The Name Game

The Name Game

In the sport of fishing, and river fishing more specifically, run names are a fun, interesting, and comical side game!

When I was in my beginning stages of river fishing, I was constantly on the hunt for productive runs to fish. Having little knowledge about reading water, I assumed that the runs with names were the most productive.

While certainly not restricted to these factors, runs would generally bear the name of a person, an event that had occurred in that area, or the shape of the run itself or some defining feature near it. On my home river, the Chilliwack/Vedder River, there was a long list of named runs.

Limit Hole- located at the upper boundary for fishing (the limit) is also situated at the outflow of the hatchery channel. An extremely productive run.

Slab- named for the slab of concrete protruding out of the water, most likely part of an old bridge.

Prison Run- located by the old juvenile detention center. This was more a section of river, comprised of a handful of productive runs.

Fort Apache- a run I remember well, but do not know its name origin. For many years there was a sign on the far side of the river up a tree that read “Ft. Apache, the Beeks”.
Beek is a term that was used to describe a top rod in years past, but has since taken on an opposite reference, being used in describing a new angler who lacks most of the skills to catch fish.

There was Thurston Meadows, Ranger Run, Butterfly Run, Allison Pools, Clay Banks… Boulder Run, Ways Field, Gun Barrell, Schoolhouse Run, Hoogies….
As I write, more names come to mind, and I could probably continue for a full page of names…and these are only the names within ONE river!


As time went on and my focused obsession of river fishing paid off, I developed into a more successful, hardcore river angler. I started exploring lesser-known waters and began the game of naming my own runs. I fished with various fishermen who also got into the name game. On another of my local rivers, me, and my fishing buddy at the time, very intentionally created some names that weren’t so obvious. This way we could discuss our fishing adventures around anyone, and remember the most fruitful spots, without divulging that info to everyone within earshot. This also applied in online/group chats…back in the day before Facebook and Instagram, when fishing talk was happening within online fishing forums. A few of the names we used were,

Sight Fish Pool- for the very common occurrence of being able to spot Steelhead from high above the river and watch them bite our drifted jigs.

Runway- for a long section of river that was particularly straight and narrow, and quite different from the other deep canyon pools this river was known for.

Tim Hortons- because we seemed to frequently pull two fish each out of this run… a Double Double.


As the years progressed, I have continued with and expanded on the game, regularly applying new covert titles to waters fished. It is part of the experience. The element of camaraderie within a tight group of fishing friends is certainly one of the draws of the sport for many. Having a shared secret language of sorts, obviously appeals to the child in each of us! Creating unique run names is more than just a strategy to identify fishing spots. We have a lot of fun and laughs getting creative with our names.

Smoke Jams- a productive log jam for catching Steelhead, where there was a nearby yard with a sign, “Smokey Mountain Construction”.

K9- a recently named run from last season, a run requiring you to make a hard crossing to access, and the first person we saw fishing the run was a man and his dog.

CrossFit- a run located in a spot where you need to cross a fast side channel to reach.

Faceplant- one of my all-time favourite runs! Sadly, this run is now lost forever to the recent floods. This run earned its name for the time I was fighting a blistering hot Steelhead, and the fish was racing down river to the escape this run into the next. As I chased the fish, I tripped and fell face first on a rock, cutting my cheek. Unfortunately, I lost that fish, but I always remembered the excitement of that chase when I heard someone say the name.

I have so many fond memories of our uniquely named runs and pools that have been lost to the periodic flood events which change the river. Another funny name is,

Glidden- This particular run was especially long and wide and could hold fish anywhere within its vast expanse. I found this run painful to fish, as it would take the better part of an hour to fish thoroughly. One day I mentioned to my fishing buddy that fishing this run was like watching paint dry… and so Glidden was born.


It’s the little games and shared memories like this that keep fishing fresh and fun, year after year. I encourage others to abandon the common names of runs and pools and make up your own! This can add an element of comedy to your days on the water, and a secret language to share with your tight fishing friends. The name options are endless, have fun!


Tight Lines & Bent Rods!
~Rod Toth

Jan. 12th 2023