Les Johnson, we salute you

There are not many people I know of who have done more to protect coastal cutthroat than Les Johnson. I know that I’m not alone in being inspired by Fly Fishing Coastal Cutthroat, many of us were inspired in some way by that man and his book through its many editions. Our fly fishing world is poorer for his passing, and coastal cutthroat have lost a champion. My condolences to his family and friends.

Read what he wrote, go find these fish, make a difference.

RIP Les Johnson

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Colquitz Creek

Colquitz creek runs under the Trans Canada highway just out side Victoria, BC. The creek has appeared in this blog before, but this conservation success story is once again facing a threat, this time from the recently begun construction of the Mackenzie interchange. This project is being constructed to address a huge traffic bottle neck (the “colwood crawl”) entering Victoria, which exists largely because of the complete lack of leadership in the capital region municipalities with regards to transit and transportation (and sewage and…on and on).

Coho salmon in the lower reaches of the creek, ten minutes from downtown Victoria

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This project encroaches well into Cuthbert homes park, very close to where the lower creek runs out into portage inlet, to the gorge waterway and eventually out into the Salish sea. While like with every project in BC lots of people say things like “protecting the environment”and “biodiversity” in press releases the project actually has been incredibly impactful to this stream and lower river habitat.

This years fall return once again numbers over 1000 coho, and a handful of sea run cutthroat to the fish counting fence. While there is no doubt this is a success, this remarkable, productive and important habitat for so many species, is once again under pressure from the urban environment that surrounds it.

If you think that chain sawing down trees that have been roosts for red tail Hawks for decades and letting uncontained construction runoff including massive sediment plumes run into a salmon bearing creek and adjoining bird sanctuary is ok, then I guess this blog will never reach you. If this does however strike any kind of chord in you, I assert firmly that this is a special place, a stream that has arisen from the ashes of urban indifference, and an interconnected part of the community that it runs through.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/mckenzie-interchange-work-raises-fears-for-fish-birds-1.3426758

These are just a few of the hardworking groups that are fighting to protect this creek

Colquitz salmonid stewardship and education society

They operate the fish counting fence on the river in cuthbert homes park. They check the trap 10 am most weekends once the rain comes in the fall. Stop by and say hello to the hardworking volunteers.

there are links to many different groups and projects here

http://colquitzcoalition.com

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Cohen: you can’t make a dead horse more dead

In the faint chance you maybe hadn’t heard of the Cohen commission, (put together by the prince of darkness himself in 2009 in response to one of the poorest sockeye returns to the Fraser on record and then subsequently ignored for the rest of the conservative party’s mighty reign) here it is:

http://publications.gc.ca/site/eng/432516/publication.html

Since the release of the report in late 2012, the federal government has done little to act on any part of the panels recommendations. But wait!

Justin Trudeau has come to save the day, so now the D.F.O has announced that now they are going to act on all of the recommendations that they had been steadfastly ignoring for the past three and a half-ish years.

Here is a report card for the governments response so far to the 75 recommendations made by the Cohen commission

https://www.watershed-watch.org/issues/salmon-biodiversity/the-fraser-sockeye-inquiry/cohen-report-tracker/

Here is the federal Liberal government’s 2016 statement of intent (and other info) to follow the reports recommendations

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=1109249

The reason I include all these long documents full of words and shit is for 2 reasons:

  1. Many fisherman are ignorant as pie about conservation or salmonids in general, and really need to learn how to read and interpret information and then join together as opposed to what they mostly have been doing, which is bickering about long rods versus short rods, or making feeble, racist and incomprehensible rants.
  2. I want to feel important.

While I want to believe in the intent of the D.F.O as an entity to save wild pacific salmon like I want to believe in The X-Files or clean Russian athletes, I do believe that the D.F.O has many members who as individuals want to help pacific salmon and somewhere in there some of them will be empowered to do the good work they are there to do as opposed to being bullied for it.

This is the first real acknowledgement I have seen in years by the department that pacific salmonids are not doing all that well.

Breaking News:

Pacific salmonids are not doing very well across much of their range and most stakeholders are only trying to take a bigger cut of a diminishing pie as opposed to acknowledging their own part in that decline. Looking at you and me!

The Cohen recommendations if implemented will have a much broader impact than just Fraser river sockeye salmon.

That to me is significant.

Then again they refused to acknowledge any impact or conflict of interest in their co-management of coastal fish farms and wild salmon, and the recently departed fisheries minister was carrying on a la Rob Ford’s (rest his soul) mayoral cluster fuck in Toronto so take it for what it’s worth.

 

Back from the dead

http://www.coastalcutthroatcoalition.com

While no one misses the ranty, crass, opinionated, grammatical catastrophe that this blog may well be, I thought my fellow cutthroat aficionados might appreciate the link, as well as anybody who might be curious about the magnificent coastal cutthroat.

The state of anadromous fish stocks on the west coast of North America is many things but without involvement of anglers, armchair scientists (or real scientists for that matter) concerned citizens, and the general public things would assuredly be worse than they are now (as bad as that may be) so please, get involved.

Sincerely,

the reanimated corpse of cutthroagalore

Cynical bastards

It seems to my jaded and somewhat dulled senses that there is a feeling in the air of malaise in the fisheries conservation world in BC. Now I know I’m a total manic depressive when it comes to these things but it ain’t just me and my shitty blog.

The grinding attrition of the simply massive amount of megaprojects that are steamrolling all common sense and opposition throughout this province, many of which directly affect salmonids, is simply overwhelming on all fronts. The Thompson steelhead run sucked this year even without blame being focused on a particular angling group or their methods, and the DFO is allowing reckless chum netting regardless of impact. With that it seems now that the regs have changed but nothing is different there is a feeling of deflated angst, as if we’re reaching the point of feeling as if bitching about these fish is getting old. The drought of doom passed us by this summer leaving us with fisheries made almost non existent, die offs, and a great deal of uncertainty facing the future of many other fisheries. Returning steelhead and coho are generally smaller in size than normal, with poor returns in many places, generally thought to be an effect of the much warmer temperatures this region of the world has been experiencing. (See the big warm shitty blob of water in the North Pacific). Top that off with the Canadian election where, while Harper is out (party on Wayne!), what we have instead is a great unknown. I know we feel powerless in the onslaught of such things, but I appeal in the most broad terms… In no fucking way are we powerless!

Right now a whole bunch of new MPs from BC are about to descend on Ottawa. Now is the time to let them know what you expect from them in terms of management of our fisheries, coast, and ecosystems at large and how the economy bisects those things. Fish conservation is not pretty, sexy, or even rewarding, but if we are to continue to enjoy what we have today it is vital and necessary.

Write letters/emails/tweets/facebook posts/blogs/newspaper articles, meet people, form groups, make effort and noise, get dirty and don’t give up.

On that note a stream that is very dear to me in our very own lower mainland is under threat from yet another development that, once again does not follow a sustainable or reasoned approach to urban creek management, but instead seeks to bludgeon monetary avarice on the community with zero recompense to the reality of that place. As ever we here at cutthroatsgalore give that idea the single finger salute and encourage you to do the same.

http://www.sfgc.ca       watch the video

http://www.peacearchnews.com/news/328085341.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/massive-semi-truck-park-proposed-for-south-east-surrey-1.3241692

please take the time to sign the petition:

https://www.change.org/p/surrey-city-council-fish-and-trucks-don-t-mix?recruiter=49167932&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

The salmonids and wildlife of the small but productive Little Campbell river in South Surrey have survived many onslaughts over the years (look up the Campbell Heights industrial park development, or what gravel extraction had done to this pretty little stream) thanks in part to the hard work of the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club and many other groups and neighbours in the area over a significant length of time. I agree that trucks need to go somewhere, but it certainly ain’t here. This area has been under a sustained non stop campaign of thoughtless development by a bunch of cheese dick councillors, developers and get rich quick wankers who care nothing for this place or the people who have dedicated significant portions of their time and lives to preserving this stream. I don’t support the dick richards, ski jump hair cut wastes of space that are behind this project, and I don’t appreciate it when they fuck with my shit.

While there are many big picture conservation battles to be fought, developments like this one (I’m sure there are many other battles occurring in countless communities around the world) are a good place to start getting involved. Please consider spreading the message that this is not an acceptable location for this development and that wild salmonids are and should be at least as important as anything else when it comes to land management.

 

Ebb

Now as you may have heard we have been experiencing exceedingly high temperatures in conjunction with very little rainfall or snowpack this spring/summer on the west coast. Many rivers and some near shore estuaries are warm and in many cases will only increase in warmth over the summer and into the fall. Adult Summer steelhead, trout of various life histories, and summer returning salmon as well as fry and parr are very vulnerable in these conditions. Warm water and exhaustion kills salmonids, so please realise it hurts absolutely no one and nothing to leave those canyon bound island summers and Cowichan trout alone.

Undoubtedly our salmonids are resilient and have lived through what must be beyond countless droughts long before the Internet and self righteous bloggers such as myself, however there are many alternative and important activities to playing steelhead to death. Join a conservation group. Volunteer. Whack and stack some perch. Perch are a horrible invasive species that are very dumb and very tasty, and they live in many waters they have no business being in. The same is true of many bass and sunfish populations. Carp fight far better than any summer you’ll ever catch. Halibut are a strange, tasty and hard fighting fish and there is still low impact salmon fishing (wet wading pinks from the beach on the fly amongst others). Black rockfish and greenling from a kayak with a fly rod are a blast. Better yet go pull invasive plant species, God knows there’s enough ivy, broom, or blackberries out there along the stream sides of the world.

It’s the summer time, get out there.

 

 

Fuck the Earth Day

It’s earth day today, and as much as you couldn’t care less, I feel this is an apt story to tell on just such a day. A douchebagger logging company in Port Alberni has decided that fish, ungulates, water, trees and people don’t matter at all…

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Stephen+Hume+Port+Alberni+water+fight+political+implications/10988862/story.html
http://www.timescolonist.com/news/battle-revealed-over-use-of-sensitive-island-forest-near-port-alberni-1.10365

Vancouver Island’s steelhead runs shouldn’t be as poor as they are. We have many kilometres of wilderness, little fishing pressure, pristine coastal watersheds…. but then there’s the clown show logging companies who operate here as if it is their own little fiefdom and all facets of society must pay homage to their supremacy. This type of land use decision is the epitome of what goes on almost daily here.

The climate is changing. I have no interest in getting into arguments with people who refuse to believe in global warming, just like I’m not going to argue about religion with religious people who believe in a medieval version of Star Wars. You believe what you want to believe, that’s fine with me, but corporate decisions like this have no place in a world that has a changing climate. Large corporations continue to defy common sense and any kind of science you care to cite in thrall to political and financial objectives that are important only to a very few rich nut jobs. It would seem that no cost is too great, and many are fully willing to sacrifice the most important common value we all share, the earth, our home, to their own ends.

Fuck that shit

Just so you understand the context, Port Alberni is literally one of the last towns on this island to willingly criticize logging companies.

So if you think that logging companies (that won’t bend to or even acknowledge the wishes of a town whose existence is pretty much dependant on logging) give a flying fuck about cutting every last tree right to the banks of any given salmon bearing stream on this rock, think again.

My favorite earth day slogan:

“Earth first! We’ll log the other planets later”

Plastic steelhead

http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Ocean+waste+hits+home+Plastic+filled+fish+guts+ruins/10827599/story.html#__federated=1

A good friend of mine recently caught a hatchery steelhead on the Vedder River with its digestive tract full of plastic shards. Now I know this is nothing new and, like many, I’ve seen and heard a lot of different stories about fish having all kinds of things in their guts; from tampons to plastic worms to bottle caps and everything in between. I’m also sure lots of people will shrug and say, “so what you hippie fuckwit” but it is a reminder of how much pointless plastic and garbage has a ubiquitous presence in our environment, our bodies, and in the many wild creatures of our world. While humanity is now just a greasy horde of stinking mud caked cattle, shunted from one cattle pen to another with a different corporate logo branded on our flanks, we have always had and continue to have a responsibility to treat our own habitat with a modicum of respect, even if in the end it’s only for our own benefit. A single hatchery steelhead may not matter, but a floating pile of plastic garbage in the ocean the size of Texas is something that should give one pause, and inspire some sort of thought as to our own role in this world. 

Or hey, fuck it, go to Target and load up on some sweet deals on plastic shit. Go on you deserve it.

Colquitz

Colquitz creek is a small urban creek that flows from the well known Elk/Beaver lake system and winds its way through the backyards, parks, and roads of Saanich. It has numerous tributaries , many of which appear at first glance to be ditches, shrouded in non native blackberries and ivy, and yet act as important rearing and in some cases spawning habitat for the salmonids found in this watershed. The Colquitz feeds into the productive and beautiful Portage inlet which in turn leads to the Gorge waterway, past Victoria harbour and out to the Salish sea.

This year at the fish counting fence, conveniently located at the edge of a large mall parking lot, we have seen a record return to date of over 1580 large wild Coho, as well as 7 sea run cutthroat, and 1 lonely chinook jack. Nearby Craigflower creek also has a counting fence at which they have also seen a very strong run of Coho. The salmon here are just one of the many species that call this place home, from mink, to owls, to otters, and seals, to a large variety of migratory and non migratory birds in the shadow of a fairly large urban populace. Many still do not realize this and other creeks near Victoria hold significant populations of Coho salmon and sea run cutthroat trout, in addition to being part of an incredibly unique and productive watershed and marine ecosystem.

As always this creek remains entirely vulnerable to spills, urban pollution, habitat loss, and neglect. Just this fall, we have seen home heating oil spills, large scale flushing of poisonous roadway runoff into the creek, work crews flushing sediment, concrete, and debris from construction sites, large amounts of chlorinated water flushed from fire hydrants, dredging on tributary creeks, dredging in Victoria harbour, leaking septic tanks and many other forms of pollution unseen. In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that in 2011 there was a significant oil spill on Swan creek (a tributary creek of the  Colquitz) that affected some of the parents of this run, this year, a hitherto unmatched return of Coho has arrived.

A large male coho with a small male coho

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A fine colquitz sea run cutthroat

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Upstream spawning area, with some competition hovering nearby…

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coho milling in the trap

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One incredibly random November chinook jack

Colquitz chinook 2014

This system survives because firstly nature is far more resilient than people will ever admit, and secondly because a small group of incredibly dedicated volunteers, groups and community minded individuals have fought tooth and nail to preserve it continuously and unceasingly. There are many volunteer groups working continuously to preserve different parts and sections of this awesome watershed.

I have spent a significant amount of time this fall volunteering at the counting fence and on this creek, and I tell you that it’s been amazing to meet so many people who are dedicated to preserving this place in all of it’s facets, of which the salmonids are just one small part of. As ever I admonish all of you to get involved in your local communities conservation groups, wade into and involve yourself in the local politics, cause your apathy does nothing, it only makes you weak and does nothing for the places, creatures or people who help make up your life.

So for any of you who think that nobody out there is working to help anadromous fish and their ecosystems, here are just a few of the many awesome groups working within and around this watershed (apologies if I missed anybody) If you know of more tell me about it.

Colquitz Salmonoid Stewardship & Education Society

Gorge waterway initiative https://www.crd.bc.ca/gwi

Peninsula Streams www.PeninsulaStreams.ca

http://worldfish.org/  world fisheries trust

http://www.hat.bc.ca/  habitat acquisition trust

http://gorgepips.blogspot.ca/

Goward Springs Watershed Stewards

Friends of Swan Creek Watershed

Victoria Golden Rods and Reels

Friends of Cuthbert Holmes Park

Haig-Brown Fly Fishers Association

Esquimalt Anglers

Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association Colquitz Watershed Stewardship Coalition

Gorge Tillicum Community Association

https://www.facebook.com/GorgeTillicum

 

Stop whining like a bitch and get involved!

 

 

 

Pacific Wild

Pacific Wild is a conservation organization and website focused on the protection and celebration of the ecosystems of coastal B.C. Ian Mcallister, the founder of Pacific Wild, has a new book out called Great Bear Wild, featuring some seriously amazing photography of the central wild B.C coast. He also wrote the book, Last of the Wild Wolves, about central BC coast wolf populations, which will probably change how you see these creatures, unless of course, you like to shoot them for no reason. This group is fighting to keep our coast from being seen and valued as merely a fossil fuel transportation corridor, and to document and protect the many species that make this coast what it is, including the finned quarry that we all love so much.

http://pacificwild.org/