Foreign angler issues a call to action

Letter writer says cooperation better than regulation on Skeena River

Dear Sir:

This is in response to Skeena Angler Rob Brown’s column of June 20, 2012.

To start, please know that I am not the “American millionaire” that Mr. Brown negatively paints with the stroke of his broad editorial brush.

Mr. Brown’s editorial casts somewhat of a demonic shadow upon an individual whom he labels an “American millionaire.”

While I am a foreign angler, again I am not that individual whom is diminished within his column.

However, I have met you Mr. Brown. Mid-August last year you were on the logging road where you park to access Black’s Run on the Copper River.

I was the old, folic challenged and rotund retired guy who was driving an old scratched black Ford truck with California licence plates that initiated a pleasant conversation and my extended hand in friendship.

You may not remember because you were not too receptive to my extended hand. I was the foreigner who told you that if you ever saw my truck there to please hike into the run and either share it with me or I would yield it to you if you so choose.

If you recall I told you that “I yield to locals.” While last year I extended this good grace to Mr. Brown and other Terrace locals while on the river, at this time I do not find it within me to yield to his recently published editorial opinions. I sincerely hope The Terrace Standard will herein grant me equal time.

It was suggested that the demonic “American millionaire” should merely hire guides on the Kispiox instead of purchasing property on its banks.

I get the fact that this was proposed with tongue in cheek. I also suspect that that the author would himself never hire a guide because he is a very accomplished angler.

While I take no aim here at guides or the services that they provide, most veteran accomplished anglers do not wish to be guided.

Additionally, restrictions that require foreign anglers to be guided by design limit access to those that can afford their service. Those that want to have a quality river experience without a guide or because they are unable to afford their service, are simply cast aside. Is that what the author’s working group on the fishing regulations has in mind for sport fishing world wide or just for his waters?

Would that approach be a good thing world wide or just in Mr. Brown’s back yard? Should only the wealthy enjoy access so Mr. Brown’s fishing experience is not fettered?

Would the author secretly rather the guides and their clients not have access to his waters too? Would he also secretly rather his waters be limited to fly fishing only?

Only Mr. Brown knows the answer to these questions. Those that know Mr. Brown may also know those answers, too.

This “foreign angler” also believes that the author’s new regulations will do little to enhance river etiquette. Rather, it is obvious to me that it will have just the opposite un-intended consequence.

It stands to reason that a foreign angler is going to be less motivated to extend courtesy to local anglers and guides during the week when they are segregated from river access on weekends and in some cases Friday, too.

As one might imagine, this will become fertile ground for disagreement on the river and thus further divide and detract from a quality river experience for all. Tempers will flair.

Fact is, this globe is becoming more crowded every day. However, take comfort in the fact that your Skeena Valley waters are by no means the most crowded.

The best case-in-point that comes to my mind is your very own Vedder and Chilliwack waters to the south. This may very well be the most congested combat fishing experience in the world perhaps second only to Alaska’s Russian and Kenai Rivers.

The difference is that this river system is congested with Vancouver Canadian anglers and has very little foreign angler visitation. Because of this simple fact it is not politically possible to limit Vancouver angler access.

While the new regulation enhances Mr. Brown’s river experience on the backs of foreign anglers, it also does so squarely on the backs of the Terrace businesses community.

We all know what happened. This has been talked about for years and most thought it would simply never be enacted. The good people of Terrace were lulled to sleep over the years while the working group persevered with enactment and a surprise announcement last fall.

Mr. Brown will say that business also had a say in the group but we know that their input diminished over the years because they never thought it would happen. After all, they had a business to run too. Now it has happened.

Kind residents of Terrace, this is not about your fishery. Steelhead counts on your ecosystem are excellent. Your fishery is healthy.

Rather, this is a power grab by biologists, guides and local sportsmen who have coalesced to promote a common agenda on the backs of foreigners and local business. They can’t use poor fish counts to advance their cause and stature because fish counts the last few years have been astonishingly very high.

Their private river experience is the problem, not concern over the ecosystem. A wise person once said “rivers need friends, too.” Your Skeena system needs all the friends it can get to stave off the push for the proposed pipeline and excessive commercial fishing.

If those who visit and care about the Skeena are diminished editorially and in numbers, soon the pipeline and other future projects will advance. Then the ecosystem will in fact suffer.

I really believe that Mr. Brown’s working group, while good intentioned, does not yet know what unintended consequences they have set in motion.

The more friends your eco-system has, the better the chance of survival. Politicians cannot be trusted to do it. There is too much money and power that will advance industrial degradation.

Granted, there is a problem, but this new draconian regulation is excessive and over-reaching. This self centered power grab will have negative ramifications well beyond foreign limitation.

Perhaps most importantly, it is also just simply unfriendly and completely contrary to my experience within your otherwise exceedingly friendly Terrace community.

Tomorrow will bring more restrictions. Eventually, future working group self interest will limit your waters to fly fishing only and then both foreign and non-Region Six Canadian anglers alike will be limited to guided access only. Mark my words. It will happen.

The working group now squarely has their foot in your door. This foreign angler urges the good people of Terrace to quickly and soundly shut your door on the foot of this new excessive over-regulation.

Roll it back while that is still possible. Do not wait to take action until it is too late. There are simple voluntary neighborly measures that can improve the river angling experience.

The community can work together through voluntary non-governmental measures to communicate a cure for this problem rather than implementation of excessive layers of governmental restriction.

This foreign angler without a guide can only vote with my feet. But then isn’t that by design? Mr. Brown and his working group make it all but clear to us that we are simply not wanted. They do not want our extended hand of friendship.

Jim Benson, San Carlos, California