A Thompson Steelheader's Statement [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: A Thompson Steelheader's Statement

10-31-2003, 01:08 AM
After much discussion with my steelheading friends and peers, and after much reflection, I have decided that my Thompson season has officially ended. I will monitor the Albion counts carefully and consult with WLAP biologists, and if some late fish show up I may reconsider my position, but until such time I will no longer cast a fly into the Thompson this season.

I will be on the river late next week to visit with friends and partake of the river's many pleasures, but I will not fish. I have been asked to do some demonstration casting for an upcoming DVD and will honor that request and cast with a yarn fly or bare leader for a brief period of time, but I will not fish or be otherwise occupying space in a run.

This is a personal choice I have made. I do not expect others to make a similar choice, and I have a neutral position regarding the decisions of others. For me, imprecise as the Albion estimates are, they are our only measure of the run, and if the biologists believe that the fish are threatened then I believe I have an obligation to step out of the water.

At the same time I feel that I also have an obligation to the good folks in Spences Bridge to support them with my dollars and work with them to find a long term solution to the economic impacts of this problem. This is why I have chosen to travel to the river and simply hang out, sip a beer in the pub, enjoy some fine meals at Vicki's, buy some fuel at the PetroCan, and enjoy the company of my friends in the place that defines who I am as an angler.

10-31-2003, 01:17 AM
very cool, a responsible choice

10-31-2003, 10:30 AM

You are one class act! Those are pwerful words my friend and I hope others choose to emulate your choice.


10-31-2003, 10:47 AM
I don't think it will serve the river to abandon it entirely. There are reports of a group of guys from Ontario camped on the Y-run, light lining (6lb)with roe bags. I fear that if all the flyfishermen pull out, the problem will grow worse. I personally will fish with the point clipped off my flies. It's the rush of the take I love anyway.

10-31-2003, 11:19 AM
I think I'll show up next weekend (Nov 8 -9) to show my support for the Hilltop, Vicki's , and other favorite establishments.

Touch base with my favorite runs. See what's happening on the river. Say hello to my fellow Thompson River steelheaders. And wish the river and her Steelhead the best in these trying times.

Not to fish, just to show support for the Steelhead, the River, and the community of Spences Bridge. And I'm guessing there might be a few more of us out there who feel the same way.

My .02,


10-31-2003, 11:40 AM
Really cool Dana! A very responsible decision.

While you are up there it may be interesting to get an idea from the anglers and establishments as to how much money the T fishery brings into the local economy.

An unofficial census of sorts , and something you could pass onto the biologists in charge as something to consider. I bet they will find out the money devired from the net fishery in the lower river pales in comparison.


10-31-2003, 11:49 AM
We should organize a get together at the pub next weekend. I'm staying out at the Hilltop as well. It would be a chance to talk over the situation.

10-31-2003, 02:43 PM
Yes, this is a tough call. I will be there next weekend as well. Bebop I have a real need to fish - at least one more time - I think I will follow your example and fish without a point - it will be a homage to the source of my daydreams...

On a far less pleasant topic. As we sit here and lament the imminent demise of the legendary Thompson there are evil forces at work. Maybe evil is a bit strong, but while sportfishing is closing (it should already be closed) the DFO is planning to have commercial chum openings on the lower Fraser - and they are soliciting more. Sure they are supposed to be "selective" fisheries - but will they be any more selective than catch and release fishing? I doubt that.

To read the Fisheries Notice go to the the DFO site via the following link. http://www-ops2.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fnsreports/BrowseNotices_Detail.cfm?ID=5661

It is interesting that the entire commercial fishing world ground to a halt when the Thompson coho stocks were threatened - but nothing happens when the steelhead are in the same predicament.

10-31-2003, 03:18 PM

This kind of crap makes my blood boil. Selective fishery with nets? What an oxymoron! Like the beach purse seining some of the tribes here in WA participate in wherein any of the non-target species (such as early coho, steelhead, late sockeye, threatened chinook, dolly varden, cutthroat, imature craps, etc.) are simply tossed on the tide flat or back in the bay because they are not to be harvested. What a waste of the resource. The gill net fishery in the rivers by the Native Americans in which they must release any of the threatened chinook that get into the net is another prime example of a selective fishery at woek.

Selective my ass! If there is going to be bycatch on a depressed anadromous stock, all fishing that kills any and all fish caught should cease!!

10-31-2003, 04:27 PM
For what it is worth I have e-mailed Devona Adams (as listed in the Notice) to register my protest. I realize she is not setting policy - but until I find the higher ups she is a place to start. :tsk_tsk:

11-01-2003, 02:20 PM
I picked this up on another board this morning. Unfortunately they don't outline how they intend to deal with the current ongoing late season chum opening on the Fraser. It seems, despite all the talk, that the sports fishers will bear the brunt.

Robert Bison
Fish Biologist
Fish & Wildlife Science and Allocation
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection
Inseason information from a number of sources (the Albion test fishery, the lower Fraser sport fishery, and Thompson sport fishery) indicates that Thompson steelhead are in low abundance this season. The current stock abundance is considered to be an extreme conservation concern. For the past 15 years the province has indicated a conservation concern existed for Thompson steelhead and attempts have been successful in reducing the overall exploitation rates in cooperation with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), First Nations and other stakeholders. The Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection in coordination with stakeholders and other agencies (DFO), adopted three levels of management; extreme conservation, conservation and standard management. It was concluded that when extreme conservation of 850 individuals or less was reached the sport fishery would be closed. That premise was adopted by stakeholders, First Nations, agencies, business interests. .

While exploitation rate has generally declined since the mid-1980's, exploitation rate since year 2000 has risen due to increases in net fishing for chum salmon in southern BC and in US waters near the Fraser River. In 2003, chum fisheries in the Fraser River have proceeded despite the availability of inseason information on the stock status of Thompson steelhead. The exploitation rate of the Thompson sport fishery is usually less that 3% of the total unfished stock size per year and constitutes a minor proportion of the overall exploitation rate of 12-15% . Therefore, the only material means of reducing exploitation is by managing all the fisheries. To achieve our conservation objectives, fisheries will be open once indices of abundance indicate that escapements are above extreme conservation levels. This approach will be implemented for the 2004-2005 fishing season.

Catches to date in the Thompson sport fishery have been low due to low abundance and poor fishing conditions. Estimated spawner abundance is 800 fish. The exploitation rate in net fisheries has already exceeded recommended levels. The Thompson sport fishery will be closed on November 17th, 2003 at 2400 hrs (midnight). This date balances the limited incremental mortality of the catch and release fishery over the three weeks and the need to provide advance warning to the community of Spence's Bridge to minimize the economic ramifications of the closure . The decision will be revisited if further information indicates an increase in spawner abundance above conservation levels prior to the closure date.

11-02-2003, 11:14 AM
With the closure of the thompson and it's uncertain future, i am sitting here feeling very fortunate to have had the opportunity to fish it and in the midst of all the goings on this past week managed to catch my first thompson river steelhead. What a magnificant fish and river.

If it is decided that the river should not be opened to fishing next year or the year after that i don't feel sorry for myself for not getting to make a trip up there, i feel sorry for the people who have been fishing the river for 15-20 years. The river has become a part of their life and an important part of their year and fishing season, nothing will be able to replace that void.


11-02-2003, 12:31 PM

Yes, you are indeed fortunate.

Stay tuned to this topic - your voice is going to needed soon.

11-03-2003, 09:03 AM
I have always wented to fish the Thompson and thought this year might be it, but the run size makes other options much more attractive.

it is sad that such a great river system is in such sad shape. It can be restored, if we, collectively, do the right thing.

There have been a number of studies of the comparative value of commercial vs sport caught fish. Commercially it is pennies to a dollar per pound. Sport caught it is hundreds of dollars per pound. The politicians need to be faced with their poor decisions and we, sport fishermaen, must keep up the pressure.

Perhaps buy out the net fishing licenses on the lower Fraser, like they have done for Atlantics.

We have similar problems in the NW, though not as far along as the Thompson. With the dams on the Columbia, there is absolutely no reason for nets in the river. The appropriate number of hatchery fish can be removed at a dam with no loss of endangered fish.

We do need to join with others when it is not in our backyard. Nets on the Fraser taking steelhead are not apropriate, but so is C&R with bait on the Clearwater and there has been almost no support to that issue from the Board. Both rivers are world class for large steelhead. They are treasures to be protected for the future.