North

Difficult fishing season for some fishers in Hay River, N.W.T.

It’s been a difficult summer for many commercial fishers on Great Slave Lake, at least according to one fisherman who has been in the business for 40 years.

Meanwhile, the Hay River freshwater fish plant is close to reaching its seasonal goal

Duncan Richardson says he didn't catch as many whitefish this year compared to last year. (Kirsten Murhpy/CBC)

It's been a difficult summer for commercial fishers on Great Slave Lake, at least according to one fisherman who has been in the business for 40 years.

Although he's caught plenty of fish this year, Duncan Richardson said they haven't been the right kind.

Last year was a bumper year for whitefish, which is where the money is. But, this year, Richardson guessed 40 per cent of his catch was whitefish, while the other 60 per cent was trout and coney.

He said he'll be lucky if he breaks even this year.

"I don't know if it was the water or whatever it is, but it sure screwed things up," said Richardson. "It was a bad season. Just bad. I don't know how to explain it."

Louise Montgomery, left, and Duncan Richardson say they've had a tough fishing season this year. Montgomery suspects windy days may have contributed to the problem. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Richardson's wife, Louise Montgomery, described this year's fishing season as windy, which can make it harder to fish.

However, Gordon Caudron, who manages the freshwater fish plant in Hay River, N.W.T., doesn't think this season has been any windier than usual.

"They're saying that, but I go by lost [fishing] days," said Caudron. "And we've had very few lost days."

In fact, the Hay River fish plant is well on its way to meeting its season goal of bringing in one million pounds of fish, he said.

"We're at about 900,000 pounds now, so another 100,000 pounds [to go]," he said. "And we have a month to do it in, hopefully, if the weather co-operates."

While some fishers with bigger fishing boats have had trouble this year, Caudron said the smaller boats — which can get into shallower water — have picked up the slack.

Gordon Caudron, manager of Hay River's freshwater fish plant, says it's well on its way to meeting this season's goal of bringing in one million pounds of fish. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

He credits the smaller boats with making up for any drop in production.

"That's why we are where we are," he said.

Many fishers have already pulled their boats out of the water for the season, as fall is on the way, said Caudron. He expects others will tow their boats east, toward Pine Point, for the final days of the season.

As for Richardson and his wife, they're hoping their poor fishing season is a one-time event.

"Cross your fingers and hope for the best," said Richardson.

With files from Kirsten Murphy

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