Broodstock collection begins

The Chilliwack River steelhead broodstock collection program will be starting today. With some good catches being reported lately, a few volunteer anglers should be able to bring some fish to the hatchery today, as long as the river holds. This broodstock collection involves a large number of angling hours. Volunteers are chosen based on their years of experience, which translates into catch success. 70 wild steelhead need to be collected between now and April to keep the hatchery program going. You can read more about this by going to this article.

Flood control or profit making?

On a less positive note, gravel extraction in the Fraser River is also scheduled to begin this week. The official intent of this operation is to minimize flood threat, which many anglers, river stewards, hydrologists, biologists do not buy into. The public seems to have been made to believe that gravel is building up in the Lower Fraser River, where in fact the gravel is shifting downstream as it has for millions of years. Gravel bars maybe building up at new locations, but people seem to forget that the gravel bars existing in previous years are either shrinking or have disappeared. If flood is truly a great concern, why isn’t there an intense focus on protecting headwaters and forests further upstream where water should be absorbed to keep the discharge steady? I guess the most visible, profitable solution is always the best solution.

Gravel is a key component to most freshwater fish’s spawning habitat. Take it away, we shall see less salmon and sturgeon in the river. Poor gravel extraction practice could also lead to ecological disasters such as a massive fish kill. Most of the juvenile salmon are just starting to hatch from their eggs in the gravel right now. Any change in their environment could easily jeopardize their survival. In February 2006, a similar operation, monitored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, did just that. Millions of eggs and alevins were killed due to dewatering of a section of the Fraser River.

You want to catch salmon in the future? Be proactive now and stop what is taking place. Thankfully, there are dedicated individuals who are pressing on to fight against these operations. Chris Gadsden and his colleagues from the Fraser Valley Salmon Society and the Sportfishing Defence Alliance will be once again monitoring these operations as they take place. They will document by photographs and videos. If you wish to join him to lessen the work load, please email him at gadsden@shaw.ca. There are also other ways you can help. By joining the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, you can voice your opposition more strongly. Letters to your local MLAs and MPs should also be written. You can follow this year’s gravel extraction progress on this page.

Classes in session!

The fishing is generally slower in Southern British Columbia between January and April. Many tacklestores usually use this period as an opportunity to offer classes to both entry-level and experienced anglers who wish to improve. In the next two months, there are many flyfishing related classes that you can attend. These classes will help you in the upcoming stillwater trout season in May and June. To find out more, please go to this page.

Berry’s Bait and Tackle is hosting two steelhead fishing clinics in February. These clinics are taught by one of the best instructors you can ask for, Peter MacPherson. Peter is a Chilliwack local who has decades of steelhead fishing experience on the Chilliwack River. If you are interested in attending, please go to this page.

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