FISHERY PROFILE

Salmon by Hook & Line Troll

North Coast / Haida Gwaii — SALMON AREA F

PRIMARY SPECIES:

King Chinook

FISHERY OPENINGS:

Jun 09 - --

Hook and Line Troll

Fish harvesters use hooks and lines, trailed behind their vessels at low speed, to catch salmon. The hooks are attached to lures that imitate the salmon’s food, such as herring and squid. Salmon are individually hooked and the lines are pulled in with a hydraulic winch. However, fishermen must haul in each salmon by hand for the last 20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 metres)—a struggle in which the skill and agility of the harvester is paramount. 

Harvesting Method

Hook and Line Troll

Trolling is a slow and selective method of harvesting salmon. Vessels average 40 feet (12 metres) in length and have a small crew who are often family members. Some captains even fish alone. Trollers usually fish offshore and can stay at sea for a week at a time, searching for areas where salmon school or feed. The most distinct feature of a salmon troller is its long poles secured to its mast by a crosstree. When fishing, the poles are spread apart forming a v-shape. The poles and four floats prevent the many fishing lines and lures from tangling while trolling at about three knots (5.6 km/h). Fish harvesters can have as many as 120 lures in the water at once, at depths of 10 to 360 feet (3 to 110 metres).

Hook and Line Troll

In the spring, North Coast trollers catch Chinook or “Spring” salmon and in the summer they target sockeye salmon. They can also catch chum, coho and pink salmon depending on their annual allocations.

Conservation Measures

Trolling has a low impact on marine habitats and a low rate of bycatch (unwanted fish). A number of controls ensure conservation in the salmon troll fishery. These include:

  • strict annual catch limits
  • limitation on number of licensed fishing vessels;
  • individual quotas in the Chinook fishery;
  • restrictions on landing small fish;
  • seasonal and area closures for conservation purposes;
  • the use of barbless hooks, selective lures and revival tanks to reduce the mortality of non-targeted fish species; and
  • strict monitoring and recording of catch

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks
FISHERY DETAILS

North Coast / Haida Gwaii

MAP
ECO-RATINGS / CERTIFICATIONS

Ocean Wise - Recommended

Seafood Watch - Good Alternative

SeaChoice - Some Concerns

Seafood Watch - Good Alternative

FISHERY OPENINGS

Jun 09 - --

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery as part of an integrated fisheries management strategy for all salmon in northern B.C. Download the most recent plan (PDF).

FISH STOCK STATUS

Salmon stocks are assessed by scientists in the Department and Fisheries and Oceans. For the most recent stock status, visit DFO Science.

Quality and Handling

Troll-caught salmon are known for their high quality and freshness. The slow-paced and selective nature of trolling means that each salmon is individually hauled aboard by hand, cleaned, washed and either iced or frozen at sea. Troll-caught salmon also tend to have little or no scarring. For this reason, quality—rather than quantity—is the hallmark of troll-caught wild salmon. 

Some trollers freeze their catch at sea. The salmon are dipped in a saltwater glaze and flash-frozen to a core temperature of -30 degrees Celsius. The glaze prevents dehydration and locks in freshness. Freezing happens within only hours of the salmon being caught so that when the fish is thawed it has the quality of being freshly caught. That’s why fishermen refer to their catch as “fresh-frozen” and why frozen-at-sea salmon are highly sought after by sushi chefs.

Harvesting Area

The North Coast and Haida Gwaii, known as “Area F” by fisheries managers, is a fecund region of rainforests fjords, archipelagos, crystal clear lakes and salmon-bearing rivers that flow into some of the richest marine zones on the planet. The region consists of the archipelago of Haida Gwaii and Inside Passage which is dotted with thousands of islands, winding inlets and soaring mountains. The region is sparsely populated with towns, villages and Indian reserves, and is home to several aboriginal tribes including the Haida, Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Hailsa, Oweekeno, Kitasoo, Nuxulk and Heiltsuk. These tiny ports support the troll fishery with a variety of services and are the landing locations for catch. 

Food Info King Chinook


TASTING NOTES

  • Colour: deep red to pale pink or even “ivory” or “winter” white
    Texture: large, soft-textured flakes with a velvety feel
  • Flavour: succulent and full-flavored with high fish oil content that’s almost buttery
  • Perfect serve: Grilled on a soaked cedar plank and seasoned with nothing more than coarse sea salt, ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to offset the buttery richness.
HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY KING CHINOOK