Please just vote

British Columbia has a provincial election coming up on May 9th, 2017. The current Liberal government has proven time and time again that marine and freshwater fish in particular, and the environment in general, are not even in consideration for real and meaningful protection under their governance.

In the recent past anadromous fish values were swept under the rug with the Kokish River run of the river hydroelectric project, today it is the “Site C” dam proposal, tomorrow it could be anywhere, the Thompson, Dean, Skeena, Nimpkish rivers or any of your favourite streams.

The flora and fauna of this great coast have no representative in this government, so if you care, go and vote one in, from whichever party, because the only steelhead management plan that this government is currently seeing through is the extirpation of the species through much of its range on the south coast.

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Hypocrisy

There has been a lot of uproar about invasive species in BC in recent years, and indeed it is a topic that seems to get a lot of people frothing at the mouth, not unlike go pro cameras, Instagram etc. There are many places where invasive species don’t belong and their spread should be halted (bullfrogs come to mind), but I refuse to let such foolish and self destructive obstinacy rule my mind when it comes to the clear path of the destruction of our truly amazing salmonids.

While I agree that invasive species like pike in the Kootenays have the potential to do serious damage to ecosystems, just like silver carp in the Great Lakes, perch on the island and many others, let’s be clear that smallmouth bass have been on Vancouver island for a very long time. Bass have been in the Okanagan again for a long time and I do mean a long time. Many of these places have valid and strong fisheries where invasive species impacts have long ago balanced out. There is better rainbow trout fishing in Vaseaux lake in the Okanagan than any lake on Vancouver island and it has largemouth, smallmouth, perch, and other invasive spiny ray species. The decline of sockeye salmon to these same waters has a lot more to do with the several dozen dams that stand between the ocean and the upper tributaries of the Columbia river, coupled with water that now warms to deadly temperatures in the Columbia prior to the sockeye even reaching the Okanagan, again which has little to do with invasive species.

This fishery is an example of an adapted fishery in the reality of today’s changing climate that requires little input, and are set to adapt to what sure seems to be a changing climate. So before you howl with self righteous fury let’s deal with the facts on where these species interact with salmonids.

There are very little salmon or steelhead left comparable to the recent past in places like the Gold, Stamp, Cowichan or Salmon river(VI), nor in the Dean, Thompson, Chilcotin, the Samish, Skykomish, Skagit, Deer creek, and indeed a great many other places famous for their salmon or steelhead. Where is the impact from invasive species to any of these places? Minimal to nonexistent, humans have been continuously and self righteously used the “manage to zero” philosophy to manage the salmonids all up and down the coast, and between selfish sport fisherman, commercial fisherman, cynical native management and the whole phalanx of government institutions that basically enforce systematic ocean rape, have left the populations of salmonids in tatters. Even as I was growing up the canneries and much of the commercial fisheries like the huge salmon biomass in the ocean that sustained them, were already gone. Resident Georgia straight coho, once a fishery unto themselves were already in steep decline. The Invasive species that everyone was worried about when I was a kid were mackerel and humboldt squid, but I think the real problem lies a little closer to home.

Let me make it clear, I will support bass culls when you support brown trout kill fisheries on the Cowichan, little Qualicum, Eve and the many other lakes and streams that have them here. Chinook, pink and other salmon have also been planted repeatedly in places they had never existed before by humans to create fisheries. Same goes for brook trout and the elephant in the room rainbow trout. There are so many places where rainbow trout have severely impacted native coastal cutthroat and other native trout, but nobody is willing to even consider that impact. All I am saying is that the only rationale used for these stockings is for the purpose of creating fisheries. If you truly believe with such ardour that bass should be removed from warm lakes stocked with hatchery rainbows, then you should equally look with disdain at those sought after big cowichan Browns who have undoubtedly severely impacted coastal cutthroat and rainbow and other salmonid populations in the river. If you disagree with that you are a hypocrite.

The Salmon river on Vancouver island will probably have 100 winter steelhead tops this season and yet is (a) open for some inexplicable reason (where is your outrage?) and (b) getting pounded on daily as if Instagram is in desperate need of horrible 4 feet out of the water grip and grin photos. There are so many things wrong with this situation none of which have anything to do with invasive species and yet you get angry about smallmouth bass in elk lake?

Focus on the real drivers of oceanic and freshwater impacts on salmonids, which are singularly all human for profit industries, coupled with an unfriendly change in climactic effects, and governments of the day who now have in place the tools and mandate to manage coastal salmonid stocks into extinction, not species that represent in some cases the only truly strong “wild” fisheries that will remain now and into the future.

Please stop enabling fuckwits

As if we aren’t bombarded daily with what is becoming an overwhelming narrative of endless environmental destruction, you get me harping on about some bird that no one gives a fuck about.

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/nature-lovers-ask-b-c-hydro-to-delay-destruction-of-rarely-seen-bird-s-nesting-ground-1.3964201

You can ignore me, that’s fine, but the governments of the day have been living in some perpetual and empty version of 1982, an alternate dimension where everything living in the wild is just endless grist to the mill in pursuit of owning a summer home or a new car. Loggers don’t need jobs this bad (or they’d be logging Stanley park) and we don’t actually need the power from all these projects at all, so what’s the point? Surely not just to blow 8 billion dollars (and climbing) to prove that you won?

Disagree? There still isn’t sewage treatment in greater Victoria, but a bunch of dimwits are collecting a pension or a salary on careers made out of debating sewage treatment. Look at the contaminated soil site in Shawnigan lake and the communities fight to stop it, when the company operating it is is being vociferously defended by the provincial liberal government while breaking the law and operating outside of the government’s own regulations. How about the gutting of the federal fisheries act, or the LNG, tanker, logged to oblivion, hydroelectric project guillotine cloud of threats that hangs over goddamn near every watershed on the whole coast of BC.

When you vote for a fuckwit (as the world has recently seen) you don’t get anything but a fuckwit who has power. What does a fuckwit with power do? Guess, or turn on the news. Christie Clark and the larger government she represents are fuckwits. Criminals from around the world are basically being courted to use our real estate system to openly launder money on a grand scale and the response is to do nothing. The amazing wild places in B.C. like the highly significant and unique Skeena river are being sacrificed to appease a company like Petronas who I think you can be assured are not going to look out for anything or anyone in this province. Why would you as a voter enable this? There isn’t even a strong economic argument to be made to build the site C dam, unless you count smoke and mirrors and the endless “job creation” sound bites that “journalists” seem to be gibbering on about every day.

Honestly forget the fuck about climate change for a moment and realize that there is a real threat to all the wild creatures and places we cherish disappearing long before the shifting climate brings death to the cold water salmonids of the west coast, or the caribou, or the Monarchs, or any other wild species.

Protecting habitat and biodiversity while maintaining an economy is possible when it isn’t about your team winning.

Please consider that when you go and vote.

Those birds are as important as these fish.

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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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Over priced graphite for undervalued fish

The laughable idea that only a $1400 fly rod built with lots of scientific sounding horseshit can make you a highly skilled fly fisherman is being pimped so hard by a bunch of blowhard industry clowns who feel their opinions matter because they guided once on the Bulkley and now they’re all worldly and shit. (Wow, really, you caught flossed fall steelhead on T-14, props to your mad skills, clap clap clap)

This marketing shite isn’t fly fishing, it’s pathetic.

Learning how to cast, practising lots and buying high quality lines that match your rod will make you a better caster, not buying a overhyped dick sceptre golf club that is 0.0000987 ounces lighter than the last rod you had. Marketing with moronic terms like “swing weight” is just an industry fallacy created to dupe newbies into chasing some latest greatest fetishized delusion of being cool.

Newsflash, flyfishers aren’t cool, and the latest greatest fly rod is just a golf club with chrome snake guides.

Truth is there are many many really good low to mid range rods available in today’s market and the average (real non poser) fishing cast is under 50 feet and rod manufacturers got that angle covered a long time ago, so what are you chasing?

Put your money into your resource and into learning and travelling. At the end of the day the fish you catch matters, not the rod you catch em with.

I’m the islander

I’ll be brief, it is damn good to be back on the island. Anadromous fish and their stream resident brethren are doing pretty shitty over here, and that really hurts, because this island is a special place. It’s also home, and I’m back, in the comox valley this time, and I ain’t leaving unless you chain me to the ferry to hell(tsawassen)

There are many things to reflect on after a year of living on the mainland, and working in the tackle industry.

1. The tackle industry is a poisonous farce, manned by a bunch of “guides” and “professionals” who if left to their own devices are going to destroy every last fishery that exists on earth.

Buy whatever you can afford and be happy with it, only human waste look down on others because of the cost of their tackle, Farbanks and all the other purveyors of high dollar cool can all go suck a bag of dicks. I have never felt less interested in fishing in my life than the time I worked in this industry.

2. The island is a special place, the vedder river, not so much.

3. I am still going to keep this catastrophe of a blog going, if only to piss off idiots and entertain my ambitions to be a Walmart level fly tier, and more importantly because fish like the coastal cutthroat are magnificent creatures deserving of our awe and reverence.

There are still some signs of life in some streams here (the water in this stream stays cold, don’t worry)

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Vote motherfucker!

Don’t believe in the system? This is reality, not dungeons and dragons. When you let apathy take the wheel and let a party who got themselves a majority because only 20 odd percent of the country actually voted for them and then allowing them to “run” the country as a purely cynical and completely autocratic exercise in message management, at the cost of the very things they claim to represent including the economy, you put everyone else in this entire diverse and great country over a barrel. Canada is so very much more than the picture the conservative spin machine is trying to paint it over with so stop acting like a 16 year old girl and involve yourself in this thing called democracy. Please fucking vote. Please.

 

Newsflash!

We are having a motherfucker of a drought here in BC, (and Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Mars, etc.)

*warning, the following is the same info you’ve probably read somewhere else, written in a more cogent and grammatically correct way, so in the interests of not creating more pointless internet noise for you tune out skip to the last paragraph.*

This is resulting in rather unprecendented low stream flows/high water temperatures/ and in some cases low in stream dissolved oxygen, and fish mortality. Thankfully regulatory bodies whose usual body of work appears to rarely cross into the realm of competency have been forced by a great deal of noisy conservation groups to implement stream closures across BC and much of the western U.S. This by proxy is forcing many anglers (who in some cases have been forced against their will to consider their impact) to focus on the “ethical” water temperature range to practice catch and release fishing for salmonids and char.

Now look this isn’t the first bad drought in the history of salmonids, nor is it the last, these fish by and large are very hardy and have adapted to their environment, but ask yourself, in these days of such grim returns in so many places do you really want to kill or harm them for catch and release fishing?

A typical range that is stated by many anglers to stop fishing for salmon steelhead and trout is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 18.3 degrees celcius. My suggestion is to:

a) Do some homework on the tolerable temperature ranges of the fish you are targeting and the effect of lactic acid buildup in the body of a fish while being “played”.

b) Follow that as a basic guideline, keeping in mind that in some places there are springs, weirs, dams, salt water influx, deep pools/ cover etc. that can create a difference between surface temps and stream bed temps but that is highly variable between locations or even within the same system…and if you start thinking that you might want to stretch it then you probably shouldn’t be fishing, in warm temps it is very easy to play a fish to death even if they swim away.

c) On a nice hot day ( like 30 degrees celcius say) try out my warm water salmonid catch and release simulator. Go up in your attic, sit for an hour and then do a bunch of push-ups and see how you feel. *warning: may induce cardiac arrest, heat stroke, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, hyperventilation, headaches, dizziness, fainting, incapacitating muscle cramps, and or death*

Here’s a few guidelines on what you can do to minimize your effect on salmon, steelhead, trout and char in these high stress conditions:

Consider that if you have to ask the question, you probably shouldn’t be fishing. As stewards of our fisheries (and all anglers are) survival of the fish you love should trump your good time. If you still must fish it is imperative for their survival that you play them very very quickly.

Carry a thermometer, they are cheap and easy to find, measure water temperature before you fish, do some homework before you leave the house.

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There are tons of other fisheries out there so go and explore, find places where water temperatures are lower, find species that are more hardy, for example on South Island we have many fine smallmouth bass fisheries, largemouth bass, vile invasive perch in several lakes (and Colquitz creek) deep cold water trout in every big lake, sunfish and carp in most south Island systems, lingcod, rock cod, flounder etc. etc. etc. as well as saltwater salmon fisheries like pink salmon and Chinook (water temps are usually fine here). Every one of these species will readily take a fly and fight hard. A 3 lb smallmouth on a 5 weight is a lot of fun (see below) and they readily take surface flies too.

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Forget about all this “Is it still ethical if” BS and take a page from Lee Spencer who has dedicated his life to protecting Oregon’s North Umpqua river summer steelhead whose canyon pooling behaviour at steamboat creek leaves them vulnerable. He also fishes with hookless flies.

http://www.northumpqua.org/aboutus.html

Where is Vancouver island’s Lee Spencer? We have just as many storied summer steelhead runs who remain just as vulnerable in specific key over summering canyon pools, and yet the only people you usually find there are poachers or clueless anglers. There are so many examples out there of stranded low water Chinook and summer Steelhead who are mercilessly and endlessly harassed by anglers. Three or four months from now, this drought is going to be the last thing on everyone’s minds yet every single one of the issues will still remain. How about you figure out a way to step up and protect your resource instead of blaming the weather, natives, the lack of 22. ammo or whatever other garbage is clouding the collective minds of anglers these days.

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”