The summer sockeye salmon fishery closed its first opening on Thursday at 7 a.m., but for a few busy days, the Fraser River along Langley was busy with fishing boats.
Doug Probert was one of the returning fishermen, packing up the last of his commercial catch in ice Thursday morning at the government dock at 252nd Street in Glen Valley.
He and his fellow fishermen said it was an okay opening, though not spectacular. Probert’s boat brought in about 380 fish over the course of the brief opening.
Also out on the river was Greg McLellan of McLellan Fish Packing.
The three-generation business was started by McLellan’s father, Norm. Greg’s kids Heather, Shayne, and Colton were all out on the water this week helping out.
“The fishing is not all that lively today,” Greg said on Wednesday, from his boat near Silverdale.
The Langley-based family don’t fish themselves, but they’re another link in the chain that gets salmon from the river to restaurants and grocery stores.
“We pick up the fish from the guys that are catching them, the gillnetters,” said Greg.
Four years ago, the last big run of sockeye had them busy.
They worked for 28 days, rushing to unload at Richmond the heading back up the river, taking tons of ice to fishermen and picking up fish for packing.
This year, the McLellans were packing fish on their boat, the Delta Queen V, as well as a slush barge and a chiller boat.
They were expecting to see Fraser River sockeye selling for about $2.50 a pound this year, pretty good money, Greg said.
“Everybody wants the sockeye,” he said.
Although a decent-sized return of sockeye was expected for the first time in four years, there were fears that hot weather would kill many of the fish.
On Aug. 2, a report from the Fraser River Panel noted water temperatures were 20.7 Celsius, 2.7 degrees higher than normal.
“Sustained water temperatures in this range can cause severe stress to migrating sockeye and may lead to significant en-route mortality,” the pre-opening report warned.
Despite this, reports suggested that the total Fraser sockeye run would be as high as 13.98 million fish.