After reading Rob Brown’s Skeena Angler column “Counting Crowds” of Oct. 2, 2013, I’m compelled to respond to his misleading and somewhat slanted opinion.
I’m a long time angler of the Terrace area and my fishing methods of choice are the fly and spoon. My fishing buddy and I have been fishing together for more than 10 years. He will only use the fly while I use the spoon, which puts me in a unique situation to compare the two methods.
Over the years we have found that in some situations the fly will out-fish the spoon, even to the extent that it will pick up steelhead in water that I have already covered with the spoon. This appears to demonstrate that when a good fly fisherman, presents the right fly properly, it can be as productive as the spoon.
I’m not insinuating that the fly catches more fish by the end of the day, because the fly rod has some inherent handicaps that usually prevent this. The most obvious, when swinging flies, is finding a piece of water that allows a perfect swing just off the bottom, without getting snagged and with the longest presentation possible before stripping in.
The spoon does well in this type of run, but what makes it productive is that it can cover almost any type of water that is normally not conducive for the fly, allowing for more hookups by the end of the day. A lot of fly fishermen fishing the Copper tend to use flies with trailer hooks, which can be problematic for steelhead. These flies that have hooks that trail some distance behind the fly, increases the chances of having the hook lodged deep in the throat, causing possible bleeding. The spoon is not immune from this, but I find it rarely happens when the right size hook is used.
One drawback for the spoon is that if it’s hooked in just the right place, the spoon itself can be used as a lever, putting considerable pressure on the hook.
Another problem that seems to be inherent to fly fishing is a long fight compared to conventional gear. A gear fisherman tends to get his catch in, unhooked and released sooner, causing less stress on the fish.
An experienced fly fisherman could probably reduce this time considerably. However, if this fly fisherman is only catching one fish a day, then they’ll probably want to savour the moment.
The colder weather in November usually leaves the Copper barren of tourists, allowing local fishermen to finally fish their favourite runs without having them beat to death.
Most of these fishermen run gear and Rob would like you to believe that this handful of local fishermen are so productive that they are harassing more fish than all the fly fishermen during August and September.
They may hook more fish per person, but fish per day for the group would be similar to the fly fishermen per day. It’s true that the upper section of the Class 2 Copper is good holding water for adult steelhead, but from my experience when steelhead are harassed the majority of the fish tend to move. This would be futile for the steelhead if they had nowhere to go, but fortunately they are able to move into the Class 1 Copper, which has 62km of mostly inaccessible water except by air. Radio tagging has shown Copper steelhead even returning to the Skeena and going up a different river, only to return to the Copper when they are ready to spawn.
Another interesting fact is that through radio tagging they have found that 70 per cent of the steelhead will spawn in the Class 1 section.
For some reason Rob doesn’t want local gear fishermen to have their kick at the can during November and December, which is starting to make him look like an elitist.
The last time I checked, the definition of elitism was the belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favoured treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority. Rob stated that, “It is blatantly obvious, therefore, that fly fishing should be mandatory for all steelhead fisheries. Bringing this about can be effected by simple regulatory changes”. We all know about Rob Brown’s simple regulatory changes, a case in point, the trout fiasco. Now to be fair, which I think Rob has no concept of, he probably wasn’t expecting the sweeping changes that Fisheries implemented when he got the ball rolling, but since it doesn’t affect his fishing, all is good in Rob’s world.
With all this being said, the most steelhead I have ever caught in one day was on a fly rod, by a large margin. So I’m guessing Rob isn’t a good fly fisherman or he’s talking through his hat. I hope my opinion doesn’t offend Rob in any way, because for an opinion columnist he can be very sensitive at times.
And like Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story”.