Opinion

EDITORIAL: Here's hoping the sockeye circus doesn't end in tragedy

The excitement over abundant sockeye leads to a chaotic, even circus-like atmosphere at Peg Leg Bar on the Fraser River in Chilliwack on Monday. - Paul J. Henderson
The excitement over abundant sockeye leads to a chaotic, even circus-like atmosphere at Peg Leg Bar on the Fraser River in Chilliwack on Monday.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

As millions of sockeye salmon swim up the Fraser River and hundreds of anglers flock to popular bars, it’s an exciting time on the water.

The influx of sports fishers from across the Lower Mainland and beyond to the Fraser River by Chilliwack brings both good and bad.

Anglers spend hundreds and thousands of dollars at shops and restaurants, injecting much-desired money into the local economy.

Unfortunately, many also leave behind a trail of garbage left to organizations such as the Fraser Valley Salmon Society to clean up.

Hundreds of recreational fishermen (and women) flocked to Peg Leg Bar this week where easy access and abundant fish meant a near carnival atmosphere.

As many as 100 anglers stood shoulder-to-shoulder along a couple hundred feet of gravel beside the fast-moving water, pulling fish out one after the other. There are many inexperienced anglers on the water. They are constantly landing sockeye on the bar. And the excitement has led to what some call “fish brain.”

The combination of those factors—along with the fact that just about no one is wearing a life jacket—means the risk of a tragic drowning is real. We have already seen close calls this year and we hope to not have to report on a tragedy.

Let’s all have fun out there. Respect the fish. Respect the river. Respect your peers. And be safe.

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