Front Page Bears in Creek Lagoon Life Helicopter Native Fishing Other Pics.

Moricetown, Brish Columbia
First Nations People, Fishing For Salmon

Moricetown is a village located just north-west of Smithers in British Columbia, population around 800. But this is a very special population. In America we'd call then "Native Americans" (or in an older generation - Indians) but in Canada they are referred to as "First Nations People".

The residents of Moricetown are members of the Wet'suwet'en band and have retained the right to fish for salmon by the traditional methods of their forefathers.

The village is located on the shores of the Bulkley River, in particular where this broad river is forced through a narrow gorge with accompanying waterfall. It is this gorge that forms the backdrop to the activities recorded in these pictures.


6692 Driving fron Smithers to Terrace in central British Columbia, you pass a Church on one side of the road, and on the other a small parking lot with a coffee shop and a tepee. This parking lot overlooks a gorge in the Bulkley River and passers by will stop here to stretch their legs and observe the happenings in the gorge.



6719 At this point we are about 350 km from where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Canada. Here we are looking downstream from the gorge and it is apparent that these massive rock banks of the river stretch for only a limited distance. Not far downstream the river has widened again and flows relatively placidly through field and forest.



6714 Looking upstream at the gorge, it is apparant how this wide river is strangled here to flow through a narrow granite-lined gorge. On the right bank of the gorge, we can make out some people perched on the rocks engaged in some kind of activity.



6708 The rocks are a hive of fishing activity. On the left is a waterfall where a fisherman stands on a plank with a net, and on the right another fisherman wields a net over a fish ladder. This fish ladder was constructed to aid the salmon in their journey upstream to spawn - it provides an easier path than the waterfall on the left which is a much tougher leap for the fish.

Nevertheless, fish can be seen leaping in both spots, and both of the nets are put to good use by the fisherman to catch the fish.



6681 Clearly this is a dangerous job. Permanent water spray on the rocks has made them slippery, and the fisherman has a safety rope tied round his waist as he reaches out with the net to catch the fish. Given the energy latent in the tumbling white water, this is no doubt a wise precaution. A fall into the water by an unsecured fisherman could result in being smashed against the rocks and then being swep uncontrolably downstream for quite a way.



6685 Likewise on the side of the waterfall, a fisherman is secured by a line around his waist as he wields his net from the plank that spans to a rock in the middle of the waterfall..



6694 Fish that do not meet a minimum size are returned from the net to the river. After a few sufficiently large fish have been caught they are carried off to a large ice-chest.



6703 Fishermen take turns spelling each other, and can rest in a small shelter with some helpers between sessions with the net.



6706 While the fisherman with the checkered shirt takes a well-earned rest, his colleague in the blue shirt wields the net for a while.

Sometimes his strategy is to catch salmon as they try to leap the falls - but don't make it and fall back - into his net. Sometimes his strategy is to actualy dip the net into the foaming waters at the base of the falls and scoop it around to catch the fish. But the fish caught by this latter method tend to be smaller and, more often not meeting minimum size requirements, are tipped back into the river



6684 Eventualy the first fisherman with the checkered shirt returns to his post - he seems to favor catching the fish in his net as they are airborne trying to leap the falls.



6717 Looking downstream - this is where the fish are coming from. At this point they have swum around 220 miles (350 km) from the coast - and if they make it past the fishermen, they probably have another 100 miles or so to make it to the spawning grounds where they were born.

Front Page Bears in Creek Lagoon Life Helicopter Native Fishing Other Pics.