About Me-email is... grant.go@aol.com

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garden bay, west coast, Canada
persistent digging,never say never

Thursday, September 15, 2016

British Columbia's Reflection, Wild Salmon




Written by Grant G


Salmon, wild British Columbia, ......Chinook, also known as Spring salmon, or Blackmouth...Cohoe, also known as Blueback, sometimes called Silvers...There's also Sockeye Salmon, Pink Salmon, Dog Salmon, Chum Salmon, Steelhead Salmon......

Dr. Alexandra Morton....in my eyes she is a Saint, an angel, a wild salmon scientist who's lifelong goal is to save our salmon from extinction,

I have written about wild salmon before and many readers have asked me to write more on the topic, I can, I will but it hurts, something about wild salmon turns my inner soul, haunts my being, going back decades, as long as I can remember salmon has been part of my make-up..

Dr. Morton, .....a marine biologist, I've wondered to myself, does Dr. Morton feel the same way I do about wild salmon, or First Nations feel or does she look at salmon like scientists look at samples under a microscope..

I read a story recently titled..

"Outlook is Dismal for BC's Wild Salmon"

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/what-is-the-future-of-bcs-iconic-fish

Wild Salmon is more than food, more than pleasure, wild salmon are a sign of a healthy environment because one doesn't exist without the other..

There are many causes for the slow painful demise of BC's wild salmon, bad logging practices from the past, bad mining practices from the past and more importantly bad mining practices of today...Fish Farms are killing off wild salmon too, disease and lice infestations...Also bad wildwest style commercial fishing practices from the past and now new threats are rearing their hideous heads..

It stuns my logical thinking side and angers me to the core, we have thousands of miles of coastline but only a handful of productive wild salmon rivers including the Skeena, Canada's second most productive river and our newly elected Prime Minister Justin(I love the environment) Trudeau is about to grant conditional support for Petronas's Pacific North West LNG terminal..A project to be located in the Skeena River estuary...A one of a kind place that DFO warned against industrial activities decades ago...A place so special, so unique, so fragile hundreds of scientists and marine biologists of today warn against the Petronas project..

150 years of gas available to export, no matter if there is one LNG plant or eighteen LNG plants according to Christy Clark we have 150 years of gas available for export, and somehow that is supposed to reassure us, that's not a very long time considering wild salmon have been present in vast numbers for tens of thousands of years..

I've thought very hard on how I can describe what wild salmon mean to me, mean to First Nations, what the salmon means to generations of BCers.....Time to retell but a few of my burned in memory salmon stories...

Not sure how old I was when dad took my fishing the first time, young, real young..

Ken Metcalf....my Dad's best friend had a small boat, 18 feet or so in length and like it was yesterday, every nuance of those early excursions are burned into memory...and to be perfectly honest, dad fishing with his friend Ken, dad dragging his knee-high to a grasshopper son with him on the fishing  excursions, early on I believe dad used me, his little boy as an excuse to get away fishing, dad to get away from mom and his four daughters, a chance for dad to drink one too many Lucky Beer away from scrutiny......and dad used me as cover..."our son wants to go fishing"   Dad would bellow to mom, who at that time in her life, 5 young kids to take care of and not too fond of water, or boats...

Fishing with Dad and Ken....a 18 foot boat with a canvas cover over the back, trolling around the bellbuoy in Burrard Harbour, herring and Tom Mack spoons..It didn't take me long to grasp the concept even at that young age, present a bait a troll around waiting for a strike...I was designated rod watcher.....

Oh how I Loved the fishing, ..what I didn't like was when there were a lull in strikes Ken Metcalf would say to me....(lean over the side of the boat and call for the fish, here fishy fishy, here fishy fishy).....I can recall thinking to myself, even at that age...What do you think, I'm stupid, I ain't calling for fish....and I didn't...

Something happened to me and dad...I was quick to learn the signs, gull activity, tide lines, herring boils, all signs of fish activity, soon I was rigging my own lines, tying lures at a very young age..Dad did notice my passion for salmon and when his friend Ken moved to Kitimat(Ken was a log scaler)...the boating stopped, but not for long...Dad was buying a boat...

Funny, all through my life when dad ventured into something new that mom didn't approve of dad would use me for cover..in this case boating....

A little something about my mom, when mom was mad at dad and or nervous her outlet for her frustration was water and cleaning, whenever they were verbally sparring mom would start cleaning, wiping everything, over and over again, she earned the nickname from dad..Mr.s Wipe...we'll come back to that a little later...

So dad buys a boat, or something like that...off dad and I go to prep his new(?) boat....It was docked at Mosquito Creek marina in North Vancouver....didn't know what to expect, down the ramp we go and there it was...a 40 odd foot long, wooden displacement hulled boat, long and skinny and old, a putt putt diesel engine and a hand-pump operated fresh water sink....this vessel was old and slow, and big....It was named...Andromeda...the year was 1970 ..Dad's new boat was decades old...

So, dad and I putt putted around in this vessel a few times and mom was so relieved that we always returned safely home, we didn't drown...Dad finally got mom to go on the Andromeda,..dad got her aboard, left the dock and went out 20 feet from the dock then as mom was trembling and shaking he turned around and returned to the dock, dad repeated this exercise a dozen times, he finally had mom convinced, sort of

We roll into summer and dad convinced mom and my four sisters to join us on a real boating/fishing excursion...We loaded the boat with supplies, food, fishing gear, Lucky beer and the like...

Off we go, we're heading to Vancouver Island..Silva Bay to be exact...We leave Mosquito Creek marina and head west, I mentioned the hand pumping to draw fresh water from the 200 gallon fresh water tank...

Well, this old tub of a boat was slow...we finally motored past the Lionsgate bridge when mom started complaining, there was no water...mom had emptied a full water tank in a mere hour..She was nervous indeed...we carry on motoring and Silva Bay was beckoning...

The approach into Silva is through a somewhat narrow channel...dad is navigating, I'm watching like a hawk and...well, this narrow channel is quite safe and deep enough, that is if you are on the right side of the channel and the tide is high...who knew..Sun was shining, the water calm, except for tide-rip in the channel, ...putt putt putt then clunk, bang, clank and thud, we were bouncing off rocks, crunching, grinding then boom, we come to a sudden stop, a boulder breaks through the cabin and water is rushing in... oh oh..

Dad remained calm, mom not so much, me, not sure, wasn't scared, was observing dad putting life jackets on my sisters, ....it was sunny and daytime and a local boater in a shallow draft speedboat saw the carnage and rushed in to save us...Dad grabbed the rope that was tossed to him and this little boat cozied up to the wounded Andromeda and started unloading our family....Sisters were lifted aboard the little boat first, I was clinging to my dog, Checkers was his name, Checkers and I were loaded next, then mom....And then mom blew my mind, she was a smoker in her youthful days, she did quit smoking shortly thereafter, however...mom was loaded onto the rescue boat only to quickly insist on going back inside the half submerged Andromeda...She forgot her cigarette holder, remember those 4 inch long filter cigarette holders...Dad shook his head, the rescuer stunned too...mom quickly returned from the doomed vessel and off we went, safe, on land, boat gone, supplies gone, stranded on Vancouver island.....

The Andromeda was a shoreline spectacle relic near Silva Bay for well over a decade...

Dad would not be deterred, he was getting another boat....he told mom..Our son wants to go fishing..

Mom couldn't stop dad and I did want to go fishing...

A new boat it would be, an 18 foot Sangstercraft with trailer for towing, it was a light limey green colour and fast..

Next dad took me to the Army n Navy store in Vancouver...Dad bought long light-tipped mooching rods, hooks, leader line, spoons, lures and a really big net...Dad spent a small fortune, almost $200 dollars which in the early 70's was a whole-lotta money...a smile came across my face, my fishing smile which still exists today, along with salmon tears...

 The next day I was woken early in the morning to dad saying....Let's go fishing son..

And he brought no beer...seems now wild salmon and his son was enough ..

Off we went, Burnaby to Sunset Marine, just past Horseshoe Bay...launched the boat and there we were, Howe Sound brimming with salmon and me in a fast new boat with my own rod, we got live herring at Horseshoe bay and a mooching we went(mooching, still fishing with light line, long supple robs and bait, preferably live)..The trick to rigging live herring is hook placement, the hook closet to the rod would be inserted across the bridge of the herring's nose, the aft just behind the dorsal fin through the back..

Light line, long bendy rods and single action reels.....the remainder of the show was all on the mighty salmon....Let the reels scream with pleasure..

in the 70's Howe Sound was full of salmon, big Squamish white springs and cohoe everywhere...

Gower point, Salmon Rock, the gap out front of Gibson...Bowen island, Cowan point, Cape Roger Curtis, everywhere wild salmon, there were days when we hooked 5 different species of salmon in one day...

Mom was quite impressed, we brought home salmon every weekend and I love eating salmon, salmon head chowder, salmon steaks, baked salmon, we even canned enough salmon for sandwiches..

My favorite, grilled Chinook fins and salmon belly meat, that is where the tasty and nutrient filled omega 3 fatty acids are concentrated, the most tasty parts..

Dad was still working on getting mom to join us on the new boat..she finally said yes again to boating, it was another Saturday, sunny, warm, Howe Sound that day was calm, dead calm, not even a ripple, glassy water and the Sangstercraft boat was fast, real fast....mom aboard, one sister dad and I and away we went, dad was ripping across Howe sound at speed, and yes, Dad was too busy talking and bragging to mom, not paying enough attention to the water ahead...what had happened, unnoticed by any of us was...A BC Ferry had cruised by going the other direction, it was a long way off and dad didn't notice the large waves the ferry was leaving in its wake, perhaps because the waves were barely noticeable on a glassy ocean...

40 miles per hour racing across Howe Sound and without warning, or should I say without driver dad noticing, the boat hit the wave head on, we launched skyward and everyone flew out of their seats only to have gravity return us to earth with a splat, tackle, rods and live herring everywhere and the look on mom's face was priceless...

I'm amazed that after her first two wild boating episodes dad managed to turn mom into a boating and fishing lover, her passion for fishing was only matched by mine...

Thousands of fishing stories are burned into memory, including the memory of where wild salmon existed in large numbers...Those Howe Sound fish are mostly gone, cohoe are rare in these parts...

I was sad, where are the salmon, dad had no answer...we attended DFO  meetings and even met one time fisheries minister Tom Sidden....DFO gave us bafflegab...today I realize that DFO knew the problem and knew how to fix it but because of politicians seeking votes bad things were allowed to continue unabated...DFO knew the Atlantic Canada cod was in trouble but because federal parties need to win federal ridings they did nothing, not wanting to shut down the fishery or stop the hideous practice of bottom dragging,..imagine that, to allow hundreds of vessels to bash, bruise and batter the delicate nursery on the sea bottom....the rest is history...

We traveled further and further afield in search of salmon, that led us to the Sunshinecoast, Pender Harbour...Lees bay full of big chinook salmon, Mary Island, bjerie shoal, Quarry bay, Texada and Sangster island...Coho everywhere...Pender Harbour at that time in history had 7 floating barges with live herring in pens available for sport fishers, today there are none, coho in Pender Harbour, like Howe Sound vanished...The schools of black cod, Hake and even the bottom fish became near extinct..

What was happening, pollution, a change in the ocean or industry messing with salmon's only nursery..Rivers, flora, eel grass and sand...once you destroy the nursery extinction is soon to follow..

  British Columbia has thousands of miles of coastline and Justin Trudeau is prepared to permit the Petronas project and allow it to locate directly on top of the Skeena River salmon nursery....

And for what, a sunset industry known as LNG, as dirty as coal, maybe even dirtier and no wealth for Canada will ever accrue from this LNG proposal...Passion, civil unrest, civil disobedience, pitchforks and torches to save the Skeena if need be..

Kinder Morgan if that project is approved and if there is a massive oil spill in Coal Harbour will that project shut down or carry on, it would carry on, if what hundreds of scientists say about a LNG terminal on the Skeena estuary is accurate the salmon will vanish, or become very scarce, Petronas with a 40 year export license granted would Petronas remove their plant and go away if the salmon vanish...no, they won't...

Where does it stop, how far can we be pushed....When does the wild salmon get to be considered first..

Time went by..

I was getting a little older, dad was still fishing and my enthusiasm was waning(ever so slightly)

Dad bought a bigger boat...he named it..Stolen Time(meaning time on the boat was stolen from elsewhere)..a 28 foot boat and ...and Dad heard of great fishing on Vancouver Island's wild westcoast(the 90's)..

Me having to work(in dad's shop)...it was summer and mom and dad and 28 foot boat headed to the westcoast...Bamfield...he spent two months skulking around, fishing everywhere and learning where the big ones lurk...Whenever dad phoned me at the shop and told me of the fishing my heart swelled, so did my jealousy, dad and mom fishing while i'm working...

The phone rang again, Dad said close the store and drive by van to Bamfield, he needed me to take a dozen fresh Chinook and cohoe off his hands...Off I went, BC Ferry to Nanaimo, cross the island to Port Alberni and 60 miles of gravel to Bamfield and when I arrived ....it was heaven, gulls, herring, the ocean there was alive with squid, salmon, the westcoast was alive with everything including my haunt...

Bamfield, The Land Time Forgot

http://powellriverpersuader.blogspot.ca/2009/09/bamfield-land-time-forgot.html

I loaded up the cooler of fish and headed back to Burnaby, the only thing on my mind was returning to Bamfield...

and for the next two and a half decades Dad, Mom and I spent countless weeks every summer fishing Bamfield and the Alberni Canal.....

The people I met, the old timers, Indian Chiefs and people, salmon lovers....Mom, Dad and I fished together up until he was 80 years plus of age....Then dad was gone, too soon, we needed another 150 years together, a blink of time...and now I was fishing with my last best friend....Avid fisherperson...My Mom..

A Farewell to friends/Wish you were here


http://powellriverpersuader.blogspot.ca/2009/09/farewell-to-friendswish-you-were-here.html

And as time went by Fish farms got located in the Alberni Canal and Barkley Sound and soon the westcoast wild salmon numbers declined, poor returns, fishing restrictions and..

And we ate every fish we caught, never sold salmon, the delicacy was personal, private and sacred..

 Somethings are literally worth dying for, fighting for, civil disobeying for and none more important to me than Wild Salmon...

Vancouver Island had near record tourism this year, the world is thirsty for nature in the raw, British Columbia can be a mecca for eco-tourism and a Manhattan project is required to not only save BC's iconic salmon but to enhance, restore salmon numbers, we need river restorations, we need IPPs shut down we need.....

The Orca, Spirit Bear, Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, First Nations and even coastal rainforests need salmon's nurture..

And what of you Justin Trudeau, what do you need......For starters.

A swift kick in the rear end...

Petronas cannot be allowed to proceed at that location..and if you do, your day of reckoning will come.

_______________







The Straight Goods

Cheers Eyes Full Of Tears


  

4 comments:

The Watcher said...

Thank you for writing, a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes a thousand words paints a lovely picture, you did both, bravo

Anonymous said...

I loved your reminiscing Grant, and I can relate to your passion and your fishing history. Like you we had an old 14 clinker with a Hillman engine that my Dad kept at the Mosquito Creek Basin. It was about a decade earlier than your timelines and we didn't have your mishaps, but my Mom would be quite cantankerous if we only came home with a couple of grilse. In the 70's we ventured to Bamfield and fished in Barclay Sound. Swale Rock on one side and Kirby Point on the other were usually successful spots.

Thanks for the memories and your efforts to keep the environment and the faux LNG issue alive.
Regards, RG

John's Aghast said...

You've outdid yourself again Grant! Your story brought tears to my eyes. I remember those days and regret that my kids, and especially my grandkids will never be able to share those memories.
All for 150 years of ill-begotten wealth for some entitled foreign corporations.

Grant G said...

Thanks for the lovely comment Watcher....

RG..I love fishing those spots, though I prefer fishing Kelp Bay and Pill Point...

When I'm ready..I'm going to retire, resign myself to living on the west coast..shh, don't tell anyone..

John Aghast...Tears on my keyboard while writing it...salmon stories, family stories, the only way i can relate them is to open up, show you my soul...

over the last year John i've had to put up a magic forcefield to keep evil-doers at bay..

An angel told me it was time to right(write)again...

To all you evil-doers out there..

"What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive"

They'll rot in hell John..

Cheers