Skeena Steelhead by Hooton


Active Member
I just finished reading "Skeena Steelhead" by Bob Hooton. What an amazing book. Any body else read it yet? It doesn't give a lot of hope to the future of steelhead, or mankind for that matter. Greed and selfishness will get the best of us at some point.


Well-Known Member
I am nearly finished reading the book. I'm amazed and depressed at the same time. It reminds me that I once posted on Spey Pages during a discussion of the commercial fishing impacts on Skeena steelhead. I suggested that BC anglers needed a steelhead Monkeywrench Gang that would dump several drums of chlorine into the Babine's Fulton River sockeye spawning channel. Doing that for four years straight would be the single greatest conservation accomplishment possible for all Skeena salmonid species. I was roundly criticized and abused for suggesting such illegal, non-conformist, anti-social, unethical, and erstwhile vandalism.

It's a tough sell that the spawning channels and the attending single-species management of the Skeena system is the true criminal act that has upset an entire ecosystem by extirpating the smaller marginal stocks of fish and decimating the rest. All for the social economic benefit of enhancing one segment of one sockeye population within a very large river basin that once produced what now may be unknowable numbers of populations across all salmonid species.

I'm amazed that the steelheading is as good as it is, and can only imagine what it would be like if the lower Skeena and approach commercial fisheries went away.



Geriatric Skagit Swinger
I have practically stopped reading any more books about steelhead. Puts me in a funk of a depression that seems to last forever. I took a chance on Waller's book and true to form it was yet another chronicle of the downward spiral in steelhead abundance. Seems weird to have to pay for something that will probably cause me to seek therapy...


Well-Known Member
. . . and then you have to pay for the therapy, whether it works or not. It sucks to have fished during the 80s and have kids tell me that I was lucky to have fished in the "good old days" when the guys I looked up to fished in the really good old days of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Shit!


Active Member
Re Sg's post, Hooton pretty much says that the best thing to hope for, in the eyes of a steelhead angler, is low sockeye returns that will reduce the number of commercial days. Apparently you and old Bob were thinking alike. The phrase "great minds think alike" comes to mind.

CJ, While not discounting the OP and its wonderful winter fish, there is something about fishing wild, summer steelhead in the fall that no winter fish can match. Fishing for wild, aggressive fish, on floating lines during optimal water temperatures with the genetic stamina to run hundreds of miles upstream are in a class by themselves.

A couple of things that strike me the most interesting about Skeena fish. For the last 100 years or so the entire population for the whole Skeena has ranged from 35,000 to 100,000 returning steelhead adults. Those numbers may be a little off but in general, a really poor year has less than the low and a really good year is 65,000. Compare that to the Snake, which may get a couple hundred thousand or more on a good year. All the hoopla, all the writing, all the nostalgia, history, and famous anglers accounts of the vast Skeena comes down to literally tens of thousands of fish, of which a good portion are intercepted as part of the sockeye fishery.

If DFO ever keeps its promise of reducing the commercial bycatch by 50%, just think how good the fishing could be! But I won't hold my breath.

Even more puzzling is how the seiners and gill netters have kept the recreational (and tribal) anglers at bay while they plunder and pillage with indiscriminate catching methods while within the past few decades, the recreational sector actually adds substantial, dare I say more, economic value with a no-harvest fishery and much less impact to the resource.

Oh how I wish a trap or weir could be installed instead of nets and let the commercial guys take the sockeye, pinks, and chums, while returning steelhead, coho, and chinook to the river. It just doesn't make sense to continue the status quo. It really is a crime against nature in that a very small minority of the population benefits.

Still, I'm making plans to go again this year.

If money really does talk, why are we not talking louder, making our voices and wallets heard?

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