Days of Rivers Past

Steelhead fishing in British Columbia has been described in a number of books and other material that provide snapshots of different times and places. Mostly, those accounts reflect the number and size of fish caught. It isn’t impossible to search them out and do the knitting required to paint a more thorough picture of the evolutionary pathway of the fishing the fish but virtually nothing has ever surfaced in that regard. Now, Bob Hooton is summarizing some of the history that predated him and blending it into his own fishing and professional careers. The result represents more of a continuum on the subject than exists anywhere else. His steelhead fishing experience dates back to the early 1960s and will not end any time soon. His fisheries management career covered the years from 1971 through 2008.

In Days of Rivers Past the author describes his personal experiences on a dozen of British Columbia’ revered steelhead rivers. In some cases the focus is strictly on fishing. In others he reveals some of the management history underlying the fisheries. More often than not, the major influences on the supply of fish are linked to declining habitat quality and quantity, especially in the southern half of British Columbia. Whereas that is a common perception among anglers and others with less direct connection to steelhead, there is a dearth of material illustrating that point. The author includes numerous time series photographs in support of his case.

The rivers with the greatest potential to sustain some of the fish and fishing opportunity the author has known over the past many years are all in the northern half of the province. The Skeena watershed is the heartland. Unfortunately it is well along the same evolutionary pathway as every formerly iconic stream in southern BC. We seem deliberate in our failure to recognize that reality, much less address it.

The book is not prescriptive, nor does it blame individuals or even government agencies for the circumstances we find ourselves in. Rather, it attempts to leave a record of where we have been and point to an occasional door still open that those in positions of power may want to pay attention to. The next generation of anglers is the only force likely to be able to hold feet to the fire. The author hopes these pages will help those who choose to try and preserve what remains of British Columbia’s remarkable steelhead sport fishing heritage.

(From the Foreword by Mark Hume)