Remember

It seems people get caught up these days in a lot of the revisionist, messy imperialistic and racist parts of the past especially for some reason on rememberance day. Those debates do not change the reality of the sacrifices made. Please remember today the reality that those people who fought and died or fought and came back scarred and in many cases broken weren’t there to drop bombs on little kids or uphold some imperialistic notion of border lines on a map. Just a thought.

Lest we forget

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.

 

Relocation

It seems my days in southern Vancouver island have come to an end. Unforseen events otherwise known as life have converged to send me back to the Fraser valley, which happens to be where a bunch of my old stomping grounds are located. So while Vancouver island topics will definitely fall by the wayside, there are many more conservation related rants and BC flyfishing topics to come including kayak fishing, and mainland cutthroating amongst others.

In the interest of keeping things honest unlike so so many things in the world of fly fishing, I now work at a tackle shop in the Fraser valley. Just to clarify previous to this I have never worked or received any monies for anything to do with fishing, and while this blog has zero relation to or influence from my employer a little honesty is required relative to publishing tackle reviews and the like.

I hope this doesn’t cloud your judgement of this blog which continues as ever to celebrate the amazing salmonids of this coast and flyfishing in the most honest way I know how.

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.

 

 

Weird Fishes

Found this strange little creature on a west coast Vancouver island beach recently. It’s apparently a pacific snake prickleback according to my diligent search for answers (half assedly combing through my coffee table copy of Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest). The extreme low tides of the spring exposed large eelgrass beds normally not seen and this guy was just ambling around the shallows. Prickleback fry patterns anybody?

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A definitely living garter snake that just was sitting underwater apparently no worse for wear in the shallows of a local river

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And of course the mysterious sea run death trout

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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”

February FOTM: Alevin

February kind of sucks, it’s true, and you are probably more interested in risking hypothermia, depression and death or worse in some shitty river that has a negligible winter steelhead run than fishing for sea runs at this juncture. But wait! Within a few weeks a whole different fishery is about to begin. Around this time in the world of sea run cutthroat fly fishing one will often start to see patterns that imitate the alevin stage of the young salmonid’s development. This month’s sadly belated FOTM, rather than focusing on a specific pattern, is specifically about ideas for alevin flies.

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An alevin (pronounced al-ay-vin) is the name given to the stage of development in a salmon after the embryo hatches from within the egg. The alevin breaks through the egg membrane with the yolk sac still attached beneath the throat. In this stage, which looks like a tiny little clear/light coloured fish with an orange egg like yolk sac attached underneath the neck, the alevin which is still beneath the gravel, grows and develops using the yolk sac for nutrients and energy. The sac is slowly absorbed (“buttoned up”) into the fish as they grow. They grow slowly, even beginning to feed beneath the gravel. This stage ends typically when the alevin has absorbed the yolk sac and the diminutive fry emerges, freely swimming from the gravel.

An interesting discussion on the subject from a fishing perspective can be found here:

http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/salmon-fry-patterns.105574/

In all the years I’ve tramped up and down rivers in the spring, I have never seen a full fledged alevin swimming around, only a few with a very thin vestigial bit of orange under the throat. These fry were fairly small (a little over an inch). Alevin typically stay beneath the gravel until they have completely absorbed the yolk sac; however, high water events, scouring, or other disruptions (predators rooting in the gravel, anglers walking across spawning gravel etc.) can wash alevin free into the current. They really can’t swim much and at this point become easy prey for hungry opportunistic trout. From an angling perspective it is possible that the orange or red in these patterns is just triggering a response to what might appear to be a wounded fry, it is also possible that they are still taking these flies as regular fry patterns, or even just purely as an attractor, but in the end I think it’s hard to speak to the motivations of a highly nomadic, hungry anadromous trout, although many have gone insane trying. One thing I do know is that these patterns work. As always I encourage you to tie your own version of an alevin, I think a lot of the fun in fly tying is experimenting with different patterns and materials and then testing them on animals. Though that doesn’t sound so good it’s true.

Egg n’ I

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One of my own creations, let’s call it frynado

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Shrink tube alevin

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Epoxy alevin

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Tied down minnow version-the super beadhead/glue gun edition

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There’s always a good chance on any steelhead stream that these patterns can get a response from the “other” trout, but be aware that both cutthroat and steelhead kelts are around, and they are often easy to catch, so, be easy on these fish, especially the females, whose fecundity as repeat spawners can be very important for the health of future runs. That’s right motherfucker.

 

Internet pollution

While this blog may not be that good, overly verbose, grammatically correct, cogent, and openly panders to a questionable everyman ethic, I have been frankly surprised at the favourable response that I have received from the general public (that uses the Internet, fly fishes, cares remotely about conservation). Much of the internet fly fishing/forum/blog world suffers from pressure to be a $$$ logo fest with absolutely no substance (see all the horrendous guide outfitter Skeena or Dean river steelhead prostitution), or a trollathon whereby anybody who says or does literally anything is automatically an idiot (see any steelhead forum on the Internet). This kind of thing leads to an edited version of reality, a place where no one has ever done something stupid and learned from it, and also a place where idiots who make a lot of noise are able to drown out those that may have a point or relevant experience and knowledge. It makes online media a place where politics carry more weight than actions, things that I don’t believe are good or healthy. It is sometimes difficult to put yourself out there into that circus, especially admitting to being a human that makes mistakes as opposed to some sort of jedi expert and try to make any kind of point in that sphere, but in spite of the fact that I am no expert, and just love sea run cutthroat, for some reason people haven’t been remotely negative here. So thank you.

We here at cutthroatsgalore will continue to strive to provide the kind of specialized redundancy you have come to expect.

Len