British Columbia Fishing Blog

Fishing Trip Stories, Video Blog, Website Updates...

Welcome to our fishing blog, which takes you along on our fishing trips around British Columbia. This is also where we provide you updates on changes to our website and other related projects.

The Unnecessary Demise of an Iconic Species

Published on November 20th, 2017 by Rodney

Steelhead

By now if you do some kind of recreational fishing in British Columbia, you must have heard about the predicted return numbers for this year’s Interior Fraser River steelhead, which are pretty dismal. The expected number of steelhead returning to the Thompson River is 145 fish, while Chilcotin River’s return is expected to be 45 fish. The number of fish spawning in the spring will most likely be even lower than that once overwintering mortality is taken into account.

The Thompson River returns, just one decade ago, were still in the thousands. Lets pause for a minute and think about the rate of this decline. If an iconic species of animal in British Columbia, take grizzly bear, or bald eagle for example, had a 50%+ decrease after one breeding cycle, imagine what the public outrage would be.

The trouble with fish is that, they are in the water. You can’t see them and you don’t know how they’re doing. Once a fish species loses its commercial value, it no longer is a public interest. A handful of lucky steelhead anglers who have had the privilege to shake hands with these fish, have a sentimental connection with them and will be their advocates, but their voices are not enough to bring these populations back to what they used to be. The recovery of a species requires the support of ALL British Columbians, and this is where you come in.

Now, I can’t sit here and tell you what a magnificent sportfish the Thompson River steelhead is or that we are saving them so future generations can enjoy catching them. Firstly, I’ve never fished for them so I wouldn’t know, and this is not about fishing anymore. The loss of a species is tragic, especially when it is preventable. The goal is no longer to save an iconic fish so some fishermen can feel the tug again. This is about saving genetically distinct populations of fish which cannot be replaced once they are gone.

The Interior Fraser River steelhead’s endemic range is huge. From the streams where they hatch to the Pacific Ocean, too many things can go wrong in tens of thousands squared kilometres. On top of natural challenges such as predation and unfavourable oceanic conditions, their survival is impacted by plenty of human activities. Some of these human-caused problems take time to resolve, while others can be eliminated immediately.

The commercial chum salmon gill net fishery in the Lower Fraser River, which takes place during these steelhead’s returns, is one of them. When there are only 200 fish returning, it is absurd to suggest some of them can be considered as incidental by-catches so a fishery can be allowed. With a post-release mortality at over 60%, you can see how fast the population can be pushed to extinction. The trouble with saving a species, is the race against time. The rate of decline accelerates as the species approaches extinction. Ten years ago, losing 20 fish meant a 1% loss of the population. Today, it becomes 10%. Time is running out.

Our immediate action should be to pressure this government to end a commercial fishery that puts money in a few pockets at the expense of a species’ survival. You can do so by signing this current petition that has been circulating. By signing this petition, it does not guarantee the recovery of the Interior Fraser River steelhead populations, far from it. This recovery will most likely take decades so your ongoing action and support are required. Sign, share and inform others who are still unaware.

Posted in Biology, Conservation, Fishery issues | Comments Off on The Unnecessary Demise of an Iconic Species

Gibbs Delta TV Episode Five

Published on September 9th, 2017 by Rodney

Check out the latest episode of Gibbs Delta TV which we have just published. This episode features Okanagan Lake’s rainbow trout and kokanee fisheries, which can be done almost year round. We joined pro-staff Rodney Hennig from Rodney’s Reel Outdoors who is an expert in the Okanagan region. Also joining us is special guest Sem Hilverink, who is a very avid young angler from Kelowna.

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Being Kept Off the River for the Wrong Reasons

Published on September 7th, 2017 by Rodney

Catching Fraser River Pink Salmon

Throwback Thursday! Exactly two years ago, Junior experienced his first pink salmon outing on the Fraser River. His job at the time was to net the fish. This fish he is ready to graduate to actually bring one in with a rod and reel.

Once every two years, many families like ours, have the privilege to enjoy this wonderful fishery for a couple of weeks. It is the perfect salmon species for young anglers. They are plentiful, eager to bite and easy to manage once on your fishing line.

I’m sure many of you are frustrated (actually that is an understatement, livid might be the appropriate term) as this fishery closure continues after yesterday’s Fraser River salmon update. Comments across our social media platforms and discussion forum make that pretty evident. While I understand the frustrations, there is quite a bit of misinformation being put out there so lets lay out the facts so you know what’s going on.

First of all, almost all of the fisheries in Region 2 are open right now. The Fraser River is closed for salmon fishing, but the negative publicity of this closure has lead anglers to believe that all rivers are closed. You can check what you can fish for and retain in each river on this page:

http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/fresh-douce/region2-eng.html

Most of the tributaries of the Lower Fraser River are still not seeing salmon returning yet, but things are slowly picking up. As always, Chilliwack/Vedder River is seeing both chinook salmon (which you can retain) and pink salmon (which you can catch and release) arriving daily at the moment.

Secondly, First Nations have the right to have their communal food and ceremonial fisheries, please don’t suggest otherwise. The constitution of your country says so. If you would like to challenge that, the supreme court of Canada would be the venue for you to do so.

Some of you have expressed your concerns on the racial remarks in the comment section. Please note that inappropriate comments do get deleted (if you can’t see the deleted comments, how would you know if comments aren’t being deleted?). Some comments that are stereotyping but not what I’d consider as racist are left alone, because both sides need to see them to understand that there is a problem when priority is given to one user group than the other. Lack of understanding from both sides leads to stereotyping, which leads to conflicts.

This blame on First Nations for the demise of Fraser River salmon is unnecessary. While the amount of fish taken seems significant, it is incomparable to what commercial fisheries harvest historically. With that said, there are issues that need to be addressed. By-catches of sockeye salmon, which apparently are a major concern in recreational fisheries, exist in in-river gill net fisheries and cannot be ignored. The illegal sales of salmon from communal fisheries by some participants need to be stopped. You can do so by reporting the sales, and not buying to end the demand. Just like in recreational fisheries, a small number of people who choose not to play by the rules gives the entire user group a bad name, which should not be used to label the entire group.

Rather than blaming the other user group which shares the same resource as you, your attention should shift toward those who manage these fisheries and pose questions which have been avoided repeatedly. Instead of simply shut down the entire fishery, why are we not looking at different options to provide some angling opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of vulnerable species? Why aren’t the options of opening pink salmon for catching and releasing, or reducing the retention quota to 2, or 1 fish, being considered? What is the target quota given for the First Nations, is it a fixed number of fish per year, or is it a ratio that is adjusted based on the size of the runs? And are we expecting that target to be reached before we can expect a recreational fishing opening? Why are terminal fisheries for pink salmon in systems like Chilliwack/Vedder and Harrison Rivers not being made available, when the rationale of the closure is to protect Fraser River sockeye salmon? Why is the Tidal Fraser River not open for pink salmon when incidental by-catches of sockeye salmon are unheard of due to the specific fishing techniques being employed for pink salmon? Why is the retention of dead sockeye salmon being permitted now in some First Nations communal fisheries when their low returns are the reason behind recreational fishing closures?

Instead of complaining about First Nations, the lack of fishing opportunities and wanting your licences refunded here, you should be phoning Barbara Mueller, the resource manager of Fraser River (604.666.2370) and Jennifer Nener (604-666-0789) at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who should be able to answer these for you while you address your concerns. In the past several years, this community has seen a sharp decline in interest on recreational fishing among resource managers. Instead of answering questions, resource managers have taken the silent approach in the past two years. While conservation is priority to ensure the survival of future stocks, some management decisions being made are simply wrong and their socioeconomic impacts need to be addressed. When one user group is being shut out because it is the easiest way to avoid conflicts between groups, you’re simply sweeping the problems to the side which will keep growing. The recreational fishing community cannot stand by during these closures in the name of conservation while many signs indicate otherwise.

Posted in Conservation, Website news and updates | Comments Off on Being Kept Off the River for the Wrong Reasons

Moby Net Giveaway

Published on August 4th, 2017 by Rodney

We are giving away a beautiful Moby Net! To enter, leave a comment in this video, or on our Instagram or Facebook by telling us, what are the favourite things you’ve seen or what have you learned from the 550 videos which we’ve put out in the last ten years? We will randomly draw a entry and announce the winner on August 9th during an YouTube livestream event!

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2017’s Lingcod and Rockfish Regulations

Published on April 21st, 2017 by Rodney

A Mix Bag of Lingcod and Rockfish

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has released a couple of fishery notices on rockfish and lingcod regulations for this season.

The first one summarizes the daily quota for rockfish.

http://www-ops2.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fns-sap/index-eng.cfm…

Second notice summarizes the quotas for lingcod in Areas 12, 13 to 19, 20 and 29.

http://www-ops2.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fns-sap/index-eng.cfm…

Please note that Areas 28 and 29 (except subarea 29-5) remain closed for lingcod and rockfish fishing (this includes catching and releasing) because abundance is simply not high enough for any harvest.
Third notice summarizes the quotas for lingcod in all other Areas.

http://www-ops2.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fns-sap/index-eng.cfm…

Post-release mortality is often quite high when it comes to rockfish due to the expansion of their air bladder as they are reeled in from the deep. This is a concern to fishery managers and the recreational fishing sector is developing ways to significantly reduce this impact.

One is to selectively target species, like what we did in our recent video with Murphy Sportfishing by using large swimbaits for lingcod to avoid rockfish.

Another way is to stop fishing once anglers reach their quotas so no fish are unnecessarily killed by catching and releasing them.

The third way, which may have the biggest impact, is the use of a release device which brings the fish down to a selected depth before it is being released. The fish is hooked onto the device, which is then lowered into the deep by using a Scotty Fishing Products’ downrigger and the device will released the fish based on water pressure. This depressurize the fish’s air bladder gradually as the depth increases, therefore bringing the fish back to its habitat. Early testings have shown excellent results with underwater video footage of fish swimming away once being released. It is a practice that will not only sustain the resource but also keep fisheries open in the future. We will be showing you how the device works later on this year when we start filming on the WCVI.

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