Skip to content

Anglers asked to fish selectively to avoid sockeye

DFO is recommending they avoid the practice known as bottom bouncing, using long leader lines for the purpose of "flossing" their catch
There is no retention for sockeye allowed on the Fraser River

Anglers should avoid sockeye salmon as the fish run the gauntlet up the Fraser River.

There is no retention for sockeye permitted right now, so the fishermen are being urged to fish selectively when going after pink, chinook and chum salmon.

Warmer than average in-river temperatures and the threat of high pre-spawn mortalities were enough to convince Fisheries and Oceans Canada to once again issue a notice to the recreational fishing community.

It's about four years since they started to actively discourage bottom bouncing along the Fraser.

It's not a regulation on the books yet, but a strong recommendation to avoid the practice known as bottom bouncing, using long leader lines for the purpose of "flossing" their catch.

"The first principle of selective harvesting is to avoid catching non-targeted stocks," reads the DFO recreational fishery notice of July 30.

"This means that anglers should use methods that do not catch sockeye."

Methods that rarely intercept sockeye include bar fishing, trolling spoons at creek mouths, float fishing, pulling plugs and fly fishing.

The recreational fishing community is on-board, handing out freshly printed flyers this week at tackle shops and river spots. The flyers are emblazoned with the headline: "Help keep Fraser fishing open!"

It's recognition that the environmental conditions in the river are impacting salmon stocks of concern, and that selective methods are the best way to go, said Nick Basok, an employee at Chilliwack Dart and Tackle, and vice president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society.

"They want people to fish more traditionally. Flossing is not selective," said Basok. "It often catches whatever is swimming up the river at the time."

They've been handing out flyers and talking to people about leader lengths and selective fishing methods.

"Some will never change but others will take note. You can only do what you can," he said.

They would prefer that DFO took the next step to make it enforceable, rather than a recommendation.

"We really want the onus put on enforcement," he said. "They should go into the tackle boxes and make it law."

A recent creel survey of anglers along the river showed that about 70 per cent of fishermen are still bottom bouncing, sometimes called snagging or flossing.

"But a lot more people are bar fishing," Basok underlined. "It's nowhere near the number that are bottom bouncing, but that is not sport fishing — it's harvesting. "

They're actively flossing at like Peg Leg, Laidlaw Pipe and Scale Bar, but other spots see more bar fishers such as Gill Road.

In the meantime they are also warning folks that failure to fish selectively could result in the total closure of the recreational salmon fishery on the Fraser.

"This priceless resource belongs to all of us," reads the flyer put out by several sport fishing groups and organizations. "Let's demonstrate responsible stewardship."

Groups like the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers, Fraser Valley Salmon Society, FV Angling Guides Assoc., Fishing with Rod and the local tackle shops signed off on the flyer initiative, and are "optimistic" the angling community will follow suit.

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
Read more