Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the Net, May 2011

In The Net
Flossing, the great debate continues
Trevor Shpeley

Well, summer is here and I've been talking about the BCO forums for about six months. In that time we have more than doubled our membership although getting the new members posting has been a bit of a struggle. So enough talking about ourselves, it's time to get on with the real business of this column which is to report on what BC fishermen are talking about when they sit down at their computers.

For this first instalment of forum hot topics I thought we should start with the granddaddy of all internet fishing debates which is flossing Salmon. By the time you read this, the annual debate/argument/street-fight, on the practice of “flossing,” (as long-leader bottom-bouncing has become known,) should just be getting started and forum moderators everywhere will be working overtime trying to keep the virtual carnage to a minimum.

The basics of the issue are this:

Bottom bouncing for Salmon is a legitimate fishing method where a heavy weight is attached to a three way swivel with a short leader tied to the other end and a hook at the end of that. The rig is then dead drifted through a run and allowed to bounce along the bottom keeping the bait close to where the salmon are. At the end of the drift, the line is reeled in without being allowed to swing. Fish caught by this method are usually fairly hooked.

The problem comes when people use a long leader and then cast across the current and swing a large arc through the Salmon that are packed side by side with their mouths wide open into the flow. The wool decorated hook will often snag as the long leader “flosses” through the Salmon's mouths and if it doesn't, the huge pull the “angler” sometimes imparts at the end of the swing will usually do the trick. The hook is often in the inside the mouth giving the impression that the fish was fairly hooked and by the letter of the law, it was. THAT, in a nutshell is the core of the debate.

Just because something is legal, or quasi-legal, or just ignored by fisheries, should you be doing it? Many people would say no, snagging is snagging and it is a black eye on the fishery. Many other people would say “What difference does it make? The fish is dead either way. Do you think the fish cares how it was caught?” Sport fishery or harvest fishery? Do people really care? You bet they do.

Nothing has the power to divide an internet forum like a debate on flossing. Good friends have parted company over this prickly question of ethics. Whole websites have sprung up to denounce the practice only to collapse under the ponderous weight of their own idealism.

So who's right? I have no idea. Here's a sampling of posts taken from various fishing forums. Screen names have been deleted to protect the opinionated.

“ Until DFO states that it's illegal, I'll exercise my right to bounce for Socks. As long as I'm fishing within what DFO deems is legal, don't tell me what I can and can't do.”
“Flossing is snagging and snagging isn’t right. It will be a great day for sportfishing when they finally stop this so-called harvest fishery”
“Flossing is good. That's what the sockeye are there for. Whether you net 'em, floss 'em, or snag 'em, it's a resource that we should be allowed to enjoy. Have fun!”
“Just as long as this form of "fishing" isn't confused with being sporting. You wouldn't catch me dead doing this. If I am seen as uppity or holier than thou then so be it”
“I can understand having a moral revulsion to flossing in one’s conscience. But why must I obey your conscience?”
“It is my personal belief that any fish that does not hook itself is snagged”
“A small group of folks has arbitrarily defined terms like sport and morality, with the definition based on their say so. Then they have applied their rules to everyone else, with the not surprising conclusion that anyone who disagrees is not sporting”
“What happens when you see people lined up on the Thompson doing it!! It won't be OK then will it?”

Do I have an opinion? Yes I do but I'm not going to share it here! If you want to know come to and ask me!

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