Fishing forum > Ethics article in the Chilliwack progess

Author Topic: Ethics article in the Chilliwack progess

By Jennifer Feinberg

Aug 07 2007

Concern in the local angling community has reached a fever pitch over a fishing practice known as flossing, snagging, or bottom bouncing.

It doesnt matter what its called, its considered unethical and unsportsmanlike since it essentially means the fish is not biting at the hook by choice.

Longtime angler Gwyn Joiner says a number of angling advocates are trying to get the message out that it has to be viewed as unacceptable in the face of certain conservation concerns.

Theres a problem with the fishery in several ways, because theyre showing no respect for the fish themselves or how they fish for them, he says. The whole thing has cast a negative light on sportfishing.

Joiner is one of a group of stakeholders that produced an exhaustive discussion paper recently on the topic for the Chilliwack River Watershed Strategy, looking at all the angles and weighing varying solutions and action steps.

Critics say snagging has been on the rise ever since sportfishers who were initially drawn to the meat fishery for sockeye on the Fraser in the 90s, are now bringing that unsustainable practice to the world-class Chilliwack/Vedder system. Its potentially hurting treasured runs of coho, chinook and steelhead.

The group of stakeholders that produced the draft document included a mix of angling advocates as well as federal and provincial government reps.

Research has shown that angling duration, handling time, air exposure, handling techniques, and hook release techniques can greatly influence both the immediate mortality rate and the delayed mortality rate for fish caught and released, resulting in angling mortality rates between 20 to 30 per cent for some studies, and as high as 87 per cent for others, reads part of the draft report. Foul hooking and/or using prohibited gear may leave hooks and wounds in fish that impede their ability to reproduce.

Its not like some of the fishermen are unaware of what theyre doing, Joiner says.

The rules clearly say that any fish willfully or accidentally snagged must be released immediately.

Quite a few people know theyre snagging the fish. The regulations that say its against the law to snag or foul hook the fish, or attempt to do so, but (to enforce it) a fisheries officer would have to catch them in the act of killing the fish.

Illegal and unethical fishing behaviour has become a growing concern throughout the Chilliwack-Vedder system, according to the report.

The flossing method of fishing is most evident in places where the river bottom is uniform and the fish tend to collect in pools while waiting to ascend the river to their chosen spawning area, reads the report.

The lower Vedder River has become an area where fishers using this technique have tended to concentrate. However, the flossing method is also being employed in the rapid, white water areas created around large boulders found in the upper Chilliwack River.

Joiner remembers starting out by fishing cutthroat trout as a kid.

I graduated to salmon in my 20s and Ive been fishing salmon and steelhead for 40 odd years, he says.

The committee that formed and the strategy they produced stemmed in part from a letter to the editor in which the writer from Alberta complained about the unsportsmanlike angling behaviour he witnessed on the Vedder River.

One of the challenges is that this method of fish is being adopted by young anglers and first timers, Joiner says. They figure thats the way youre supposed to fish. But its not really ethical and its teaching new anglers the wrong way.

What will result from the draft report?

Its entirely up to (government officials) to look into what theyre going to do with it, Joiner adds.

Opinion is divided among fisherman.

Some think its fine. Like this year with the Fraser so dirty there are guys out there bottom bouncing, which ends up snagging the fish, he said.

But DFO has asked anglers to fish selectively to avoid catching the Early Stuart sockeye.

But if the fish cant see the lure or bait in the muddy water, theyre certainly not jumping at it, he offers. Plus there are some fish intent on reaching the spawning grounds and are not hungry on the journey.

But then there are anglers like me who dont think its fine, Joiner says. We know there are people out there fishing sockeye and once they get their quota, they start fishing with bar rigs to catch springs. Well, they have to realize these fish have a long way to go and the more times you play them and release them, it uses up energy they need for travelling hundreds of miles.

Joiner believes the true essence of sport fishing requires coaxing the fish to bite the bait or lure, not hooking it by accident.

That way the fish has the choice of biting or letting go, he said. It is hard on steelhead in the upper parts of the Chilliwack river where they hold in pools before spawning. Theyre not interested in biting. But when anglers go in with the long leaders they have no choice and theyre harassing the fish at that point.

The committee members are hoping the powers that be will study regulatory options to address it. Some of the suggested remedies include more education, gear restrictions, spot closures, fines and increased enforcement on the Chilliwack/Vedder. But its likely going to take more than that, they say.

It will take a concentrated effort using a combination of initiatives and all government agencies, community interests, businesses, and non-profit organizations working together to create the desired change that will in the long term ensure a sustainable, respectful fishery that everyone can enjoy, says the report.

Finally some progress is being made to do away with this dispicable practice. I hear the other night it was all over the CBC too.

Thanks for posting this ReelWrangler. I would love to shut this type of fishing down. There are some good points being made (teaching younger generations that this is a normal fishing practice)(the explanation of how the fish is hooked)(the amount of stress it causes the fish). I have never been supportive of this type of fishing as I guess I am not trying to snag a fish when put a line in the water. I'll stick to my fly rod and continue to shake my head at those who think this is fishing. I hope this topic will stir some thoughts and maybe make some guys have some second thoughts on using this technique. It will be interesting to see how some of the local shops take an angle on this.
stink finger

i dont understand why the fisheries guys dont close or stop this kind of fishing if it is such a concern .i havent bottom bounced for a couple of years now,and probably wont again.for now this is a leagal fishery hopefully in the near future its not.this fishery came down from alaska in the early 90' is one of the only ways to catch fish in muddy water and was not intended for rivers such as the vedder.we need more conservation officers out on the rivers i have been checked once in 25 plus years.

I was at the Vedder this weekend to witness this atrocity.

I stood and watched fisherman stand shoulder to shoulder along the banks just outside the hatchery, and many were well upstream of the fishing boundaries.

They were illegally camped all along the river banks with makeshift fire pits amidst the forest.

One would not dare comment to the throngs about the illegal practices for fear of being thrown in the river.

The sad thing is I stood and watched for 2 hours during the prime fishing times and did not see one conservation officer.

This has got to be one of the single biggest hot spots for illegal fishing and everyone knows it ... why no c. officer?

I go fishing every year to Alberta on the Crowsnest River on opening day. I have been there three straight years and three straight years I have been stopped by a c. officer and asked to show my licence and my tackle.

In fact, I have been fishing in BC for nearly 15 years and not once have I even seen a c. officer let alone be stopped by one !!!

me either and ive been fishn bc for 18 years or so. the reason they havent stopped it is because it takes more than one season to change the regulations. secondly they know that there are ALOT of people who support snagging........

not to get anyone on the jumpy side , but is there any effective way to fish for sockeye when you cant bottum bounce ,im pretty sure there isnt one ,its impossible to catch a sockeye without bottum bouncing .So do we give up this sport of catching sockeye?

In my opinion bottom bouncing is sport. The trip, casting a 100g ball couple of thousands times, is sport. We are the top predators, so the fish ends up hooked either by an amateur, or by a professional. The real problem is the number of fish. If the run is low, that is one thing. If the run is high then is between the amateurs and professionals. The amateurs spend much more money for a fish with no profit, and they will always win in the sight of the government. No fishing for sokeye because of flossing, means leave it for professionals with nets. Why should I leave it?

Because snagging isn't sporting?

Because flossing is snagging!!! ETHICS is the operative word. Sockeye are not being "enticed to bite", they are just snagged in the mouth, outside the mouth, in the head etc. Hopefully new regulations will be in place for 2009 as there won't be a sockeye fishery in 2008. I would be happier if sockeye was shut down completely and permanently in fresh water.

That is my purpose. To hook a fish in the mouth!
According with the regulations, page 8, snagging occurs when you hook the fish in any other part than the mouth. You set ethics that get you out of fishing, and leave it for professionals with nets. I suspect some interest in the matter.
Whats next? A ranger fining me because the fish I caught was angry on my spoon and not hungry?

Think of it this way. Compair fishing to a Ball or Puck Sport. The object is to Catch a fish or in the other terms score a goal. So in order to score more goals you give the players a ball that will change direction with out cause and give them a bat or a stick that hits harder. Yes there will be more goals, the game might be more exciting because there is more action but it doesn't mean it's right. In the 1930s the NHL did not allow any forward passes and look what takes place today. This big concern with the fishing picture is we are spending tax dollars to TRY and fix a problem and we can't keep up with the demand. That is what makes flossing/Snagging wrong!

Well said Gecko, I usually don't involve myself in these pissing contests over why flossing, snagging ect is or isn't ethical, but I feel like contributing MHO today. I think that it is called sport fishing for a reason, if you aren't going to be sporting, then you are just harvesting meat for yourself should be called a meat monger, not a sport fisherman. (Que all the angry flossers and their failure to recognize that this is only my opinion)

Do any of you guys hunt? Does the deer bite the bullet???? Well does it?????? Does it say "gee that looks tasty, I think I will shove it in to side of my neck???? I would hope if your a hunter your not against flossing!!!

For a guy that hunts I would say that is a bad comparison. It would be like using a 8mm to hunt quail. So lets go in fully loaded with our assault rifle and kill chickadee's as it will ensure that we take the bird out clean and fast and ensure that we a kill our maximum quota.Or it would like setting up a large leg hold trap in the forest to catch deer.Now that is a comparison!

Logic plays tricks on people who dont pay attention to definitions. Snagging happens by chance but that doesnt mean that any hooking by chance is a snag, as some people may think. I think that the trouble comes from people who didn't bother to read the regulations carefully.
Gecko, you should try to run the trap through the woods, to be more accurate.
And final point: why netting the fish is ethical and real plain snagging is not?

I've got to agree with you its pretty hard to call flossing unethical when you are clearly attemping to hook the fish in the mouth!!
green guy

to me the sockeye run is a meat harvest.if you go out there and bonk the first 2 fish you get to the beach and then stop fishing i dont think it would be so are not cacthing them in the most ethical way but i think for the powers that be they know that there are alot of rule breakers out there,(we have all seen them) so at least this way they have some kinda control no matter how week it is enforced.

but it's the retards who stand out there all bloody day and think they are gods gift to fishing , who will tell you with all kinds of excitment "i hook 45 today and i still got 2 hours of day light!" what these guys may or may not know, and may or may not care is there mortality rate is 40%.

at that point you are killing fish and throwing them back for the birds.stupid!i do think the regs need to be changed now before there aint any of them left.
capt ahab

That time of year already! So heres the jest of it Sockey is a meat fishery, agreed, so go find a spot bonk two and go home and enjoy your meat. Flossing should be confined to the Fraser for Sockey agreed, so don't floss or bounce on any tribs. End of story get in touch with DFO MLAs what ever you have to to change it, it used to go with out saying but needs to be defined in the regs. Instead of posting on every site whinning do somthing about it, year after year its the same argument, so agree on somthing and get it done!

The dictionary meaning state: attempting to catch or catching a fish using a hook: (a) other than to induce the fish to voluntarily take the hook in its mouth; or (b) by intentionally piercing and hooking a fish in any part of the body other than the mouth.

I still think there is a difference between a fish biting a hook and a hook being run through it's mouth until it is snagged in it's mouth. I can't remember ever fly fishing for trout and trying to get the fish to snag it's self on the hook.

I think banning this type of fishing method all all tributaries and other rivers outside of the Fraser is a good idea. I may just write my MLA and the DFO as suggested.
green guy

a totally wicked awesome idea.when you write your letter let us know so we can start sighing it.

that is one of the most productive ideas i have seen on this site to date.

good on you!!!!!!!!!

here is another perspective.

Ethics debate a new round of fighting over fishing techniques

By Gerry Dewar

Aug 10 2007

After reading the article Anglers take on ethics debate (Progress, July 27) I was somewhat frustrated. I found that the article makes some rather large assumptions on the level of support for the document referred to, as well as the root causes of the problems it is designed to address.

I have read the report mentioned in the article on the internet and I found it to be extremely biased. It blames all the problems identified in the Chilliwack/Vedder system: ranging from retaining foul hooked fish, fishing with barbed hooks, failing to record appropriate species, and littering, on the Fraser River recreational sockeye fishery and specifically on the bottom bouncing method of fishing. In the description of the offending behaviours, a careful review demonstrates that the vast majority are illegal, therefore the simple solution is strategic enforcement of existing rules in problem areas.

The report seems to have focused its attention on the sockeye fishery in the Fraser, and in large part blames all the issues that are currently present on the Vedder on the opening of the sockeye fishery in 1996. In my opinion this is a very narrow view of the contributing factors. For example: in the late 90s a recreational harvest was allowed on chum and pinks around the same time the white springs were enhanced in the Chilliwack River. These enhancements created more opportunities for people to take home a fish. Over the last 10 years the population of the lower mainland has increased dramatically. The Fraser and the Chilliwack/Vedder respectively are the most fished rivers in the province. With this popularity comes crowds. Crowds invite a variety of social issues, as with any other activity. The lower mainland is the only area in the province where fishing license sales are increasing, in large part due to the world-class fisheries on the Fraser and the Chilliwack/Vedder Rivers, including the sockeye fishery.

The report blames the apparent lack of ethics seen in some areas of the Chilliwack/Vedder on the sockeye fishery and bottom bouncing, yet when I researched the issue on the internet I found that every jurisdiction that had large runs of salmon in close proximity to large populations people experienced the same set of issues outlined in this report. This was evident in New York State, Michigan, Ontario, Washington, Oregon and California.

The solutions to the issues identified in the report are, in my opinion: strategic enforcement of existing rules, and timely education campaigns. Adding more regulation and the ensuing loss of fishing opportunity is, in my opinion, counterproductive. The recreational fishing community needs to work together to develop workable solutions to these issues rather than drafting reports that recommend someone else fix the problem through legislation and a reduction of fishing opportunities.

The article identifies specific areas of the river where problems occur. Well then, have an enforcement presence deal with the offenders, get aggressive with violators. Dont punish the thousands of other anglers who fish respectfully.

The article leads one to believe that bottom bouncing for salmon on the Fraser will turn people into monsters that are out to rape and pillage our rivers. I take exception to this, and I have faith in the integrity of people. One fishes different rivers and bodies of water differently according to the local conditions. Bottom bouncing is a technique that is intended to hook fish in the mouth as per regulation. There is no need for regulation change. If a fish is hooked anywhere other than the mouth it must be released carefully.

While I understand the argument presented regarding this technique, I disagree with it, and from a survey done recently, so do the vast majority of anglers. As with any activity one is free to pursue the sport by any legal means. So if you dont like it dont do it. But please dont try to force me to conform to someone elses ideal of what is or is not an ethical manner of fishing when there is no conservation concern present.

The frustrating part for me is that this is simply a new round in recreational anglers fighting amongst them selves on technique, whether it be bottom bouncing, bait bans, fly only, or other gear restrictions, and so on. I believe the people involved are well intentioned in their desire to improve the fisheries, and some of the solutions presented have merit.

However, I feel that they are looking to the wrong place for results, and trying to turn back the clock will only result in lost opportunities and ultimately hurt the recreational fishing opportunities in the lower mainland.

The economic impact alone should the recommended solutions come to pass would be devastating to a wide range of businesses. Tourism in Chilliwack would suffer significantly should the draw of the Fraser River fisheries be curtailed. The loss of economic value to lower mainland fisheries resulting from less license sales would ultimately hurt the Freshwater Fisheries Society. This would have a province wide impact.

It also frustrates me that the government representatives who participated in this report seem to be encouraging this division of recreational anglers and are operating outside of formal consultative processes.

I agree that some people on the Chilliwack /Vedder system abuse the fishery. I do not believe that more regulation or loss of fishing opportunity will correct it. Only strong enforcement of existing regulation and timely education campaigns will instill a higher standard.


I would think it would be more effective if everyone wrote there own letter.

zero limits is a joke. they want zero limits for all species? so the millions we spend on hatchery facilities is a waste of time then? ITLL NEVER HAPPEN.

that must be from a vegie nightmare!!!

if any of you visit youll want to read this. rodney has taken to deleteing any forum content containing flossing debate. this is the site operators excuse "I'm putting an end on the discussion of this issue. Too many personal threats coming in my email, the industry has put up boycotting FWR as an option to counter attack Chris' crusade. As much as I dislike the fishery and couldn't care less if the entire Fraser is completely shut down, the article by Jennifer is poor journalism as she has only obtained information from one-sided source. If it was an editorial/opinion, then it would be perfectly fine but that does not meet the standard of unbiased journalism at all. Changes in the fishery act or law in general should be made through public consultations, not through the influence of media.Rod" here is what i sent him "hi im reel wrangler, listen rod. ive seen your excuses for deleting flossing debate content, but censoring unoffensive material violates the canadian charter of rights. i dont care if its "your site", no ones is above the constitution. grow some balls. i want you to delete my acount, i am disgusted. fear and greed are no excuse. your sites quality has steadily gone down hill for along time now anyway..........".

and????? I'm a little lost to what your point is in regards to this posting?

haha beeko rodney

why would RW diss the only site where he should belong to

I am making it public that FWR is censoring political material. There have been a large number of long time members leaving their site recently over it, including me.


Fishing forum > Ethics article in the Chilliwack progess


Home | Sign Up | Contact Us | Forum | Forum Policy | Site Map
Disclaimer: All information on this site, including depth charts,
maps, directions are not intended for navigational use.
Copyright 2003-2023 All rights reserved.

is now FREE!
View All Submit New

To submit new report:

1. Select fishing spot from
Trip Planner

2. Submit new report

Mill Lake
Fishing: Unknown
Catch: 0
Mon, Feb 27, 2023
Fraser - Hamilton Road
Fishing: Unknown
Catch: 0
Tue, Feb 07, 2023
Fraser - Hamilton Road
Fishing: Unknown
Catch: 0
Sun, Oct 30, 2022
Devils Lake - Mission
Fishing: Moderate
Catch: 6 Bass
Sat, Sep 03, 2022
Otter Lake (Tulameen) - North
Fishing: Moderate
Catch: 4 Pikeminnow
Mon, Aug 15, 2022
Jones Lake
Fishing: Moderate
Catch: 8 Rainbow Trout
Wed, Jul 06, 2022
Jones Lake
Fishing: Moderate
Catch: 14 Rainbow Trout
Sat, Jul 02, 2022
Trout Lake
Fishing: Excellent
Catch: 12 Trout
Mon, May 23, 2022