WATCH: It’s been a mainstay in Sooke for 14 years, dedicated to setting up the sport fishing industry for success. But today, Eagle Eye Outfitters’ tackle shop is closing its doors. Kori Sidaway tells us why and what the owners fear will happen next.
Snapshots of open ocean memories and years of family fishing adventures are being stripped from the walls of Eagle Eye Outfitters in Sooke.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking really,” Ron Neipsch, owner of Eagle Eye Outfitters.
“We need to be out of here by midnight tonight.”
The tackle shop has been a hub of the sportfishing industry in Sooke for 14 years. But after today, it’s doors will close.
“There isn’t a place for us here anymore,” said Neipsch.
“It’s the end of a dream.”
Neipsch says the new federal Chinook salmon fishing restrictions is killing their business.
“They’ve shortened their season up so much to a point where it’s no longer viable for us to stay open,” said Neipsch.
To protect Fraser River salmon stocks, the federal government recently made catch-and-release of Chinook mandatory until mid-August, shortening the take-home season by two months along the South Coast of B.C.
Past that date, instead of 30 Chinook, sport fishers will only be allowed to take home 10.
And many say that will change the whole fabric of coastal towns, like Sooke, which rely on sportfishing tourism.
“Hotels and resorts are telling me that numbers are down,” said Neipsch.
“[Tourists] probably won’t come at all, they’ll probably just choose another destination where they’ll be allowed to keep more fish and have a larger window to choose from.”
And they say, this closure, is the first of many.
“There are more small businesses that are going to be in trouble,” said Neipsch.
And with no change in sight, the shop’s now dimmed open sign may be a symbol of the entire industry on the precipice of disappearing.