Skeena Steelhead is the story, as best it can be pieced together, of one of the world’s premiere fresh water game fish. Between its covers you won’t find tales of arm wrenching grabs and heroic struggles with world record summer steelhead. Instead you’ll be able to track the events that have conspired to imperil an internationally renowned treasure.
The story begins with broad descriptions of the fundamentals of Skeena steelhead biology and life history. Skeena is given context by comparison to better known salmon producers such as Columbia and Fraser. First Nations fisheries are recounted according to published records that frequently conflicted with commonly held beliefs about the origin and magnitude of those fisheries. Commercial fisheries, salmon focused, that began to choke the mouth of the Skeena 135 years ago and those that existed as far away as the outer islands of Southeast Alaska even before are described in sufficient detail to appreciate their cumulative impact on homeward bound Skeena steelhead.
The evolution of the Skeena steelhead recreational fishery, not much more than a third of the commercial fishery’s age and infinitely less than that in relation to First Nations’ fisheries, is the story within the story. The passion and conviction anglers brought to the steelhead steelhead management scene through the late stages of the 20th century and into the next was the real catalyst for these pages. Without the momentum created and sustained by anglers there would be little purpose in undertaking such a mission and a negligible audience worth the effort of a history lesson. The story could never be told by someone not firmly entrenched in the Skeena fisheries management community or one still employed within it. Retirement has its rewards.