Thompson Numbers [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Thompson Numbers

06-19-2003, 12:34 AM
Nicola 1035
Bonaparte 200
Deadman 400

total 1635

so where were "all these fish" when I was there? low water and extremely heavy pressure made things challenging to say the least.

actually these numbers make sense when I reflect on the timing of the fishing success last fall. it would be interesting to know how many of these fish stayed in the Fraser.

06-19-2003, 12:47 AM
Do you know what the escapement goals our for the Thompson and its various tribs and how do last year's numbers compare to an average year?

06-19-2003, 01:12 AM
I have a spread sheet around somewhere with all of this info on it but I can't find it. Probably a good time to get another one. From an angling perspective, back in 1998 @2400 fish came back and we called this "a good year." We've had returns of less than 1000 fish in recent years. 1600 fish isn't horrific by Thompson standards, but it isn't great, either. The interesting thing is that the fishing was relatively flat for much of the season in the classic fly water, save for a few high spots. These numbers suggest to me that the fishing should have been a little better, so that makes me again think over the water conditions and angling pressure, both of which were very unfavorable.

06-20-2003, 07:04 AM
I feel very fortunate to have hooked the one! Nobuo on the other hand....

06-20-2003, 03:07 PM
Before anyone gets to feeling too inferior, the numbers from the Nicola represent little more than an educated guess. The confidence interval is so broad ie Nicola 1035 (95% CI 400-3600) that drawing any conclusions seems risky. Hence the actual escapement to the T could be anwhere in the range of 1000-4200 steelhead. What we do know for sure is that escapement to the two streams that have accurate enumeration (Bonaparte and Deadman) remains dangerously low.

For those who wish more info (for what it's worth) I've posted a 2002 Thompson creel survey to There's also a creel survey from 2001 for comparisions sake.

Unfortunately, the survey is horribly inaccurate and, in what appears to be a lame attempt to justify a destructive angling methodology promoted by the region (baitfishing), the survey dangerously under estimates many aspects and influences of the fishery.


06-20-2003, 03:52 PM

I agree that the escapement estimate is a good guess at best. The Nicola is hard to survey in freshet. But I'm more than fairly certain that the numbers were not anywhere near 4200, much closer to the 1000 mark would be more likely.

I think there were alot of factors involved in the fishery last year. One , there are not alot of fish period - for a system of that size - so they are always hard to find. Two, the water was very low, very early in the season. By the end of October it was as low as it gets in a normal late December. Many traditional fly runs - even those known as low water spots were too low to hold fish. I think that most of the fish that were in the river were down in the canyon - I can vouch that they weren't up on the traditional flats! Unfortunately, all signs appear to be pointing to the same type of extreme low water year this year.

The third factor that impacted last year's fishery didn't really impact the number of fish, but it sure effected the quality of the experience - that was the unusually high number of anglers. This I think was a result of the whole Skeena system going out right at its normal peak time. As a result lots of guys stopped at the Thompson on the way home. The mass of bodies just compounded the low water/lack of fish situation.

There is a fourth factor that impacts the fishery and can tend to make the estimates of fish numbers seem "off". That is the fact that a number of fish overwinter in the Fraser Canyon. Researchers feel they do this when the Thompson get really cold. The Fraser stays relatively warm and the fish just hunker down there and wait for the spring freshet to ascend the Thompson and into the Nicola. Last year the coldest spell was in October, therefore it is possible that this early cold, along with the extremely low water combined to "stall" the fish if not in the Fraser Canyon, then at least down in the THompson Canyon - both I might add - well outside even my very best cast!

06-30-2003, 05:02 PM

You might be surprised to learn that water levels last year were not that uncommon. In the past ten years, 1993 was actually lower; 94 and 98 were very similar in discharge through the steelhead season.

What might be uncommon is for a majority of fish to overwinter in the canyon or the Fraser. In my 24 years on the river I've never witnessed this before.

You're right on about water levels for this year tho. Hopefully we'll get some rain.


07-07-2003, 02:56 PM
how was the survey horribly inaccurate?