Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Sponsored Content

5 Salmon Runs That Were Awesome This Year

The media loves a bad news story. All summer and fall, you probably saw headlines like “ 'Grim' Fraser River salmon runs even worse than forecast ” and “ Low B.C. salmon stocks prompt consumer warning.

The media loves a bad news story. All summer and fall, you probably saw headlines like “'Grim' Fraser River salmon runs even worse than forecast” and “Low B.C. salmon stocks prompt consumer warning.” With headlines like this, it’s easy to start to wonder if we should even be eating BC salmon. There’s no doubt that there are some serious conservation issues to be addressed here and attention needs to be paid to the causes of the decline of salmon in some areas. But the reality is that BC has a large coast and many salmon runs are doing better than they have in years. If you buy your salmon from a Community Supported Fishery like Skipper Otto’s, you will know your fisherman, know the exact run, gear method, and month your fish was caught – assurance that the salmon you are eating comes from bountiful, stable runs and that the fishermen who caught your fish were paid a fair-trade price.

To give you a sampling, here are 5 salmon runs in BC that were really strong in 2016!

1. Smith Inlet Sockeye Salmon, on BC’s central Coast, north of Port Hardy near Calvert Island

Salmon spawning up Smith Inlet pass through the Docee River Counting Fence. Precise records have been kept since 1972, so we know precisely the fluctuations of numbers in that run over the past 44 years. The numbers have fluctuated wildly and, for the past couple of decades, there were no commercial fisheries on Smith Inlet sockeye salmon as the numbers were so low. This year 188,464 sockeye salmon passed that fence, the highest number in 23 years! As a result, successful fisheries took place in late summer.

2. Barkley Sound Sockeye Salmon, on the west coast of Vancouver Island between Bamfield and Ucluelet

For a 3rd year in a row, sockeye salmon returning to Barkley Sound to spawn up the Somass River returned in numbers higher than expected. Commercial, aboriginal, and recreational fisheries went on well into July on this abundant run.

3. Nitnat Chum Salmon, on the west coast of Vancouver Island between Bamfield and Port Renfrew

The Nitnat hatchery has operated on Vancouver Island’s west coast since it was built in 1980 “to help sustain salmon populations for local commercial, recreational and Ditidaht First Nations fisheries.” This October, chum salmon returning to that hatchery came back in very strong numbers. What was expected to be a very limited fishery was expanded to a full fleet opening when numbers of these chum salmon showed up higher than expected.


4. Johnstone Strait/ Fraser River Chum Salmon, between Vancouver Island and mainland BC, between Campbell River and Port McNiell

Although Fraser River sockeye numbers have hit a record low, other salmon species returning to the Fraser are doing extremely well. Commercial, aboriginal, and recreational fisheries targeting these runs in the Johnstone Strait and near the Fraser River are fishing the strongest returns in many years.


5. Nootka Sound Chum Salmon, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, north of Tofino

Chum salmon returns in Nootka Sound have been returning in numbers much higher than expected this year. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans had only planned to permit a limited fleet to fish these runs, selected by random draw. However, since the numbers have been so much higher than expected, the DFO has opened fishing to the entire fleet. Fishing there continues to be strong at the time of writing.

skipper-ottosSalmon lovers should remember that there are 5 species of salmon on our coast and that sometimes we need to shift our eating habits to reflect what is bountiful in any given year. Members of Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery receive updates all season long about what salmon are abundant and sustainable. When your supply chain is fully transparent, you can feel confident that you are eating with the ecosystem and supporting fishing families who are making the effort to do things right instead of allowing uncertainty and fear to drive you from your healthy seafood diet.

Skipper Otto's is currently open for membership! Join by Nov 30 for our Insiders' Early Bird rate and to take part in the bounty of wild, totally traceable, fair-trade BC seafood. To read more about how it works, or to join, go to