Anti-social media

Social media isn’t and never has created any problem in the world of fishing that didn’t already exist. Blaming social media for problems that have to do with diminishing resources being overused by a over populated earth going through a climate shift is a tired cliche that needs to be put to bed. Social media can certainly be a tool for tools (see this blog) but it has also given conservation initiatives a much greater opportunity to connect to the larger community and world.

There is a place for responsible use of social media in the fly fishing world. Go pros, Instagram, snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook et al are actually all great when used appropriately. Limit what you post, post thoughtfully, ask yourself why you are posting what you are posting, we live in a content driven world, you can’t change that, so use the platform for good.

Posting every fish you ever caught including dark 10″ rainbows on Instagram is lame, Facebook groups where everyone is posting the same gear caught 5 lb summer run held four feet out of the water is lame, badly filmed go pro videos where you can’t see anything but a fish getting abused from a shaky perspective is lame, advertising your fishing location is lame (why shit where you eat?), making money as a guide by hotspotting is lame. Truth is it’s pretty easy to separate the garbage from the gold.

let people know this stuff is lame!

There are many poor or fragile runs of many salmonids on vancouver island but every single one of the problems that these rivers has predates the availability of social media. Is social media misused? Yes it is sometimes, but you don’t have to be the one doing it.

Back from the dead

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.


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.       watch the video

please take the time to sign the petition:

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.



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.


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.


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.

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.


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…

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

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 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


A fine colquitz sea run cutthroat

colquitz cutt

Upstream spawning area, with some competition hovering nearby…


coho milling in the trap



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

Peninsula Streams  world fisheries trust  habitat acquisition trust

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


Stop whining like a bitch and get involved!




Do something instead of bitching about Thompson River Steelhead

As I’ve often wrote the world of wild anadromous salmonids is in a state of flux. People I’ve talked to feel weary and disconnected from decision making with regards to the current management and the direction of future management of these wild creatures. Hopelessness and apathy reign.

Thompson river steelhead are at historic lows (in spite of the shifting baseline), and despite a significant amount of data documenting everything from their DNA to ocean migration routes (a whole lot more than many other “races” of steelhead), as well as drawing anglers from around the world, these fish suffer a rather immense level of neglect and mismanagement at multiple levels. Currently the DFO is allowing commercial interception of these stocks in the lower fraser river as bycatch for apparently lucrative (ikura) chum gillnet and seine fisheries, at a time when a significant amount of this run is passing through the lower Fraser river. This is in complete and total contradiction of the management principles that these regulatory bodies are beholden to. There was just an commercial chum gillnet opening on October 23/14 and there is to be another on October 28/14.

Oct 23/14 opening info

Oct 28/14 opening info

As before with the Kokish river hydroelectric project, you will read a bunch of statements that try to make it sound like there is a great effort being put in place to reduce bycatch of vulnerable interior steelhead and other species. The best way to reduce this bycatch is to have a later commercial opening or better yet no opening at all. The Fraser is scoured with nets enough of the year as it is, and there are always alternatives as to how fish are harvested. Gillnets don’t typically allow a high percentage of survivability for bycatch species.

So please write(scream, yell, cry, pound the keyboard etc.) to these representatives and state that this interception is unacceptable, especially in the face of long standing prohibitive data and an ongoing responsibility to protect these fish. Not just so you can fish them, but so they can exist.

Write to these representatives of the relevant organizations in charge and make it known that money is not the only conservation objective of worth in BC. This is something you can do.

By mail and email (can be sent without stamps to the MP’s listed)

The Honorable Gail Shea

Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Room 556, Confederation Building
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Mr. Matthew King

Canadian Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Centennial Towers
200 Kent St., 15th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

The Honorable Randy Kamp

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

The Honorable Robert Chisholm

Canadian Opposition Critic to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans

774 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Matthew King
Deputy Fisheries Minister of Canada
Centennial Towers
200 Kent Street, 15th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

Regional Director General of DFO Pacific Susan Farlinger:,

Regional Director DFO Pacific Rebecca Reid:,

Director of Resource Management Program Delivery DFO Pacific Paul Ryall:,

Area Director South Coast DFO Pacific Andrew Thomson:

Area Director Lower Fraser DFO Pacific Jennifer Nener:

Area Director Interior DFO Pacific Stu Cartwright:

Barbara Mueller, Resource Manager Lower Fraser Area DFO Pacific:

Another thing you can do is join the steelhead society of BC, they are very passionate about this river and it’s unique race of steelhead.

Recreational fishing is not the issue here, no matter what side you sit on that debate, get involved

So, don’t let apathy reign and get writing already.

The HBFFA at Colquitz Creek


Above: An awesome Colquitz sea run cutthroat

Earlier this summer I was contacted by a representative of the Haig Brown Fly Fishing Association to volunteer for an in stream survey of salmonids on the Colquitz river (creek) in Victoria. Naturally I accepted and over a weekend, at two separate sites, selected stretches of the creek were isolated, electro shocked and then seined. This survey is intended to establish population numbers of salmonids and help determine the productivity of the creek for rearing coho and sea run cutthroat (it was carried out by volunteer members of the association which is generously funding the work on the creek). All fish (and crayfish) were anaesthetized, then counted, weighed, measured, revived and released. Stream flow recordings were also taken at various locations. Interestingly there were smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed, sculpin, coho fry, and cutthroat of various sizes. These studies are a prelude to habitat improvement work to be done at a later date.

Colquitz Creek has had a myriad of spills in the last several years. It contains non native species, has warm water/low summer flows and suffers from all the other burdens that an urban creek faces and yet remains incredibly productive. Last fall/winter somewhere in the range of 1400 adult coho, and an as yet uncounted amount of sea runs returned to this small creek. There is a fish counting fence located next to the Silvercity Tillicum movie theater at Tillicum mall in Victoria, which is manned by volunteers. In the fall, especially after a good rain, you will get a chance to see urban coho up close and in large numbers at times, as well as sea runs. You can also walk the creek and watch coho spawning at various points along the river. Check it out, the real world beckons!

This was my first encounter with the Haig Brown Association and they really are a classy bunch; generous and friendly. It was certainly a pleasure to meet people who care about anadromous fish and their environs as much as they do. The club has a very strong emphasis on conservation, as their namesake indicates. They have completed many in stream projects (including an interesting one on Sandhill creek for sea run cutthroat) and always have more on the go. Check them out, consider joining or, if you don’t live here, consider joining your local conservation group or angling club. There are many of them out there all over the world. Against a backdrop in which the natural world and its creatures are little more than cannon fodder (even as we still rely so heavily on them) we could all use more people who make real the words that they use so casually. Besides, the internet really doesn’t need anymore meaningless bitching.

HBFFA website:

Here are some photos from the electroshocking and seining sessions


(Below) the venerable cutthroat in fry form


Coho being measured and weighed


One of several larger cutthroat collected during seining


Pumpkinseed and smallmouth bass were also present, visitors from creek source Beaver Lake


I can only imagine what this cutthroat thought was happening


Another nice cutthroat