Fun At The Library

Not strictly at the waters edge but nearly.  Last summer I was asked to do some Physics experiments with a group of youngsters and I have to say they were enthusiastic.

I’m a great fan of  the library and they have been good to me so I was ‘volunteered’.  One of my requests was that David, the librarian, should take part.  He was going to get wet !

The experiment was the old trick with water in an upturned glass.  All went well for David until I pulled the card away.  The kids screamed with delight and dutifully lined up to try the trick themselves.  After a while, as they were having too much fun, they gave up on the card and ‘Poor’ David just got the glass of water.

The Soaked Librarian

I think he’s volunteered for this year again !

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Fly-In Fishing Trip And BBQ

We had some guests over from the UK and they had told us that they wanted to do something a bit different as a holiday experience.

Easy thing to say on the telephone from 5000+ miles away.  After some discussions we agreed on a fly-in fishing trip.

The fateful day arrived and the mist and cloud came down (that’s why it was fateful!)  My wife and our guests were to make the plane ride out to the lake and I dropped them off at 7am ready for the start of their adventure.

Float Plane on Okanagan Lake

Float Plane

Rod Hennig and I set off to take his 14ft boat up into the mountains.  We sat in the car at the base of the mountain, around 1500ft above sea level, looking at the low clouds.  The trip was beginning to look doubtful when the pilot telephoned to say he only had clearance to fly to 2500ft.

What a time to try and change plans ..  we had the cars and the boat.  No problem ..  we’d change the venue to the Okanagan Lake.  Good idea until we discovered the larger boat, which would be needed on the big lake, was blocked in .. the road outside Rod’s house had been dug up.  We waited for around 30 minutes and the clearance level rose to 2900ft.  The airport said it was sunny at about 5000ft, but permission to fly was denied.

A compromise was reached .. the pilot would extend the flying time, do a circuit of Kelowna and land on Wood Lake instead.  Success!  I duly stood at the end of the lake and waited for the plane to arrive.

Safe Landing on Wood Lake

Float Plane Landing

Once the passenegers had been collected it was away to the mountains and catch up with Rod. Hopefully he would have the BBQ all arranged on the island in the middle of the lake and a good day in the sun could be enjoyed.  Climbing 3000ft through mist does however dampen your enthusiasm .. but as they say “a bad day’s fishing is better than a good day at work!”  At about 4000ft the mist cleared and the sun shone to welcome us.

Rod brought the boat over to the shore and we were all duly ferried across to the island.

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The wives sat on the island enjoying the peace and quiet while we fished. They hoped  to see some wildlife and during the morning there were sounds coming across the lake.  Could this be moose or even a bear coming through the trees to the lake shore?   No ..  it turned out to be a group of cattle wandering free.

View from the Island

View From The Island

Rod had indeed set up the BBQ with a supply of surplus food in case we didn’t catch any trout.  Our guests were impressed with the setting and prepared themselves for a great day.  We caught enough trout for us to enjoy on the BBQ – very tasty straight from the water and on the grill.

Chef at Work

Rod In Charge

We caught plenty of fish trolling a leech pattern or fly fishing a nymph. And when Rod was preparing the food I removed my shoes and socks, wading into the water with a very light spinning rod to catch a few of the wild fish that abound in the lake.

We caught and killed enough fish for everyone at the BBQ.  No overkill as I do hate to kill the fish unless I’m going to eat them.

The Island in the Evening

Evening View Of The Island

I would certainly recommend this trip.  It has all the benefits for a day angler without the need for a long, bumpy ride into the mountains with full campsites, etc.  There are plenty of mountain lakes for that experience but, for those who want to try a short trip, check out Rod’s website and give him a call.

http://www.kelownafishing.com/

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Mountain Lake fishing

There are many streams in the area which, I am sure, would provide excellent fishing for small wild trout.  However these streams are really for the adventurous (or younger) fisherman.  I have to admit that in my younger days I would have tried many of these streams just to see…

We do have good access to many lakes which can provide excellent fishing.  I’m biased towards fishing with a fly rod, but small lures are used by a good number of anglers.  Some of the lakes are fertile and support a good head of sizeable rainbows while others are not rich in natural life and so the trout are small.

This question of size is purely arbitrary and sits more in the head of individual anglers than should ever be considered important.  A lake will provide what it can and the good angler recognises this and fishes accordingly.  I love fishing a light rod and line for 8" to 10" fish which are usually wild and rush freely to the fly or  to the well presented nymph.  Fishing in these situations is normally in beautiful situations and so you get double pleasure.  The lake below can be fished from a belly boat or small dinghy.  Motors are not allowed and so there is serenity and peace out on the lake, hard to find in modern life.  The breeze comes across the water surface and carries its own sound and, in the early morning, a distinctive aroma which will be easily recognised by those of us who spend time in such places.  If you are close to the reeds then you will hear the rustle as the stems clash with each other until the sound reaches a crescendo as the wind strength increases.

Mountain Lake

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If you sit in a belly boat or have rowed out quietly in a small boat then wildlife seems to accept you. You blend in with the surroundings and become part of the overall scene.  Now all your movements should be slow and steady so as not to spoil the ambience.  Too many anglers arrive, crash about, dash all over the lake and then go home complaining that they couldn’t catch any fish.  I say study the loon which takes it’s time or look at the heron which is a marvel of patience.

The fish below came on a day when I had the privilege to be on a lake where the trout grow to a large size and are as nervous as any fish that you might encounter anywhere.

Releasing The Rainbow

Releasing The Rainbow

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Shushwap Lake.

The Shushwap Lake in British Columbia, Canada is considered by many to be the houseboat capital of Canada.  For me it’s a large and beautiful body of water.  I stopped off one day just to admire the view and break the journey.  The weather was good, but storms had been predicted with a few thunder showers.

Looking out from the footpath were but a few of the many houseboats.  The season hadn’t even started.

Houseboats in the dock

Shuswap Houseboats

The footpath went under the railway bridge and I arrived as the goods train was about to pass over.  I got to 48 wagons and then lost count.  On other trains I have counted 84 and they measure over a  mile long.  Patience is a virtue if you arrive at a crossing as the train starts to go past.

The start of a long train

Canadian Pacific

Walking past the bridge after stopping to admire the size and power of the train I could see the clouds building for the first showers.

And moments later

Storm coming.jpg

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Tahsis

The small fishing village of Tahsis is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is at the heart of Nootka Sound.  Settled in a valley among the mountains the scenery is stunning.  Some of the best ecotourisn in British Columbia and pleanty of outdoor activities but we were there to catch salmon.

We left home at midnight and, after a journey of 16 hours on highways, a ferry and finally a 62km logging road, we arrived in Tahsis.  A good night’s sleep and we were ready for our first fishing trip.

 Setting out for a days fishing

Tahsis Inlet

Where do all the logs go ?  Someone said they were heading for shipping to China.

Logs To China

Check out this website for more information and photographs –

http://www.villageoftahsis.com/tahsis-ecotourism.php

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The Tyee Pool

I had long nurtured the dream of fishing for the Pacific salmon whilst in a rowing boat.  Not something from the stories of Hemingway or Venables,  but a more modest venture.  I have a sit-on kayak which does work nicely in many situations, but I had my mind set on something a little different.

Boats for the Tyee pool.

Tyee Boats

Off the coast of Vancouver Island there are many places to realise such a dream, but Campbell River stands way out front in the imagination.

British Columbia, Canada, is blessed with an abundence of fishing opportunities, both fresh water and sea.

Campbell River is a town situated at the mouth of the river and has a long tradition of helping in the pursuit of dreams of a fishy nature.  The Tyee Pool is an area of sea which has achieved national recognition and has, rightly, been protected. You may fish the pool, but you cannot use a motor in the pool.  Rowing is the only permitted means of propulsion.

The pool sits to the south of the river entrance and as the tide ebbs and flows,  the current past the pool provides a deep holding area for salmon.  They wait here and, when the time is right, they set off for the fresh water and the breeding grounds of the main river. This passing of the salmon lasts for only a short time, but  the fish can take a lure and give great sport.  If they have been in the pool for some time waiting for the tidal flow, they get a little bad tempered.  Action can then be quite ferocious.

My wife and I had the honour of being rowed by a gentleman who had built his own wooden boat, similar to the boats in the picture.  It was his pride and joy and we had the pleasure of sharing some morning/evening tides with him as we moved expectantly up and down the pool.

We booked into a hotel on the sea front near Campbell River and just managed a quick bite to eat, watching a liner taking lucky passengers on an Alaskan cruise.  Sleep beckoned after our 14 hour journey over mountain passes and the ferry ride to Vancouver Island.  Justin had called to say he would meet me at 4:30 am to catch the first tide of the day.  Perhaps I would manage 4 hours sleep.  At 4:00 am the phone rang for my early morning call – there was time for cup of tea, get my flask ready and fill my pockets with organic chewy bars.  I put my head into a basin of cold water, only too glad that I would not have to drive, just relax! Head clear,  I stood in the car park where there was a cool sea breeze and waited for my lift.

At 4:30 am on the dot an elevated truck, with many battle scars, pulled into the lot.  Justin leapt from the vehicle and talked instantly of his passion for the Tyee salmon.  Greetings exchanged and we were on our way, with the sound of the truck’s exhaust providing an early morning call for the hotels along the sea front.  Arriving in the dark we loaded the tackle into the row boat, wiped the early morning dew from the seats and made ready for the trip to the Pool.  Balance in the boat was of the utmost importance and I had some misgivings at the closeness of the gunwales to the water.  I discovered my fears were groundless as when the outboard pushed the heavy boat into the swell it bobbed like a cork on the water.  It was amazingly stable.  Justin rowed us to the edge of the Pool, cut the engine and we changed places.  He moved to the front of the boat to row and I sat on the rear seat facing the stern so I could watch the rod for bites.

Morning on the Tyee Pool.

Tyee fishing

Short rods (7ft), single action reels and lines of less than 20lbs were the order of the day.  These ensure compliance with the rules of the Tyee Club, should a 30lb salmon get caught.  Trolling was the method and I attached a large plug that Justin offered for service.  I felt a little nervous of using this plug as it was very special to him and occupied a pride of place in his collection.

So here I was at 5:10 am, being rowed in the early morning sunshine,  fishing for the mighty Tyee.  All around there were the very subdued voices and the muffled sounds of oars as other devotees were moving acrosss the water.  There were no other sounds.  The picture shows the sun starting to rise with others pulling along the Pool, occasionally cutting across each other, but never seeming to tangle their lines.  Huge salmon would roll as if to check the whereabouts of the boats or just to see the sun and celebrate the start of a new day.  By around 9:30am we had managed a few tentative pulls on the line, but no fish materialised.  The current was slowing.  Justin and I were the only two people left on the water as the other anglers gradually pulled away, with goodbyes and ‘see you at the next tide’.

Finally Justin and I retired to the steadiness of land with the promise to come back at about 12:30 pm and fish over the lunch period for around 2 hours.  Arriving back at the hotel I was too late for breakfast, but my wife had manged to get me a sandwich and hotel pastries with tea.  It was difficult to know what to do for the few hours before I had to be back again, so we went into Campbell River, purchased sandwiches, milk shakes and some more life saving chewy bars and fruit.

12:30 pm and we were back on the water, but this time my wife decided she liked the idea of being rowed around the Pool.  Two rods had to enhance our chances, but it was not to be.  No bites, but the sudden pull of weed was exciting.  Cutting short the lunch time session at 2:00 pm we went back to the hotel for a rest and prepared for the 5:00 pm tide. We pulled into the boat car park,  Justin had the boat in the water and was waiting for us.  My wife was becoming a Tyee fisherwoman.

Pulling into the Pool there were more boats and we exchanged stories with the other anglers as we passed.  Suddenly there was the shout " fish on" and a rower moved frantically, with the angler in the rear of the boat, desparately trying to control a big fish.  The rowers jobwas to get the boat into deeper water and away from other lines.  Meanwhile all anglers near the lucky boat gave the courtesy of removing lines from the water and moving rapidly away to give as much room as possible to play the fish.  Now the audience waited and watched, with everyone hoping that the fish would be over 30lbs.  The fish were in a playful mood with the occasional bump of the lure,  but no serious interest was shown.  Once again we were the last to leave the Pool at about 10:15 pm.  There is something inspiring about rowing in a small boat close to the shore in the darkness with only the lights of the town in the distance.

Returning to the hotel there was time to request an early call at 4:00 am, drink a cup of tea and try to sleep. The phone rang.  Had I slept? Another cup of tea and out to the car park – we were on the water by 4:45 am.

Today we had decided to stay longer and forgo the lunch time session.  Once again Justin rowed the boat along the Pool and we caught several small fish, but alas no salmon.  One lucky angler did manage a 32 lb fish and the Tyee Bell was rung.  Now across the water came the murmers of anglers discussing the fish that they had seen captured and the excitment everyone had felt as the angler had left the Pool to battle the great fish.  For us there were no fish, but we had exchanged many pleasantries with other anglers we recognised from the prvious day.  At about 10:00 am we pulled away from the Pool (last again!) and returned to the hotel.  We knew the dining room we would be closed and so we made a detour past the stores to get some food for breakfast.  Back at the hotel the cleaning staff recognised the tired, haunted expression of those who pursue the Tyee.  They had cleaned the room and promised that they would be as quiet as possible in adjoining rooms in case we needed sleep.

2:00 pm and we sat on the dock of a floating fish & chip shop in Campbell River and looked out at the water we would soon be fishing. The fish & chips were excellent,  but there was no time to relax;  we had a 4:00 pm deadline.

Pulling in to the car park we began to have a sense of the dedication and drive which the Tyee anglers possess for the few weeks that the salmon run.  Anglers of all ages, husband and wife teams, guides,  people from all walks of life and countries were preparing their boats.  We had been included into this small band of happy people simply because we had made the conscious decision to take part in this annual battle between fish and man.  It was an almost unobtainable target, but one which appealed to some inner spirit.  Leaving the dock we passed an old marker post with a bald eagle sitting on top watching our every move.  When the boat came within 10 ft of the post the bird could contain itself no longer and departed for a quieter perch.

Evening on theTyee Pool

Evening On The Tyee Pool

Arriving at the Pool lines were set and the rowing began.  Suddenly up popped a seal.  Nice to see, but not a creature you need near the boat when the salmon run.  Time passes slowly when you fish and I don’t have a watch, but you are aware that something is happening when it’s getting dark and the little boats are switching on night lights.  In the distance a cruise ships passed us and it was a strange feeling to see the flash from cameras as tourists were taking pictures of the Tyee boats and to know you are going to be shown on someones holday snaps as the strange people who fish along the Pool in the dark.  At 10:15 pm we pulled out of the Pool.

At 4:00 am we returned for the last day.  Weather had been good to us with only the occasional, very light rain, but it did not last long.  The mornings had been damp and the dew would clear as the morning sun came up.  This had to be the day (always is when you go fishing!).  We changed tactics, because we felt the fish were biting and the touches we had felt could be fish.  Maybe an hour had passed when I felt a knock on the line.  Striking produced the heavy thump of a fish.  Now it was my turn for  "fish on’ as I applied the pressure and Justin desparately rowed to get us out of the Pool.  I was pleased that the rowers around us all pulled away as well.

A spirited fight, but when we pulled the fish close to the boat we could see it wasn’t a 30 lb fish.  I wouldn’t make the Tyee Club this year.  It didn’t matter.  I had been fishing for the Tyee and I had caught more fish over the 3 days than many of the anglers around us.  All of my fish had been returned with the largest,  about 18 lb.  It was a wonderful experience, some great people out on the water and one I hope to be able to repeat.

Have a look at the Tyee Club web page. http://www.tyeeclub.org/index.htm

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Enderby Salmon Art

When you pass through Enderby, British Columbia check out the metal art at the crossroads.

Homeward Bound

Taking Flight

Whilst it isn’t at the waters edge, it certainly represents a scene which so often can be seen at the stream or river side.  I stand and look at the eagle about to leave the nest and at the shoal of metal fish that pass along the edge of the wall. It’s like the fish are sheltering close to a wall hoping for the safety of the sheer face of brick.  Many times I have seen fish in rivers getting close to a deep cut in a bank where there will usually be deep water where they can hide from airborne predators.

The metal bird reminds me of the pleasure to see ospreys circle above my head when I’m fishing. The bird looks down on my hopeful attempts to catch fish.  It starts with interest and then flies away in boredom as I fail to catch in the presence of such an accomplished hunter.  Usually the osprey will retire to a tree nearby and then when I’m not paying attention it will launch itself into the water and come up with a fish.  I have had osprey dive at the water less than 50ft from my boat.  It’s at this point that my pulse flies in to overdrive if I hear the splsah and don’t actually see the bird dive.  Usually the osprey has a fish in it’s talons and it departs for some favourite perch or to a nest out of sight.

Have a look at the Enderby web page and if you have time, stop and browse. Better still visit the town and take in the sights.http://www.enderby.com/

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Fishing The Okanagan Valley

When you move to a new country and there is an over abundence of lakes, the fishing you hope is good but, where do you start?

 The Lake At Peace

Finding myself in this situation some 5 years ago, I faced the problem with the usual approach. Purchases of maps, studies of all available material in books, magazines, local anglers and tackle shops.  Consumption of information is great but, for a dedicated and habitual angler, a bit depressing.  You have the detail, but a rationale behind tactics, tackle, etc, was often lacking. In the early days I enjoyed some success, but the learning curve was steep, with the ever present feeling that my fishing had returned to those tentative steps as a juvenille angler.  Half a century of experience and no knowledge.  In the Okanagan valley the opportunities seemed endless, but the local anglers I met didn’t seem to be enjoying the consistent success I would have expected.  All those years as a seeker of specimen fish in the UK had led me to a point where I needed more than just a day on the water, trolling some sort of lure behind the boat.  I had questions about the lures used, line strength, light, depth and all the minutai that had driven my angling career.  A selection of answers did come my way, but the jigsaw was not bonding to give me satisfaction. Being a long time carp angler, I didn’t target the trout and salmon, but slipped back to British style carp fishing.  An easy solution to a problem, but not ideal.  Large carp came my way, with some trout to the fly rod.  My particular angling approach could not let me continue in this fashion; there had to be a way out.  I knew there were big fish in the Okanagan Lake, and the valley generally, as anglers occasionally caught them. I needed an approach that would help me to move forward.  My wife often says ‘don’t search too hard and the solution will appear’.   In this case it turned out to be a true statement.  As the queue moved to the cash desk at my local tackle store I noticed a card for a fishing guide on the Okanagan Lake.  Salvation at last ?  When I got home I called Rod Hennig of Rodney’s Reel Outdoors http://www.kelownafishing.com/ We probably spent an hour or more discussing as many aspects of fish and fishing that our imagination could throw at us.  We agreed a date and price for my first guided trip on Okanagan Lake.

 21' Thunder Jet

My son and I arrived at the dock at 7am on the day that moved my local fishing forward immeasureably.  We were met with a friendly welcome from a man who jumped off the gleaming Red Thunder Jet 21′ fishing machine.  If you have never used a guide then this is a moment of apprehension.  My earlier conversation had removed most of this preliminary nervousness.  So time to climb aboard and get fishing ! Slowly leaving the dock, Rod checked our licences and showed us his licence to guide.  Then we went over the safety features, life jackets and rules of the boat.  This is always essential.  If the guide does not do any of this then be very suspicious.  Everything checked, it was time to travel, with the 175hp engine pushing us forward, as we raced to the first fishing spot. Naturally the discussion moved on to the fish and where we were going.  I found it extremely encouraging that Rod was taking us to one of the spots I had identified, but now my knowledge was going to be enhanced with when, why and how to fish these spots.  No longer the random attack employed by myself and many of the anglers who had given me information in the past.

 Rod At Work

Rod deployed himself with great professionalism as he arranged downriggers, extention arms, trolling boards, tackle, etc.

 Trolling Board At Work

 After the first introduction to the tackle and approach, I wanted to get down to fishing which Rod immediately encouraged.  I caught fish throughout the day, with Rod offering advice and information filling in the gaps in my knowledge and correcting any little points or errors as they arose.

 Equipment Working The Waiting Rod

 In the UK it was common, among many of the anglers I knew, to examine the tackle boxes of fellow anglers.  It was interesting to see how others approached their fishing.  As confidence grew in Rod he extended to me this courtesy and I observed and talked about many of the lures in his box. My son and I caught fish and had a great day.  He caught Kokanee to 4lb and I had Kokanee and a lake trout of 2lb, which turned out to be one of the first authenticated lake trout in the Okanagan.  Samples of this fish, its length, weight and a photograph, were sent to the Ministry registering the unusual event.

 Lake Trout

 It was a great day which led me to book Rod for other excursions at a later date. http://www.kelownafishing.com/ Have a look at the link and see some of the trips that can be arranged in the Okanagan valley. You won’t be disappointed.

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Sturgeon Rising.

You set out for a sturgeon fishing session with high expectation. 

 The rods are powerful, the reels large and the line tends to be about 130 lb breaking strain.  On your first trip you have little idea of what to expect. You’ve seen the pictures and have read the articles by the lucky few that have been on the trip. You sit and soak up the scenery hoping that your rod tip will bend towards the surface of the water as a sturgeon takes hold and runs with the bait.  Often the rod tip bounces delicately and then moves steadily for a short distance.  This is the time to strike!  As the fish powers away you start to get a feel of the size of the thing which is attached to your line.  Pumping and pulling eventually brings to the surface a creature of prehistory in all it’s glory.

Sturgeon

It’s an amazing sight and at that moment all tiredness disappears from your body as you are now faced with the problem of how this fish is going to fit in your arms for a photo shoot.

A good guide should be there to help and advise. Take a look at Steve Kaye’s site.

http://www.sturgeonhunter.com/

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Bar Fishing For Chinook

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Bar Fishing For Chinook.

The mighty Fraser river in British Columbia is an extraordinary place to follow a style of fishing which the UK angler would see as beach fishing.

You use a boat to get to most of the marks and those shingle bars, as a result of deposits from the river and the level dropping for the summer, are usually out in mid stream. Obviously there are spots that can be reached from the road, but there is something special about a boat trip to your own little fishing island. The tackle I have seen being used tends to be long rods 11′ to 12′ with level wind reels holding 50 lb braid. The paternoster style lead attachment holds leads which go from 8 oz to 20 oz plus. It’s like throwing a brick out into the water. The leader may be 25 lb fluorocarbon with a large "spin-glow" lure attached.

Bar Fishing For Chinook

Once you have cast out and the splash subsides, you can watch the ripples drift on the current and the rod is placed in the beach rod rest. Now you can sit back and watch the world hurry about it’s business, snooze, have a cup of tea, but always keep an eye on the rod top or listen for the little bell.

There will be the constant passage of guide boats up or down the river, helicopters and small planes. Across the river from this spot there is a log launch with a little boat keeping order, a sight to see. All these  things are part of BC life and a must see experience. However, we all fish for as much as we can get out of the day, so we must not forget the rich wildlfe. There will be ospreys, bald eagles, sometimes a bear or even an inquisitive seal that always seems to surface near your lure.

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