Horsefly River Roundtable discusses small mouth bass problem

The Horsefly River Roundtable’s annual general meeting Thursday, Feb. 19 was short and sweet

The Horsefly River Roundtable’s annual general meeting Thursday, Feb. 19 was short and sweet

Last year’s minutes were accepted; the financial report was closely scrutinized; and the directors were selected.

The 2015 directors in no particular order are Brian Englund, Ray LeBourdais, Sam Albers, Ernie Gruhs, Bruce MacLeod, and Blaine Bowie. Ex-officio  directors  are Judy Hillaby from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Maureen LeBourdais from the Fraser Basin Council.

A number of topics were discussed.

Habitat enhancement projects for Wilmot, Tisdall, Black, Sucker, and Patenaude Creeks, but what we accomplish depends entirely upon how successful we are with our current funding applications, which are extremely demanding.

The Fisheries Sensitive Watershed classification for the Horsefly River and Moffat Creek watersheds which had studies and recommendations done in 2010 was discussed.

The general feeling was that by the time anything is printed and discussed and meetings are held with the various concerned companies and the general public, it will be too late to implement the plan, because the Horsefly watershed is already logged out, and the Moffat Creek watershed is virtually wiped out as well.

As advocates for our fish stocks, no one on the Roundtable is very happy about this, but it seems there is political pressure slowing the process. No one can really explain why an important study such as this could be shelved once someone took the time to review it.

The small mouth bass situation in the Beaver Lakes was discussed.

It seems someone may be paying attention, although as with all things, much too late.

Judy Hillaby our DFO representative explained that history has proven that the only predator that kills bass is larger bass.

Large lake trout, burbot, rainbows; nothing survives the bass once they gain access to any watershed and establish themselves.

Rotenone in large quantities put into the watershed will kill the bass, as well as every other living thing in the water.

The roundtable is opposed to this because of the swampy terrain and hiding places. Who knows if it would be a one hundred per cent kill?

Several other ways to inhibit bass were also discussed, with many of the fishermen present being unable to understand why we can’t open them to unlimited fishing and at the very least slow them down substantially, but the Department of Fisheries is just as adamant that fishing for bass is a punishable offence.

There will be more on the bass problem once the B.C. government funds some control studies.

The Choate Creek project was discussed, along with some of the yearly problems the land owner has faced with the annual flooding, and road washouts.

The land owner has volunteered to come and give a synopsis of the process that has gotten him this far dealing with the various levels of bureaucracy, which should be an adventure in itself.

The Roundtable is going to join The Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up.  We have a new volunteer, Jane Fitschen who will spearhead our clean ups.

We really have to hold off until the water levels go down, so late August, early September seem likely times to hold events.

Stay tuned.

The Roundtable is going to put up a plaque honouring the late Clarence Hooker for his 17 years working on the spawning channel, and organizing our annual salmon egg races.

It was also suggested that a picture of the founding members and contributing members be done as well, to acknowledge their contribution to the salmon walk and ongoing public education.

The Mount Polley meeting which the Roundtable helped to set up was discussed.

The Roundtable is definitely on the fence on this subject, as no one really can say what the long-term effect of the spill will have on our fish stocks with any certainty.

The next meeting will be at the Horsefly Public Library at 7 p.m. on March 19.