My great grandfather was well known in the lower mainland for making spoons and spinners for salmon/steelhead, my father was an avid winter steelheader, and I make shitty blog posts about a fish that nobody cares about,and for nobody to read, kind of a nice parallel with the state of anadromous fish on the west coast.
In my great grandfather’s era there were lots of wild fish, high abundance and high survival, high fecundity, small creeks abound with chum, coho, sea run cutthroat trout, and even steelhead, hydrology and groundwater largely in good shape, and this is in spite of virtually no environmental consideration in commerce. My father’s era saw the recent glory years of the early eighties steelheading, Saltwater salmon abundance in the straight of georgia and the west coast of vancouver island that is the explosion of hatcheries and finished with the near complete collapse of many coho and steelhead stocks up and down the coast. Today what I see is remnant or near extinct runs, collapsed ecology, poaching on the scraps of tiny runs, a sport fishery that wouldn’t exist without expensive and subsidized massive hatchery output. Rivers run through pipes, and dams, creeks that had measurable runs of steelhead are now concrete drainage pipes. People fishing for pink salmon because they are the only abundant remaining species left. Most of the famous rivers no longer contain fishable numbers of the species they are famous for. Ever fished Campbell river for steelhead? Even the Gold, Salmon, Cowichan, and a bunch of others actually have low abundances of steelhead. Squamish river is the same. God forbid the Thompson river not be mentioned(it’s the only river in the world don’t ya know). And a whole bunch of people who should know better are acting like there is nothing amiss. If you read literature about fisheries from 20-30 years ago you get painted a picture of abundance and large wild fish galore, then you actually go to these rivers and find them recently logged to the banks and runs of fish that maybe hit 100 fish over a 4 month season(read: devoid of fish).
Apathy is not a pill you can take. it’s not magic, not passive. It is something you are actively doing to the world around you. stop it please. I don’t want the world I live in to be a terrible place just because you can’t be asked to care about anything. Please, it’s time to give a shit. There are powerful groups that are working to dismantle the woefully inadequate protections that exist for the wonderful coastal cutthroat trout and their environs. They are not considered a fishery, they have no economic value (supposedly), and they have no enforcement protection.Who gives a fuck if somebody kills a bunch of wild sea runs out of some creek?
There are a bunch of little urban creeks that right this second have tiny runs that are teetering on the edge of extinction and yet where are the fundraising dinners, and the islander auctions? Who knows where Spius creek is? Here’s the thing, you all know where the Brunette river is, Byrne creek, the Coquitlam, the Serpentine, the Salmon, the Nickomeckl, the Alouette? How many others are there? The beloved Aquilini’s and their blueberry and cranberry farms have completely annihilated the North Allouete (and they’ve been fined for it) and yet go canucks go is about as far as the commentary goes. How about Colquitz creek here in Victoria? How about the kokish river? What the hell is that? I’ve seen more passion expressed about hardy perfects than what I’ve seen from anybody in the fly fishing world about this, hell Willie Mitchell had more to say than most about the Kokish. How about every other moonscaped, cut to the banks, sedimented and logjammed watershed on this entire rock. It’s a testament to the adaptability of these species that they exist at all because there isn’t a great deal of evidence that any supposed management has actually helped. These rivers have runs that have been barely clinging to existence for a long time. I think a wild steelhead in the Serpentine is just as important as one in the Bonaparte and I’m apparently completely alone.
Look at the difference in the Campbell River between 1901,Roderick Haig Brown’s Campbell river, and the Campbell river now. It’s an embarrassment. are there any steelhead left? The home of the champion of fly fishing conservation is a monument to the failure of conservation. Yes keep telling yourself its all ocean conditions, that pesky ocean did it. The fight for our fish is pretty much a fight to the death.
What is my father’s legacy? Is there anything being invested in the future of these fish and their ecosystems?
A beautiful wild cutthroat trout from the Little Campbell River