Category Archives: Fishing

DFO Community Advisor’s Last Fish Release on Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Kids from Clinton Elementary in south Burnaby helped Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers and DFO release coho smolts (yearling salmon) in Byrne Creek today.

It was a bittersweet event, as it was the last release on Byrne with retiring DFO Community Advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert.

But we’re very happy that long-time tech Scott is taking over Maurice’s role. Looking forward to working with you!

Byrne Creek coho smolt release
DFO and City of Burnaby staff share a laugh. It was that kind of uplifting day, and event, eh?

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers stalwart and Stream of Dreams co-founder Joan helps connect the kids to nature

Maurice on the salmon life cycle

Joan demonstrates proper fish release technique

Lining up to take fish down to the creek. The excitement is palpable. . . : – )

Netting coho smolts out of the tank, and putting them in baggies for the kids

Helping hands guide excited kids for a safe release

Look at them go!

Volunteer Ray points out how the fish quickly change color to match their new surroundings

They are so beautiful. Thanks so much to the volunteers at Kanaka Creek who raise these cuties!

Don’t mess with this crew : -)

Spring Bug Count on Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society volunteers sampled nine sites on the creek today for bugs — AKA aquatic invertebrates. The types and quantities of bugs found are an indicator of water quality.

Byrne Creek Bug Counting
After the bugs are collected using D-nets, we retire to a volunteer’s home to count in comfort, accompanied by coffee, tea, and muffins.


Growing collection of mayflies

A cool aquatic snail

Ode to a Knife

OK, let’s get one thing clear off the top. I love this knife, but I’m not homicidal. I just have a long history with this sturdy implement, and I admire its durability.

It’s a US Boy Scouts sheath knife circa 1970. I bought it when I was living in New York City, and was active with the local troop in my ‘hood, so it’s at least 45 years old.

It’s all original, including the leather sheath.

It has been much used, and, for a knife, abused. As you can surmise in the scars in the detailed photos below, it’s pounded nails, stripped 14/2  wiring, split kindling when an axe was not available and a rock was used to pound the blade into the wood. . . In addition to more “knifely” duties such as cleaning fish.

And it’s still solid, still takes a good edge, and will long outlive me. I may ask to have it buried with me when I depart, just in case there are zombies on the other side :-).

If you check the BSA online store, it appears nothing like this is available anymore.

I still take it hiking and camping, though I’ve retired it from streamkeeping — I have an excellent, inexpensive, plastic-handled stainless-steel knife from MEC for that duty now.

Beauty, eh?






1960s US Boy Scouts Sheath Knife

Coho Smolt Release on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC

Kids from Glenwood Elementary, volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, and DFO Community Advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert released coho smolts in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby this morning. Great to have help from City of Burnaby staff, too!

A few shots of the fun:

DFO CA Maurice

Talking salmon life cycle

Netting smolts in the transport tank

City of Burnaby staff help fill baggies of fish for the kids

Handing out baggies of fish


Streamkeeper volunteers supervise releases



A lovely coho smolt




After the kids had to leave to get back to school, we released the rest of the salmon in the artificial spawning channel

Byrne Creek coho smolt release

BC’s Largest Conservation and Recreation Groups Align to get Rivers on Political Radar

I am taking the liberty of re-posting this in its entirety.

BC’s Largest Conservation and Recreation Groups Align to get Rivers on the Political Radar in run-up to 2017 election

Dear River Advocates,

In light of the great interest in the 2016 BC Endangered Rivers List, and with only a year remaining to the next provincial election, a group of BC’s largest conservation and recreation groups are coming together to ask all provincial political parties to develop policies and positions relating to rivers as part of their election platform. Among those leading the campaign are the 100,000 member Outdoor Recreation Council and the 50,000 member BC Wildlife Federation, along with other key groups with significant public outreach, such as the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, West Coast Environmental Law and the BC Federation of Drift Fishers. Other groups, such as the David Suzuki Foundation, have also voiced their support for this initiative. The groups aim to generate a greater public awareness of the importance of these issues and persuade all political parties to take positions on these matters.

“Promoting and generating such discussion is timely in that many British Columbians view the proper care of rivers, and our water resources in general, to be as among our most pressing environmental issues,” said Mark Angelo, Outdoor Recreation Council Rivers Chair. “We believe there would be great public support for a multi-faceted approach aimed at addressing a host of important issues pertaining to rivers and water,” he added.

Among key elements that should be included in river-related policies are:

1. A heritage river component that would re-invigorate the BC Heritage Rivers Program. This program, which has languished since 2001, helped to provide a greater focus and profile for key rivers and had benefits from a planning and public awareness perspective in its early years. New rivers should also be added to the system.

2. Establish a significant funding program aimed at supporting key river restoration and management projects (perhaps similar to what the BC Conservation Foundation administered in recent years which was effective in levering technical, community and financial support). Among projects deserving of funding range from the Cowichan River (where the Province should play a leadership role in bringing partners together to raise the weir at the river’s top end so as to improve summer flows and lessen water temperatures) – to the Seymour River (the Province must be a major partner and contributor along with the DFO in resolving damage caused by the rock slide) – to the Heart of the Fraser (establishing a process that would aim to develop a collaborative management plan for the incredibly productive Hope to Mission stretch of the river).

3. A portion of the budget referred to in #2 should include a funding pool that non-government groups, such as local stream-keepers and river guardians, could apply for to help fund their river and stream restoration efforts. The administration of this fund should include collaboration with other water funders.

4. Ensure the actual on-ground implementation of the Water Sustainability Act so that truly appropriate flow regimes do, in fact, exist on rivers and streams that have regularly suffered from excessive water extraction at the expense of fish. Appropriate, biologically defensible objectives for flow and water quality should be legally enforceable. Monitoring, compliance and enforcement are key. There are many such examples that have been profiled in the endangered rivers list over the years.

5. Advocate for the development of water-use plans on rivers with dams outside the BC Hydro umbrella. While BC Hydro has developed such plans for many of its impoundments, other dam operators have not (e.g. for Metro Vancouver dams on the Seymour and Capilano Rivers, a flow agreement was reached by stakeholders relating to improved water releases that would be beneficial to fish but there has been no actual implementation). Water use plans can help ensure that water releases from dams take place in a more fish-friendly manner.

6. For the Fraser River estuary, the Province should be an advocate of the need for a new coordinating multi-agency group that would better assess cumulative impacts stemming from the many large projects now underway (such as Roberts Bank terminal 2, Richmond Delta bridge, jet fuel transport, etc.) and initiate a much needed process to develop an environmental sustainability plan for the estuary area. From a jurisdictional perspective, this requires working with other parties and jurisdictions but the Province could wield substantial influence. In a broader vein, BC could potentially become a leader in developing methodologies by which to assess cumulative impacts and carrying capacity in areas such as the Fraser estuary where there are multiple and competing usage demands.

7. Develop a plan to revitalize the provincial government’s ability to properly monitor and protect the environment and fresh water resources.

8. Ensure climate change is adequately considered in all future decisions that relate to river management, water extraction, diversions, water licensing, etc. A cumulative effects management framework for watersheds and landscapes is required that includes climate change and which was recommended by the Auditor General.

9. Based on recent successes in Britannia Creek, the Province should explore further dam decommissioning possibilities elsewhere in the Province for older dams that have outlived their usefulness. In 2015, the Province spearheaded the successful decommissioning of 3 older dams that were no longer in operation on Britannia Creek. This initiative was first advocated by BCIT and the Outdoor Recreation Council back in 2001 and the removal of these structures has had significant benefits from an environmental and public safety perspective, while helping to restore the creek’s aquatic ecosystem.

10. There is a need for a more precautionary approach to the way proposed, potentially polluting developments in sensitive areas are assessed. In light of recent ill-conceived proposals, such as the Aevitis hazardous materials plant beside the Fraser River, and contaminated soil dump proposals near the Chehalis River and Shawinigan Creek, there is a need for the development of specific criteria that any project proposed in sensitive areas would have to meet up-front. Failure to do so would effectively block the proposal at a much earlier stage and save a vast amount of time and effort by locals and conservation groups in opposing projects that should never have gotten off the ground in the first place.

The above list is not necessarily meant to be all inclusive. In addition, new issues may well emerge over the coming year. However, our groups believe that the components listed above would formulate a sound basis for river-related policies that should be embraced by all of BC’s political parties.

Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (contact Mark Angelo)
BC Wildlife Federation (contact Al Martin)
BC Federation of Drift Fishers (contact Rod Clapton)
Watershed Watch Salmon Society (contact Aaron Hill)
West Coast Environmental Law (contact Linda Nowlan)

US Charging Ahead on Enviro Issues, Canada Stuck in the 50s

I’ve been attending the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and as at previous ones, I am yet again in awe of coordinated volunteer – municipal – tribal (in Canada First Nations) – state – federal conservation efforts in the US.

Yes, we like to slag our southern neighbours for many things, but they are way ahead of us on many others.

Canada? We’re doing good here and there, but we suck at coordinated action. And in Canada, for the last decade at least, the burden has increasingly fallen on volunteers, with federal and provincial governments abdicating their responsibilities, and slashing enviro-related staff and funding.

A major hurt is that Canada is still so 20th century. To see the ruling-party hydroelectric dam platform in BC is to read something from the 1950s.

The US is demolishing dams, setting rivers, wildlife and salmon free, unleashing renewable, long-term natural and economic potential along the way.

Here in Canada, our governments still want to pour concrete in pristine rivers and flood massive areas of our most productive farmland and traditional First Nations hunting and fishing territories.


Green/Blue initiatives will provide jobs.

Chum Fry Hatching Out in Byrne Ck, Heron Greets Them

I patrolled Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, today looking for salmon fry. I spotted coho a couple of weeks ago, and today there were schools of wee chum salmon out and about.

It’s great to see them! Now we know that both coho and chum salmon successfully spawned in this urban creek, and that their progeny are appearing.

chum fry byrne creek burnaby
Shot from the upstream side of the Meadow Ave. bridge

chum fry byrne creek burnaby
A few meters d/s of the wooden footbridge in the ravine.
My wife has since pointed out that these are likely a mix of coho and chum, since several have orange tails and large parr marks.

chum fry Byrne Creek Burnaby

heron byrne creek burnaby
As I entered the spawning habitat this heron spooked from the overflow pond, and landed in a tree overlooking the sediment pond

heron byrne creek burnaby
I’m certain it’s been chowing down on chum fry! But that’s nature…

heron byrne creek burnaby
Giving me the “get out and leave me alone” look

DFO Answers the Phone

I am very happy to post a positive comment today, because I’ve been feeling quite depressed and disillusioned in my volunteer stewardship efforts the last couple of weeks.
We live in an amazing country, Canadians.
Today I was working on a couple of letters to senior fisheries managers in Ottawa, as secretary for a volunteer advisory board to DFO. I wanted to check if I was writing to the appropriate people, so I searched the DFO online staff directory on their public website.
I found a couple of department and program Directors listed that appeared to be appropriate to my tasks, and there were phone numbers in addition to addresses. So I thought, what happens if I call?
What happened is that each Director personally answered the phone, and chatted with me about what I was trying to accomplish.
This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to say the phrase “my tax dollars at work” with a happy smile on my face.
Back to cranky curmudgeon tomorrow 🙂