Paradise Lost…….Or Given Away

While the steelhead fishing community is preoccupied with the latest, greatest equipment and techniques that facilitate catching a steadily increasing proportion of a fixed or diminishing supply of fish, the degradation and sell off of the last of the best rivers in British Columbia goes unnoticed. Of greatest concern are the internationally renowned Skeena tributaries as well as Mother Skeena herself. Those aren’t the only victims but they serve as the best examples to illustrate where we are. Elsewhere in BC, virtually every river that still supports enough fish to attract angler interest is besieged with the same phenomena. Guides are ever more dominant, boats are everywhere they are legal and motors that propel them are ever more powerful, angler density is increasing steadily and everyone blames everyone else for being the problem. Lets look at some facts.

First, those guides. There is a pervasive myth that there are adequate controls on how many guides are licensed to operate on the blue ribbon or classified waters. Think of the Bulkley River for example. Yes, the regulations specify how many guides are licensed but they make no mention of how many assistant guides can operate under one licensed guide. Over time the number of assistant guides on the Bulkley has grown from an original number of a half dozen (late 1980s and early 90s) to more than 40 as of 2013. No one can even tell us how many there are today. Every one of those guides and their small army of assistants operates a boat whenever they are on the water. There was once a clear policy stating that an angling guide could occupy no more than one base camp and one satellite camp and the latter could not be more than a small, single building. Those familiar with the Babine River, for example, will recognize the three guide lodges on that river each have one satellite camp and each of those consists of one building. Contrast those original provisions with what we see on the Bulkley system today. One guide maintains two main lodges and three satellite camps of unlimited size strategically located to occupy prime waters at prime times continuously over the best weeks of the season. On unclassified rivers there are no restrictions whatsoever on guides or guiding other than the sport fishing regulations that apply to everyone.

The regulations pertaining to angling guides state plainly that “the guide must be present on or near the waters during substantially all times that guiding is occurring”. The intent of that regulation was to ensure that angling guides were angling guides, not rod day brokers who sub-contracted their rod day quotas so they could conduct multiple operations from multiple facilities or locations coincidentally. Obviously no one in a position of authority was paying attention over the past many years as the rod day brokers kept on pushing the envelope. The Bulkley example is hardly unique. Similar situations exist on several other of the Skeena area’s classified waters. Defenders of free enterprise are quick to claim they provide jobs and support numerous local businesses through their activities. That deserves a bit of attention as well.

One only has to Google Skeena steelhead guiding or anything similar to come up with enough web sites to consume many hours of intrigue. What emerges repeatedly is the business of non-Canadians serving as travel agents, booking agents and hosted travel purveyors on behalf of the rod day holding guides who cut deals that compensate them to the tune of 15-20% of the weekly guided angler fare as well as free fishing in return for arriving with a weekly complement of customers. Some of those agents deal with multiple guide operations. It isn’t just foreigners performing that role either. British Columbia resident operators do likewise, sometimes even advertising themselves as guides. Factor in that a growing majority of the major steelhead lodges on the blue ribbon classified waters are foreign owned and the notion that local businesses are primary beneficiaries of the guiding industry is without foundation.

That’s just the licensed guides. A few more mouse clicks will reveal a growing list of operators that provide everything but hands on guiding………..sort of. Just because they own strategically situated, first class streamside facilities that provide services that can include everything from boat rentals, boat launches, shuttle service, maps and tackle and just because they show up on the web sites of the same people that service many of the prominent licensed guides/rod day brokers, why would anyone think they fit the definition of a guide? Why bother with the angst of securing an angling guide license and rod day quota if you can enjoy all the same benefits at a fraction of the cost and zero likelihood of any legal retribution? Or, you can cut a deal with a licensed guide who will happily guide patrons of these unlicensed operations on one or two days during their week long stay and leave them to carry on unaccompanied on the intervening days. Then there are the other “service providers”, similarly unlicensed, who don’t operate out of their own or any single facility. They are much more difficult to identify and quantify but, make no mistake, they are out there. Those familiar with the long running dispute between guides and outfitters out there on the BC hunting landscape will recognize many similarities.

When all the guiding and pseudo guiding is added up there is clearly a lot of money changing hands. One wonders if Revenue Canada has ever been alerted or paid any attention. For certain all those booking agents, trip hosts, tackle vendors, equipment suppliers, film makers, etc. that are frequent flyers at the high end camps and facilities never declare any income or other benefits they derive, at least nothing that contributes to British Columbian or Canadian tax coffers. Guides pay $450 annually for their license and $31 and $26 per rod day for quota days on Class 1 and Class 2 waters respectively. However, those fees only apply during classified periods, most commonly between September 1 and October 31. Outside those dates there are no rod day fees for guides or daily fees for clients. Furthermore, there are no rod day fees for any unclassified waters. A week’s worth of lodge based guided fishing in a classified situation will fetch anywhere from $5000 to $7500 US. Helicopter facilitated guiding commands much higher prices. (Contrast the duelling helicopters today on the Zymoetz R and the upper Nass and Skeena systems with their virtual absence when the classified waters system was enacted.) Thirty-one dollars per day to the Canadians that rightfully own the resource versus $1000 US per day in the pocket of those who sell it doesn’t strike me as a fair shake. Is there another resource based industry in British Columbia that enjoys anywhere near that level of subsidy?

Next up are the two other (unguided) angler classes that originate from Canadian provinces other than British Columbia or from outside Canada. Both have grown to become a highly visible presence on prime waters at prime times and the numbers of both are perceived by many BC resident anglers to be compromising that original quality fishing experience the classified waters system was supposed to protect. Data from license sales certainly supports the observation there are more non-BC anglers on the water and it is reasonable to conclude more licensees translates to more days being fished. How many more, which group they are attributable to and what the temporal distribution of days fished remains inconclusive, however. One would think that sometime during the 26 fishing seasons since the classified waters management system was enacted a consistent, comprehensive data system would have been developed. The fact there hasn’t leaves no baseline against which to gauge accurately where we are presently. Worse yet, even simple statistics that are available from the wholly inadequate existing system are not being examined. For example, it should be a very straightforward exercise to add up and report on the river specific numbers of classified waters days purchased by guided versus non-guided non-Canadians. That alone could put to rest much of the mythology in circulation.

Residents of BC are supposedly the most important component of the classified waters angler population. Once again, license sales data points to a rising trend but that doesn’t tell us how many of those who purchased a license actually went fishing (we know from historic surveys many don’t), much less how many days may have been spent on which rivers and when. Of all the classes of angler licensees, the data available on this first priority resident class is the most deficient. Some will remember there were “guardians” conducting angler surveys on some Skeena tributaries for three seasons (2013-2015 inclusive). I understand those surveys were intended to address many of the questions raised here. Only one report (for 2013) has ever been published and it was embarrassingly deficient.

The last point I’ll make here concerns the endless struggle to try and sustain the steelhead supply. In a lifetime spent in a multitude of forums where commercial fishery interception of summer steelhead was the consistent and, frequently, the sole focus I can easily count on my fingers how many of the guides who account for an ever larger piece of the steelhead pie attended. Instead it was the volunteers, those unpaid, conservation oriented, British Columbia resident anglers with nothing to gain financially who showed up to do the heavy lifting.

Enough of the problems. Lets look at potential solutions or at least ways and means of stemming the tide.  “Quality fishing” remains a concept defined in the eyes of the beholder but who can deny there comes a point where too many people destroys any concept of quality? The only solution to that is limiting the number of participants. That isn’t some elusive administrative task. Quebec has had an effective system (ZECs) for doing precisely that for as long as classified waters have existed in BC. Our own BC Ferries has a decades old reservation system and the Dean River draw has been around for an equally long period. If we don’t think we’re there yet or the debate around which class of anglers is responsible for what amount of the perceived problem isn’t detectable from irrefutable data, put a system in place that requires every single angler to purchase a license for every day fished on every water. Then and only then will there be a basis for informed decisions. In today’s digital world this isn’t the proverbial rocket science. The lack of enforcement around illegal guiding could be addressed effectively as well if ever there was a limit placed on how many licenses were available for specific waters at specific times. Competition from non-guided, non-residents could also be easily controlled if and where it was problematic by limiting the number of licenses available to them.

Welcome to the Bulkley River.

Boats have become the dominant feature of angler use on virtually every classified water, as well as every next best river that wasn’t classified in 1990 but has since been victimized by all the same problems that drove those regulations. There are some excellent creel survey data from the early days on the Bulkley River, for example, that indicate how small a proportion of the anglers present operated from boats. Today’s situation is in marked contrast. What people fail to consider in that outcome is the difference between 100 anglers on foot and 100 anglers in boats. Think about that and think about what additional pressure it brings to bear on a supply of steelhead that ranges between the same annual highs and lows it did fifty years ago. There are regulations available to limit the times and places where boats may be used. Why not boat free times and places to accommodate the fish and perhaps even a few low budget anglers who can’t afford to join the bigger, better, faster mobile tackle shop parade?

Coming soon to a river near you?

For those who think the Montana experience will never happen in Skeena country or elsewhere in British Columbia, here’s a web site that you might want to consider.

http://www.bulkleyadventures.com/jet-boat-tours

There are also provisions available to the statutory authority for angling guide licenses to place conditions on any and every one of those licenses. Why not guide free times and zones, why not limits on how many boats one guide license can put on the water on a given day, why not a limit on horsepower, why not a limit on how many assistant guides can be licensed by one guide and how many camps can be operated, why not mandatory guide accompaniment rather than taxi service………? There are many tools already on the shelf to address the ever escalating and disproportionate amount of pressure exerted by the angling guide community on a supply of fish most of them sell on behalf of foreign owners who don’t pay their way. While I’m on the payment theme, why don’t guides pay for every rod day rather than just classified rod days and why don’t they pay a fee that more reasonably reflects the value of what we let them sell?

Change is always an ordeal. If the people we’ve been paying to conserve quality angling opportunities, primarily for the benefit of residents of British Columbia, are serious about doing their job, change is long overdue. If dollars are the mantra, forget the classified waters system, abandon guide licensing and all that goes with it, and reinstate a kill fishery for wild steelhead. The Vedder experience can be duplicated a dozen times over easily enough. Or, just keep doing nothing. Those in command deserve a reminder though. Presiding over once upon a time world class fisheries while pretending to manage them bears with it the burden of responsibility for their demise.

Comments 76

  • Bob a very interesting read. As you know I’ve been fishing the Bulkley for a good number of years and have to say it’s my favourite river. After last years visit though I’ve decided not to re-book for some of the very reasons you have stated. Personally I think the river is being over exploited and the fish will be the losers in this….as well as habitat destruction by folks that don’t care ( or just don’t know what they’re doing.) I felt that strongly about it I had a discussion with the mayor of Smithers. It is no longer a “wilderness” fishing destination and I believe that some overseas visitors who do pay big bucks to fish will be lost because of this (causing loss of local income) in the future if things aren’t altered for the better.
    If you’d like to contact me about it just contact me. As you know I LOVE the valley but the river and it’s steelhead fishery is being spoilt in my opinion.

  • No sleds above Smithers period. The Stamp no sleds period. Rod day limits on the entire Skeena system and rod day limits on places like the Stamp especially above the falls. At a minimum this is what needs to occur. Certainly improve drift access in places like the Bulkley above Smithers so that we can use other water craft more effectively. Limit the number of boats and charge substantially for the right to use any water craft including drift boat, pontoons, and rafts on our rivers.

    Most of all limit the number of Steelhead fishing licenses. Even to the extent of a lottery system on classified waters and an exclusionary licensing system for motor boats on rivers.
    Yes these are exclusionary measures and will not be popular. However this is the only way to protect what little is left of our once great sport fishery. It will take political guts to get this done, but the other choice is the continued degradation to a gong show where every snaggart with a sled and rod is slogging away on every inch of fish friendly water in the province.

    I for one would gladly pay an annual fee for the right to use a raft or drift boat. Others will argue the necessity of this action. However if these fees could then be turned back into tighter oversight of the systems then the cost would be well worth it. In the past 15 years I have not seen a single CO on any stretch of water that I have fished. This nonsense has to change and the only way to change it is in Victoria first. The mantra of record and report is not working. What we see today is a bunch of pigs in paradise rooting and roaring around leaving only the rivers to flush away their garbage and tire tracks and increasing numbers of dead fish that have been hooked far too many times in one season. As a good friend once said “steelhead are bitin’ fools”. The problems start when the fools are at the wrong end of the rod thinking that they are sportsmen IMO!

  • Bulkley guides haven’t been guiding for years, I think that ended in the late 80s, now like you said, all they do is taxi people up and down the streams.

    I think we need a total change in the system with regard to the management of fishing outfitters and their guides. Have you reviewed the list of licensed guides in BC?
    I tired to find this guy on the list only because someone on Facebook liked his post: West Coast River Charter’s owner Nick Hnennyj, not on the list as a guide or the name of the his company, fishes the Stamp/Somass. I tried to find another well know guide David Murphy on the list as well, did not find his name would their companies work under another licensed guide?

    I really don’t understand how the guiding system works but it looks to me like it doesn’t.
    I reviewed the criteria for becoming a guide and basically anyone can obtain a guiding license if they are a BC resident.

    How do we go about making changes to this system?
    How do we do it before its too late?

    • As always an entertaining read Bob. In this case couldn’t resist asking Darryl here to clarify a few points:

      -how was guiding in the 80’s different than it is now?

      -why do you think we need a “total change in the system with regard to the management of fishing outfitters and guides”?

      -if you say you “don’t understand how the guiding system works” how would you consider yourself qualified to state that “it looks to me like it doesn’t”?

      -what changes do you think need to be made?

      -too late for what?

      • Well Brian you’ve been guiding for some time in the Skeena watershed, I am sure you must have discussed what it was like in the old days with some of the old timers. I can tell you what I have observed, guiding outfits in Smithers mostly used drift boats, one guide and maybe two sports, as you know it’s not like that much anymore.

        Checks and balances, numbers, accountability, monitoring, if these processes exist please tell me where I can access this information.
        I am 63 years old I have been fishing for Steelhead in this province since I was 10 years old. I observe, evaluate and base conclusions on my observations. I talk to other fishermen, I read books written by fishermen, internet blogs etc. I have a fishing partner who lived in Smithers for many years he guided on the Bulkley, Skeena, Dean, he guided for Mike Maxwell and Gordon Shadrech and others, we talk about these things. What more qualification are needed considering there are no accessible data on the subject.

        The biggest change that I would like to see is no guiding for Steelhead on smaller rivers, i.e. Stamp.
        I would also like to see a provincial training diploma program for all wildlife guides, fishing or hunting with a technologist designation.
        Guides should be employed by the Province removing the monetary value completely.

        I am sure you know the answer to your last question.

        Cheers

        • Hi Darryl, let me start by saying that I think its great that you are active on this blog. It was obviously a concern for our natural resources that brought you here.

          In response to your answers to my questions. Your previous comments are in italics

          -how was guiding in the 80’s different than it is now?

          Well Brian you’ve been guiding for some time in the Skeena watershed, I am sure you must have discussed what it was like in the old days with some of the old timers. I can tell you what I have observed, guiding outfits in Smithers mostly used drift boats, one guide and maybe two sports, as you know it’s not like that much anymore.

          I started guiding on the Bulkley in 1997/98 license year. At that time I worked for the Maxwells who were the pioneers of instructional guiding. Maxwells were also one of the first guide operations to utilize jet boats. Colin’s outfit held the majority of the rod days and they used drift boats and had tent camps as well as the lodge in Telkwa. At this time there were very few private anglers in boats and even fewer in personal watercraft. I don’t agree with all of the guiding that takes place however I do take issue with your suggestion as guides as taxi drivers. I can assure you, the majority of todays guides provide a level of service beyond the industry standard.

          ——————————————–

          -why do you think we need a “total change in the system with regard to the management of fishing outfitters and guides”?

          Checks and balances, numbers, accountability, monitoring, if these processes exist please tell me where I can access this information.

          I would like to point out to you that guides are the only user group that operates within a rod day quota. we are also required to keep records that include the number and species of fish caught by our anglers as well as their daily CW license numbers. I am not sure if you can access this information, perhaps it would be public record. A call to your local Fish and Wildlife branch may provide the answer. Have you asked them for this information?
          ———————————————————-

          -if you say you “don’t understand how the guiding system works” how would you consider yourself qualified to state that “it looks to me like it doesn’t”?

          I am 63 years old I have been fishing for Steelhead in this province since I was 10 years old. I observe, evaluate and base conclusions on my observations. I talk to other fishermen, I read books written by fishermen, internet blogs etc. I have a fishing partner who lived in Smithers for many years he guided on the Bulkley, Skeena, Dean, he guided for Mike Maxwell and Gordon Shadrech and others, we talk about these things. What more qualification are needed considering there are no accessible data on the subject.

          I don’t think any of the above would qualify you to determine the guiding system doesn’t work. I got to tell you it actually works pretty good. There are very few examples of guides working outside of our regulatory bounds. Could it be improved? You bet. The good news is these discussions can happen when people are familiar with the issues.
          ————————————————-

          -what changes do you think need to be made?

          The biggest change that I would like to see is no guiding for Steelhead on smaller rivers, i.e. Stamp.
          I would also like to see a provincial training diploma program for all wildlife guides, fishing or hunting with a technologist designation.
          Guides should be employed by the Province removing the monetary value completely.

          Well its realistic that some rivers are not suitable for guiding I don’t think river size should be a criteria for whether commercial activity(guiding) should be allowed. A training diploma program is a progressive idea. I am in agreement that this will be tremendous program for those pursuing a career in guiding.The professional guides of today can be the instructors/examiners. Province owned guiding? In my view this this would be a conflict of interest and would also eliminate the positive attributes of a competitive marketplace. Removing the monetary value? Here is where you really are wrong….why would you want to remove the monetary value of wild fish? If you care about the resource the very best thing you can do is increase the monetary value of our wild fish resources. I can explain if you don’t get it. Once you wrap your head around this concept you will see the special importance of guides.
          —————————————
          –too late for what?

          I am sure you know the answer to your last question.

          I dont, thats why I asked. I think the truth is you don’t really know exactly what you meant when you wrote the dramatic and urgent suggestion that we were running out of time…..time for what? Were you suggesting that if we don’t change the guide industry the fish will be gone? If thats the case I can understand why you wouldn’t want to actually write that out. I feel foolish just typing such a fear mongering statement.

          so lets focus on what we can actually do to help fish as well as preserving the angling experience for everyone.

          First off some principals to keep in mind when we are trying to get along with our fellow angling types, regardless of their citizenship.

          -anglers are good-fish need friends
          -life is better when anglers rotate runs/beats/rivers
          -sharing is caring-fish greed is bad
          -there are no more secret spots
          -communicate

          As for the fish we need to find ways to minimize our impact. These can be summed up in two parts.

          1-catch less fish
          2-utilize catch and release best practices

          While we could petition the government to add additional complicated regs that discourage participation by restricting time on the water, I believe there already is a cultural shift toward catching less fish……..on purpose.

          The best thing that we can do right now to benefit our fish stocks is to make it illegal to remove them from the water.

    • Sorry for the delayed response Darryl.

      I don’t know where to go to get a current list of guides. I’ve asked simple questions of the licensing agency (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) like who are the licensed guides and assistant guides on the Stamp/Somass and Cowichan rivers? The regional staff in Nanaimo didn’t know and weren’t sure if the question could even be answered given the present licensing system. How’s that for being on top of the only two steelhead fisheries left on Vancouver Island that still support enough fish to attract significant fishing activity? If you can’t find Murphy or Hnennyj on whatever list you’re working with it could be because they just hire whomever they like rely to run their shows, although I doubt that is the case for the latter.

      You’re absolutely right……”basically anyone can obtain a guiding license if they are a BC resident”. The give away is too big on classified rivers in my opinion but at least there are controls on the number of guides (not assistants) and how many rod days they can sell for some part of the season. There are also fees for those rod days and daily fees for customers during the prime seasons. For unclassified rivers the virtual free access to a public resource is shameful and ought to be an embarrassment to government. Change is long overdue but I see no evidence anyone in FLNRO cares, if they even recognize the issue.

  • Think you’ve pretty much hit it on the head Bob! An 8 man satellite camp on the Suskwa! So a commercial fish guiding operation, set on the banks of no guiding allowed river an also the property is in the ALR! So how does the regional district allow this to happen! Guess when your money comes from another country , it’s a free rein! This is also happening on the Kispiox, Skeena below Hazelton! The deterioration of a quality angling experience for any angler has escalated 100 times quicker in the last 5 years an it is time to regulate the numbers before it’s too late! There’s a lot of non resident aliens who left early last year after the Tyee test fishery numbers were away above the actual run of steelhead, an they said it was a total zoo! I counted 52 anglers from upper patch to lower patch in 2 hrs!

  • Bob…thanks for including guide and rod days as symptomatic problems on BC river systems. I happen to be an “Alien”..but have spent most of all my fall months in Smithers. How can the aliens be the only ones who suffer when rod days and guiding on these rivers have increased? Funny how most changeover days do not take place on Saturday or Sunday? Why would they when guides have the river virtually to themselves! I love fishing more than anything else, but am hard pressed to fish 7 days in a row. Why not (with the classified waters licensing system) make it a five fishing day week , so as to allow fisherman to pick the 5 days to be fished. Either way we all know that not everyone on every day can fish(water condition wise)..and taking a day off or two is not the end of the world. But once again that is only aliens who are affected …there should be equal effort from all who are involved ,especially those who are exploiting the resource.

  • Bob.. thanks for article and awareness as to guiding and rod days contributing to a noticeable increase in fishing pressure on Skeena system. Why is it most guides now do not have changeover days on either Saturday or Sunday? Maybe it’s because they now have rivers virtually to themselves on these days. Aliens should not be the only ones held accountable for these changes. I love fishing as much as anyone I know , but find it a challenge to fish “all day” for seven or more days consecutively. Why not then make it a five day fishing week with the days to be picked by the individual angler? This should not be difficult option when anglers already have to pick individual river access on daily basis “classified “. Let’s at least share burden between those who are exploiting and those who are enjoying your incredible resource.

  • Good point, Darryl.
    I wondered myself why so many of the well known, well advertised angling guides cannot be found on the official list of licenced BC angling guides. Why wouldn’t one want to be on the official list? It is another means for getting the word out about the guide’s services and hyping his/hers business. That should equate with being a good thing, business-wise that is. The funny thing is, a guide has to request to be placed on the official list. That is accomplished by checking the little box on the angling guide application form, thereby giving permission for the guide’s name to be used this way. I checked the little box, that’s why my name is on the list.
    Should this simple little administrative detail remain optional? Or, should being openly identified as a bona fide guide be all part and parcel of obtaining and holding a valid BC angling guide licence? What would be the advantage of remaining obscure? If nothing else, it is just another uncorrected detail adding to the confusion of who is, or isn’t, a licenced BC angling guide.

  • I think we now the answers to the problem. Everybody must be counted as they do in Quebec. This is going to be hard for residents to accept,but if we want quality angling there is little choice. I have been to Quebec and even though they do not have the numbers of fish we do,fishing in peace has a lot to be said for it. As for the people who will scream about not being able to go fishing,just because they cannot steelhead fish, I would like to remind them of the other opportunities we have in British Columbia. Excellent fly fishing for trout ,grayling and salmon.

  • Some excellent comments here but I’m not the one that needs to be receiving them. I only wish I could do more than try to educate people in a position to do something about what those who speak here already know too well. Of the many messages I send to the government people with the mandate to address issues raised on this site, most never receive a reply. The scant information that does eventually arrive in the few responses I do see is replete with evasiveness and indecision. If there is any such thing as steelhead fishery management remaining in this province I don’t know where to find it or who to work on to try and improve on it. Further, I’m tired of the excuse “we” have no staff or budget. Much of what I advocate doesn’t require a truck load of money or new hires. It just takes commitment, familiarity with the tools already available or easily developed and, most of all, leadership.

    Talk to your MLA, the Minister, the Premier, the media, your club members, etc. Change won’t happen if all we do is sing to our own choir.

  • Hi Bob,
    I’m wondering what you would consider as being a reasonable and effective way to proceed towards the goals that you have touched upon in this piece.
    I expect that, given the (seemingly non-existent) will, the ministry could act unilaterally on some of the guide management issues….but I can’t see how they could proceed with revisions to, or inclusions of angling day allocations without providing some form of consultation.
    Historic time frames for such endeavours have proven to be inordinately long-winded.
    QWS, is a prime example….we began the regional committee in January of 2006. The QWS regulations were not enacted until 2012. (and were very nearly not enacted at all)
    I appreciate your ongoing efforts to elevate the level of awareness and concern regarding the issues that continue to haunt our fisheries.

    Don.

    • Thanks Don. I don’t have any short answers. You’re right about rod day quotas. Any measures taken to reduce them would end up in court in a heartbeat so that is a non-starter. But, why not include the shoulder seasons when there are no limits on how many rod days can be used in the rod day quotas already conferred?

      Bob Clay is on the mark in that everyone should require some form of authorization to be on any of the rivers of concern on any given day. That speaks to my point there is no data base in hand that allows us to dispel myth and rumour and actually put numbers up for everyone to see and understand. I’ve been preaching that sermon to government for years, obviously to no avail.

      We live in a time when government reacts only to issue big enough to attract political heat. Steelhead are not exactly a driver in that context. A friend who is a veteran Skeena angler and well versed in the politics of steelhead returned from his annual trip last fall deeply frustrated and suggested we need to start a petition to get the attention of government. That might not be a bad idea but, like you, I fear it might only result in another endless process that eventually kills any momentum around change. Perhaps a well organized petition that included very specific and readily deliverable recommendations is worth some effort. How about a moratorium on new angling guide licenses for openers? Several of the other measures I suggested initially could be put in place without much grief either.

  • From my experience, there are two factors that make for a less than enjoyable experience on the river. One factor is certainly over-crowding, worst of all is the lack of congeniality and fellowship among anglers.

    Being a bit of a migratory steelhead junkie, I not only frequent Region Six, but other WA, OR and CA steelhead fisheries. When fish are running, so are angler numbers. I really do not see that Region Six is any more crowded and possibly less so than the Olympic Peninsula, Klickitat and North Umpqua rivers. Maybe the Kispiox is has a little more traffic because of its fame? The worst combat fishery south of the AK, Kenai Peninsula is the Vedder River in SoBC. Should that not be of greater concern? Maybe not, because it is predominately Vancouver anglers.

    I do believe Region Six has a larger contingent of European Anglers who do not understand North American river etiquette. Very generally speaking, this lack of etiquette is neither extended to other anglers nor to the treatment of Steelhead. I have nothing against any ethnic or regional segment of the angling community, but it is a fact that anglers conduct themselves within a much different manner on the other side of the pond. They are inherently good folks, but maybe they just don’t know what is expected of them. The bad guys in any group cant be changed, laws or no.

    In the past you have attempted regulating that released fish not be removed from the water. I am thinking the vast majority of angers are all in on that one. Why doesn’t that happen? All fish caught do not need a picture and none deserve to be removed from the water. Maybe a rubber lined dip net should be required equipment for each angler group?

    How about limiting anglers to releasing one Steelhead and then requiring they not fish the balance of the day? We Steelhead anglers do not need to land more than one fish per day. This would mitigate the number of anglers that would fish together. No, it cant be rigidly enforced, but most honorable anglers would comply and you really cannot do anything about the less than honorable anyhow. But if just a few arrests can be made each year and made an example of…. Maybe instead of a fine, no fishing license for five years and perp walk their photo in all the newspapers. That will make everyone think twice.

    How about a pamphlet with written Voluntary Region Six Rules of Angler Etiquette. Print them in multiple languages and make them available at hospitality, tackle shops and car rental agencies. What if you tried letting all anglers know what is expected of them? You might find a much improved angling experience?

    Anglers are pretty good folks. I really don’t think it would take much to get us all rowing in the same direction. You notables are just the guys who can make it happen.

    • Excellent comments Jim. As I see it British Columbia is screaming for leadership from the people responsible for managing our steelhead fisheries. You’ve identified a number of readily deliverable ideas well worth their attention. Ignoring trends and defaulting to tiresome excuses like lack of funds, too few staff, consultation obligations, etc. is clearly a recipe for staying on the centreline of the road to oblivion. If anyone thinks any of us outside government (“you notables”) can make anything happen, all I can say is how I/we wish. Hell, I can’t get anyone in the Skeena regional office to respond to anything sent their way. In retrospect I guess I shouldn’t have criticized them for investing time and dollars in a catch and release study while ignoring all the issues that dwarf the significance of anything that could possibly emerge from that effort. The silence has been deafening ever since I dared call them on that.

  • Bob, et alia…
    Allow me to revise my previous opening…. there is a third factor that disturbs my quality time on a Steelhead river. That third item is over regulation requiring administrative time in order to get to the wilderness. I am reading between all of the lines here and elsewhere. There is much frustration that the government isn’t doing enough. Stay with me here, because our concerns and perception of where we need to go are one-in-the-same….

    Forgive me for stating the obvious but allow me to make my point. Our sport is layered with opinionated differences in approach and this complexity is further compounded with commercial stake-holders… Cane vs. single-hand, vs. two-hand intruders, vs. center pinners vs. spinners vs. gear and bait. Walk-ins’ vs. floaters vs. jet boats vs. helicopters vs. future drones carrying anglers. Aliens vs. Non-Resident Canadians vs. Region Six residents vs. First Nation. Fly anglers on a budget vs. those elitistists with no budget and commercial caterers. Guides vs. anglers vs. guided anglers. Anglers with skill vs. those with none….. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Each faction has their interest and government is charged with accommodating all. How can they?

    Let’s all dig down deep and ask if government can ever deliver on each of our individual desires. I maintain that it cannot and even if it could there would be so much divisiveness none of us would want to go there. What we can do is foster the desire to get along and conduct ourselves as gentlemen (and women) within an expected code of conduct for our sport. While we cannon limit the angler birth rate, we can for the most part all come together both on the river and as a powerful lobbying force for change to benefit all. Case in point…

    During his final years I had the great privilege of mutual admiration and friendship with Mike Whelpley. We spent some but not much time together running rivers in his boat. We also consumed gallons of coffee debating what could and should be. Mike operated his boat with concern for other anglers. He idled and floated transom first down a riffle being fished by bank anglers so as to least disturb their experience as best he could. If he saw anglers above in a small river, he tried to time his passing after they had fished the delicate portion of the run. He was mindful of others as they need to be of him and his preferred use of that slice of wilderness.

    That is just an example, and even Mike didn’t make all those bank anglers happy, but he tried where he could. That is what we all need to do. That is the legacy we need to work toward. To do otherwise is simply not achievable.

    Yourself, along with Jim Culp, Gene Allen and many other leaders within Region Six have the respect of at least a good segment of the community enabling you to set forth the earlier mentioned voluntary guidelines that I mentioned. I would encourage you all to consider a change of heart. Think about reaching out to all anglers, even those you have opposed in the past and encourage all to come together. You may not be able to bend the regulatory system, but you can make a difference both for us and perhaps more importantly, the Steelhead.

    Please know I’ve no intent to offend. This is just one Steelhead Junkies’ opine.

  • Many valid points listed above and after watching this all I happen I can only agreee with mr clay that the Quebec system is a good model it is to bad that it has come to that but yes every angler needs to be counted period . I have personally witnessed the overexploitation of the skeena grow exponentially each year especially in the spring and it has reached the point where it is not what I would consider a quality experience for any angler imho . Change is both needed and necessary if we really care about these fish .

  • I think we must all look to what we have in common. The want of a quality angling experience. In a large way this has to do with the number of people using the resource,wether guided or inguided. We should not point fingers at individual groups, ie guides or non resident fisherman. We all contribute to the problem. Exclusion by worthiness does not work. One only has to look at the Skeena region to see that the non resident Canadians and B.C. residents are filling in the void. They just keep coming! The draw is a diminishing resource,big wild steelhead. It has to be regulated so residents can have a quality experience, guides can make a living and non residents can enjoy the sport as well.
    If you think paradise is lost,imagine how the First Nations people must feel. They used to have the rivers to themselves! We can’t go back by means of exclusion,only by sharing.
    In Quebec, the only break a resident gets is he pays half as much for his fishing

  • Although I have serious reservations engaging on some of these issues on this platform, (given I guide in the Skeena and appear to part of the no 1 villain outfitter) I will say this…

    I agree that a lot of the Classified program has lost its focus of Quality and that unforeseen factors have contributed to some issues. The North is the last bastion of good Steelheading left in BC, everything else is gone or not worth the vacation time for many when they can go to the Skeena instead. It is Valhalla

    But CW guides are limited by rod days, we only have so many, if 100 rod days get fished by 10 guides in 10 days or 2 guides in 50, it’s still a cap. We BARELY fish the non-class time frames on the Bulkley. It’s a razor thin margin business operating for maybe 12 weeks a year with lots invested and reinvested. The old school guides cashed out and left…the new ones are just trying to get a return on the investment in a very challenging enviroment. Largely the same number of assist Guides operate at our lodge as they did when I started almost a decade ago and I can safely say the same for other outfitters on that System.

    That said expanded operations mean more employees, just like any other business.

    I am not aware of any rod day ‘brokers’…some unused days get rented or leased here and there but nobody is making a killing and avoiding taxes either. We pay taxes, lots of them, and fees and insurance premiums out the ting-yang.

    You don’t just walk up and get a licence to guide in BC. You have to have a clean record, take a test on the regulations, pay $450, submit a plan that the MOE approves, buy expensive insurance ($1500-2000 yr) and in the case of rod day fees, pay the Government. (Skeena lodges would average $13-$20k annually)

    Biggest change I see and experience is water transportation and tackle improvement. We are far more efficient anglers catching the same pool of fish.
    The second, The single occupancy boat. Every guy parks on his own run. Rarely do you see more than 2 boats pulled over on hundreds of yards of water. Creel survey on Walcott to Telkwa counts over 75% of anglers in single man boats. No longer are guys sharing rafts or dory’s and fishing together anymore.

    Yeah and the internet kills fisheries…it’s progress and sometimes it sucks. What can you do?

    And as far as commenters saying taxi guiding? No way, there isn’t an outfitter in the Bulkley than regularly has more than 2 guests to a boat and guides stay with them. Sure sometimes the guide moves a guy around a corner for 10 minutes, but our rule is stay with the guests and GUIDE them. The Babine and the Sustut are the waters where traditionally 3-4 guests per boat occurrs, remote waters with little public traffic for the most part, save the Babine below the weir at times. But that place eats boats and you can’t raft through easily.

    I could go on but I’ll spare it. It’s a complex issue on the Skeena with lots of emotion and passion, nobody should be the villains, we should all be on board together but that doesn’t seem to be the way in BC fisheries, it’s every man for himself.

    • Couple of comments. I agree, this isn’t the platform for engaging on these issues. I never intended it to be. But, tell us where the platform is. Anyone seen any evidence of interest on the part of the fishery managers? Are they remotely familiar with any of these issues?

      My remarks are not exclusive to the Bulkley or even the Skeena Region. Check out Vancouver Island where, as you well know, there are no classified waters and therefore no restrictions on how many guides, assistants, boats, rod days, etc. and no fees other than for a guide license. etc. How about the Stamp/Somass? Tell me why us lowly taxpayers should be subsidizing guides to run motors forbidden for non-guides so they can sweep back and forth across every piece of holding water, never shut their motor off and catch a vastly disproportionate number of the hatchery fish. All that for the princely sum of $450.00 per year.

      The number of guides and rod days on all the Skeena classified waters was supposed to have been frozen in 1990. On paper it is. But, if you or anyone else thinks the guided angler traffic today is anywhere near what is was in 1990 you are sadly misinformed. I’ll agree it probably hasn’t changed a lot in “almost a decade” (your phrase) but, remember, things were supposed to have been frozen at the 1990 level. I was there well before that and I’ll state plainly, there is at least double and probably closer to triple the amount of guiding on the Bulkley today. Many other classified and, especially, unclassified waters in the Skeena and Nass drainages have followed the same pattern. I’ll agree, also, that it isn’t just guided traffic that is eroding the angling experience. There is a lot of mythology out there about who and how much. Thus my pitch for a system that requires everyone to have a water specific authorization for every day they fish. Only then will we have the information that might allow managing these rivers for the kind of experience that fits the objectives (assuming we can agree on what they are!).

      I have to disagree with you on the business of obtaining a guide license. Before all the re-structuring of the provincial fisheries management capability there was a decent review process for all applicants. People who knew the waters being applied for were responsible for scrutinizing and approving applications and angling use plans for guides and the statutory authority had to be informed of which assistant guides worked for which guides. Today the process is a rubber stamp facilitated by a crop of “Front Counter BC” staff who know nothing about who and what they are dealing with. When no one can answer a basic question like who is licensed to guide on the Cowichan River I submit the system is broken?.

    • I agree with your first and last paragraph.

      As for guides ferrying clients, the last time I fished the Bulkley was in 2014. The first day I walked into Humble Pie and planned to fish upstream to Coyote Creek. At Kings Crown a boat was making its way upstream with 4 or 5 clients on board he slowed down and crowded the far bank, perfect. After passing me he proceeded to drop his clients off upstream in all the good holding water, of course where else would he put them. I made my way upstream chatting with the fishermen along the way, needless to say I did not cast a line until I got to Coyote Creek. I caught one fish and hiked uphill to the tracks and back to the pickup. Four days later I walked along the tracks to Coyote Creek, the river was a little high so I made my way down to the bedrock slabs where I met the same guide boat beached on river right with two clients fishing. I decided to not fish the slabs and continued to walk downstream and with hope fish the Birches but there they were three more fishermen lining the river all the way to Kings Crown, all had been dropped off. No worries on to Humble pie, however, before I got there the guide boat past me and dropped two fishermen on the beach.

      I think it would be fair to say that the two days that I was there that particular reach was dominated by the outfitter who was in fact “ferrying the clients”.

      Just to make my feelings clear, I have no issues with a guide making a living with one boat and two clients.
      What I am concerned about is the over commercialization of this resource Steelhead.
      This species is precious and should not be utilized as a commodity.
      We British Colombians are privileged to be the stewards of the rivers and streams that host this amazing animal and must protect it to the best of our ability.

  • My last comments were directed to Mr McGarva’s post

  • It’s catch and release and it’s a renewable resourse, that brings in more money than the commercial fishery. The more my money this industry brings in and the more important it becomes to the economy the better.

    • Be careful what you wish for. If money is the panacea, abandon the entire classified waters system and go back to killing wild steelhead. You can have all the Vedders your heart desires and a pocket full of gold as well. The commercial fishery economics have been negative for decades. Where has that argument got us? Jim Pattison’s quest for chum babies continues to trump Thompson steelhead.

  • You think they should follow the islands suit? Close all the best sections of the best rivers so they can have it all to themselves? Put bait bans of them all than use bait for research purposes?
    They is very limited fresh water guiding on Vancouver island. The stamp is a hatchery river and the guides bring money into the economy, giving an actual value to those hatchery fish. I believe the tsitika is classified is it not?

    • The Stamp guides are the consummate free loaders. There would be just as many fish caught but a lot more anglers on the water generating just as much economic activity if the guides didn’t have a lock on jet boat use. That atrocity gets a long chapter in my next book. The only other river on the Island that supports enough fish and space to sustain any level of guiding is the Cowichan and it is becoming a busy place. The Tsitika is not classified. If you have issues with the regulations, try bringing them to the attention of the folks in the Nanaimo office. I share some of your concerns.

  • This thread is a great one-stop shop listing the ills and possible remedies. But anyone who read Bob H’s book came away frustrated that the regulator missed the boat (charitable interpretation) or aided in the destruction of the Skeena steelhead through non-enforcement of existing regulations and a deep reluctance to impose new restrictions (base case conclusion). More recently, anyone who participated in the multi-year Skeena quality waters feedback loops probably was surprised at the length of time it took to get anything enacted, and then what was passed was in some cases sub-optimal (at least based on subsequent experience).

    The preceding leads me to conclude that it doesn’t make sense to rely on a disengaged regulator to undertake another massive overhaul of the Skeena’s & tribs’ sports fishing activities. The outcome will be arbitrary, and may have unintended consequences for the fish, recreational fishery, and regional economy.

    I am very much in favor of Bob H’s repeated request to collect data so we are all working from the same numbers. That can’t be too hard: BC residents are the only ones not logging on, and even if they don’t pay a fee to fish the rule can be tweaked to make online registration mandatory before fishing a particular river. (This could also apply to non-residents fishing non-classified waters: tell where you’re going.) To keep it real, you can sign up for only one body of water a day (unless you want to spring for multiple CW daily fees, I guess that works). Within a couple of years, we’d at least have a base from which to measure future usage levels. Better late than never.

    The next order of business is to reduce the pressure on the fish. Several easy-to-legislate options are available, among them:

    Gear restrictions (fly fishing only, or “no floats”, or “no lead”) appeal to everyone who feels disadvantaged by the more effective methods. HOWEVER, regulating the tackle box is so divisive that we should just leave things as-is on this front: single barbless hooks, no fishing from boats, closed seasons, and no bait already puts the Skeena watershed in the forefront of best practices (with the “keep ’em wet” initiative helping, too)

    Spread the effort by allowing NR aliens to fish any 5 days in a week, only one of which can be a Sat or Sun. (This puts a little more pressure on the overcrowded tribs that get pounded M-F, or M-Th in the case of the Copper, but still leaves Sat-Sun less crowded for BC residents.)

    Ban motors and/ or boats from certain sections. Where motors are allowed, they have to be used in one direction only for fishing, i.e., up or downstream for the day then run back to the trailer.

    Ban angling from certain areas if there’s evidence that fish are particularly vulnerable there (e.g. at the mouth of a spawning tributary or perhaps big tanks in the run up to the winter over period). Anecdotal evidence (which could be buttressed via tagging) suggests that fish done migrating are getting re-caught too many times.

    Institute a draw (ZEC) system as per Bob C’s suggestion. I suspect that doing this on the Skeena and tribs is going to require a long time to set up, but if overcrowding worsens we’re going to end up with an annual quota or lottery of some description.

    Cap the number of fish caught (probably “hooked and played” to avoid gaming the system) per day. I don’t care if the starting number is 6 or 5 or 4, but put a lid on the number of salmon/steelhead one angler can hook in a day. (During Sep/Oct, any unseen fish that is on the line for more than [one] minute before being lost would be considered a steelhead or salmon.) Once you hit your quota, you’re done. If there’s a shortfall in a river, then during the season the authorities can ratchet the number down (or or increase if it’s a bumper year).

    I know, I know, “What about enforcement?” But today the angling community is self-regulated on the Skeena, so what difference does this new regulation make? No one checks to see if the barbs are pinched down, or if someone rubbed his fly in salmon roe, or even if you have a license or the daily CW printout. I’m guessing that voluntary compliance with the existing rules is better than 95%. The reason why isn’t a fear of getting caught, it’s because the rules are perceived to be sensible.

    If fishermen knew before coming that they could hook 4/5/6 fish (or some other number, but I’d start high to get more angler buy-in) in a day and then they were done, then people either wouldn’t come at all, or they’d come with that expectation in mind.

    And if BC raised the prices of annual licenses, steelhead/salmon stamps, CW licenses and guide rod days to fund additional COs on the water, then we’d have more enforcement, too. (This might be necessary if some segment of the fishing community thought that daily catch limits were unfair, and they decided to ignore them. Then increased enforcement would be needed.)

    A daily quota on fish hooked isn’t perfect. But it is easy to enact, and at a minimum could be a stopgap measure for the next several years until there’s enough angler intensity and catch data on hand to allow for better policy making.

    In the interim, there’s nothing stopping individuals and guiding operations from putting their own voluntary limits in place. Everyone always says that they put the interests of the fish first.

    * * * * *

    Notwithstanding the above, the biggest change in the quality of the collective angling experience will come from increasing fish abundance through the buyout of commercial licenses, habitat preservation, and protection against environment degradation. There are plenty of threats out there today, and we need everyone–residents, non-BC Canadians and foreigners–to continue to thwart them.

    Let’s try to hang together on the regulatory side so we’re all fighting shoulder to shoulder on the really important matters.

  • First I remind you that I speak as an AlienAngler….. I do not understand why it is okay to guide an AlienAngler on a weekend. That seems to fly in the face of the basic premise behind the restriction. If my memory serves, that was not so on most all rivers from the onset? Someone here might like to clarify. Not being a solicitor the requisite research pains me between my ears.

    Regardless, what rivers,.. there are some if not most and how is that fair? How is it fair to the R6 residents, or non-guided AlienAnglers?

    I caution that with every new regulatory solution to any problem, there are unforseeable, unintended consequences. IMHO, the heightened degree of competitiveness and diminished fellowship among anglers within R6 is a prime example. Finger pointing is yet another, sometimes even that middle finger,.. just kidding, well, maybe not.

  • As noted by others, Quebec has their Zone d’Exploitation Contrôlée (ZEC) system which strictly limits access to and harvest of fish and game. See http://www.mffp.gouv.qc.ca/english/publications/online/wildlife/fishing-regulations/index.asp for regulations.
    In another example of progressive regulation, Newfoundland and Labrador limit fishing for Atlantic salmon, on most scheduled rivers, to fly fishing with floating line and unweighted fly only. They also have restrictions on the number of fish an angler can hook and release, i.e. “DAILY CATCH-AND-RELEASE LIMITS • Catch-and-release limits are in addition to the retention limits. • Four fish on Class 2, 4 and 6 rivers and all rivers in Zones 1 and 2 (including unclassified rivers in Labrador). • Two fish on Class 0 rivers. • Four fish in the fall catch-and-release fisheries on the Gander River, Exploits River and Humber River.” See http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/folios/01019/docs/anglersguide-guidedepecheur-2016-17-eng.pdf for regulations.
    With such exhaustive and comprehensive fishing regulations as these provinces have, there must be a budget in place sufficient to cover the costs of enforcement and prosecution… Yes? The political will must have been there to enact such regulations… Yes?
    Let’s take all the fire and passion shown over the past few days through these blog posts and turn it into action at the polls. Let’s make it an election issue.
    May 9th. 2017 is the date for the BC provincial election. Make your vote count!

  • Mr. Clay speaks with experience and wisdom. His idea is a moderate idea that moves towards a solution :

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_d'exploitation_contrôlée

    https://www.saumonquebec.com/en/corporation-de-gestion-de-la-peche-sportive-de-la-riviere-mitis/

    I’ve traveled to Skeena country since 1990; mostly every year and mostly multi weeks. Changes? Can’t even imagine; as Mr. Hooten could maybe describe best.
    I’ve also fished in Gaspe. ZECS on the Matane, Mitis and three more out to the eastern tip.
    The link tells us how many there are, each one is locally administered on a daily basis. A little Office with hours. Volunteers locally who man the office and who also count fish if possible at the weirs. These ZECs are a matter of deep Civil pride for each small Village or town.
    Village Pride…..a very obvious situation and very important.
    Cooperative and locally “checked”, too.
    The local Québécois I traveled and fished with were non too happy as they had to buy aTicket each day….half price.
    At the famous or well known pools you waited your turn, rod in the rack, civilized and you moved through the pool when you stepped in.
    Gents would float by in canoes with their 9foot rods and Bogdans. They would stop. They would give you doubles and assured you THAT would catch a Salmon. In French, of course.
    …….
    As Bob tells us clearly, we cannot wait for the Governong Authorities to do much of “anything”. There is, like in the US, no political will and very poor Leadership in the highest levels. Status Quo is all they can d we with.

    I have now doubt if a small dedicated group of local Smithers people, New Hazelton-Kispiox people started a Bulkley ZEC and a Kispiox ZEC and if was a duplicate of the QZECs it would be the signpost for the entire Skeena system.
    Local Control.
    Every body including guide anglers must comply….yes, voluntarily at first but with a real physical presence. A real Zone of Local Control.

    If you lead eventually the responsible agencies will have to act. I have no doubt that there are local people who would love to see things improved….many no longer even consider fishing the Bulkley in Sept or October. Why should they!

    The crowding from everywhere…..Locals, guided anglers, Canadian Anglers, NR people has reached a point way past real action to restrict access.

    Think hard about this. We cannot wait and whine about the recalcitrant “Government”. They probably are understaffed, under funded!

    This is a local problem with a local solution. That is what a democratic traditions requires.

    Greg

    • Hi Greg,

      I don’t think the ZEC system is a good fit for Skeena country.

      That said if such a program were ever to be given a trial run in northwest BC, the Kispiox is the ideal river. In my experience the FN charging for access on the lower Kispiox has worked out really good; for those willing to pay to play that is. There are other rivers in the province such as the Thompson where such an initiative by FN would have the same effect to limit the number of anglers by controlling access through FN.

      Here is why I don’t like ZEC for BC. It adds complication and limits the freedom of access that BC residents have always enjoyed. As well a valid criticism of our current licensing system is that it is too complicated. This is especially true in remote settings where internet access isn’t easy. I think what we actually need is a simplified licensing process. I have an idea that would simplify the licensing process and solve a few other key issues. Perhaps we will be discussing this at some point.

      Too many people fishing? The simple fix is to jack up license prices, including for BC Residents. The only argument against an increase is that it would discourage participation, especially amongst those in a lower income.

      Even thought it would likely have the desired effect(limiting the number of anglers), I don’t think it makes sense to increase license revenue until we fix the part of the system that is broken. Even though classified license revenues in R6 are the highest in the province a significant portion of the money raised here goes to provide hatchery trout to stock in lakes in more populated regions of the province. This is really the first order of business, find a way to use this money in R6 and get the government on board with this.

  • The political push back against any useful changes here in BC has made sensible management almost impossible. I cannot see gear restrictions and a sensible license system like in Quebec flying well when you have a sport fishery allowing essentially unregulated numbers of guided and unguided anglers. The truth is the majority of NR anglers do not go guided once they know where to fish and unlike Quebec we open our door everywhere to unguided NR fishing. Except in a few places on weekends when the motor boat gong show really happens on the Bulkley.

    What we are forgetting here is that up until not very long ago what was standard practice was to take a few almost ripe hen fish and rip the guts out then proceed to deep hook every fish on a stretch of river with a gob of roe and treble hooks. I can remember the lines of bank anglers on every stretch all doing the same thing as the fish came up the river. NOT MUCH has changed in that regard, we still allow people to snag fish on the Fraser and elsewhere, then when the DFO decides that it will close the river the event barely causes a ripple in the news media.

    This year the steelhead that made it through the gauntlet to the best waters on the Bulkely system were markedly poor. The bucks were almost starved and severely lacking in body fat. I doubt that many will survive to reproduce this spring let alone go back to the ocean post spawn. I am happy that I only long line released one fish this year and ask those who did hook numbers of fish whether or not it was satisfying to see what might very well be the last of a fishery on the end of their lines?

    I feel ashamed to call myself an angler at times on the Bulkely because I can hear the ghosts of what was echo from the reaches of the Maurice down to Roche De Boule. Now the song of the river in dry fly season is drowned out by the roar of boat motors it is no longer worth going there. As Darryl has mentioned even the climb down to Humble pie is no longer an escape from the endless onslaught and roar of the boat motors.

    • Hi Eric,

      I have to correct you on your statement that we:

      “have a sport fishery allowing essentially unregulated numbers of guided and unguided anglers.”

      Well it may be true that there is currently no measure in place to regulate the number of unguided anglers, this same statement is not true for the guided component of the angling community. As you should be aware all guides in BC operate within a rod day quota system.

      Bob’s blog is a tremendous forum for important discussions like this. As such I think it is important that we stick with the facts.

      • Clarification. My original post (that I’m pleased to see is encouraging people to become more involved) was in reference to more than just classified waters and their inherent regulations. I think Eric Reesor’s statement reflects that point. To reiterate, on unclassified waters there are no restrictions on the number of guides licenses or rod days they can put on the rivers. That wasn’t an issue in 1990 but, I submit, it is today. Think about all those next best rivers in the Skeena Region that didn’t need the protection afforded by classification in 1990 and compare them to today. Then consider Vancouver Island where there are no classified waters. When the only way I can discover how many (licensed) guides there are in operation, I think we have a problem.

        • To be fair Bob, your post does share the same urgent tone. It is still an incorrect statement to say that guides are unregulated when we have to operate within a quota of days, both classified and unclassified. Yes, the unclassified days must still be accounted for. Now I will agree that it would make sense to move some/all of the unclassified steelhead rivers into classification and put a freeze on days in line with established usage.

          Really what we need is a third classification (3) and to increase crowded class 2 waters to a class 1 designation. Increase CW license fees for all 3 designations.

          I also propose there should be long duration Classified Waters licensing for all license Class levels with angler self reporting usage.

          It would look like this:

          Lets say an angler(lets call him Greg) wants to come up for 20 days and fish the best water(within current allowable periods) wherever the heck he wants, when he wants.

          I say we should make this as easy as possible, fish need friends.

          So this would be Gregs licensing experience for his whole BC trip:

          After passing a 5min online tests(fish ID,handling,ettiquite, regs) he could buy a Class 1 license (good for everything 1/2/3). it would be really expensive(@$1000) and would also require a deposit(@$250).

          This would entitle him to fish any of the rivers in Region 6. He could move freely within open waters and fish multiple rivers in a day without concern for internet connections. All Greg would have to do is write on his license the name of the river he was about to fish. Once back online(whenever convenient) Greg would enter the places and days he fished into the licensing site(like guides do). At this time Gregs account would be credited back for his deposit.

          The deposit would be significant and would deter people from not reporting their days. it could also be viewed as a damage deposit. If an angler is issued a ticket they would lose their deposit. This would ensure that the government has access to usage data. It would also be possible that some other data could be voluntarily collected at this time. Catch results, fish descriptions, water temp and clarity.

          Now lets say Greg doesn’t want to spend that much and he’s happy to stay away from the high profile stuff at the busiest weeks. He buys a class 2 license for his 20 days(@$600) and fishes anything he wants within the 2 or 3 designation. If Greg wants a day on the Babine he just adds in a single purchase day license like the status quo.

          Lots of anglers will take advantage of the great fishing on the class 3 waters. Their license will be really affordable (@$350) and will have the same reporting and deposit features as the class 1 and 2. Of course the class 3 license holders can splurge for class 1 and 2 day licenses if they wish.

          The above licensing should be applicable for anglers of all residencies, just at different pricing. As well, Aliens could be limited to a max of say 30 days on Class 1 water and 50 days class 2.This would encourage the real long term trippers to move around. Perhaps this restriction could also apply to out of province Canadians. Some might suggest BC residents too though I think BC res should be unrestricted….just accounted for.

          • Lots to chew on here Brian and thank you for taking time to lay this out. One thing you don’t have straight though – there are no restrictions on either the number of guides or how many days they can fish on any unclassified water. You may be thinking about waters that are classified during only part of the year. In those cases the number of guides is restricted both inside and outside the classified period but there are no rod day quotas outside the classified period. Stated differently, the number of guides is fixed in regulation for 12 months even though the rod day quotas may apply for only two or three of those months.

          • Lots to chew on here Brian and thank you for taking time to lay this out. One thing you don’t have straight though – there are no restrictions on either the number of guides or how many days they can fish on any unclassified water. You may be thinking about waters that are classified during only part of the year. In those cases the number of guides is restricted both inside and outside the classified period but there are no rod day quotas outside the classified period. Stated differently, the number of guides is fixed in regulation for 12 months even though the rod day quotas may apply for only two or three of those months.

            No Bob, that is simply not true. The fact remains that all unclassified waters listed on my guide license have a rod day total associated with them. I (like all guides)was issued this quota in response to submitting an angling guide operating plan (AGOP)that outlined my proposed use of these waters. This proposal would have received some level of scrutiny before the days were issued.

            As you are well aware, having been in this position, all days(quotas), classified and unclassified require the signature and approval of the regional manager before being valid for use.

            Furthermore guides are required to report their actual use so you have two numbers to look at to get the big picture: The number of days issued on a particular river vs the number of guide days reported as being used.

            I suspect the point you are trying to make is that there should be more scrutiny on the number of unclassified rod days being issued as you believe there is too much guiding on certain waters. The other point I think you are making is you don’t believe anyone is keeping track of the number of days being issued. I think it would be a good exercise to encourage the government to publicize these numbers. Under the reformed licensing I suggested, these numbers would show which waters should be listed as class 2 vs 3. As well , all water (1,2,3) would have quotas based on current usage.

            So to recap,

            > I am required by BC law to report my usage and work within my rod day quotas of classified and unclassified days.

            > Unclassified Rod Days must be applied for with an AGOP outlining intended use.

            >The AGOP is subject to scrutiny from the regional manager and his/her staff

            >The rod days must be approved in writing by the regional manager

            >Unclassified rod day usage is reported annually via electronic spreadsheet.

            I suggest a good starting point would be to inquire about the rod day usage reported on the Angling Guide Report Submissions Spreadsheets that all guides now submit.

            So heres the deal, to anyone reading this, it is important to have a strong understanding of the system if you want to improve it. If you desire to limit anglers on certain waters you first need to know what the current usage looks like.

            The other question that should be discussed here is a simple one…

            Does limiting the number of anglers actually result in less fish being hooked?

          • Brian, check BC Reg 125/90, otherwise known as the Angling and Scientific Collection Regulations. You’ll find there is no such thing as rod day quotas on unclassified waters. I would like to know who has been telling you otherwise. You may be asked to provide an estimate of the number of days you intend to guide on an unclassified water when you submit an angling guide operating plan along with your annual license application but you can put down whatever figure you like. You are not bound by it. Just because it is a condition of your license that you report your use of all waters (classified or otherwise) at the conclusion of the license year or before renewing your license does not mean you must abide by whatever you indicated on your operating plan for any unclassified water or time period. The reason the operating plan was developed initially (I designed the original forms) was to provide the licensing agency with a rough idea of where the angling guide effort on unclassified waters was going. That was intended to be a planning tool. Unfortunately no one, except yours truly, ever paid attention and no one ever heeded my warnings about the likely outcome. Well, here we are.

            Re the numbers of guided rod days used. Two things. First, as obvious an objective as summarizing usage might seem, try and find anyone in government who pays attention to this any more. I can’t speak for Skeena, mostly because no one in their office responds to any questions put to them. However I’ll reiterate, for my back yard here on Vancouver Island, I can’t get anyone in the FLNRO office to figure out how many guides and assistant guides are out there on a specific water, let alone how much traffic they bring to bear. Second, the guide specific data is proprietary so the best that might be available are summaries of angler days used data by all guides combined on a specific water. Catch data is even more sensitive, as you might expect.

            Limiting the number of fish hooked may or may not be related to the number of anglers on the water per unit time and area. If limiting anglers ever does become a reality I think we can deal with reducing the fish impacts relatively easily.

      • Brian you are missing the point. As it has been said there is no current regulation for the spring fishery that controls the amount guided days. You can do as you please.

        • No Pete I am right on the mark. All guide licenses have an Angling Guide Operating Plan attached to them. This AGOP lists the waters included in the license as well as annual rod day totals associated with them. The non classified days are not recognized as a legal quota that can be traded. These unclassified days are still recorded on the new remittence spreadsheet. This level of data capture did not exist when Bob was working in this department. I do believe that it would be a logical move to remove seasonal classification for CW. In short, Steelhead rivers should be classified year round not just in the busiest weeks. I don’t think there would be much resistance from any user group, especially guides.

          • An Angling Guide Operating Plan is not a legally binding document. End of story. All it does is give a rough approximation of where guiding on unclassified waters or on classified waters outside the classified period might occur. Anyone with a license can put down any figure they want for either of those times and places. I could apply for an angling guide license today and tell tell FLNRO I intend to guide 5000 rod days on unclassified waters around the province and they have no avenue to refuse as long as I meet the minimum requirements to hold a license. Furthermore, FLNRO can’t say or do anything if I guide 5% or 150% of the number of days I said I might. If an AGOP is ever going to be binding it has to be designated as a condition of an angling guide license and failure to comply would have to be designated as an office under the regulations. I challenge anyone to demonstrate that is the case. Brian, if we’re talking about the spring fishery on the mainstem Skeena and its lower tributaries, how do think it has become the growth phenomenon it has if there are limits on guiding on unclassified waters? I agree, the rod day quotas for classified waters should apply to the entire year, not just the classified season. I called for a moratorium on the issuance of new angling guide licenses on unclassified waters and times years ago, for obvious reasons. No one listened. Now we’re faced with trying to close the barn door when the herd of horses is so far out of sight there is no hope of catching them.

          • These annual rod day totals are only limited during classified times.So, how may clients is any one of the approximately 16 operators allowed on any given day during non classified days. Does it affect their use of their classified days.Non classified days are still “recorded” but, there is not a capped out allotment like there is during classified times.

          • Just about to respond. But I see Bob beat me to it. Thanks Bob for once again trying to clarify. I have seen a new proposal has been put forth with regards to this Skeena spring fishery. Classified all year.

          • Hi Bob,

            Here is a rundown from the fellow that is currently in charge of region 6 guides. While you are correct that their is no penalty for exceeding unclassified days they are indeed monitored and you are incorrect in your insistence that an AGOP is not a legal document. So yes, the people in charge are paying attention to usage and have the means to enact further restrictions if they are deemed necessary.

            Here is a cut and paste from an email from the Director of Resource Management

            …note that “unclassified” and “classified” is a bit of a misunderstood concept. Legally, waters are classified, or they are not. Classified waters are those listed in regulation and they are classified year-round. There is a period of time on those waters when the number of guided rod days is also restricted, which in general usage is referred to as the “classified” period. This is technically not correct; I’ve started referring to it as the “restricted period” for clarity.

            Unclassified waters are all the waters that are not listed in the regulation. But in general usage people often refer to times on listed waters outside of the restricted period as “unclassified”. That’s technically not correct, but old habits die hard.

            On to AGOPs:

            Section 52 of the Wildlife Act says:

            (1) A regional manager may issue an angling guide licence to a person who… (c) has submitted an angling guide operating plan that has been approved by the regional manager.
            (2) If the holder of an angling guide licence does not observe the undertakings given by the holder in an angling guide operating plan, the regional manager may take action under section 61.

            So, an AGOP has legal effect. It is approved by the regional manager, an approved AGOP is a condition precedent to being issued an AGL, and if an AG does not comply with the approved AGOP, the regional manager can apply administrative sanctions under s.61. Furthermore, as a condition of an AGL, an AG may only guide for fish on those waters (classified or unclassified) listed on their approved AGOP, and under s.49(5), an angling guide commits an offence if he/she guides for fish on waters other than those authorized by an AGL.

            There is no provision in the Wildlife Act that creates a specific positive obligation for an AG to limit guiding on unclassified waters to the number of days estimated in an approved AGOP (unlike classified waters, where the number of days is limited by rod day quota). It’s a specified offence to guide on off-AGOP waters, but not to guide more than the days described on the AGOP. The days could be considered an “undertaking” under 52(2), though in practice, the number of days on unclassified waters identified in the AGOP is treated as a forecast or estimate.

            We do compare reported guided days and estimated AGOP days, and where things are out of whack, we have a conversation with the AG to understand the difference; most often, an AG will correct the estimate. We also monitor cumulative reported days on unclassified waters (or classified waters outside of the restricted period) as it gives us a picture of trends in use which may trigger a management response if issues arise.

          • OK Brian, here is my last comment on the subject. You are getting a classic company line from “the Director of Resource Development” who, incidentally, is not the statutory authority for signing off AGOPs or angling guide licenses. You might want to read the posts below by Rory Glennie and Keith Hyatt for a different take on how things work (or not), at least in this part of the province. If there’s a Director of Resource Development in any region of BC who ever looks at an AGOP I’d like to meet him/her.

            The Director’s remark:

            “Unclassified waters are all the waters that are not listed in the regulation. But in general usage people often refer to times on listed waters outside of the restricted period as “unclassified”. That’s technically not correct, but old habits die hard”

            is deceptive and avoids the main issue. My point is, going back to the very first review of the classified waters system in the 1990s, there has never been any control over the number of guide licenses issued for unclassified waters or on the amount of guiding that occurs. On classified waters there is no restriction on the number of assistant guides, nor has there ever been any restriction on the number of guided rod days used by the guides licensed for a specific classified water if they are fishing outside the classified period. I accept you are a responsible angling guide who takes the regulation information at face value and you believe there are teeth in an AGOP. Unfortunately that isn’t the experience. As I’ve said previously, I could wander up to a Front Counter BC desk and fill out the angling guide license paperwork applying for as many days as I like on as many unclassified rivers as my heart desires. If I meet the basic requirements (age, residency, insurability, no convictions under the Wildlife Act) and paid the $450.00 fee I’d have a license in my hand in no time. There are no grounds to reject anything I say I intend to do on those waters. Next year I could do it all over again, regardless of whether or not I came remotely close to whatever I said in the previous year’s AGOP. That’s called managing fisheries???

            I really get exercised over the information you quote about Section 61 hearings. Ask how many of those have ever been held for angling guides in the Skeena Region or anywhere else in the province. I was there for 13 years and I saw exactly one and it didn’t result in even a slap on the wrist for some serious transgressions of regulations and policy. Years later there was another serious matter involving a criminal fraud conviction (falsifying license revenue reports and pocketing some hefty dollars). The outcome – the offender was forbidden from holding an angling guide license for a year but his son was issued the license in his stead. They never missed a beat. So, I don’t want to hear some newbie Director of Resource Management peddling the line that something as innocuous as transgression of an AGOP is going to result in a Section 61 hearing. Besides, who ever checks?

            The connection between the operational level fisheries management staff who once knew from direct, personal experience what was happening on the rivers of their region and the Regional Manager who sat in the next office and approved the AGOP’s reviewed previously by his staff is long gone. Now you deal with a streamlined administrative system (Front Counter BC) whose purpose is to cut red tape, not to scrutinize and comment on volume of applications, trends, AGOP details, etc. I’m sure they are all nice people delivering what is expected of them but that fundamental connection between fisheries management staff and licensees is the missing link. Equally distressing is the disconnect between what few fisheries staff remain who might have a rudimentary knowledge of someone’s AGOP and anyone in the enforcement shop who might be on the water some day. If you ever do see a Conservation Officer, ask him/her if they know what an AGOP is. Ask also for the list of angling guides and assistant guides who operated on any river of your choice last year. Then ask how many rod days were reported used. That last paragraph of your comment is just over the top. Show me a shred of evidence of any comparison between actual guided rod day use and the days estimated in all the AGOPs for that water and find a management response “triggered” by any such comparison. How would we have reached the point of so many complaints around the amount of guiding, especially on unclassified waters, if anything like that has ever occurred?

            I’ll finish off by informing all I’ve sent three emails to the three main actors in the angling guide license business in Smithers (including the Director of Resource Management). Questions asked relate directly to the issues highlighted here. Two of those messages are dated early January, 2017, the third a reminder neither has been answered. That speaks volumes about how dysfunctional the angling guide licensing and management system has become.

  • Lot’s of great comments and opinions here.
    I live at “ground zero” when it comes to steelhead management in Reg6. The people working in the Nora building are my family, friends, and neighbors. The common theme is under funding and under staffing in every department. When the subject of managing our resources comes up, as it often does, the conversation always seems to end with “solutions”.
    Solutions, not problems, are what our under funded and under staffed gov’t employees need, and are requesting from us. They simply don’t have the time and money to deal with all of the complaints thrown at them, as to solve any problem within government takes money and staff = time = money……and the endless circle of getting nothing meaningful accomplished has begun.
    What our fish need is a united group to present solutions for the problems.

  • Interesting thoughts, Greg. Too bad one cannot vote for anarchy. I would like to have a little more flesh on the bones of this Zone of Local Control animal before committing to action. As it stands, with this common property resource, all a vigilante stream guardian would get from an angler would be the Trudeau salute. And maybe some words of encouragement on how to self-procreate; such as happens on the Gold river when ambushed by a couple of self appointed First Nations stream guardians.
    Obviously, given your experiences with the ZEC system in other areas, you have given sober thought to how this, or a similar system might work out here on the wild wet coast. I, for one, would like to hear more of your take on this matter.

    • Rory I know how the ZEC works in Gaspe. I know the Quebec government wanted most of the rich American Private Lodges out of there and that was a partial impetus to “discovering” the ZEC idea. I assure you the idea and formulation came from citizens probably living in the River Villages. The government of course polished the Regs and early rules via Attorneys.
      The History of the ZEC is likely online. But maybe in French.

      Anecdotally that is not anarchy….smiling…that is how business is done in Government. Lobbyists, anyone? Who writes the Bills placed before the Parlaiment or Senate? Ha.
      My idea is an old idea. I talked it up during the AMP a bit. Mr. Clay offered it here early on. There are resources in many parts of Quebec. That link I sent includes a discussion of Regs and where the Tickets are sold and more.

      If there is traction on this or any idea of course I would add what I can. Many experienced and bright people already have offered ideas.
      …….
      You questioned Compliance. Fair question. Social Approval, social shaming and a general mature acceptance of the common good are powerful, especially over time and if the Towns and Locals themselves demand or greatly support it. Smithers, Telkwa, Houston, New and Old Hazelton….essential for support of anything new and voluntary at first. Everything in life needs a Sales Idea, authentic Market ideas and a good Brand, eh?

      • More clarification re ZECs. Greg Connolly is entirely correct about the history around ZECs. That system gave back to the residents of Quebec a lot of fishing opportunity they never had because those opportunities had been owned/controlled by wealthy American interests. Provincial fisheries staff involved in the formative stages of BC’s classified waters system visited Quebec and examined their ZEC system closely. It had obvious merit but it was deemed BC wasn’t yet at the point where constraints on resident angler access would fly. Times have changed, at least in the context of the total number of anglers on some rivers during some periods. In BC, when we contemplate restricting freedoms we have traditionally enjoyed, we are talking about the precise opposite of what Quebec’s ZEC system facilitated. Our reality is that is a much harder sell. That is not justification for avoiding the issues though, at least in my opinion.

  • Jessica
    Valuable first hand input. Exactly why I ended my skeleton ideas with the statement that the management people generally ARE underfunded and stretched way thin. It is just mostly counter productive to blame the middle managers or worse to whine to them. Just as you report. You know my experience with these type of people is they really do want to leave at the end of the day and feel as if they have contributed and done a good job. The Exceptions are not even considering…..just move around or along.

    I bet there is a cadre of people, local and distant who can find a small start to a solution like over use.
    We can’t wait. And mainly the AMP showed us what the government might come up with.
    Many major changes in governance have been started and finished by small groups of people. And most flew in the face of normalcy or custom.

  • Reply to Eric. Seems like you had a rough go of it this last year. I have been flyfishing the area for 40 plus years and can say that last year was my most satisfying year. I found new water and made some new discoveries on past fished waters. I found the fish in The waters I fished to be in excellent shape. So you can see that personal antidotal fishing experiences do.not always reflect the state of the fishery. Overcrowding is one problem. Everybody wants to fish that famous pool or the pool they believe will give them the results they want. Unfortunately it usually fish that they want,not the fishing . At the height of the season, hear on the Kispiox,I can float a section of river and see either no one or only a few anglers. Why? Because people believe there are more fish in certain streaghes of river. Also there is more people there. To me it’s a math problem. Less fish ,but fewer anglers,or more fish and a whole lot of anglers. You do the math.
    We cannot become so discouraged because of a bad year. I remember some bad years over the time I have fished here,but many good onesas well. I believe the fishery is still viable and very much worth saving. Changes sometimes, come slower than we would like. There are better management options available. We just have to promote and pursuer them.
    Like The Zec system in Quebec. Greg pointed out it is locally run. The local society sets the rules. Take for example the Town of Gaspe. The local society manages 3 rivers there, the St. Jean, the Dartmouth and the York. The St Jean is draw only . The other two rivers have a mixture of open water and draw water. Half the draw water is let out in November and the other halh the day before the date of the fishing. They have a very nice building that employs people. Flys and souveineers are also sold there as people are always coming in to draw . The soceity also manages the kill,if any,does enhancement projects and generally looks after the health of the river. The local business prosper from the fishing opportunities , and the rivers are not crowed save some open water at times. They try to manage the river so that everybody,including the fish,win. Unfortunately you cannot go fishing ,where you want and when you want for Atlantics. People who are upset about this must remember there are lots of other fishing to be had . Just not Atlantics. We can continue to manage are steelhead fishery here in a first come first served for all or look at other options that can still offer a quality experience in this day and age that we live in. We can’t go back to the good old days. They don’t exist

  • Local Control and the Impetus for It.

    Actually the residents of the Skeena System really do not have a choice on the issues raised here. Changes for the better will only come from local dedicated action over a long period of time. You will be understaffed and underfunded for quite sometime. Ha…reality, like Government.
    All you need is a few, maybe five or six dedicated people who will see this to the end, helping and sitting in for one another as life needs require. Local people.

    Here are links to two major Citizen Action/Control Projects that I personally know of. (There are many more…..look at your Orgs right in your backyards, re: Northern Gateway etc all)

    http://savethefront.org
    This group worked for five or six years to expand the the protected areas east of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. They lead the US Forest Service to the Passage of the Bill.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/ditchtheditch/
    This group, five people with most over four years of hard unnoticed work, has now arrived at a point of seriously ending a $1.8 Billlion expenditure of funds the State does not have and cannot afford to spend on only one poorly conceived project. They will probably stall, delay or end a project 14 years in the works that has serious deficiencies.

    This is local input and local Control and not waiting and complaining when the Government ignores you.
    …….
    If we do not find the will to control the use of the Skeena in its most sensitive areas then I’m sorry to say, the doom and gloom stars will be proven correct.

    What is It? 40% of the entire Run each year on average heads right to the Bulkley? What say you?

    Enroll your self in Local Control. Then your friends, next find Community Official allies. (Most of that is already half complete.

    The Details can come from ….ZEC?!

    Greg

  • Reply to Bob Clay:
    I have friends that have stopped going to region 6 precisely because of the ongoing abuse and disheartening spirit of “pigs in paradise” on the Bulkley and other rivers on the Skeena system.

    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences/docs/classified_waters.pdf

    Only the Maurice being considered class one is part of the problem here so technically there are no rod day restriction on the entire run of the holding waters on the Bulkely and this is the problem in a nut shell. I know that removing the jet boats, at least above Smithers, does not sit well with some people. But mostly these are the people who need to slow down and learn that steelhead are indeed “biting fools”. Just perhaps this action alone will at least remove a significant portion of the anglers who are only there to hook as many fish as they can in the shortest and easiest possible way.

    Again as I have stated it is obvious that hooking the same fish over and over again during a season has become a very serious problem on the Bulkely and this is largely due to the jet boat access during peak times. Turning the clock back to one guide one drift boat or raft with and maximum two rods and the guide at the location of the anglers at all times is the best solution to a large part of the problem.

    Other places like the Copper are just as much of an issue with so called guides driving the so called clients to the runs and dropping them off without staying.

    By the time the leaf hatch and ice starts to form on the banks the vast majority of fish are not in great shape and this is largely from being hooked at least once. From what I have seen the average size and health of Bulkley proper and entire Skeena system fish is down significantly since the 1980’s to say the least.

    We either reduce the numbers of fish being hooked or eventually the Bulkely will become another steelhead waste land like the Thompson this is the bottom line, I see no other answers to the situation as things stand.

    • Eric Reesor;

      Removing the jet boat isn’t a solution either, it spreads the crowd thru the river. It sounds also a lot like a hate on jet boater there.

      I do agree with you that there is a part of the jet boat who have a negative effects and those people should have a much better etiquette. But saying they the one who only pound the water is excessive.
      -What do you think of the walkers that loop trout creek all day, doing many many fish over and over?
      – what about the walkers who never leave lower ebenizer doing numbers of fish day after day also?
      – what about the two guys who always bring there personal water craft to archery run and spend there days crossing the river to fish golf course run and archery doing numbers too?
      I could go on about multiple other run where people walking, using personal water craft just to cross the river from two prolific water abuse the resource also.
      Let’s not all blame on the jetter cuz most of us don’t have one. Actually a lot of the jetter have great etiquette cuz they have the opportunity to move around to access water. Sadly the 10% of who have the giant boats are the bad ones and are easy to notice cuz they move like rocket with there 200hp going so fast that the wave last for 5min after they out of sight

      Now I do believe a horsepower restriction need to come in place. More and more we start to see bigger boat to go faster. If everyone would be limited to a 40 or 60 hp people be cruising the water and it be better for everyone. you can run 3 people with a 40hp anywhere up from Smithers without a problem.

      also people should self restrict themselves to fish only one side of the run ( walkers, drifter,jetters) , I witnessed too many times especially below the mini bulkley someone doing good on one side cross over a redo it all across. Do you really need to go for an other 4 fish when you just did 5 on the other side? NO, self restrict yourself.
      Once you fish a side that’s it move to an other water, and try your luck elsewhere.

      Brian ideas of a new CW water is great and increasing the license fees like he said is a must do.
      We clearly underpay for our sports. Let’s look at what people pay to go ski Vail for a day or play golf elsewhere. We have a magical place with magical fish, people should not take it for granted. Neither complaining to have to pay a bit more for it. It will provide funding for new habitat program, staff to watch and protect our river and more.

  • I see a commonality in many of these comments….that being an overlooking of the fundamental principle of resident angler right of priority access to the fisheries resources in BC. I do see the utility in the acquisition of a database that includes angler effort from all sectors, however, I would strongly caution those who believe that resident anglers should be subjected to the stripping away of their access privileges.

    My reasoning being:

    1- there are a great many management actions that could have, and in fact, should have taken place in the past which would have helped to return BC fisheries to their former high quality state. Actions that should have been directed towards sectors other than residents.

    To be blunt, the classified waters act failed in a spectacular fashion in terms of controlling guided effort. Resident anglers have endured several decades (27 years) of this inadequate management initiative. It could have been a much different outcome, had the province allocated realistic rod day quotas. They did not. Additionally, as Bob has alluded to,…. the lax controls on assistant guides, number of boats, clients to boat ratio, clients to assistant, etc. has exacerbated the issue in a substantial manner. Add to this, the complete lack of control regarding guided effort on “unclassified” waters, (all quality fisheries in their own right) and you have a surefire recipe for mediocrity.

    2- NGNR angler management came into play long after issues had surfaced within our fisheries. Further to this,…management tools that were initially deemed available to the QWS were pulled from the table during the process. Leaving less effective and less desirable options for participants to work with.
    Don’t think for a minute that I don’t appreciate the resident angler weekends. Residents were fortunate to salvage them from the carnage that was QWS, and ….I live for every one of them during the season.
    My point is the same as in number 1. …..residents were denied the quality fishery due to them, because of the existence of sub-optimal management regimes. It is not realistic nor fair, to expect residents to now relinquish their status and thereby compromise their ability to experience unfettered access to true quality fisheries…should they actually be created at some time in our future.

    2- As has been pointed out, Quebec’s history is essentially the polar opposite of the angling access history here in BC. The Z.E.C.’s might very well have some useful management tools worth investigating, but it should not serve as a prototype for the devaluation of resident angler status here. To attempt such an inclusion would lead directly to the failure of (yet another) angling management initiative. Resident angler access is held close to the hearts of a broad majority of BC anglers. There may very well be a time and a place whereby the nature of a specific fishery has become such that residents should accept a restriction, but it will not be given up easily. That is to say …..there would have to be clear substantiated data informing such an unprecedented action in BC.

    • Thanks for your outstanding reminders of the evolutionary pathway Don. In general there have been some very worthwhile comments and suggestions put forward on this particular post. What we need to be doing is bringing this material to the attention of the people who control the fate of our river fisheries. I know they don’t like hearing from me but I’ll send them a suggestion they might want to look up the post and consider the feedback. I encourage everyone else to do likewise.

  • The Regional Manager read, considered and approved my AGOP then authorized my Angling Guide Licence?… hmmm, now that is interesting. The actual paper document I have in front of me does not bear the signature of the Regional Manager, as it had in years past. Now, it has the scribble of some person, presumably some Front Counter staffer. Beneath that signature is the declaration that this is; “A person authorized by the Deputy Regional Manager Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs West Coast Region” So, the actual Regional Manager pawned-off the responsibility to his underling, who, in turn, slid it onto the plate of someone lower down the corporate food chain. Talk about a disconnect with reality. With that, I don’t want to be bothered attitude, of the top authorizing officials – the presumptive protectors – no wonder the fisheries have gone down the crapper.

  • This Alien approaches “OUR” problematic angling issues from not only an alternate landing approach but evidently a complete different universe. It is my intergalactic theory that where all things government are concerned,.. that government which is least is best.

    My observation is that virtually all of the commentary frustration here is based in both failure of past regulation and frustration that there is not more regulation. Pigs in paradise and the belief that each individual method is more righteous than my neighbors’ are consistent throughout. It appears there to be an exclusionary process unfolding here cloaked in conservation. Exclusionary solutions are being forwarded that would function both within and outside of whatever walls international walls being proposed.

    Somewhere among you, I sense the wheels turning. Maybe there have also been posts moderated by Bob’s good grace thwarting negative commentary with respect to Alien intervention? Regardless, knowing those wheels turn among you, allow me to provoke “OUR” expansion of thought.

    You may think that you control the regulation of R6 Steelhead but you do not. R6 Steelhead are not your possession. You do not control their destiny and you cannot prevent their carnage. Simply put, you do not possess that power. Ouch,.. that got you going, now I can even hear the wheels whirring. Let em’ through Bob. That’s a good thing, sometimes you need to shake it up. Let’s dig up a root and growl.

    R6 only has jurisdiction of “OUR” steelhead for a very short portion of their lifecycle. While in your jurisdiction, Anglers both Aliens and Canadians alike, directly impact a small percentage of that lifecycle. (I could only guess and would defer to to Bob as to that exact percentage.) At the beginning of their juvenile lifecycle, there is no Angler impact and assuming their environment is healthy, smolts make way to a borderless sea, where they are fully dependent upon a yet expanded borderless food chain. This is the environment where the majority of their lifecycle is subject to “OUR” carnage.

    “OUR” trendy restaurants and grocery supply chain serve up a menu of them, but more importantly their entire food chain, to an ever growing number of consumers. Many of these consumers are armchair environmentalists totally oblivious to what is on their plate. These international consumers wouldn’t dream of ordering Bambi from that menu, however wild game isn’t on that menu because public opinion doesn’t support it. I maintain that this is where the the vast and greater carnage is caused to “OUR” Steelhead. Now, lets examine some of ‘OUR” personal motivations…

    All here have good intentions to preserve “OUR” Steelhead. However, maybe these intentions are confused with our particular focus on the sport? I admit this is a question that I personally struggle with. I also know we justifiably are concerned with crowding, but we all in fact are part of that problem and who is to be the arbiter as to whose method is most righteous should be protected. What I suspect, is that the subject of crowding and the survival of Steelhead populations are further separated from one another than we anglers might tend to believe.

    When it comes to the survival of “OUR” Steelhead, public opinion justifying consumption of the food chain, may just dwarf angler participation. I believe that. If I believed otherwise, quite frankly I would not participate in the sport, or…. I really would resort to starting up the Hookless-Canada Chapter of the Hookless-International foundation.

    There are also a lot of folks these days that believe putting up walls will solve any and all problems. I know it will not and never has anywhere it has been tried. Eventually all walls come down. Wall us out and you alienate us Aliens from working with you as a powerful ally. Then what will you catch behind your wall?

    Enough from me for now. Know my commentary is to move toward viable informed consensus. True consensus is never achieved without conjecture. Argument doesn’t need to be argumentative. Grab a root and give it a tug gentlemen.

    More from me later on NGO solutions to over crowding…..

  • Jim Beson;
    Some of the most satisfying fishing I have ever had was the in the company of “Aliens”. And I completely agree with the assessment that the Steelhead are not our property.

    Certainly the fish that I have pictures that were hooked in October this year were already in pitiful condition and as Bob has posted this might just be because of a number of factors that are not under our control. For instance a drastic drop in Pacific squid populations where the Steelhead compete with millions of hatchery fish destined for the canning ships and the huge factory squid boats which are denuding the planets oceans.

    However the fact that the petty competition to hook the most fish has lead to a jet boat race situation on the Bulkely makes going there during dry fly season not worth the effort. It is no longer a fishing experience that is at all sporting for the fishermen or the fish.

    If the wild fresh water steelhead fishery does have a future at all the first step is to stop over stressing fish that have survived to the spawning grounds period. And if this means curtailing the numbers of anglers both resident and non resident then this is a better answer to the problem than the alternative which very soon might just be complete angling closures IMO!

    I live on South Vancouver Island and know that rivers like the San Juan, the Gordon the Nitinat, the Cowichan and a spate of other and their tribs need to be closed to all angling if any wild fish are to survive whatsoever. There still are a few wild summer runs to be found on several of these streams but unfortunately the hatchery system is the only thing keeping other species like Chinook alive at all when it comes to these rivers.

    How far behind this peril is region 6? Here is hoping that it never reaches this stage of affairs. I see anglers slogging over fresh laid redds and pushing the spawing fish of the redds without a thought, everywhere in region 6. This is why I use the term “pigs in paradise” because many so called anglers still tend to blame things like the natives, and NR fishery instead of the complete picture of what is really happening.

    BTW we do actually have less government happening here in BC. What we have is simply fewer really expensive centralized spin doctors and desk jockeys not a real government.

    There is no real regulatory system in place whatsoever when you look at it in perspective when it comes to the fishery, and like in Trump’s America there seems to be less government, all the while as science and ecological oversight is shunted away for the future generations to deal with!

    Like I have said the Bulkely would be better served by the highways department than the environment ministry of this province!

    • “However the fact that the petty competition to hook the most fish has lead to a jet boat race situation on the Bulkely makes going there during dry fly season not worth the effort. It is no longer a fishing experience that is at all sporting for the fishermen or the fish.””
      This is probably the most dispiriting thing I’ve read for some time, Eric. I once lived in the area but haven’t been back since the mid-seventies, and am planning a nostalgic visit to the Bulkley and Skeena in September. It really doesn’t sound like its going to be quite the experience I anticipated. The idea of fly fishers on jet skis roaring up those delightful riffles and jockeying for position makes my heart sink.

      We are facing similar if less intense pressure from commercialisation of a public fishery here in New Zealand. Access, a burgeoning guiding ‘industry’ and angling pressure has become a serious issue on some of the most famous waters. The recent advent of non-resident ‘hosting’ is gathering attention now.

      Its really about the money, and there’s obviously an issue when competitive business is based so specifically and intensely on a precious and diminishing resource such as wild trout and steelhead. In New Zealand we call it ‘commercial capture’.

      The irony, of course, is that the very thing that makes fly fishing for wild steelhead so desirable, the experience itself, is what’s being sold, but being eroded and spoiled by commercial exploitation and, lets face it, greed. Of course, the fact a problem can be stated simply does not mean there is a simple solution, but the fact remains that guiding and commercial capture is gradually spoiling the very thing we love most.

  • Eric… know I used your term “Pigs I Paradise” because I thought it captured the scene we all detest so well…. Bravo. I need to run today, but know that I too yearn for the days when our fathers taught us good form from bad as sportsmen…The day when our father required us to introduce ourselves to fellow anglers and bid them a hearty ” good luck” if they were occupying the spot we intended to fish before we pushed on to find another… The day when we knew what a redd even was, not to mention that it was to be treated with respect.

    Just want to be certain you know I took no personal jab there. GOOD LUCK!

  • Local Control
    It’s important to let it sink in that these Waters in Region Six are Crown Waters, Public Waters.
    A great Heritage and Treasure that is antithetical to our European ancestors. The Feds give BC the right and its citizens the expectation that as the Public, they have a responsibility for and a few rights on these Waters.
    Recall Bob H posted the link to BHA in Montana. Watch it again, if need be.
    Skeena fishing is a real bargain and yet still in line with most Resident Fishing (and Hunting in the USA) License costs in North America. Not so underpriced actually.
    $36 a year Resident? Yes.
    I must ask..what is another $10 a day? A cup of flavored espresso or two?

    Everyone other than BC Residents are behind, in the rear, of the hierarchy of the use of these Waters. Even and especially Guides. It is a privilege to have the chance to make money from a Public Resource. The Province could easily take your License to Guide.
    Sue us! You simply could not afford to pursue litigation in that matter.
    Be very cautious of anyone who speaks of these matters in terms of pricing things higher as a solution. There is simply no Free Market anywhere. All Markets are regulated, heavily.

    Guides in Region Six?
    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/guide/docs/angling_guides_list.pdf
    Worth a look.

    Will ZEC work in BC? A full copying of the Quebec system, maybe not. No surprise. The real interest is Local Control.
    Anyone who says it is unenforceable or too difficult to implement is simply telling us he really doesn’t think it is in his “personal” best interests to have people get the crux of such an idea.

    And Local Control that benefits the interests of the common good is what eventually gains support and is successful.

    Many thx that Mr, Hooten allowed this discussion. And many thx for the people who really want to regulate a world class fishery for the benefit of the fishery and the people who are ultimately responsible for that.
    BC Citizens.

    Greg

  • Thanks Bob for your blog and informative article. I,m not a long term fisher to the Skeena area, only 10 years or so which may not qualify me for much of an opinion but here goes anyway. I live in BC so qualify for the residents license , not a non resident or an alien, those last 2 terms say a lot about inclusion and exclusion and put everything into the greed context that is pretty evident just under the surface. Jim stated some good points about everyone trying to get along and work towards a common goal. I must say I have met way more good people fishing with only a few that could have used some education. I don,t have a solution to the problems but to start dividing and excluding is not likely to work. An observation I,ve noticed is the more it costs the person to fish up there the more that person thinks their owed be it fish or water access or just general bad behavior. Maybe all the videos on u tube should start showing people holding up rubber bass instead of lovely steelhead and salmon. Most people wouldn,t go there for a rubber bass.I think the truth of the matter is we as a society? ?(civilization?) have pretty much ruined the fishing everywhere south of the Skeena and no one wants to or knows how to change things . I don,t think its the guys fishing with rods that took all the fish either.Maybe if we all got together we might have a voice,if we start blaming each other and fighting over who should get to fish where and when things will just stay same or get worse. I sure hope I,m wrong cause I really love the country and what I,ve experience up there and it would be great to keep it. One of the last un- dammed rivers left with wild fish.
    Daryl

  • Good-on-ya Daryl..
    It is generally accepted that Southern and Northern PNW Steelhead fishery regulation has been a historical failure. While that is generally true, there is one thing that us southern aliens are doing well that I believe should be noted.

    OR and WA tally returning escapement quite accurately. If counts do not meet an agreed historical threshold AND ALSO if certain environmental conditions such as, water temperature and flow, Are not supportive, then closure or delayed openings are enacted. If it is a late return and escapement goals are achieved, then a closure is reversed. Unfortunately regardless, the Native gill nets are out.

    I know there is much criticism of the R6 Tyee counts last year, but for me I had a better than average productive year both Chinook and Steelhead. Environmental conditions favored the fish not the fishermen, especially late season. Were the counts supportive last year? It appears most would argue no, while I would argue the contrary.

    Though this does not directly apply to R6, I bring it up to point to the resiliency of the habitat. In many WA enhanced Steelhead rivers they have closed hatcheries and required that hatchery brats be taken but not wasted,… not released. This program has been a complete success. Native population numbers have come roaring back. Like I stated, I only bring this up to evidence the resiliency of the habitat. In contrast, the commercial and Native American lobby are demanding that the Chinook hatchery program be yet expanded.

    There being another issue where we could make a difference speaking as one.

  • Crazy busy here on the lower skeena this spring. 14 of the 15 boats out today were guide boats. Some sort of regulation of the guides is in order. Every year getting worse. Horrible display of not managing yourselves.

    • And you surely have the experience to know….sad Report but not surprising. Crazy and horrible. Sums it up.
      Thx PK.

  • Interesting stuff, this angling guide conundrum. The lack of accountability in taking charge of and directing the growth of the BC angling guide community by the overseeing governmental agency is appalling.
    Case in point: just over a year ago a V.I. fly shop owner was busted in a sting operation for taking folks out fishing on rivers without him holding a valid B.C. angling guide licence. After a court case and fine of $10,000 later, he still advertises guiding services for summer-run Steelhead, see http://www.nilecreekflyshop.com/nilecreek_8029.html
    which in itself is an offense, even if no one actually goes fishing with him. So, what’s a body to do? If irresponsible ne’r do wells like this guy can waggle their finger under the noses of the authorities without so much as a follow up visit by the fish cops, then what chance is there for any real change in the angling guide licencing system itself.
    Now, if indeed this fellow has learned his lesson and actually went out and secured a B.C. angling guide licence so he can now operate legitimately; then what does that say about vetting of potential licence holders by the regulatory agency?
    As to my own Angling Guide Operating Plan, I have often wondered what the comeback would be, if any, should I submit intentions to fish on fictitious streams. Nothing probably. The agency likes to be paid on time for licence renewals, if not, they ding you another few bucks for a late-filing fee. But, does anyone in the vast bureaucracy ever scrutinize and question submissions? Seems unlikely.
    Make no mistake, there are a lot of good people out there in the angling guide community. They try to operate in a broken down, wild-west, Gong Show atmosphere perpetuated by administrative ineptness. Cannibalizing our own is no way forward.

  • I have been in BC for nearly 5 years and now run a fly shop here on Vancouver Island. I saw the province as a fishing paradise when I visited from the UK on holiday, but the longer I have been here the more disillusioned and disheartened I have become as the true story of the mismanagement of the fisheries by the feds and the provincial government has become apparent. Steelhead on the Island are an endangered species, Most fishermen who were here 20 years ago no longer bother to fish. You are literally looking for a needle in a haystack. Reference the action taken on the Olympic Peninsula where large numbers of rivers were closed to fishing 15 years ago when the runs of fish were struggling to survive. Certainly that situation now applies to many rivers here so why are they still open ?

    The Stamp is now an absolute shadow of its former glory and its demise has been well documented on this site. Its interesting that the hatchery program staggers along despite a raft of issues. How is it that with the knowledge we now have that hatcheries don’t fundamentally work, and will never be sanctioned on any river, as I understand it, in the future, this hatchery’s operation continues ?

    Other issues prevail also. Logging continues to damage watersheds, by cutting to the riverbank or close to, all over the Island, notwithstanding the documented scientific knowledge established many years ago. We just don’t learn from our past mistakes. And then there are the complex regulations that are not enforced because of a lack of labor related to funding. Well, as a Brit in Canada the cure to funding is blindingly obvious. The freshwater license fee for a resident of BC is so small as to be laughable. It currently costs a senior $5 CAD FOR AN ANNUAL LICENSE !! and I understand it has not been increased for 14 years.! What hope have you got when something so blindingly obvious as this is not acted upon by successive provincial governments. I could go on and on. Rory Glennie has detailed the shortcomings of Guiding Accountability and be aware there is no definitive list of guides in BC anywhere for a prospective client to verify.

    Very, very, frustrating and no sign that anyone in fisheries management gets it !!

    It can’t get any worse or can it ?

    Keith Hyett

  • For me angling on the skeena and tributaries has been absolutely ruined by fishing pressure.There are so many anglers catch and releasing steelhead the mortality rate must be to the moon.There is no such thing as quality angling.The whole situation is disgusting to me and I am considering leaving terrace and giving up steelhead fishing!

  • Dear Marc. You are part of the problem. Youre just another angler wanting to fish,just like all those other guys.. why makes you more worthy than someone else? Can you imagine how the First Nations must feel seeing all us settlers out there on their waters?
    I also moved to the area for the fishing some 40 years ago. After 45 seasons I can honestly say last year was one of my top seasons. Met wonderful people,caught fish without seeing another angler all day, and shared fishing with my wife and friends. Time to venture out and find some new spots. I know people who come to the Kispiox and complain because there’s someone in “their” pool. Time to try and find a new pool. Besides coming here for the fishing is why I came here,but the people I have met in the valley and the lifestyle I live here is the reason I stay here.. if angling pressure is a problem become active in solving it. It may also mean a decline in your fishing time, as we may have to go to more restricting rules,but at least we will have quality angling on the more popular parts of some rivers.
    And another thing catch and release does work. Fish do not keep biting again and again. On uncrowned waters I would catch double digit numbers of fish in one day. Now on the same stretch I get only a few because I have to share the catch with other anglers. We would all like dumb fish and unfished waters. Here on the Kispiox the fishing is as good as it was 45 years ago. We have catch and release to thank for that. Fish do not commit sucicde by getting caught over and over. They usually keep ther mouth shut. River goes out. Fish get a few days off and fishing then becomes good again.
    It’s not like it was in the olden days and as my friend Troy always say you can always go trout fishing. Terrace is a beautiful area Fishing has a lot do to with attitude. please enjoy Terrace

  • Am I reading this correctly? Fishing was as good in 2016 as it was 45 years ago when you were catching double digit numbers of fish on water where you never saw another angler all day? But, you go on to say its not like it was in the olden days. You also say you were able to find untouched water and lots of fish in 2016 but not double digit numbers because you now have to share the catch with other anglers. Don’t these statements contradict each other? How would you address the concerns of other long term Kispiox Valley residents who contend that the current angling management system is failing miserably because there are now too many anglers armed with too much technology and information?

    Also, I’m curious about the evidence you have that catch and release is without impact. What is it that leads you to conclude there is no upper limit on how much catching steelhead can endure?

  • Hi. Perhaps i will try to make myself a little clearer.
    My experience last year was a very good one. First we have to define good fishing. Is it lack of angling pressure? If so I had several days on the Skeena system with either no other anglers or very few for the entire day less than an hours drive from my house. If I decided to go to the more popular spots,yes it was crowed and not what I consider quality angling.
    Is it lots of fish? I had some days of encountering more than 5 fish. Here where I say explore a little. I am of the mind now where I think we should also set personal catch and release limits if the government is not going to legislate one.
    What I meant to say about fishing now and in the past is that I believe angling pressure does not equate to more fish being caught. It’s more anglers catching fewer fish that add up what less anglers caught in the past. i cannot expect,on popular water to have it to myself. This is 2017 not 1972. The only way to change this is to restrict angling usage on a particular water. I am for this.
    The pressure on the Kispiox happens in only particular areas. Miles of the Kispiox are lightly fished. Not as many fish,but good fishing.
    catch and release. Never said it is without impact. This is a blood sport, but if carefully done it can and has made a difference. I have observed over the years that steelhead react to angling pressure . They don’t keep bitting flys for fun. Once hooked and played they tend to become dour. when our river comes in the fishing can be good. After a few days and the most aggressive fish get caught things taper down. I do not believe the fish are getting caught over and over again leading to their death. The overall catch now is still quite good.
    this is where we have to decide what is quality angling. How many fish a day it takes and under what conditions. This is a social problem and benchmarks change.
    If we care about the fish we should not be arguing about what catch and release does. We should be more concerned about commercial harvest of any type.. we cannot feed the world with wild fish. When you go to the grocery store fish and seafood are the only things that are not farmed. Let the masses eat land based farmed fish. I read about your Island experiences with what happening on your rivers. It’s time to stop commercial harvest of anything wild. We’ve managed our fishery to death and the managers are not going to change their ways. Its folly to believe so. So let’s end it. Would be a good start.
    So In summary.
    Quality fishing. -It’s still out there-find it
    Crowed waters- restrict people
    Catch and release works -do it right.
    End all commercial harvest of wild things
    My apologies for not making myself clearer in the past and I hope I have been clearer in this post. I can ramble and I never said I was a writer.

  • Bob Clay, no apologies necessary. Not being a writer… so what. Obviously your words were read, understood and generated a considered response. That is what we need more of, healthy debate on a site like this. It can only lead to a better understanding of the people and the problem(s). I, for one, as a voyeur on this Skeena issue — not having fished that river system since 1990 — appreciate all the input from those folks who are actually on the water. We may never directly influence or change the wild steelhead situation through contributing to this blog-spot. Although, if each of us takes something positive away from these exchanges and applies it the best we can to affect a better outcome, then we will have done something worthwhile. And that may be all we can hope to do. Write on!

  • I have spent the last 2 hours reading this “blog” for the most part a lot of it is true. I am an “old fart: having fished the Skeena for more years than I can remember. I would love to see some of these anglers suffocating while I reach for my damned camera and then try to revive this poor creature. Hoe many of these poor fish actually survive.
    I Could kick these guys in the nuts but I am an old fart. Time to wizen up.
    Jim

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