About conservation and responsibility

Text/Photo: Jaap Kalkmann – Guideline Power Team

One of this years’ precious female Chinook. This approximate 50 lbs female was full with roe. Gear: Guideline Le Cie 14’8″/#10, Quadra 10-12, 50 lbs Compline, Skagit Compact 660 grain, 18′  T10, 30 lbs tippet, fly: JKS Pink Rhea Stinger.

This season was marked by exceptional low returns of Chinook salmon along the north Pacific coast. Test indexes indicate this years’ returns to be 25% to 30% of the “ten year average” returns. This means that the capacity of the Chinook spawning beds will probably not be reached this year, and could result in cyclical stock decline. One explanation for decreased Chinook numbers may be poor water conditions for  spawning and fry survival during the ’06/’07 season, with increased mortality of eggs and fry, resulting in a lack of average sized fish returning this year. Whatever the explanation may be, the fact remains that this year we have a run that is likely below critical mass of sustainability. The US government acted appropriately and closed all retention of Chinook in Alaska in order to preserve the stock. So what did the Canadian government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans do? Nothing. DFO has been accused of mismanagement of B.C. fish stocks for many years and this is another example of their poor management.

Where does this leave us? I believe that we will see a steady decline in our fish populations due to a lack of commitment of our government to manage the fish stocks appropriately. However, this does not mean that we, as individuals, do not have a responsibility to take care of our fishery.

Just the other day I was talking to a well-known guide from a very respected and large fishing lodge out of Terrace. I asked him the typical “how has the fishing been” question and he proceeded to tell me that he had been guiding a group of gear anglers for 5 days and they had only landed 3 Chinook. So I asked him what they did with the Chinook salmon and he said that the clients wanted to take them home, so they were killed. To me this was unbelievable; here I was talking to a guide whose livelihood depends on good returns of salmon, but despite critical returns he still condones a retention policy. I mention this as an example to show that we have an individual responsibility to conserve our fish stocks and environment. Because DFO is incapable of conserving our fish stocks does not mean that we can slack off on our responsibilities as individuals. Unfortunately I mostly see that fishermen assume rights, and not so much the responsibilities, that come with the sport.

Please consider releasing all fish that are at risk.

Off she goes!

 Jaap Kalkman


  1. Conservation is so important here in Ireland as fish stocks have been low for the last decade. Anglers are now getting to be more responsible with most fish being released. The fishing bodies have also closed a lot of river with low returns to try and build then up, a little late some would think.

    However there are still a small band of individuals who believe it is their right to kill their fish and then we have the poachers who throw a net across a pool and take all.

    If a country like Canada who have salmon coming in the millions starts to have problems then what chance do the smaller river runs have?

    We all have to stand together and save our fish!

    1. Hi Tommo,

      I grew up in Holland. So unfortunately I have first hand experience with the results of industrialization and over-population in combination with a lack of conservation. My grandfather used to fish for huge Atlantic salmon in the river that I grew up on. When I fished it the river looked like a canal, dirty, polluted, over-fished and devoid of any salmon. When I moved to B.C. I hoped to find untouched rivers teeming with salmon. Unfortunately what is see is history repeating itself. One would think that governments could learn from mistakes made by other countries in the past, but it appears that the Canadian government thinks their case is unique and requires them to reinvent the wheel. By the time they are done with that it will be too late…

      We do have to stand together to save our fish. Let’s hope it will be enough.


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