Fishing the Fraser – The recreational Fisherman’s Point of View

4 08 2004

I’ve been fishing the Fraser River for the past 3 years for Sockeye in what is known as a “Floss” Fishery.  (see the Q/A part regarding “Flossing”)  It’s fun, it’s very crowded at times and you really need to be a social person.  Some days you are casting while standing 6 feet away from your neighbour!  Obviously you’ve got to be fairly aware of where your hook is, or it’s OUCH! time.

Our recreational opportunity has recently been about 3 weeks long, and has generally closed with fairly short notice, as soon as DFO (FOC)  feels that a threatened species of salmon are entering the river, in an attempt to protect them.  Fair enough.  Of course, recreational fishermen aren’t the only ones that want the firm tasty meat that Sockeye have, but also the Commercial fishing sector, and our First Nations people who claim a ceremonial and food right to fish.

What we’ve run into now, is the fact that the First Nations and the Commercial Fishermen are each fighting hard to get as many fish as they can, since they have such a short time in which to harvest this lucrative resource.  The Commercial fishermen must earn almost all their yearly income during this short time, so they need to get what they can, while they can.  Like a sprint to money falling from the sky.  The First Nations, on the other hand, feel that they have been betrayed in their dealings with DFO/FOC and have been taking many more fish that actually needed for their food/ceremonial purposes, and have been selling them on the side 😦 

After the fish have passed through this gamut of nets, then we, the recreational anglers get a shot.  If there has been an opening, you can count on there being almost no fish moving up the river in a plug of “emptiness”, until the opening closes, and enough time passes for new fish to move in.  When there are fish, we can do a reasonable job at catching fish using our flossing technique.  In whole numbers we suck at harvesting….from

http://www.gulftrollers.com/News/SportPresentation.htm

The 2002 in-river recreational Sockeye catch was the highest ever recorded at 122,000 fish. This translates into 0.008% of the total run and 2% of the Canadian Commercial TAC. In fact the only two Canadian fisheries in 2002 that caught less Fraser Sockeye than the in-river recreational fishery were the Albion Chinook Test Fishery and the marine recreational fishery.

We can see that we get 8/1000 of 1% of the fish.  Gadz, it’s not like we’re slaying them.  Now, due to the pressure of the commercial and native nets, we’re seeing even less, since hardly a day goes by during this sockeye opening, that doesn’t have either a commecial, commercial native, ceremonial native, or illegal poaching opening to consume the stocks.   This pressure is causing the fish available to the recreational anglers to be drastically reduced.  This, in turn is causing fighting within the recreational angling community – MY community.  I may be a relatively newcomer to recreational fishing here in BC, but I love it, and I wish that we would be more “united”, like the commercials are, or like the natives.  Unfortunately, we aren’t simply in it for money, so we don’t really have a unifying rallying call to get us to coalesce.  Perhaps DFO/FOC’s latest allowance of driftnet fishing on the Fraser will bring us together.  Hell!  We all care about these fish.  We all want to catch some.  We all want to have fun, and a challenge.  Why can’t we, the recreational angler get a fair shake too, rather than be left at the end of the “bread line”?  Come on DFO!  Stand up to these illegal actions and make them stop, instead of making them law.  Have some backbone!

Thanks for reading the rant.  Tough week for Fraser Sockeye.

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