Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead Numbers Reach a Devastating Low

Steelhead caught on a spinning rod

Originally seen in Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review

Another week of bad news for BC Steelhead anglers as the numbers of returning fish in the Thompson and Chilcotin Rivers hit troubling lows.

Just a week after the Skeena officially closed to angling, the Thompson River saw just 58 steelhead return to its waters to spawn, down from 1,300 in 2014. To the west, in the Chilcotin, just 27 returning fish have been reported, down from 995 in 2014. “It’s a bad year for steelhead from California up the coast,” said Brian Braidwood, president of the Steelhead Society of B.C in an interview with the Vancouver Sun, “but 58 fish is damn near extinction,”

So what is causing these low numbers?

Experts point to a variety of factors. “It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Braidwood said. “It’s habitat loss, the impact of irrigation, and interception by commercial fisheries.” Seal and orca predation has also been linked to the decline, as has a new factor that we will discuss further in our next story.

In the meantime, anglers are waiting for official word whether the Thompson and Chilcotin will follow in the Skeena’s footsteps and close to angling as local governments continue to skirt the root cause of the declining numbers.

This excerpt was taken from Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman. For more stories like this, check out the full article below and tune back in every Friday to catch up on everything you missed!

Week in review