In B.C., all sport-caught wild steelhead must be released back to the water with the least possible harm.
Pictured, however, is a wild Vedder River female steelhead that has had its eggs harvested by an unscrupulous angler with the carcass returned to the water. The angler removed the eggs to provide a supply of bait to catch more steelhead.
This is known as “belly slitting” and the practice is considered highly unethical as well as being illegal.
Once the angler obtains eggs, they are often cured in deadly sodium sulphite and other chemical substances that are toxic to juvenile fish.
Currently, despite significant opposition within the angling community, the use of organic baits continues to be allowed for Interior steelhead streams like the Thompson River.
Clearly it’s time for the management of these stocks to take a quantum leap forward and ban the use of organic baits when this fishery is to open for angling.
B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers