Respect, Respect, and Respect
Respect, respect, and respect. This is one word that needs to be exercised more and more on our local waters. There are many things that fall under the “Respect” category. They include respecting your local river systems and bodies of water, your fellow anglers, and especially the fish you are catching or attempting to catch.
First we will talk about respecting the fish. Let’s be honest, there are correct methods to catch fish, and incorrect ways to catch fish. A “correct” method is enticing or tricking a fish to bite your bait or presentation. As a matter of fact, it is completely illegal to do otherwise, and by this we mean snagging or foul hooking fish. Snagging or foul hooking fish is illegal in our rivers. Unfortunately, many of us have seen poor fishing practices on our local rivers the past while, and it seems to be some anglers only form of “fishing”. Now before we get really into this article, we want to expand certain views on what is wrong and what is right, even though this can be a personal opinion. For example, when fishing for Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, there is a technique called bottom bouncing. This method of bottom bouncing uses a long leader which sweeps across the river foul hooking fish in the mouth. We like to consider this food harvest, (NOT FISHERY), somewhat acceptable to this species and river only, due to the fact that there is no other real way to harvest these fish with the conditions we are presented. ALTHOUGH, when we are presented much better fishing conditions for Salmon fishing, these fish WILL bite and strike a presentation. When fishing your local rivers, there is never a time you need to floss or snag fish. When getting fish to bite, you are not only going to feel better about yourself, but you are fishing ethically and legally. Treat the fish you are angling for with respect.
While we talked about proper catch methods, we have not gone over proper release methods. Our rivers are heavily regulated for daily quotas as far as what we can and cannot keep, thus you will need to make sure what species you have on before you drag it up on the beach and club it on the head. Before landing a fish, make sure of the species and whether or not you are allowed to retain it. NEVER drag a fish up onto the sand or gravel to identify it as this will instantly harm the fish if you need to release it. Once you have identified the fish, this is when you make the mandatory decision to either retain the fish or release it. If you need to release the fish, keep the entire fish in the water, wet your hands (DO NOT USE ANY GLOVES), and unhook the fish. If you are going to take a photo, keep the fish in the water, maintaining a very light grip on the tail, and make sure the cameraman is ready. When he is ready, you may take your photo, supporting the fish under the pectoral fin/head area. As soon as the photo is taken, return the fish to the water and send it on its way. Your photo session should not be any longer than 4 seconds.
One thing many anglers fail to bring with them to the river is their “River Etiquette.” You hear stories of anglers fishing a piece of water and another angler will walk in and stand shoulder to shoulder with them, or walk in right below them and start fishing a small piece of water. Sadly, more often than not, these stories are true. General and correct etiquette when river fishing is to not hop in below someone and start fishing, unless you are in a different run. If you notice an angler fishing a piece of water fast or thoroughly moving downstream, you should begin fishing above them, not below. If you notice an angler standing in in the same spot (we call this fence posting) and you wish to fish below him, approach the angler and ask him if you can fish below him or if they plan on moving downstream – This is proper etiquette. Giving fellow anglers space on the river will not only avoid confrontation, but will increase your numbers of fish. Take some time to find new spots and do a bit of hiking, you will be pleasantly surprised as to what you can find.
The last thing we want to cover and cannot stress enough is respecting our river systems and bodies of water. Do not be the person who leaves your empty coffee cups and fishing line at the end of the day. Items such as fishing line and plastic containers are not biodegradable and create a large mess strewn across our river banks. This is as much a safety hazard for other anglers as it is bad for the environment. We suggest carrying a small Rubbermaid container or something equivalent to store your excess line or garbage and keep it in your vest or pack. If you are wondering what to do with your left over line, we recycle monofilament (regular) fishing line here at Sea-Run.