“PFF” (otherwise known as news from the Kispiox)


As if there wasn’t already an oppressive number of complex issues to address on the British Columbia steelhead front, now we can add to the list. Get used to this one people, it isn’t likely to go away any time soon. PFF stands for Put Fish First. It seems to be the brainchild of a wealthy US citizen who lives in Singapore where he writes conspiracy fiction novels (you can’t make this stuff up!). When he isn’t doing that, he spends time at his holiday home on 160 acres of prime riverfront property on the Kispiox River. His Kispiox history goes back to about 2000 but the property purchase didn’t occur until 2014. The information in circulation tells me our man is in the crosshairs of some Kispiox locals because he catches a lot of fish on something other than fur and feathers. Well, the best defense is a good offense so away we go.

The PFF proponent is Bradley West who claims to have co-founders Dick Burge, a former Washington State fisheries biologist and Troy Peters, Chair of the Northern BC Branch of the Steelhead Society of BC*** already on board for the PFF launch in 2018. Here’s the essence of what is already out of the gate and looking to grow by enlisting the support of at least one high profile sport fishing media personality.

  1. People with the resources to do so throw money into a pot administered by a group of people (mostly foreign?) who have an interest in the Kispiox steelhead fishery. Proponent West states “PFF will be open to anyone willing to donate time and/or money to creating and preserving a quality river environment where steelhead and salmon thrive”. He has put up $20K US as seed money. There is a proposal to secure additional funds by selling hats, t-shirts and bumper stickers displaying a PFF logo.
  2. The money gets used to promote the rallying cry of these crusaders – “No More Than Four”. Translated, the intent is to encourage people to do things like fish for cutthroat with dry flies once they have caught their four steelhead on a given day. All gear types welcome but only in accordance with existing regulations (artificial lure, single barbless hook, catch and release). The broader objective is to take the fly vs gear debate off the table so we don’t end up with fly only regulations that, according to West, will ultimately set us on a path to privatization. (The connection escapes me.)
  3. Studies (led by Washingtonian Burge) “to measure cortisol levels in steelhead landed and handled in different ways and in different water temperature”. “At this vital moment, we need policy decisions based on fact, not personal anecdotes”. (Sounds like a carbon copy of that ground breaking research that the future of Bulkley steelhead was alleged to depend on. I’m still waiting for answers to my questions on the results of that one.)
  4. If and when the PFF initiative creates a tidal wave of support and a large sum of disposable funds, there would be initiatives such as buy back of commercial fishing licenses, road improvements to boat launch sites, habitat improvement projects, developing position papers “to assist the regulators as they consider policy options to reduce crowding on the Skeena system in future years”. Some of the talk is pretty interesting. How about higher daily classified waters fees, no more than five of seven consecutive days can be fished, daily float fees and annual limits on days one can float?

Well, Mr. West, while we respect your right to express your opinions on how us Canadians should run our fisheries you’ll have to forgive us (me at least) for asking how you would take it if a Canadian was preaching to you from Singapore about how to manage the Olympic Peninsula streams? You have a fellow named Trump down your way who has a habit of alienating people with his bombastic style. Please don’t bring that to the Kispiox or anywhere else in the Skeena. Come, enjoy our waters and fish but leave the rest behind. If we need any outside help to enlighten us on the commercial fishery steelhead interception scene, further muddy the waters with respect to First Nations interactions or drive wedges between residents and non-residents or guided and non-guided anglers we’ll be sure to call.

One closing remark. All the issues you speak to ultimately relate to the supply of steelhead that make it home. That supply is reduced significantly by Southeast Alaska net fisheries virtually every year. I long for the day when even the tiniest fraction of all the money and influence invested in Skeena steelhead fishing by our American friends is directed toward doing something about their fellow citizen’s impact on the supply of steelhead they get to enjoy in Skeena country. Perhaps the optics of your campaign to sustain opportunity you can no longer find in your own country would be better if you did.

Merry Christmas just the same.

*** Since posting the above I’ve been advised by SSBC people in Skeena country they did not endorse the PFF initiative as stated by Mr. West. It seems Mr. West assumed the SSBC was on board after some conversation with the SSBC’s Troy Peters many months ago when Troy was expressing the view that anglers need to reduce their collective footprint on the resource. Translating that into an endorsement broadcast by email and then setting up for broad public exposure via a distantly removed fishing media personality has done a serious disservice to Troy Peters and the SSBC. My sincere apologies for implying the good people in the SSBC supported the West initiative.

Comments 9

  • Hi Bob, thanks for reminder of Alaska netting.
    NCSA will get right on that. We will contact River Without Borders to help us.
    So many insidious vectors are working against our Steelhead.

  • There certainly are enough divisions between anglers (commercial, commercial recreational and sporting) that gear types are argumentive. What always has been and continues to be the real problem is a lack of leadership from our governments.

  • One more comment. We are being infiltrated by foreigners (NFS, Brad West to name a couple) , who think they have a better idea on how to manage of rivers, fish, and anglers than people who’ve lived their whole life on these rivers. We’ve watched the demise of most every river south of the skeena, and the sport fishermen allowing a roe fishery, kill on wild steelhead played a part in the demise! Agree commercial fishing(Alaska and ours), FN nets,climate change and water flow are huge contributing factors, but these fish don’t spawn in the ocean. So we need to minimize our impacts on thefew that get to freshwater to do that! These people are here like you stated Bob, because they’ve wrecked their rivers. “4 a day”would be a good week swinging flies in October.

  • Hey Bob, I love reading your articles, and always enjoyed your perspective. Even as Non- Resident, i totally agree with some of your comments and concerns over this sensitive subject in your previous articles. However this article, I really don’t understand, this group’s motives, that got you so upset. I m not trying to stir the pot, but was curious to what other info, DIRT :), you have on these guys…… On a side note, what is wrong if someone wants to fish with some other types of fishing gear? I don’t believe in it, and never have for steelhead, but at some point we need to join forces with anyone that cares about our resources. Still to this day, one of the most respectful anglers i have met, from Terrace, was a gear fisherman on China bar. I imagine it is a different story in places like the Kispiox… Please share more.

    • I’m a steelhead advocate Randy, not an advocate of one gear choice over another. I’m also a fierce defender of the right of residents of British Columbia and Canada to carve out their own destiny with respect to how our fisheries are managed. There are many good people outside Canada who have done much to sustain steelhead as opposed to their own fishing opportunities. I applaud them for that. But, I have a real problem with those who seem to think buying property or spending a lot of time as resort or lodge patrons gives them the right to tell us how to go about managing our fisheries. If they had all the answers they wouldn’t be here in the first place. Perhaps I spent too much time as a fisheries manager and I’m overly sensitive to the differences between fish management and angling management but that experience taught me the difference.

      The other thing I know after almost 60 years as an angler is we’re too good at what we do in the world of the moment. Look around. Steelhead numbers are not going to do anything but decline over the longer term. Diminishing supplies can’t keep with out ability to “get em”. If we don’t change direction we will end up where we are headed.

  • Hmmm… here we go again with the celebrity pop-up game, just like whack-a-mole at the carnival side-show. Wild British Columbia seems to be a magnet for such antics. Over the past few years we have seen Hannah Montana panting to pet a cute little wolf pup. Captain Kirk beaming down to rail against sea-lice cling-ons and vanishing steelhead. Barb Wire grandstanding on whatever strikes her ecologically vacuous mind at the moment. And on, and on.
    Where are they now?, comes to mind. Given a cameo appearance by some celebrity does create a bit of a splash on a slow news day, when it gets down to it, their staying power is eclipsed by their star power. And they are quickly off to another media event for some other cause.
    The hope is, this new “star” fiction writer and his PFF scheme will fade to black as fast as his predecessors noted above. As Roger Daltry belts out: “Don’t get fooled again.”

  • Very interesting topic , appreciate it for posting . The friendship that can cease has never been real. by Saint Jerome. ddkekkeeedabfkae

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