Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thompson River Bait Ban

Photo by Brian Niska

The Thompson River in BC is among the most storied steelhead rivers on the planet. Sadly, the river has fallen on hard times and over the last decade, returns of adult steelhead to the system have hovered around 1000 fish, with a record low return in 2008 when only 850 returned to spawn. Most years the river opens to fishing in the late fall after a test fishery at Albion has determined that there are sufficient numbers of fish to support a catch and release fishery. With the run in such poor shape, it is critical that anglers and managers take steps to reduce their impact on these spectacular fish. Somehow, despite the tenuous future of the Thompson River and its steelhead, fishing with bait is still allowed. A group of conservation minded anglers have been lobbying managers to ban bait for some time and are hoping to have the ban in effect by this fall. They're created an online petition asking the Minister of Environment to ban bait fishing on the Thompson.

Petition Here:


Anonymous said...

I have been a steelheader for 40 plus years. I have fly fish and bait fished the species all these years. I appreciate the concern that a bait caught fish is likely to take the hook deep, thus resulting in greater mortality than a fly or lure hooked fish. This is the greatest piece of BS ever floated. In the good old days of the Coqahalla summer fishery I hooked and accidentally killed more fish on the fly than I ever have bait fishing. Small flies on wispy leaders are frequently sucked deep. Light tackle encourages twisting and rolling of the fish resulting in line cut gills. Steelies more frequently than not, move to the offering and return to their station resulting in hookups in the edge of the jaw. When bait fishing, heavier gear is typically used than fly, resulting in the fish being released quicker with less stress. I have watched countless fly caught fish, particularly on the Thompson, played to death. These fish stand a poor chance of survival even after they are revived.
The hard fact of bait fishing (on the Thompson particularly) is that the vast majority of fishers never even hook up regardless of fishing preference. The argument that bait fishing is somehow causing greater mortality to these fish is based on flawed reasoning. If we are so worried about these fish lets just stop fishing and quit the finger pointing. I truly love the Thompson. It is by far my favourite river. I actively fly and bait fish it. Some drifts and tailouts are wonderful on the fly. Some of the holes and deeper runs are only possible with gear.

Burrows Greg said...

Here, here, to heck with a bait ban on the Thompson River. All sport fishers, regardless of preferred angling methods, have to get together with all other user groups on and around the river and creeks that affect the habitat that support these magnificent fish. Lets come together to ensure the federal and provincial governing bodies make the necessary changes along with volunteers from the various user groups to put it right. Eight hundred to 2000 fish is just not right

conor said...

The unfortunate truth is that these fish need the best protection from us (the anglers) as they can get. Fishing roe in particular is akin to cheating. We all know that feeding roe to steehead and salmon is like feeding crack to a baby - they can't say no! There is virtually no challenge in catching a steelhead on a bait bag, it is a technique for children.

Whether we like to admit it or not, there are very few fish left primarily because we have over fished them. The more bait used, the higher success rate, the more stress the few returning fish face.

Let the use of bait die off in BC's river's just like the gray, old American steelheaders that have chucked it up here for so long because they fished out their own rivers back home.

Respect the fish - Don't use bait!