Mike Gage founded the Campbell River Fishing Guides Association in 1966.
He’s been a member of the Tyee Club since 1975, serving as president from 1980 to 1993. The only reason he stepped down was so that his presidency wouldn’t be longer than Dr. Richard Murphy’s 14 years at the helm of the club out of respect for the man who kept the club afloat financially out of his own pocket when it looked like it would fold.
He’s been an active member of the Campbell River Sports Fishing Advisory Board for over 25 years.
He founded the Campbell River Salmon Foundation with Kris Mailman back in 2007 and has been an active member – including as vice chair – since stepping down as the chair of the foundation five years after its formation.
He’s almost single-handedly responsible for the current program of replacing gravel in the Campbell River to support salmon spawning. He was the driving force behind the Nature Conservancy of Canada finding the money to purchase Baikie Island from Raven Industries for $1.8 million, allowing it to become a protected site and allow restoration to begin after decades of industrial use.
It’s safe to say that Mike Gage is one of the powerhouses in the Campbell River ecological fight for what is good in the world, especially when it comes to fish and fish habitat.
“I came out here in 1959 – 60 years ago this October – and worked for UBC down in Oyster River clearing land, then I went out into the woods (in forestry),” Gage says. On the weekends, he guided for Painter’s Lodge, taking guests out fishing.
He’s got a soft spot for salmon, that’s for sure. You can see it in his eyes when he talks about making the world a little better for them.
“We raised five sons here, and they were, and still are, keen fishermen,” he says. “Fishing has been really good to us. Three of them put themselves through university on the money they made as fishing guides.”
But what he’s possibly most proud of is his decade-long fight with BC Hydro over the removal of the Salmon River Diversion Dam, which finally happened in 2017. It’s one of the greatest things to happen to salmon habitat in our region in quite some time, he says.
“The best thing we got out of that is the extra 42 km of extra river for the fish,” he says. “And the water we got comes from right up in the last place the snow leaves Vancouver Island. It’s cold and it’s the most perfect water for salmon. That could be the best thing I’ve ever been involved in.”