holding his fishing rod), and continued to play the fish.
He got it near the shore, when it go snagged on a shopping cart that was in the water.
He lost the fish, lost his cell phone, and lost wallet (but he went in the water and retrieved his wallet).
lots of action down there.

Sept 3, 2010
I was down there this evening and there were still 30 - 40 anglers hauling in pinks that looked like they were ready to spawn. And they are taking them home for dinner. Geez, times must really be tough for some people. We have at least 10,000 pinks in Nanaimo River and if we ever get our water tower upgrade completed, we will start thinking about brood stock selection.
My one concern is that there were no Pinks in Departure Bay this year despite the fact that we released 400,000 of the best smolts we've ever raised from the Brandon Island net pens in 2009. Paul Rickard is having the same problem at Cowichan. Those net pen pinks are holding at Cherry Point and refuse to enter the Bay. Strange year.

Finally we end with  Salmon in the City  on YouTube.

The End!!