BC Fishing Reports banner
1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,386 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Title…."Deadly Cancer Threatens Chilliwack/Vedder River"

Format..Open letter to BCFR members, recreational fishers, media and Government representatives

Text….

Just over an hour from downtown Vancouver is one of the most beautiful rivers in the Province of British Columbia. The Vedder/Chilliwack River is known geographically by two different names, but essentially it is the same river system located in the eastern Fraser Valley. From the crossing bridge in Sardis downstream to the confluence of the Fraser it is called the Vedder. From the Sardis Bridge upstream beyond Slesse creek to Chilliwack Lake it is known as the Chilliwack River.
This glacier fed waterway is home to a number of species of trout/salmon and a permanent home for a wide range of other fresh water species, and mammals. These include dolly varden, cutthroat trout, pike minnows, carp, suckers, sculpins and various other forms of aquatic life, including frogs and salamanders. Wildlife includes deer, black bear, bald eagles, great blue herons bobcats, mink, beaver musk rats, and fox. With no dam, and limited flood control, the river is subject to fluctuating water levels year round, and is truly a wild BC river.

From it’s beginnings at Chilliwack Lake, a popular summer destination, it drops nearly 500 vertical feet over the next few miles and it highly utilized by fishers, hikers, rafters and other outdoor enthusiasts. This location is a shining example why BC is known as Canada’s outdoor playground. A fish hatchery located at the confluence of Slesse Creek above the Tamahi rapids raises Steelhead, Pink, Coho Chinook and Chum salmon for the chilliwack/vedder, as well as a number of other streams around the lower Fraser valley.

It is open for fishing all year with the exception of the month of May when the Chilliwack River is closed and the Vedder is “fly fishing only”. In June, both sections are fully closed to allow escapement of the fingerlings, fry and smolts that are released from the hatchery during this period.

During the past years, camping was allowed along the river in unregulated sites, but after several fires and an “out of control” litter problem, the river banks are now mostly closed to campers with the exception of several private campgrounds that charge a fee to camp near this beautiful lower mainland resource. Many fishers were upset with this decision, to close the river banks to campers, as the main problem seemed to be caused primarily by a few careless campers, who tend to form a very small part of the thousands who use the river valley on an annual basis

Recently, another serious problem has appeared on the river that has the same group of recreational fishers wanting an immediate solution. This problem, is the use of questionable fishing gear and methods for catching the many fish that make the river home at various times of the year. These methods have been the subject of long debates on fishing forums and within the guiding community for years.
Approximately 10-12 years ago, a fishing method called “flossing” was used by many recreational fishermen on the Fraser River during the sockeye season to catch this species of salmon that, for the most part, are very reluctant “biters” both in the ocean as well as during their freshwater migrations.

The method involves using a 10-12 ft. rod spooled with 25-30 lb. test line to which has a lead ball attached that will “bounce “ along the bottom and drag a 8-12 ft. or longer leader to which a single barbless hook is attached. Getting the current of the river to assist in the downstream drag is an important component, and it is generally employed in fast moving gravel bottom areas of the river. The result is the line will eventually get into the salmons mouth, the hook will penetrate an area close to the mouth and the salmon is hooked, but has not necessarily bitten the offering. The question that arises out of this method is whether this fishing/angling as described is a legal form of fishing as described in the fishing regulations?

It has been widely accepted by both recreational fisherman and guides as an easy way to catch sockeye, spring salmon, along the bars of the Fraser, and this is where the conflict starts to heat up.
A guide’s main job is to put fish on the end of their client’s rods.
The client soon learns that throwing the big “bouncing betty” as it is affectionately called is the best and only way to catch salmon in the Fraser. The general public watches this apparently successful method, and is quick to convert. This method has now spread to other rivers and now the method is employed and almost all streams in the Lower mainland, much to the chagrin of fishers that prefer to have their fish bite an offering, be it a lure, fly or bait presentation.

Recently, a known “flossing” hole at the upper end of the Chilliwack River was closed for, what fisheries described as, “brood stock protection”. This practice of firing a long leader into this pool known to hold many fish with their mouths pointing upstream is spreading like a cancer out of control and quickly dividing the sport fishing community.

Experts have perfected this technique to the point where almost any bait can now be used under a float (which is a more conventional and recognized form of fishing amongst terminal tackle users)) and set the depth of the float and adjusted the weight with a short leader then caught fish after fish in waters that are known “fish highways”. (The specific areas the fish travel on their way to the spawning grounds.) Very few of these fish actually bite. They are flossed with an excellent knowledge of water speed, the amount of weight that needs to be used in conjunction with an appropriate leader length to drag a hook into the fish’s mouth, rather than having the fish bite the presentation.

Most fish caught by these methods are hooked under the chin, in the gill plate, or on the outside of the mouth. The fishers employing this method are very aware of exactly where the fish lie in a specific body of water, and are intentionally snagging the fish under the guise of proper fishing etiquette. Occasionally, the fish are kept alive on an underwater line, only to be released later and die if a larger fish is caught, as there are daily catch and possession limits placed upon the river.

Is this type of fishery legal or ethical? Apparently, it is legal, as our laws do not allow for prosecution, as no laws are apparently being broken. In the rivers of the lower mainland, it doesn’t matter how long your leader is, or what kind of weight you use or whether you fish with or without a float as long as you use a single barbless hook and do not take more than the allowable limit for the day. Ethical? This is the central feature of the debate and why fishers are becoming so divided.

Fisheries officers are well aware of these problems; however, they can only enforce the rules presently in place and trying to enforce rules and regulations with their limited resources. This is a difficult task, leading many sports fishers to believe they are doing nothing about this problem. Very few citations are issued and fewer convictions are seen for illegal gear or possession limits which further complicate an already very difficult situation.
The fisheries have a large area to cover in the Fraser Valley making the enforcement of rules & regulations presently in place, extremely difficult. It has been suggested on a number of occasions that an auxiliary fisheries officer training program be established to assist with educating fishers, provide additional field coverage, and generally assist officers when unconfrontational, and educational assistance is required.

The beautiful Chilliwack/Vedder River has turned into a virtual battlefield between the fishers who tend to use conventional means of enticing a fish to bite vs. those who like to fish as imposters by using legitimate gear and flossing fish all day. On any given day during the salmon season, people can be seen standing in the same place all day catching fish after fish after fish, and releasing them all back to the river, as a good majority are snagged in other parts of their bodies and released (it is illegal to keep a fish that is foul hooked) where plenty of them die due to exhaustion, or infection from their wounds and never live to spawn future generations of fish for our children to enjoy. Many salmon fail to return to the hatchery which has initiated spot closures on the river near their initial point of release into the river.

Many possible solutions other than closing the river have been discussed for years with no meaningful resolution to the problem. The employment of a volunteer “auxiliary fisheries force” has been discussed, as well as a river watchers group similar to “block watch” which may be helpful and go a long way to providing education/information to the public as well as to the recreational fisher who is not aware of the other conventional methods of catching sports fish.These suggestions, for the most part, have fallen on deaf ears.

In the meantime, flossing and all its derivatives is a deadly, spreading cancer that has the potential to threaten the fish stocks, permanently divide the recreational fishing community and to some extent, it threatens the very river, the Department of Fisheries, and Ministry of Environment is trying to protect.


Submitted to:

Editor, BC Outdoors
Editor in Chief, Vancouver Sun/Province
Editor, Chilliwack Progress
Editor of Times Publications
BC Fishing Reports
FishBC
BC Wildlife Federation
Fisheries Canada
Dept. of the Environment
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
911 Posts
A bow to you Ortho, along with a raised glass of scotch. :cheers: It truly does describe the sad state of affairs that have taken over not only the Vedder, but most of the Fraser Valley flows also.
Crazy D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,168 Posts
stevensonsteelheader said:
Excellent read and excellent suggestions however I do not think this is the right time to divide the sporties. We need to make a united front against the fish farms and the nets!
Thanks for the great read and it is the perfect time as this cancer will spread even faster now that the clarity of the water on the chilliwack/vedder is making it tough for some to catch fish. When this happens they generally end up flossing just to take their meat home. This is what fishing has become to some, strickly for meat and not enjoyment :'(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
954 Posts
Absolutely fantastic letter. You have put to pen what have been my concerns the past few years. I wish I could put my feelings about this into words like you have. I too have watched this harvest method grow worse every year and not only by new anglers but also well seasoned ones. It doesn't matter where you go on the Vedder or other rivers in the LML it is every where. Everyone bitches that DFO should do something about flossing, no, lets call it what it really is - SNAGGING, but being that this is taking place in fresh water DFO can only regulate what the angler uses at the end of their leader, MOE is the agency that can regulate leader length and angling methods in fresh water. To me angling is enticing the fish to bite not force feeding it a hook.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
355 Posts
WOW :beerchug:

Hats off to you ORTHO ! A truly very well written letter. I am an ex vedder fisherman who got sick and tired of the
crap I would see on the river. So I stopped fishing it and over the years have fished and explored many rivers over the south coast
interior and Vancouver Island as well as Oregon and Washington State.

This I believe has given me a very broad based experience to base "my opinion" on the way we as fisherman interact on different
flows. I must say the Vedder obviously is not the only river with problems. I have witnessed so many poachers rule breakers
un informed beligerent people on other rivers it is extremely frustrating. Anywhere we have a river with fish rules will be broken.

BUT I must say the Vedder seems to have "more than its fair share" of problems. I feel bad that I walked out
on that river. I truly do. I am totally guilty of bad mouthing it and you have made me rethink my feelings toward this
great river.

It's guys like you who take the time to stick your neck out and put things in motion. After all nothing is ever going to happen
unless people like you speak up and actually do something. I walked away from the river in disgust and am so glad to read your letter
and see someone doing something.

Love to buy ya a beer or 2 sometime.

Cheers
Bluesteele
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
517 Posts
very well written. :thumbup: I hope it gets published somewhere, it is extremely important to make people aware of this problem, ad there is not time to wait for being this issue a real cancer, as you properly referred to. thanks for doing this :beerchug:

G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
That is a very good letter. However saying the Veder is a "truly wild" river is laying it on a bit thick. It is dyked for much of its length and the lower reached that should be have a meandering path is instead a man made straight canal robbing it of significant fish rearing capacity. The fish populations are due to a factory (hatchery) which is known to be harmful to the natural genetic diversity of the population although there is also natural spawning.

If the flossing practice were confined to just Hatchery rivers like the Vedder and Capliano there really wouldnt be much of an issue. The Hatcheries produce many more fish than are needed to replace the population with broodstock, so the excess is designed for "meat" whether caught by commercial or sport fishers. While I have not engaged in this practice to get fish, I have trouble getting as excited about it as many do on this forum. Truly wild rivers (means without hatcheries) often are either inaccessable to those likely to floss, or dont have large enough populations of fish to do this.

I think it is more of an issue on the fraser, where interception of possibly endangered runs is possible. Overall I think DFO has many more pressing enforcement issues with existing regs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
917 Posts
So Robert - is this the article you mentioned to me earlier? I tell you what - if this gets published, you can autograph my copy! Great read my friend. Calguy - I have to disagree that if flossing were confined to just hatchery rivers - there really wouldn't be much of an issue. The point is, flossing is a "questionable" fishing method and completely unnecessary in rivers like the Vedder. I'm in favor of promoting more ethical means of catching fish. There's much more skill involved, and its FUN to learn! Your comments about the Vedder being "truly wild" and the presence of the hatchery are fair; however, there is no question in my mind that the Vedder is a jewel of a stream in the Fraser Valley.

The problem is - flossing isn't snagging from a legal point of view (i.e. it's not a black and white issue). It would be very difficult for a DFO officer to ticket someone for flossing as the angler can argue that they're trying to hook the fish in the mouth. Sure, if the person hooked a fish in the tail and retained it - then WHAM...no problem with a violation. But if the fish is hooked in the mouth - how can this be a violation? A more black and white, and easier to enforce rule, would be a leader length restriction (I would request an exception for fly fishing) and hook size restriction. Heck - let's have a weight restriction too! No more 2 oz bouncing betties allowed! (we can have an exception for barfishing)

I think ortho nailed it when he says that this issue is dividing the sportfishing community. Just look at all the opinions there are on flossing threads!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Flyfishin Magician said:
So Robert - is this the article you mentioned to me earlier? I tell you what - if this gets published, you can autograph my copy! Great read my friend. Calguy - I have to disagree that if flossing were confined to just hatchery rivers - there really wouldn't be much of an issue. The point is, flossing is a "questionable" fishing method and completely unnecessary in rivers like the Vedder. I'm in favor of promoting more ethical means of catching fish. There's much more skill involved, and its FUN to learn! Your comments about the Vedder being "truly wild" and the presence of the hatchery are fair; however, there is no question in my mind that the Vedder is a jewel of a stream in the Fraser Valley.

The problem is - flossing isn't snagging from a legal point of view (i.e. it's not a black and white issue). It would be very difficult for a DFO officer to ticket someone for flossing as the angler can argue that they're trying to hook the fish in the mouth. Sure, if the person hooked a fish in the tail and retained it - then WHAM...no problem with a violation. But if the fish is hooked in the mouth - how can this be a violation? A more black and white, and easier to enforce rule, would be a leader length restriction (I would request an exception for fly fishing) and hook size restriction. Heck - let's have a weight restriction too! No more 2 oz bouncing betties allowed! (we can have an exception for barfishing)

I think ortho nailed it when he says that this issue is dividing the sportfishing community. Just look at all the opinions there are on flossing threads!
Forget that, this guy is also opposed to those fishing with a float, bait and short leader! Also, I've spoken to MANY people and not 1 have seen all the "snaggers" supposedly keeping fish on lines live in the water.. perhaps it has happened before but is in no way either common practice or a direct effect from flossing.

This letter is grossly exagerated and will further divide the sportfishermen for no good reason, especially when there is NO form of answer or suggestion on how to fix it.
 
Joined
·
98 Posts
imfishing said:
Flyfishin Magician said:
So Robert - is this the article you mentioned to me earlier? I tell you what - if this gets published, you can autograph my copy! Great read my friend. Calguy - I have to disagree that if flossing were confined to just hatchery rivers - there really wouldn't be much of an issue. The point is, flossing is a "questionable" fishing method and completely unnecessary in rivers like the Vedder. I'm in favor of promoting more ethical means of catching fish. There's much more skill involved, and its FUN to learn! Your comments about the Vedder being "truly wild" and the presence of the hatchery are fair; however, there is no question in my mind that the Vedder is a jewel of a stream in the Fraser Valley.

The problem is - flossing isn't snagging from a legal point of view (i.e. it's not a black and white issue). It would be very difficult for a DFO officer to ticket someone for flossing as the angler can argue that they're trying to hook the fish in the mouth. Sure, if the person hooked a fish in the tail and retained it - then WHAM...no problem with a violation. But if the fish is hooked in the mouth - how can this be a violation? A more black and white, and easier to enforce rule, would be a leader length restriction (I would request an exception for fly fishing) and hook size restriction. Heck - let's have a weight restriction too! No more 2 oz bouncing betties allowed! (we can have an exception for barfishing) Thank You!!! Finally someone is speaking some sense!

I think ortho nailed it when he says that this issue is dividing the sportfishing community. Just look at all the opinions there are on flossing threads!
Forget that, this guy is also opposed to those fishing with a float, bait and short leader! Also, I've spoken to MANY people and not 1 have seen all the "snaggers" supposedly keeping fish on lines live in the water.. perhaps it has happened before but is in no way either common practice or a direct effect from flossing.

This letter is grossly exagerated and will further divide the sportfishermen for no good reason, especially when there is NO form of answer or suggestion on how to fix it.
 
Joined
·
98 Posts
stevensonsteelheader said:
imfishing said:
Flyfishin Magician said:
So Robert - is this the article you mentioned to me earlier? I tell you what - if this gets published, you can autograph my copy! Great read my friend. Calguy - I have to disagree that if flossing were confined to just hatchery rivers - there really wouldn't be much of an issue. The point is, flossing is a "questionable" fishing method and completely unnecessary in rivers like the Vedder. I'm in favor of promoting more ethical means of catching fish. There's much more skill involved, and its FUN to learn! Your comments about the Vedder being "truly wild" and the presence of the hatchery are fair; however, there is no question in my mind that the Vedder is a jewel of a stream in the Fraser Valley.

The problem is - flossing isn't snagging from a legal point of view (i.e. it's not a black and white issue). It would be very difficult for a DFO officer to ticket someone for flossing as the angler can argue that they're trying to hook the fish in the mouth. Sure, if the person hooked a fish in the tail and retained it - then WHAM...no problem with a violation. But if the fish is hooked in the mouth - how can this be a violation? A more black and white, and easier to enforce rule, would be a leader length restriction (I would request an exception for fly fishing) and hook size restriction. Heck - let's have a weight restriction too! No more 2 oz bouncing betties allowed! (we can have an exception for barfishing) Thank You!!! Finally someone is speaking some sense!

I think ortho nailed it when he says that this issue is dividing the sportfishing community. Just look at all the opinions there are on flossing threads!
Forget that, this guy is also opposed to those fishing with a float, bait and short leader! Also, I've spoken to MANY people and not 1 have seen all the "snaggers" supposedly keeping fish on lines live in the water.. perhaps it has happened before but is in no way either common practice or a direct effect from flossing.

This letter is grossly exagerated and will further divide the sportfishermen for no good reason, especially when there is NO form of answer or suggestion on how to fix it.
FINALLY!! someone see's the big picture
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,379 Posts
imfishing said:
This letter is grossly exagerated and will further divide the sportfishermen for no good reason
I would not worry too much about that, how will 1 person stating their opinion divide a group of thousands? This issue already exists and ignoring it will lead to further division, not tackling it straight on.

I do not have a problem with the author stating his opinion, taking the time to write up a letter and getting involved. It is something we all should be doing to give back to the resources that provide us with so much joy.

The Vedder has lots of problems, this is just one of them gravel extraction and extensive suburbanizing of the lower reaches are happening as I write this...literally. Pick an issue that bugs you and tackle it head on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
"This letter is grossly exagerated and will further divide the sportfishermen for no good reason, especially when there is NO form of answer or suggestion on how to fix it."

I'm not sure how this letter will be responsible for further dividing sportfishermen?
The letter's intent is great and I can relate to many of Ortho's ideas and opinions. Too often man chooses to exploit resources to provide entertainment and/or profit. This is a prime example. Ortho is completely correct in suggesting that "bouncing" should be made illegal on smaller rivers and that's the only way to reduce it's use.
Will others still do it even then? Of course. Unfortunately for the fish and the rest of us who actually respect our environment many people lack ethics and logic. That's why we have jails and cops.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,386 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have recieved some interesting comments on this site as well other sites my letter was posted to, as well as a couple of rather disturbing telephone calls to my office, hence the edit. I initialy wrote this piece as an intended article for a magazine, however, I felt I would get some "feedback from those in the know and are already accutely aware of the problem....

We are not able to fish from the lake outlet to just below the hatchery and there are plenty of wild fish that still must run thru the gauntlet in order to spawn....A lengthy hike thru this portion of the river will quickly dispell any theory this is not a wild river.
I am not blaming guides. They utilized legal methods for harvest of sockeye and springs when allowed. Hotly debated at times but not illegal.

I am not opposed to short floating. I am opposed to people who intentionally line fish with an expert knowledge of where the fish are and set their gear with just the right amount of leader and weight and INTENTIONALLY snag fish.

As far as solutions go, I have mentioned a fisheries auxilliary force, a river watcher or streamkeeper's group, and I suppose I could throw in a leader restriction and circle hooks only, but that is not my intent......I wanted to bring this topic of using legal gear to unethically fish to the publics eye and perhaps have the fisheries offices phones be a little busier.......and BTW I have personally witnessed the Vedder snagfests on numerous occaisions and at various places.....(they are slightly different for steelhead,springs, and coho) and I have presonally seen "high grading" of fish along with another member of this site.

The problem is real, and it is a cancer and it IS in the fisheries eye. Was the limit hole closed "for broodstock capture"..I think not. Were the recent salmon restrictions put in place on the Fraser to "protect Thompson steelhead" I think not. Continued understanding and discussion on many problems facing us are necessary to ensure there are still salmon in the rivers for our grandkids...........Ortho 8)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Ortho,

If the EXISTING regulations were consistently enforced and there was a presence on the river from authorities, don't you think that would be at least a decent start? It seems rather excessive to go after the float fishermen who you feel are lining fish before dealing with the outright blatant offenses you say you are witnessing. It seems strange to mention "high grading" in the same breath as lining fish with a float, short leader and bait... Tackle the elephant(illegal activities) before picking at peoples legal ethical decisions, even if they differ from yours IMO.

Of course this letter can't in itself divide the sportfishing community, but as you can tell, it does continue to polarize the camps.

Speaking of protecting wild coho and thompson steelhead, wait till the commercial native harvest of chum in a few weeks THEN see how united we ought to be in fighting this "fishery". It seems far more important to wild stocks than float flossing will EVER be IMO.. and yet, the voice of the sporties will still be debating the merit of closing the sockeye fishery vs. continuing to allow a harvest... wasted effort for the overall good of the fish IMHO.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top