The leanest, reddest meat make this a jewel of a fish to anglers. Smoked candied sockeye salmon is a best kept secret unless you are from here.
Sockeye begin life in a particular stream or river then come home exactly to where they began. Commercial fishermen can recognize the origins of local sockeye by the shape of the scales -- some are squarish to rounder to diamond shape. Who would have thought? Their migration begins from the ocean at 15 fathoms or more and heads into the Alberni Inlet when the water reaches 62 degrees F. By the 21st of June we expect the sockeye run to be in full swing with standing room only in the inlet so to speak.
We have been experiencing their population explosion in the past couple of years following the famous Fraser River decline only a few years ago. We don't fully understand these fluctuations and must always be careful not to over harvest. The Barkley Sound had a yearly influx of seine boats that came here from the Atlantic cod fishery that were instrumental in decimating stocks.
In the last few years, our West Coast Charter Association together with the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, representatives of the First Nations, and the commercial fishermen segment have started weekly round table meetings (monthly in the winter). From our mutual concerns an understanding and respect has been forged over the table top. Even where legislation hasn't caught up to our realities on the water, groups have shown restraint when results of our biologists have laid their findings on the table. Sockeye are fished mostly in the Alberni Inlet, especially around China Creek.