Sunday, 23 November 2014

Q and As – November, 2014

Summer Steelhead Rivers, Northern BC: If you have ever wondered how the fabled summer steelhead rivers of northern BC lie in the context of the Skeena and Nass watersheds, here is a good map that also has the regulations regarding who can fish where superimposed on it:

These rivers have been written about since Zane Grey’s time and the better part of a century discussion over A. H. E. Wood’s description of ‘greased-line’ fly fishing, which, as a method is still argued about and performed today. A good discussion may be found in Trey Comb’s beautiful, Steelhead Fly Fishing, that has stories on many of the tribs and 14 lovely colour-plates of low water to big fat, bombers, for waking furrows in the wet. The sparser flies, Silver Hilton, for example, are laid on classic black salmon hooks, with their elegant upturned eye and folded back black wire.

You may know there are classified stretches, and sections that only resident anglers can fish on the weekends in the fall. The tribs of lore include: the only Nass trib, the Bell-Irving; and on the Skeena: Morice, Sustet, Kispiox, Bulkley and Babine. Our Rod Haig-Brown also fished our northern steelhead and wrote about them. Winter steelhead frequent these northern waters, too.

Weekly fishing reports can be found on many sites. Here is one with reports back to 2007: It also has archived reports to 1996.

Atlantic Salmon: As suggested by readers that I, or anyone else, should maintain photos and send in samples of fish that appear to be hybrid, or fully, Atlantic salmon, for DFO DNA analysis. Steve Baillie, from DFO in Nanaimo, answered my Scientific Licence Application to retain and forward such fish.

Of great surprise was the following answer: “Atlantic Salmon are not listed as salmon under Schedule VI of the BC Sport Fishing Regulations, therefore they come under Schedule IV (Finfish other than salmon). Again, they are not specifically listed here, so they come under Item 21 which allows a daily retention of 20 pieces, with no gear restrictions.

“So we don’t require you to have a Scientific Licence for retention of Atlantic salmon. I’ve included the website information on Atlantics, which has the identification and contact phone number for you to call the next time you find one in your landing net. I suggest you keep this letter in your boat should you be questioned by enforcement staff.”

He attached a sheet from the regulations: Exotic Alert: Atlantic Salmon in BC. This sheet has visual identification marks: in a nutshell: 8 to 12 anal fin rays (Pacific salmon have 13 to 19 rays); very noticeable, large, black spots on the gill cover (not common on Pacific salmon); and, may have very noticeably eroded or worn fins from containment in net-pens.

The phone number to call is: 1-800-811-6010. And if you intend on forwarding a sample to DFO, I was advised that a fin clip was enough, and that it should be frozen within two hours of capture, and kept frozen until it is in DFO’s hands.

In the sheet, if you catch an Atlantic: “DFO biologists are interested in acquiring as much information about Atlantic salmon recoveries as possible. Donation is not mandatory, but it does provide valuable samples for our scientific study. Keep the fish and report the capture by calling the toll free number [above].”

The sheet goes on: “Please note the date and location of the catch, as well as other details such as bait type and depth, if possible. If you choose to eat the fish, please retain the non-edible portions (head, gut, and carcass), frozen if possible. Otherwise, please keep the fish whole and freeze it if possible to prevent deterioration of the tissues. The department may wish to recover the fish from you.”
Baillie’s call to me said it was preferable to freeze within two hours and etc. The email address for the program is:

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