Fishing in Season on Lummi Island
Here on Lummi Island with Rosario and Georgia Straits within view of the road, it is easy to know which of the many many sea creatures available to us is in season. I can see the small boats, both tribal and non-tribal, on their way to and from the various fishing grounds in most months of the year. When the Fraser River salmon are running, from July through October, the remaining eight reefnet gears are standing proud in two rows in Legoe Bay. Gillnetters and Seiners also dash just outside the gears, on their way to their favorite sets.
In the spring the small tribal boats run past the Willows to pot fish for spot prawns, and a month later back they go in search of the prized halibut, part of a discrete stock only located here and in Haro Strait (and better than any I have tasted). Interspersed between all of the fisheries, tribal boats are opened for short Dungeness Crab fisheries, while the non-tribal boats fish from October 1 until May. A few boats dive for sea cucumber and sea urchin in the fall. It's all just out there, healthy and delicious, as far as the eye can see. And if your timing is right, and your connections good, it's a short trip to the dinner plate almost any time of the year.
The main reason we fish in season is for sustainability of our resources. Salmon are on their way to spawn, and harvest is based on how many fish need to go up each creek to spawn. Dungeness crab need to be harvested at their peak hardness, or the goodness and abundance of each crab will be wasted. Spot prawns should only be taken when they are not spawning; those who prize the roe are squandering the next generation. Halibut, too, should be avoided during the winter months when they spawn. It's all about ensuring that the next generation can be born and keep the stocks healthy.