British Columbia steelhead; wild, renowned, controversial, historical… These fish have no problem finding their way into our hearts and minds.
Consequently, they have no hindrance finding their way into our literature either.
Romances, instructional compilations, tall tales and the traditional classics, there is no shortage of steelhead verbiage on the market. So while there are a great many books on the famed BC steelhead, there are few that are as honest and jaw dropping as Bob Hooton’s Skeena Steelhead.
Bob Hooton needs little introduction. Arguably the provincial government’s most knowledgeable steelhead biologist until his recent retirement in 2008, Hooton is respected and outspoken. Known to captivate an audience and hold their attention by means of integrity laced morals and scientifically backed data, Bob Hooton, in a word, stands for the truth.
Naturally in his 37 years of government service, such data and personal principles often found themselves limited by way of public access and communication.
Bound by legislation and government protocol, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Hooton’s 37 years of service was often accompanied by supressed (Take out the ‘a’) opinion and restricted public outreach.
Patiently counting down retirement, he dove into the pages of Skeena Steelhead and now again, Bob Hooton demands the ears of all who will listen.
I was first alerted to this book by long-standing angler, conservationist and author Art Lingren (who is also the books photographer). The enthusiasm in his words let me know that this was not just any read…
A steelhead guide myself, I was eager to unfold what I hoped would be an honest compilation of facts and foresights that Hooton was not able to share during his time as head biologist.
This book is not a love story.
You will not find heartwarming poetry amidst its pages; rather Skeena Steelhead will likely force your stomach into knots and have you sarcastically out-bursting mid-read.
I found myself frustrated with my findings in each chapter and, on occasion, had to put the book down to mentally digest what I had just read.
Frustration and shock kept me fumbling through the pages and an obligation to cure my ignorance forced me to look within myself for ways that I could help solve the problem of the diminishing Skeena steelhead.
We all expect to be disgusted and shocked by what we read about our political systems and the people who enforce them, but the discovery of this environmental atrocity is enough to upset even the most distant of readers.
Dusted off data, statistics, and quotes disclose a corrupt commercial fishing industry, an out of date (and order) First Nations treaty and too many recreational fishermen in denial that they could ever be part of a problem. Collectively and involuntarily they threaten to destroy the fish and fishing they all claim to be at the center of their existence.
A growing community of conservation advocacy groups (and individuals) are working together to confront this unjust system and it is our hopes that together with the words and biological backing of Skeena Steelhead that this uphill battle may at last be given the fighting chance it deserves.
I hope you enjoy the read!