Blue Fish News – May 29, 2023

What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: We start with an editorial on the closing divide between rural and urban youth and their interest in fishing. There’s so much to report including an up-coming “Get Ready For fishing event, Ontario’s mourning the loss of local champion Wil Wegman, new rounds of funding are now available for eradicating invasive species, more news about fishing sonar advancements, and so much more – the ice has melted and fishing is “on fire!”

Photo of local champion, prolific writer, conservationist and fishing competitor, Wil Wegman in Algoma

This Week’s Feature – Youth Divided

By L. Gunther

Youth growing up outside major urban centres often enjoy year-round access to nature. Having lived myself in a town of 20,000 located 60 km from Toronto, it was often the case that my friends and I would hurry home after school, grab our fishing rods, jump on our bikes and go fishing. More than once we speculated whether kids living in Toronto had ever seen a deer, groundhog, rabbit, or even caught a fish in the wild.

Urban migration has resulted in a troubling divide among youth concerning their views about fishing. While “country mice” regard fishing as a positive aspect of our childhood, “city mice” often miss out on this important aspect of their development, making them more susceptible to unfavorable perceptions of fishing as a sustainable activity. But wait, it’s not all bad news. While there are exceptions, the exciting news is that this divide is shrinking.

Without doubt, climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, all now take up sizeable portions of mainstream and social media. Youth interested in fish and fishing are exposed to all this along with everyone else. For youth who lack access to nature and the opportunity to fish and study fishes, it can lead to their questioning the validity of fishing-related content, including what they hear from their mentors. Face facts, lots has changed since the days of our grandparents.

Like me, I’m sure any of you with kids or grandkids are having to defend fishing from an increasing list of concerns being shared about the ethics and sustainability of fishing. I have one grandson who I’m still working on “deprogramming” two years after he watched “Seaspiracy”.

Thankfully, youth with unimpeded access to the outdoors observe nature directly, allowing them to balance what they are hearing in the news with what they observe. These increasingly contradictory inputs stimulate young minds, who then apply their own form of citizen science to gain a stronger understanding of the health of their local fisheries. But access alone has never guaranteed success in forming a healthy bond with nature.

For generations, becoming a responsible angler has depended on mentorship, or in the absence of a guiding hand, willingness to undertake self-directed research on topics that go beyond tips for catching more and bigger fish. Finding fishing related on-line content that includes sustainable fishing guidance essential to conservation is the challenge. Even mentorship no longer guarantees youth will learn up-to-date science-based best practices.

It’s normal for those new to fishing to want to focus on the exciting aspects of the sport – catching fish. Content creators are rewarded by responding to this demand by catering their offerings to satisfy this thirst, it’s how social media algorithms work. Mentors and others committed to see the sport grow naturally follow suit. Thankfully, there’s another trend emerging in mainstream entertainment.

Increasingly more examples can be found in mainstream entertainment that offer clear proof that producers have deliberately chosen not to “Bambi” fishes. It’s fueling interest among youth to forge their own bonds with nature through fishing. Mainstream entertainment isn’t the only thing causing interest in fishing to grow – the first time in well over a decade that the shrinking number of people who fish has been reversed.

First off there was a 21% increase in fishing license sales in 2020 that experts attribute to COVID-19, but personally I think that more than people’s need to “social distance” outdoors contributed to this increase. I’m also hearing reports that youth are also concerned that they might miss out on what many are worried could be their last chance to try fishing before concerns over biodiversity loss forces fishing to be shuttered. This may be contributing to another emerging trend — youth interested in carrying on the family or cultural tradition of fishing, and who want to defend such practices from those who they believe are set on “cancelling their culture”. But perhaps the most significant influence stimulating the recent growth in interest in fishing among youth comes from mainstream entertainment.

Fueling the surge in interest in fishing is what some call “life imitating art.” I’m referring to popular reality shows like Wicked Tuna, and a growing number of prime-time Disney, Star Wars and other movies featuring their heroes harvesting wild fish for food. The fact is there are a lot of youth – especially urban youth – who now want to form personal connections with nature through fishing, and by doing so, become defenders of nature and the tradition of fish harvesting that can be traced back among most cultures for many millennia.

The desire among youth to form personal life-long connections with nature through fishing deserves our support. Blue Fish Canada has understood this since our formation in 2012 as reflected in our “articles of incorporation” and “charitable objectives”. Our mission remains “the future of fish and fishing.”

Like many other charities we had to step back from delivering in-person programming in 2020-2021 due to closures, volunteers stepping back, donors taking a pause, and foundations and granting organizations focussing on addressing COVID-19 hardships. A lot of Canadian charities were shuttered in the past couple years. Blue Fish Canada, on the other hand, transitioned to on-line delivery of our services. And now, due to growing demand, we are once again ramping back up our in-person youth outdoor explorer programs!

Most youth fishing programs focus on giving kids fishing rods and a few lures and organizing a day of fishing. For sure both are terrific ways to pass along knowledge and the joy of fishing, but is “teaching a person to fish” instead of “giving a person a fish” still enough?

Blue Fish Canada’s mandate goes far beyond simply teaching youth how to catch fishes. Our programs are designed to share knowledge about fishing sustainably while practicing conservation so youth and their mentors can keep up with science-based best practices without having to “re-invent the wheel.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Blue Fish Canada would be criticized for portraying fishing as more than simply having fun. Thankfully, the days of anglers being encouraged to capture excessive numbers of fish are slowly fading away. Now it’s about the excitement of the anticipation and thrill of the quest. Counting captures is being replaced by bucket list achievements and personal bests. Arguably, a more personally impactful fishing experience even when practicing self-restraint by knowing when enough is enough.

Obviously, Blue Fish Canada can’t meet the growing demand among youth for knowledge and access on our own. It’s why we also operate a number of knowledge transfer programs meant to “train-the-trainers.” We continue to build our extensive network of volunteers and knowledge experts. People who understand fish and fishing in profound ways made stronger through our facilitating access to traditional, local, and science-based know-how.

The more youth that become passionate about nature, the greater the chance that our beautiful planet will tolerate our presents that much longer. Accordingly, environmental groups are beginning to embrace the idea that instead of advocating for the demise of recreational fishing, it just may be smarter to inspire youth to become passionate defenders of fishing and the ecosystems that make it possible. Many of these groups are now open to collaborating with Blue Fish Canada to ensure youth have the sustainable fishing skills and access needed to become stewards of nature.

To become a blue fish collaborator or mentor please reach out. Or, if you would rather make a donation consider becoming a monthly donor like Canadian country star Brett Kissel. Even the price of a couple coffees a month can go a long way. Donating and getting tax receipts is made easy and secure through our chosen on-line donation processing service “Canada Helps.” Donate now in support of our 2023 Youth Outdoor Explorer programs!

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


B.C. got just 0.6% of commercial Pacific salmon catch in 2022 / Business in Vancouver
Commercial fishermen in B.C. caught just 2 million Pacific salmon in 2022 – just 0.6 per cent of the global commercial catch of 354 million fish — according to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC).

Quebec government 2022 Atlantic Salmon Exploitation Report / ASF
In 2022, adult salmon assessments were completed for 40 Quebec rivers. Scientists estimate 29,368 adult salmon returned compared to 28,601 in 2021 when 39 rivers were assessed. These monitored rivers receive 90 per cent of the annual angling effort. Reported angling catches totalled 19,147 salmon compared to 15,265 in 2021. Of all fish caught 14,730 were released compared to 10,087 in 2021. Of the salmon that were harvested last year 3,401 were grilse and 1,016 were large salmon. This compares to 4,442 and 736 in 2021, respectively. The 2022 season was characterized by a 16 per cent increase in total returns compared to 2021. Against the most recent five-year average, grilse returns increased by 8 per cent while returns of large salmon increased by 20 per cent. These results are based on data from 31 rivers that have results available for the last six years. At the same time, the sale of salmon licenses increased by 13 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous five-year average and rod-day sales totaled 76,706, up from 75,435 in 2021.

For Atlantic Canada, Fishing Season Brings Yet More Violence/ Hakai
East Coast fishers have weathered arson, gunshots, and harassment. Conflict and turmoil will likely continue until the Canadian government addresses Indigenous rights head-on.


End Alaska salmon troll fisheries / The Columbian
Fisheries managers know that over 90 percent of the Chinook caught in the Alaska troll fisheries come from the Pacific Northwest. Those fisheries have contributed to the destruction of the Chinook populations in the Pacific Northwest, leading to younger hence smaller and fewer Chinook.

Orcas are working together to sink boats / Morning Brew
Scientists think the behavior started with one orca and spread across the population.


As Ocean Oxygen Levels Dip, Fish Face an Uncertain Future / Yale E360
Our future ocean — warmer and oxygen-deprived — will not only hold fewer kinds of fish, but also smaller, stunted fish and, to add insult to injury, more greenhouse-gas producing bacteria, scientists say. The tropics will empty as fish move to more oxygenated waters, says Pauly, and those specialist fish already living at the poles will face extinction.

Bracing for Climate Impacts on Lake Erie/ Inside Climate News
Yet while Lake Erie’s fisheries are thriving now, climate change will present challenges down the road—even if the most recent survey of licensed charter boat captains doesn’t spell it out in so many words.

Glace Bay Fishing Group Calls on Government to Clean Up Contaminated Lake / CBC
A group in Glace Bay, N.S., says the water in a local lake is contaminated and is asking the provincial government to clean it up before stocking the pond with more trout.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is activating emergency funding to support urgent salmon issues as flood events impact salmon and their habitats. Unseasonable high temperatures are causing rapid snow melt, leading to high streamflow in regions throughout B.C. With flood warnings in effect in the Skeena region – where potential flooding poses a threat to the survival of out-migrating juvenile salmon – PSF’s emergency fund is available to assist First Nations and community efforts to save Pacific salmon and activate habitat restoration and remediation work directly impacted by current climate events.

One Great Shot: Gimme Shelter / Hakai
In the open ocean, where shelter is rare, young fish find safety under stunning blue hydroids.

New grants will fight invasive species that inflict $3.6B in annual damages / ISC
The Invasive Species Action Fund, coordinated by the Invasive Species Centre, has grants available to municipal and local governments, academic institutions, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities, and non-profits to assist with projects aimed at controlling invaders.


Outboard Industry Looks to Decarbonize—But How? / Outdoor Wire
Yamaha Marine’s director of external affairs Martin Peters says the recreational marine industry must plan now to decarbonize its products to meet customer expectations as well as likely future regulations. In angler-speak, that means eventually getting rid of gas outboards. Because boats require 10 times more energy to move through water than cars through the air, the energy density of today’s battery technology isn’t great enough to support electrification of larger outboard motors and other internal combustion products on a basis that makes economic sense for consumers.

How to make fishing trips safe and enjoyable for your dog / Outdoor Canada
Want to bring your four-legged pal on the boat for your next fishing trip? Just be sure to follow these six tips to keep everyone safe and happy out on the water.

NMMA Reports Recreational Boating’s Economic Impact Soars to $230 Billion / FTR Industry Wire 
The U.S. National Marine Manufacturer’s Association recently announced new data which found the annual economic impact of recreational boating in the U.S. increased 36%, from $170B in 2018 to $230B in 2023. The industry’s contributions to the U.S. workforce grew as well, with an 18% increase in jobs supported, from 691,000 in 2018 to more than 812,000 in 2023.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Ontario’s fishing community mourns the passing of prolific writer, conservationist and fishing advocate Wil Wegman
Wil Wegman published his first newspaper article in 1985 and not long after began writing a weekly newspaper column called “The Great Outdoors” which would later become syndicated. Will freelanced for numerous magazines such as Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Canada, Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing, Big Jim’s Just Fishing, Bassman Magazine, and U.S. magazines such as In Fisherman, Bassmaster and BASS TIMES. As well as a prolific and award-winning outdoor writer, Wil successfully competed in bass tournaments and has qualified three times for Team Ontario. Will was a member of Team Canada at the World Ice Fishing Championships in 1991 and has many top ten finishes in the Canadian Ice Fishing Championships and other open water BASS fishing events. From 1995 to 2010 Will served as the Conservation director for the Ontario BASS Nation. Will Spearheaded dozens of conservation projects for his BASS Master club as their conservation director from 1995 until his passing, including habitat restoration, bass tagging research, roadside clean-up, used fishing line recycle depots and invasive species removal projects. From 1986-2010, Wil taught a 12 hour in-class bass fishing course at various campuses of Seneca, Georgian and Fleming College, and for 20 years he taught his highly regarded 3-hour ice fishing course. In 2017, Wil was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame and won the OFAH Rick Morgan Professional Conservation Award as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ National Recreational Fisheries Award. Wil was Employed full time with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for 33 years as a Resources Management Technician.

Coming up:

Water Canada Summit
On June 7-9, 2023, the Water Canada Summit themed “Water Connects” will take place in Ottawa. Learn more about the lineup of influential water voices scheduled to speak.

Get Ready for Fishing / BFC

Get Ready for Fishing is the ultimate event to learn everything you need to know about fishing this summer!

On Saturday, June 10, join Blue Fish Canada at the OPG Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre in Cornwall to participate in a variety of hands-on activities that will enhance your fishing knowledge and technique. Participants will learn about fish sustainability, tackle choices, casting technique, fish identification, invasive species awareness, and the importance of water safety. Each session will conclude with a presentation from experienced angler Lawrence Gunther on in-depth information about the five most sought-after sportfish in the St. Lawrence River including bass, muskie, walleye, pike & carp. Participants will have the opportunity to enter a free draw to win one of two Shimano spinning rod combos.

Register for one of two sessions:

Special Guest Feature – Garmin’s LiveScope Plus Helps Anglers Find and Catch More Fish  

Fishingwire Magazine

It’s not too often that a single product introduction has the ability to change how everyone from tackle manufacturers to weekend anglers to seasoned pros see and approach a day of fishing, but in 2018 when Garmin unveiled the world’s first live-scanning sonar—LiveScope—that is exactly what happened!

Now instead of watching what had been in their transducer’s field of vision, anglers could see a live display of what was currently in front of them and see how fish reacted to varying presentations. It was now not only possible to determine varied sizes of fish on the electronics’ display, but anglers could even distinguish between species and seek out specific targets in real time. This truly revolutionized fishing as we know it today, so much so that some questioned whether this was even fair to the fish. Fortunately, the fish have no say in the matter and the results are undeniable as LiveScope has led to countless professional fishing tournament wins including three of the last four Bassmaster Classic Championships, and it has won numerous industry awards including ICAST’s Best of Show, NMEA’s Technology of the Year and Boating Industry’s Top Product, just to name a few.

In 2019, LiveScope made its way into the ice fishing scene with the introduction of the LiveScope Ice Fishing Bundle, and hardwater anglers couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough! Ice fishing electronics or flashers have always presented more of a real-time readout of what was going on below the angler’s feet than open-water models, but where traditional flashers displayed distinct color bars to represent fish, bait and structure, the Panoptix LiveScope display shows both a real time and far more realistic, almost video-game-like picture on the screen.

In one of the latest additions to Garmin’s revolutionary live-scanning sonar lineup, anglers experience 35% improved target separation over the existing system with sharper resolution, reduced noise, and Garmin’s clearest images ever. LiveScope Plus can identify and separate targets as small as 14 inches at distances 100 feet from the boat so anglers can see exactly what they need to with improved stitching, reduced noise and fewer on-screen artifacts that impede the picture of fish and structure. If there was any question as to whether LiveScope was fair to the fish before, this very well may settle the debate!

About us:

Subscribe to receive the Blue Fish Canada news in your inbox.
Read back issues of the Blue Fish Canada News
Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast.
Email us your news or podcast story ideas.
Donate to Blue Fish Canada, a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity.