Celebrating World Rivers Day

AN INTERVIEW WITH TONY NOOTEBOS, BC SPORT FISHING GROUP & HARRISON ECO TOURS

 

Rivers and waterways are the planet’s lifeblood, feeding and sustaining life, and as vital as the air we breathe. Born in part from the success of BC Rivers Day, founded by renowned river advocate Mark Angelo in 1980, World Rivers Day was first globally celebrated in 2005. It was established to draw attention to the immeasurable value of waterways, and to create an awareness of how important it is to safeguard them from threats like pollution, climate change, and urban development. Healthy waterways have countless benefits, such as providing clean water for drinking and nourishing farms and gardens, for ensuring a thriving fish population, and aiding local economies by providing recreational and ecotourism opportunities.


In 2010, the Harrison River was designated as the first Salmon Stronghold in Canada. Salmon are found in all life stages throughout Harrison River and Lake, its tributaries and wetlands, and in turn they sustain wildlife in the valley, such as black bears, bald eagles, river otters and seals. For thousands of years in the Harrison River Valley, salmon have been a primary resource to First Nations people and still have intrinsic cultural and spiritual meaning today.

 

We recently took a boat tour with one of our local stewards of healthy water, Tony Nootebos. As a member of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society and owner of the ecotourism businesses, BC Sportfishing Group and Harrison Eco Tours, Tony is well versed in river and fish conservation and health.

How did you get involved with the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society?

I first got involved with the FRSCS in 1999 when Rick Hansen, who was chair of the society back then, asked for volunteer effort to launch a Mark and Recapture Program to help get a population estimate on the Fraser River White Sturgeon. This was done through the deployment of *PIT tags. We continue this volunteer effort to this day and all BC Sportfishing Group guides participate. (*PIT stands for Passive Integrated Transponder. This tiny transponder allows individual fish to be assigned an identification number for tracking and study).

What are some of the key challenges the society is working to address? 

Today our largest threat to White Sturgeon on the Fraser River is the decreasing recruitment of young fish into our population. We have plenty of larger fish of 160 cm and over (mature fish) but seem to be lacking juvenile production. We hope to improve the issue by addressing what we believe are the main causes of this decline. They include habitat loss, gill net mortality of immature fish, lack of food sources available to larger fish (food biomass) and poaching.

Can you tell us a bit about the White Sturgeon? How big do they get? How long do they typically live? 

Sturgeon have been known historically to grow to over 18 feet in length and over 2000lbs. In recent years there have been White Sturgeon recorded up to 12 feet with an estimated weight of over 800lbs. Sturgeon can live to be more than 100 years old.

Can you explain the tagging process when a Sturgeon is caught and released?

When a Sturgeon is caught it is placed in a sling with water for sampling. The fish is then scanned for the presence of a PIT tag. If there is an existing tag then the number is recorded, the fish length, girth, and location of capture is documented and the fish is then released after a photo for our clients. If a tag does not exist, we inject a tag directly behind the fish’s head, record its number and then follow the same process before release.

How does the health of the river affect the species within it? 

For White Sturgeon to recover and grow, the health of the river is paramount. The river habitat must be improved, the biomass of food for all fish must increase to much greater levels and finally we need to protect our river from pollution from industry and other unnatural events such as train car derailments.

Why do you believe World Rivers Day is important? 

World Rivers Day is important because it gives us all a prompted reason to take the time to check in on our local rivers. This allows us to reflect on how our individual waterways are doing and to sound the alarm if we feel there are changes that need to be made to better protect each system. Equally it allows us to celebrate the successes that have come from the hard work where river systems have recovered from previous efforts.

What can the average person do to ensure waterways and fish are kept healthy?

The easiest way to ensure our waterways are protected is to become educated on the threats that exist in our local watersheds and then speak up and inspire change. This often is best done by looking at our own households. Conserving water, being aware of what products we use while cleaning and being aware of our personal impact can go a long way to preserving our local rivers.

When did your passion for fishing start? What made you want to get into guiding?     

I started fishing with my father when I was four years old and have been fishing ever since. My passion for fishing really took hold in my teens and especially once I had the freedom of having a driver’s license and exploring the province of BC looking for new opportunities. As my passion grew, I realised what a gift it has given me, and I wanted to share my passion with others.

The Harrison River was designated the first salmon stronghold in Canada. Can you explain what a salmon stronghold is? What does the designation mean for this area?

The term “salmon stronghold” is defined by the Wild Salmon Centre as an area where the wild salmon population is strong and diverse. In the case of the Harrison River, it means that the Harrison River is an important watershed for all 5 species of salmon.

What kinds of fish do you catch on guided trips? Is the sturgeon fishing the most popular guided trip? 

Sturgeon by far are our most popular guided trips. It is one of the few places in the world where you have a real chance of catching a freshwater fish bigger than you! We also fish for Salmon in season and Trout year-round.

What is your favourite river to fish in?   

The Harrison River is my favourite river. The size, color and diversity of fish species and opportunities make it a favourite.

What is your favourite species of fish?

White Sturgeon.

Here’s an opportunity to plug the businesses you own/work with… tell us about BC Sportfishing Group and Harrison Eco Tours!  

The tours offered by BC Sportfishing Group and Harrison Eco Tours enable people to experience our phenomenal waterways firsthand. We highlight wildlife viewing, education, and cultural history, and take pride in the inclusivity within our businesses. We have a wheelchair accessible boat, which can be used for both BC Sportfishing Group and Harrison Eco Tours, and have a series of adaptive reels allowing people with all levels of mobility to experience fishing the Harrison and Fraser Rivers.

The blue-green of the Harrison River mixing with the milky colour of the Fraser River at the confluence.

HOW TO CELEBRATE WORLD RIVERS DAY AND HELP OUR WATERWAYS


Every individual can truly make a difference in keeping waterways healthy.  Here are some ways you can celebrate World Rivers Day: attend an event near you, take part in a river clean-up, learn about fish enhancement projects; and educate others on the importance of healthy waterways. In the Harrison River Valley, you can visit the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel, open October 6th to November 1st, to learn more about how spawning channels aid in fostering a strong salmon population. Let’s work together to keep our incredible Harrison waterways pristine and sparkling clean!


Happy World Rivers Day from Tourism Harrison! Show us your World Rivers Day celebrations and efforts to keep Harrison’s waterways clean by tagging your photos with #JustUpTheRoad.

How to Summer BBQ in Harrison Hot Springs

Summer on the lakefront in Harrison Hot Springs means the sounds of kids laughing and splashing, the hum of boat motors and jet skis in the distance and the sizzle and enticing aroma of food being grilled on barbecues. But on a bustling and busy beach, how do you know where to set up and get grilling? Read on to find out the hows and wheres of enjoying a fabulous day at Harrison that includes a classic summer activity: barbecuing!

BARBECUING ON LAND

LAKEFRONT BARBECUE AREA

The village has installed 14 new picnic tables and pedestal stands in a designated barbecue area. To barbecue in Harrison, village bylaws stipulate you must set your portable barbecue on the pedestal stands provided and your barbecue must not exceed the size of the pedestal. Use a propane or butane barbecue with a fuel cylinder capacity of 10 lbs or less. Wood, charcoal, and briquettes are not permitted. You’ll find the barbecue spots on the East side of Harrison Lake waterfront and in Rendall Park. BBQing is not allowed outside of these zones. These measures are put in place to reduce the possibility of wildfire; and keep residents and visitors safe.

PATIOS AND PICNICS

Don’t feel like doing the cooking? We have a fantastic array of eateries in the village, many with outdoor patios. Cafes, coffee houses, pubs, family restaurants, and fine fare: you’ll find barbecued eats (or anything else your tastebuds crave). Or, grab some take-out and bring your meal to our lakeside picnic benches for a picnic in the park!

BARBECUING ON WATER

Boating and barbecuing are two beloved summer activities, and at Harrison, you can do both at the same time!

HARRISON WATERSPORTS

Phone: 1-855-446-4974

Book a BBQ Boat from Harrison Watersports and spend an afternoon with friends floating, grilling, dining, and chilling! Each boat holds up to 6 adults (or 1000 lbs), and includes a barbecue grill with propane, cooking utensils, anchor, lifejackets and safety equipment, a bluetooth speaker sound system, large shade umbrella, swimming ladder and an electric motor (which means no extra fuel costs). Starting at $199 for a 2.5-hour rental, divide the cost between your friends and you have a very affordable way to spend an afternoon on the lake! Also available are 3.5-hour and 4.5-hour rentals. Tips: bring easy-to-grill foods, like prepared skewers of kabobs, or even easier, purchase takeout from one of Harrison’s restaurants, and keep the food hot on the grill for grazing as you float. Bring your smartphone to hook up your tunes to the speaker, and don’t forget a cooler with your food and beverages, and plates, cutlery, and beach towels. Please note: alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the boat. Book online here.

SHORELINE TOURS

Phone: 604-796-3100

Take a cruise with Shoreline Tours and let someone else do the grilling! Offering lake, river, and waterfall tours, or the historic Port Douglas tour, you can cruise in comfort on their luxury 62-foot cruiser, The Laroan! The Laroan is fully outfitted for a comfortable tour, including The Laroan Bar and Grill, which serves barbecued items like beef burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, wraps, hotdogs, and more. You can also enjoy a wide selection of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages while you cruise. See the menu here. Learn more about Shoreline Tours’ many cruises and book a tour online here.

OTHER TIPS:

• Summer weekends in Harrison Hot Springs can get very busy; if you are coming on a weekend, get here early to find parking and a good spot to set up. Wearing a mask in busy areas is recommended.

• Consider a weekday getaway; the lake and waterfront are quieter, and you’ll have more choices for parking, and choosing a barbecue pedestal.

• Pay parking is in effect from June 15-Sept 15. The Pay Parking in Harrison has changed for 2020, please visit the Village website for more details. You can find FREE parking in the overflow parking lot located on the corner of Miami River Drive and Hot Springs Road.

• Tents are not allowed on the lakefront, feel free to bring a sunshade, or umbrella; village bylaw is no more than 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall and with a maximum area of 2 metres squared (6.5 feet squared), because we want to ensure there is plenty of space on the lakefront for everyone to spread out and enjoy (which is especially important during this time of social distancing)!

• Drinking alcohol is not permitted on the beach, however we have many other licensed patios in the area if you feel like a cold brew!

• Please be respectful of our residents; for more information on travelling to Harrison during COVID-19, please visit Travelling During Covid.

• Visit 10 Ways to Travel Safely: Destination BC’s tips to help you travel responsibly in BC this summer.

 

Whether on land or water, we hope you enjoy your delicious barbecued eats!  For more information on this, or other activities or restaurants in Harrison Hot Springs, visit us at TOURISM HARRISON. Share your summer moments in Harrison Hot Springs with us by tagging your photos with #JustUpTheRoad.
 

BICYCLING IN HARRISON HOT SPRINGS

Harrison Hot Springs’ idyllic village setting makes it the ultimate place for any type of bike ride. Its small size makes bicycling an ideal way to leisurely tour the village and see the sights. Its proximity to the heart of flat farmland means a bounty of bucolic back roads, ideal for long distance riders... then there are the roots and rocks of mountain bike trails that test your technical skills. There’s something for every kind of bicycling enthusiast, with the convenience of businesses along the way, and the icing on the cake is Harrison’s spectacular scenic backdrop.

COUNTRYSIDE RIDE & CIRCLE FARM TOUR

Harrison’s location right on the doorstep of Agassiz’s lush farmland means countless kilometres of countryside rides. And the best part: it’s all flat, yet offers incredible mountain views! Not sure where to start your pedal-powered adventure? Here’s a map of a fantastic, 26km long Country Roads Bike Ride. In addition, you can travel the Circle Farm Tour and make stops at participating farms and businesses along the way. Stop in for an ice cream, buy farm-fresh produce, enjoy fresh bakery products, tour a lavender farm, and so much more! Get the brochure here!

BEAR MOUNTAIN FLATS

For those looking for a little more adventure, visit the eastern portion of Harrison, known by locals as the East Sector Lands or Lower Bear Mountain. It’s an incredible natural area that’s 316 acres in size, now known officially as the East Sector Lands Recreation Site. For years, it was an unofficial trail system, but with its new designation, the park has received a number of major upgrades. New amenities include an information kiosk at the trail head, a pit toilet and picnic tables. As the starting point, Spirit Trail and Bridle Trail have been upgraded and joined, providing a pleasant 1 to 5.5 kilometer trail depending on where you decide to turn around.

FAMILY FRIENDLY RENTALS

It’s easy and convenient to rent a bike right in the village:

JAMIE’S QUADRICYCLE RENTALS Phone 604-799-0235

Jamie’s has variety of pedal-powered two, three, and four wheelers to choose from. Have a blast touring town in the Limo, that can seat four adults and two children and has four sets of pedals. There’s also the Model T that has two sets of pedals and seats two adults and a child; the Double Trike: a low rider that seats one adult and one child; the Single Trike; the single seat Ranger (go-kart style); and of course, regular mountain bikes.

HARRISON BEACH HOTEL MOUNTAIN BIKE RENTALS Phone 604-796-1111

The Harrison Beach Hotel offers mountain bike rentals right from the hotel. Ask at the front desk, or call for more information. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to rent!

A LITTLE FURTHER AWAY

Only a hop, skip, and a jump away from Harrison, you’ll find these amazing places to ride:

SYÉX̱W CHÓ:LEQW ADVENTURE PARK

59389 Lougheed Highway

Halfway between Agassiz and Hope on the scenic BC Route 7 Highway, you’ll find this adventure park, newly built in 2018. It’s a perfect spot to spend some time as a family, with something for everyone. It features a mixed use trail system, a massive 90,000 sq. ft. playground, a mountain bike skills area and a beginner level pump track. Beautiful First Nations wood carvings are scattered throughout the park, located on 33 acres of forested wilderness.

CHILLIWACK COMMUNITY FOREST

51642 Allan Rd, Chilliwack

Located off the Annis Road exit, the Chilliwack Community Forest is a 100 acre park with a recently developed trail system that includes mountain biking trails as well as a network of hiking trails, in a range of skill levels from easy to difficult.  Find a map here.

BICYCLE SAFETY

For your safety, and the safety of other visitors, bicycle riding isn’t allowed on Harrison’s Lakefront Promenade. Bicycling on any sidewalk is illegal and hazardous, so refrain from any sidewalk riding.

Obey the rules of the road, and know and use hand signals to indicate your intended movement to traffic.

On shared use paths, be sure to be courteous to other path users by keeping to the right. If you want to pass, ring your bell and pass slowly on the left hand side.

Wear an approved bicycle helmet with CSA, ANSI, ASTM, or SNELL standards approval clearly labelled on it.

For more details on safe riding, visit BC Government’s Cycling Regulations, Restrictions, and Rules of the Road.

 

Enjoy your ride (and all the health benefits that come with it)! Learn more about biking in Harrison Hot Springs here. For more information on this, or other activities and sights to see in Harrison, visit us at TOURISM HARRISON. Share your summer moments in Harrison Hot Springs with us by tagging your photos with #justuptheroad.

 

GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR FATHER'S DAY

Father’s Day is swiftly approaching— it seems as though it snuck up on us this year! If you are puzzled about what to do to celebrate Dad, we have some great ideas to take Father’s Day to the next level! Whether you are looking for that perfect gift, want to take him out for a meal, or even better, have a fun shared experience with him, you’ll find everything you need at Harrison Hot Springs. Not only will you be treating dad, you’ll be supporting our fantastic range of local businesses.

GIFTS

There are a wide variety of shops in Harrison to find a unique and special gift for Dad. These are just a few ideas; you’ll find even more here!

THE BACK PORCH

6116  Golf Road, Agassiz

604-796-9871

The Back Porch is famous for its rich, delicious coffee. The beans are fresh as can be; roasted right on-site in a circa 1919 Flame Roaster.

THE BLUE DANDELION GIFTS AND COLLECTABLES

140 Esplanade Avenue, Harrison Hot Springs

604-491-3555

You’ll find an incredibly diverse range of gifts that dad will love: shaving and grooming accessories, coffee mugs, puzzles, rustic “man cave”décor, and so much more.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHOCOLATE FACTORY

328 Esplanade Avenue, Harrison Hot Springs

604-491-2010

Dad will love whimsical treats like their famous Bear Claws and Sasquatch Feet, crafted right in the shop from their exquisite chocolate and candy. Get a delicious treat for yourself while you’re at it!

EATERIES

Sitting down and sharing a meal with Dad is a great opportunity to catch up and enjoy each other’s company over a hearty meal. Is your dad a fan of a great burger and brew? We have some excellent eateries to find that classic combo!

OLD SETTLER PUB

222 Cedar Avenue, Harrison Hot Springs

604-796-9722

The most delicious pub eats around! Try their loaded burger and pick from a wide selection of brews.

CLUBHOUSE RESTAURANT AT SANDPIPER RESORT

14282 Morris Valley Road, Harrison Mills

604-796-1000

For a sophisticated twist on the classic burger, try the West Coast Salmon Burger or the Mills Burger, featuring a grilled prime rib patty! Pick from a selection of brews like local favourite Old Yale.

HARRISON CORNER CAFE

310 Hot Springs Road, Harrison Hot Spring

604-491-4429

The Corner Burger and a brew from local beer crafters Strange Fellows Brewing will hit the spot.

MUDDY WATERS CAFE

328 Esplanade, Harrison Hot Springs

604-796-5563

Try the Bison Burger once and you’ll be hooked! Enjoy it with an ice cold Old Yale Brewing beer on tap.

EXPERIENCES

Dad will often say that the best gift you can give him is your time. Share one of these amazing experiences with Dad for memories that will last a lifetime!

HIKING

Walking and talking together is a great way to bond with dad, and we have a wide assortment of trails, from an easy lagoon stroll to a challenging hike up the Harrison Grind/Campbell Lake trail.

GOLF

Book a tee time and enjoy 18 holes at the scenic Sandpiper Golf Resort or 9 holes at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort Golf Course. And be sure to check out Sandpiper Resort’s Father’s Day special.

KAYAK/CANOE

Take a kayak or canoe excursion together on Harrison Lake or Harrison River. Guided tours and rentals are available from the Harrison Resort Dock. Visit Harrison Eco Tours and Killer's Cove Boat Rentals for pricing.

RIVER & LAKE CRUISES

Enjoy a comfortable river, lake, or waterfall cruise in comfort and style on Shoreline Tours’ luxurious 62 foot boat. It features a sightseeing deck, dining area, BBQ grill and more.

BBQ BOAT

Get the whole family together; these unique boats seat six people. Bring some steaks to grill and spend  time on the water in a Harrison Watersports BBQ Boat.

STURGEON FISHING

BC Sportfishing Group offers the ultimate in fishing tours: guided fishing for White Sturgeon. These prehistoric river monsters can grow up to 20 feet in length and over 1000 pounds, and trying to land one is a thrilling and exhilarating experience! If your Dad has limited mobility, their large and comfy boats feature wheelchair accessibility.

LAKE FISHING

Harrison Hot Springs has an abundance of great fishing holes. Take dad and try your luck at Harrison Lake and the beautiful pocket lakes in Sasquatch Provincial Park: Hicks Lake, Deer Lake, and Trout Lake all offer excellent opportunities to reel in the big one!

 

We hope these ideas have sparked your gift-giving imagination! With so much to see and do, Harrison Hot Springs is an ideal place for exploring locally and enjoying Father’s Day fun. For more information on these or other activities and local businesses, visit TOURISM HARRISON.

Visitor's Guide