Spawning Kokanee

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Kokanee Spawning.

Many of us are familiar with the spawning salmon. We’ve seen, on TV, those spectacular leaps made by the salmon as they run up the river to spawn and die. The Atlantic salmon in Scotland are always shown, along with glimpses of spectacular scenery and enchanting music. We wish we could be there.

In Canada it is the Pacific salmon and David Attenborough gives us a dialogue exploring the drama as the salmon run the rivers and sometimes leap into the mouths of waiting grizzlies. It is all very atmospheric and creates the picture of the epic struggle for these fish. They may travel hundreds of miles from the sea to spawn. Once the job is done they die. They are, however, dying as soon as they hit fresh water. Do they know this ?. Perhaps that’s why they are so driven.

There are the stars such as the big Atlantic salmon and the Pacific Chinook salmon. There are also the fish we know of in cans, the Sockeye. From the Pacific there is also the aggresssive Chum salmon which seem to make shorter runs up river, the numerous Pinks and the beautiful Coho.

Now spare a thought for the little guys, the Kokanee. A land locked salmon, related to the Sockeye. Kokanee are small, about 1lb on average, and their struggle is every bit as great as the "lords" of the sea. Some Kokanee are driven by the urge to climb rivers and small streams which enter a large lake, while others will spawn along the lake shore.

The picture shows Kokanee waiting for the moment when they will "jump" the little weir. Migratory salmon in miniature.

Kokanee Spawning

It’s a wonderful spectacle to watch and is every bit as dramatic as the performance of larger salmon. The Kokanee wait and slip up into the next section to find a spot to lay eggs, but the end result is always the same. Death comes to these little fish as their bodies change from the beautiful silver of lake life to a bright orange and then the decay after breeding.

[flickr video=4053699188]

The cycle is inevitable as much of the stream life needs the nutrients that the fish provide. " Dust to dust "  that is really seen in action here. The ducks dig up the redds and get the eggs, the bears sit in the pools and eat the fish, while out in the lake, ospreys, bald eagles, sea gulls, otters and any other fish eating creatures wait their turn.

Some fish may grow bigger. I have seen a kokanee of 4lb and the record I think is about 9 lb. I have never seen fish of that size in the stream, perhaps they come from the lake shore variety and perhaps they have an easier life than their stream relatives.

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An Ambitious Duck

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

An Ambitious Duck.

It was a reasonably early start and the weather was slightly overcast with a promise of rain. I’d set up the trolling gear and was calmly motoring along at about 2 mph. From out of nowhere a duck dropped onto the water. She was intent on following us. I thought at one point she was going to leap on to the side, but she seemed happier to swim along just below the rod holder. Every so often she would drop back 50m and then fly back to her postion beside the boat. As she paddled closer I thought she might be in danger from the prop, but no, she had measured the distance accurately and stayed safe.

Ambitious Duck

The duck stayed with me for about 30mins before she spotted something out on the lake and left.

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Kamloops Rainbows

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler

Kamloops Rainbows.

I had been contemplating a fishing trip to Kamloops for some time. Throughout the season, visiting the Fraser for Sturgeon and Kokanee in the Okanagan, flyfishing had been neglected. With this in mind I spoke with a friend, who lives in Kamloops, and arranged to meet him on a lake after he left work on the Friday. He starts and finishes work early so we can always get a short trip in.

The drive from home was about 2 hours and there had been a warning of snow on route. This meant I had to get the winter tyres fitted before I left. When I set out at around 9 am the weather looked good, but mountain travel should always be taken with caution. At about 6,000′ there was fog with some snow in the air. It was not a pleasent journey, although the radio said there was sun at Kamloops. As I drove the last 50 km and dropped down to about 2,000′ there was the sun and the scenery looked great. I had made the right choice in coming this way.

Arriving at the lake there wasn’t  a cloud over head, but the distant mountains showed what could be possible if the wind blew my way. Undaunted I set up the Sage SP 5 wt and paddled out in the V-Boat. The water was about 11C and I was glad I had warm clothing under my waders.

I always use a floating line and a range of nymphs that the great Frank Sawyer would recognise. Pretty old fashioned, but the approach has worked around the world so why change?

Out from the boat launch I paddled and after about 10 casts had my first fish. A beautiful, hard fighting rainbow of some 15”. ( I should work in metric, but somehow for fishing, the old system sounds better ). The colours on the fish impressed me greatly , particularly the green on the back.

Kamlopps Rainbow In The Net

The fish was gently returned after another picture.

Kamloops Rainbow

On starting out my flippers had ‘kicked up’ a number of geen shrimps.  The first fish came to a green shrimp pattern.

A furter 3 fish followed, up to 17". By now the weather was starting to change and a breeze was beginning to blow. Up above, the clouds were moving towards the lake and snow seemed a possibilty. Perhaps 2 hours of fishing time remained, if I didn’t want to fish in the snow.

I put away the V-Boat and searched the shore for a good spot to cast. The rewards justified the decision and I caught 2 more trout, with one of 18" and the second at 23". Time to stop and and think of the journey home.

Crossing the mountain was slow and, in places, perilous. There was some snow in the air, but the damp ground was very slippery as 2 trucks, which passed me, were to discover.  After approximately 10K we passed them, in the ditch !

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Invaders From The Lake

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Invaders From The Lake.

The mooring bouys have disappeared and these "House Boats"  seem to be heading "ownerless" toward the shore. It was an eirie sight to see first the tops of the boats appearing and gradually the whole boat came into view like something from a horror movie. At any moment you might expect some ghostly pirate to leap from the vessel and on to shore to claim the "booty". Not long after this, the boats disappeared again, as the mist rose to join the cloud above.

Invaders From The Lake

Last night we heard of the disappearance of one of these boats. The wind had risen putting an excessive chop onto the water. The unfortunate vessel slipped it’s mooring rope and drifted out on to the lake. Without power or control the boat sunk. Not far from the shore the depth drops down to about 40m. So I suppose that’s the end of the boat. I wonder if it will make a suitable habitat for the big trout and sturgeon in the lake?.

Clouds Forming

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Clouds Forming.

At last the snow has come to the valley. An optimistic 10 cm became more like 20 cm and the temperature fell through the floor to -26C! Now that’s enough to freeze a lot of " brass monkies " in the nether regions.

Because the lake is warm, relatively speaking, we are treated each year to the spectacle of "cloud formation". You can see the vapour rise to the cloud above and, as the cloud gains height, the wisps take on a column like appearance. This extends from the water up to the cloud. It’s an amazing thing to watch but, eventually, that vapour comes up from the lake and "dumps’ in your yard as snow.

Clouds Forming

How different the Okanagan seemed today to those balmy days of summer. We all ran around in shorts and "soaked" up the sun or went sailing. Still, the birds in the foreground have to endure the water and the very cold air temperature. For them the water surface is probably the best place to be.

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Nice Day For A Swim

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Nice Day For A Swim.

We were heading up the stream when this fellow dropped into the water for a swim. Must be made of tougher stuff than me.  I love swimming, but the water temperature was about 8 C. I was glad to be in a boat and not fishing on the shore. Cold comfort really and a tribute to the sometimes placid nature of bears.

Nice Day For A Swim

The grizzzly had been sleeping in the sun, but what prompted him to go for a swim who knows.

Minutes later the bear walked along the bank and came within 50m of the boat.

That water Was Cold

This is the bear missed by the camera crew in an earlier post. As he wandered up the bank he suddenly froze and sniffed the air. In front of him and sleeping in the sun was another huge male. Eventually this bear charged the sleeping male. A stupid move but the bigger bear took flight and ran along the beach at about 30 mph until the adrenalin of flight subsided and bigger bear took stock of why he was running from the smaller bear. He stopped suddenly and turned to face the smaller bear who read the signs and gave up the chase, deciding a slow retreat was the best option. I’ve seen this on TV, but to actually see bears in the wild challenge each other was a privilege.

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Anybody There

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Anybody There.

There was a group of three deer hiding behind this log and eating the luxurious grass.

Anybody There

Although the deers seemed to be eating without a care, they were constantly checking the surroundings. A wise move. There were at least 8 grizzly bears close by. Luckily for the deer the bears seemed more interested in grass than catching deer.

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Salmon And Sturgeon Fishing.

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Salmon And Sturgeon Fishing.

In this post I’m going to indulge myself.

I have a passion for angling in all forms and last year I took the plunge to explore the Fraser Valley, BC, Canada, for sturgeon and salmon. It’s not an easy task as you stand on the shore of a river which must be flowing at about 4 mph.

The first problem seems to be access. How do you get to the water? Certainly you can see the river from the highway, but it’s down a steep ( 300ft ) bank or across the rugged valley floor. When you get to the shore the edges are covered in shingle and appear to be shallow. Yet wading would not be advisable for the unwary. The depth can drop suddenly to 35 ft. In other areas the banks are tree lined and the water drops to maybe 6ft. It’s a river of great contrasts. That said, there are people who beach fish in the English style ( except you might be using 20 ozs of lead ). If you spend some time talking with the beach anglers you quickly realise that skill levels are not perfect amongst most. However the enjoyment and camping pleasure seems high and why not?

I studied articles and went into the library, but I’m not sure I gained as much information as I would have expected. So the most sensible plan had to be – find a guide. Again this wasn’t easy when you have no experience of choosing a guide. Many suggestions and several phone calls were made. The level of service and help varied greatly, but most did not feel right for the approach of a dedicated English angler. I wanted to learn and catch good sized fish.

I came across Steve Kaye and I include his websites:-

http://www.salmonhunter.com

http://www.sturgeonhunter.com/

He was a mine of information and the styles he discussed were very reminiscent of legering or trotting on the Wye or Hampshire Avon in England. I booked a day and waited in anticipation. We managed to get a day at the beginning of September and an early start had been suggested ( well, early for me ). Steve said 6am. I thought he had to be joking, but everyone starts early in Canada. We met in the hotel foyer.

Those early mornings often see a mist rising from damp ground and this was indeed the sight which greeted us and followed us to the boat launch. Loaded and ready to go, we climbed aboard and were off into what seemed to be a cloud, which had dropped off the mountain. For those who have never been aboard a 21 ft jet boat, here’s a picture as we left the channel and headed into the main body of the Fraser river.

Jet Boat

The scenery was stunning, even if it appeared clouded in mist. There were spots of clear air as we raced along the river surface and saw the tops of mountains risng above the mist. Once  anchored and tackles etc were cast, we had time to settle and have a cup of tea. The mist began to rise and the surroundings became apparent.

This was the upstream view.

Upstream

And downstream.

Downstream

Waiting for a bite.

Waiting For A Bite

It took some time, but eventually the right hand rod tip slammed down to the water and the first Chinook salmon was on. A great fight ensued while Steve hurried to remove tackle we didn’t need and make ready for the netting.

Getting Ready

In fact, the intensity of the fight meant that Steve had to start the engine and follow the fish. Constant strain needs to be applied and no slack line must be given or the barbless hook will allow an escape. In the UK, when in the pub, you know what your right arm is for. With this fish all that right arm practice was certainly needed. I wound the reel handle as fast as possible just to keep pace with the high speed lunch on the end of the line. Bear in mind the fish will be swimming against a 4 mph current and all the strain the rod can apply. It can still win the battle.

Time and pressure eventually won and the fish was netted. A bright 19 lb Chinook. At first I had been reluctant to see the death of the fish, but English coarse angling sentiments gave way when you realise the number of fish that pass along the Fraser and that strict controls mean that one fish for the table becomes a legitimate reward.

Another fish came along, but it put on a tremendous spurt of power before the boat could accomodate the change and the loose line meant the fish could shake it’s head and it was gone.

As the sun rose above the mountains and the air temperature climbed the mist cleared and the late summer heat began to take it’s toll. Inactivity became the order of the day. Everything was still and the rod sat quietly in the rest with the tip bouncing gently to the rhythm of the water.

Lonely Rod

It was time to go after the sturgeon. We made  an upstream run which gave us a welcome breeze until we stopped at the junction of two arms of the Fraser as it separated around an island.

Away Again

Tackle for the sturgeon was considerably stronger. Slightly shorter rods with 130 lb braided mainline and big hooks. Bait was a recently deceased coarse fish of about 1/2 lb. Three  rods were used,and the bite came almost immediately om one of them. The tip vibrated as the fish picked up the bait and then it slammed to the water as the sturgeon took off for Vancouver. The fun had begun. Steve wound in the spare rods, stowed any loose gear and provided the rod belt. Arms were now starting to ache as you felt you might be attached to some primaeval monster over which you have no control. The fish was in charge. Now that everything had been made safe Steve started the engine, unhooked the anchor rope from the indicator buoy and we were off in pursuit.

The strain was incrediable as the fish made a series of very long runs. You gain line, the fish takes it back. Twenty minutes later and it seemed stalemate was going to be the deal. It’s hard to get serious when your energy levels are getting low and every time you pull up the fish it then has it’s turn and so takes back your gains plus a bit more.

After about 40 minutes the battle felt as if it was drawing to a close. The sturgeon started to rise, but it was pulling the back end of the boat round in the current. Surely this wasn’t sensible. “Ok”, says Steve, “I think you might be winning, hold it steady and I will try to get to the bank”. “Why? was my obvious question. “Simple” came the reply, “That fish is about 140 lbs, over 6 ft  and we can’t get it in the boat. So here’s the drill. Oh and by the way when we get the fish watch out for the tail”. The excitement was tremendous.

If you would like to see pictures I’ll direct you again to Steve’s web site where you can see a gallery of great fish.

I  suggest to anyone who wants to experience great salmon or sturgeon fishing, give Steve a call.

PS The sturgeon was carefully returned and lives to fight another day, as I am sure it will.

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Filming A Grizzly

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Filming A Grizzly.

Whilst at Knights Inlet, BC, Canada, I spotted this group of people filming the grizzly. There were two boats of highly equipped crew. Someone said they were from the BBC. So in fairness and balance to the grizzlies that don’t have cameras. I give you the BBC on location.

Filming A Grizzly

The bear in question was involved in a little dispute with another bear a little later. I’ll give you a picture of that bear on another post.

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Autumn At Wood lake

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Autumn At Wood Lake.

The sun shone and the trees put on a splendid display. At the end of the avenue, Wood Lake glistened  in the sun. Within the shelter of the trees it was pleasant,  the lower undergrowth protected walkers from a biting wind, which blew down the lake from the north.

Birds were flying from bush to bush taking advantage of the abundence of food available for the short time of fall.

Autumn Coours At Wood Lake

We had spent the time looking up at the trees and at the lake and forgot to check the ground. There were signs of bear dung everywhere. The berries in the bush were the obvious attraction, but the number of people in the area meant that the bears would probably not return until the evening.

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