Well it’s that time of the year and the question of the hour once again seems to be “is bottom bouncing (AKA flossing or lining) for Sockeye salmon on the Fraser River legal & ethical”? Well, as of late we’ve seen too many threads on this topic with confusing and inaccurate information so we decided that we would provide our thoughts on the issue in hopes of helping to answer these controversial questions. Like it or not here is our opinion on the subject.
Over the last few years the Fraser River Sockeye season has been bogged down in controversy and political nonsense over the method of bottom bouncing. Most of the baggage is due to the fact that these salmon, for either biological reasons that we do not understand or simply due to very poor Fraser River visibility conditions (or most likely a bit of both), rarely “take” a lure or bait and therefore the technique of “bottom bouncing” is required to catch them with any consistency while they are in this body of water.
Bottom bouncing, AKA flossing or lining, is the practice of swinging a long leader (5-15 feet) along the bottom of the river with the intent of having that leader swing through the mouth of the fish swimming upstream. When the leader swings through the mouth of the fish, it is followed by the hook, which in turn then gets pulled into the corner of the fishes jaw or into it’s mouth all together. At first glance this could be seen to fit the definition of snagging – which is illegal. By the letter of the law, however, snagging is described as the intent to hook a fish in a part of the body other than the mouth. Lining or flossing is designed to hook the fish in the mouth, so technically, it is legal despite that some might suggest otherwise. Trust me, if it were illegal the authorities could and would very easily show up at any given Fraser River bar on any given day of the Sockeye opening and make a ton of money issuing fines. That of course has never happened and, in fact, many of those authorities, the conservation officers and such that produce and enforce the laws, also avidly fish the Fraser for sockeye utilizing this very technique so you can rest assured that there are no legal issues with the method.
Regardless, some people feel that this type of fishing is unethical. Unfortunately and unlike the law, ethics are based on the perceptions, principles and emotions of individuals and depending on the factors making up each individuals life those belief systems can be and usually are vastly different amongst us all. What is “ethical” for one person may be totally unacceptable or “unethical” for another. For example, the eating of certain types of animals can be seen as a delicacy in some countries while defined as inhumane or even disgusting in other countries. In our very back yards we have individuals who think that sport fishing and hunting are unacceptable and vegetarians that believe that the eating of any type of meat period is unethical … fortunately for us, and others like us that appreciate a juicy venison steak from time to time, we don’t base our laws on belief system criteria and therefore despite the fact that some people feel it is wrong it is still legal for us to enjoy our venison steaks!
So back to the question of whether flossing is ethical or not … well … it may be to some and it may not be to others. Personally, because of the conditions of the Fraser and the lack of any other methods allowing us to take advantage of this abundant resource, we think there is a place for this technique and are quite fine with it. Judging by the large numbers of people that participate in this fishery it is obvious that most anglers feel the same way and have decided to accept and enjoy this tremendous opportunity that the Fraser river has to offer. But basically it comes down to your own personal decision on if it is ethical or not for you. Despite the choice, however, and although what ever you decide it should be respected, it does nothing to change the fact that the method is legal under the law.
So there you have it … is it legal, Yes … is it ethical, we think so but your mileage may vary! Please let us know what you think.
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