British Columbia

Local anglers, first responders warn about dangers of river fishing

Local fishermen and first responders are warning about the dangers of river fishing after two men fell in the Capilano River on Oct. 27, with one of them dying.

RCMP, firefighters give safety reminders after man died in Capilano River on Sunday

First responders are reminding fishermen to wear personal flotation devices or life-jackets when going fishing. (CBC/Maggie MacPherson)

For more than 20 years, Reza Jaberi has been fishing along the Capilano River nearly every day.

He's seen a lot of people come to the river to fish but only needs two categories to identify them: "local" and "unlocal."

"First time or second time, they don't know this beautiful river [is] sometimes so dangerous," he says in reference to the latter group.

Jaberi was at the river Sunday when two young men fell in the water. One of them was able to cling to a rock until he was rescued. The other was pulled out in medical distress, and died later in hospital.

Jaberi believes while people are increasingly taking bigger risks when fishing, there's also a level of carelessness involved to the point where he has to remind other fishers to tie their shoes so they don't slip by accident.

Rescues more common than reported

Before he immigrated to Canada, Jaberi's brother died after falling into a river in his home country of Iran.

Shortly after, he decided to become a lifeguard.

"It doesn't matter which location, which beach, which river. Automatically, I look at people and always I'm ready to help."

On Sunday, however, Jaberi was too far away to help directly and was only able to shout advice from afar.

Jaberi say anglers fall in far more often than gets reported.

"I think, nine times I catch the people from this river, but no media, no photographer," he said.

A North Vancouver angler recounts seeing the men fall into the Capilano River on Sunday:

North Vancouver, B.C.'s Reza Jaberi was fishing when he heard two men calling out for help. 2:31

The District of North Vancouver didn't have exact numbers on rescues available, but say they do get "a few each year."

In his 20 years on the river, Jaberi says it's extremely rare to see anyone using a life-jacket.

People also don't come properly prepared if it rains. The rain can make the river banks dangerously slippery.

"[It's] like soap," Jaberi says, pointing at the many rocks people fish from.

Know the area you're fishing in

At least 15 first responders took part in the rescue effort Sunday.

On Tuesday, North Vancouver RCMP and district firefighters visited the Capilano River to meet local anglers and talk about safety as they fish.  

District of North Vancouver Assistant Fire Chief Walt Warner says he wants people to enjoy the great outdoors, but also to be mindful of their own safety.

That means doing more than wearing a personal flotation device or life-jacket.

"The biggest thing for us is to make sure that they know that it's incredibly dangerous when they're out there alone in dark clothing, or if the conditions are slippery if the water conditions change. Make sure people know that you're out there," Warner said.

Fishermen who frequent the Capliano River in North Vancouver, B.C., say the rocks on the river bank can get dangerously slippery. (CBC/Maggie MacPherson)

with files from Deborah Goble

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