First the bad news. If you haven't heard of the Mount Polly Mine Tailings pond breach then you will now. This is a major major issue for the Quesnel Lake and potentially the Horsefly Sockeye run which is one of the major summer runs of the Fraser River. The content of the tailings has not been disclosed at this time but it has the potential to be a very serious environmental issue as the mine is a copper mine and dissolved copper is extremely toxic to fish.
Basically it has a toxicity in the low parts per billion range. If you don't know what a part per billion is, well a part per million is like an eyedropper drop in a barrel of water, so a part per billion is an eye dropper drop in a thousand barrels of water. The issue here will be just how much copper and other heavy metals is in the sediment of the tailings ponds and how much of it will dissolve into the water. The amount spilled was truly massive and there are only some early estimates as to the volume. As a result the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has just closed the Cariboo River from the confluence of the Quesnel River to the confluence of Seller Creek and the Quesnel River downstream of Poquette Creek until it can assess the damage. No fishing or drinking of the water. All the other fisheries openings are now likely to be examined in light of this incident and further bad news is entirely possible.
A Youtube video of the breach is at this site;
Good News: The number of sockeye having entered the Fraser as of the last month (from July 5 to August 5) was equal to 50% of the 2010 run over the same days which is an improvement over early last weeks numbers. The number of Chinook was 80% of the 2010 total over the same period. There are commercial openings in northern Johnstone Strait and DFO has reported above normal catches. Those fish should start arriving in a week or two. There is an opening of First Nations Commercial fishery planned in the Fraser, perhaps as early as Sunday. However, everything is now going to be balanced against the potential consequences of the mine tailings spill. If there is a commercial opening you might as well wait up to two days for the river to re-stock if you are fishing in the Chilliwack area.
As there have been no commercial openings on the lower Fraser yet, everyone is gearing up for the start of tomorrows opening which starts one hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset. If you don't know when that is, check the Vancouver Sun for the official times. If you fish outside those times, you could be subject to penalties from DFO/B.C. conservation service.
People fishing off the UBC Bell Bouy and West Vancouver shoreline have been reporting increasingly positive results including Sockeye off the bell bouy and coho off the West Van shore line and Chinooks. There are reports of the bigger Fraser Chinooks off the Bell Bouy and boaters will increasingly target the Sockeye off the Fraser Banana.
So here's being hopeful that that mine tailings spill will be brought under control, but only the next few days/weeks will bear that out. In the mean time, enjoy what openings there are.