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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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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Avons.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Avons.

The old name of Avon has been used across the spectrum, ie a boy’s name, cars, tyres, cosmetics and UK counties.  For me the name Avon is associated with rivers, fishing rods and floats.

 This is not to be a history or open discussion of rods only a few ramblings. I say this because the web is littered with heated debate about one thing or another and this is not the place – only gentle musings of what was, is and perhaps may be.

There have been some notable Avon rods in the past and they start with split cane.

There was the Wallis Wizard, a rod made famous by F.W.K. Wallis. I believe he was the Mayor of Nottingham at one time.  His name has been synonymous with the rod, a particular style of casting, the Hampshire Avon and one time record holder for the barbel. A fish caught from the Royalty fishery at Christchurch, Hampshire, England.

Any discussion of cane rods will usually bring in the Wallis rod and the debate may become heated. There is a spectrum of opinion from the devotees who almost feel that they have discovered the ‘Holy Grail’ of coarse fishing rods. There wil be those who use a glass fibre equivalent of the rod and then there is the efficient, computer designed carbon rod.

Where you sit at the table will be determined by your sensibilities. The old cane avon is a beautiful piece of cane to behold and to use. It feels right as you sit in the reeds on a mild summer evening waiting for the float to disappear. I don’t believe it to be as efficient as some would have you believe. There you go – controversy already.

I have had the pleasure of using the Wallis Wizard rods from both Hardy’s and Allcocks and those used by some noteable anglers, but for me the magic ends when I put the rod down. It is not the thing I seek. Many years ago I enjoyed many fishing trips with an angler that used to fish with Wallis on the Hampshire Avon.

The late Claude Taylor wanted his Wallis rod renovated and I was honoured with the task. He always said he would try the rod again and use his old Hardy Wallis reel. There is a picture of Claude in an excellent book by Peter Wheat, and he gets a mention in John Bailey’s book. Claude, however, was a good technical angler for all species and he gave me many insights into the minds of barbel anglers of the period, in particular, his days with Wallis and tea on the banks of the Avon.

 However, Claude wanted me to use the newer Hardy glass Avon which he regarded as a much better rod for all types of fishing. Often we would sit under some old trees and float fish together for carp using the Hardy Avon and goose quill floats. At that time Claude’s sight was good, but as it failed I modified his floats with big sight bobs so we could still fish.

I digress, such is the tide of memory. Claude taught me the Wallis Cast using the centre-pin reel on the Avon rod and to this day I still use the centre-pin and Avon rod ( albeit in carbon ).

The Wallis Avon was a good rod to use at the time, but in many ways the efficiency improved with the Richard Walker Avon rods. Again they were split cane. The Avon rods were the softer rods of the MK IV stable which gave us a set of serious specimen rods covering carp down to tench, roach and chub etc. The Avon styles heralded the birth of the generation of specimen angling. You can argue whether you agree or disagree, but this is not a forum, only a light hearted mention. The historical perspective can be sort elsewhere, although I welcome anyone who has knowledge that may be put on the site with any pictures that they might like to share. As with all cane rods there were different companies producing the rods, or you could buy the blanks and make up the rod to your style. There was also that breed of skilled artisans who would follow the writings and make their own rods in their sheds. I tried many of these home made rods and the attempts were always a joy to behold.

I think the coming of glass rods spelled the end of an era, although cane is not totally dead, only in the mass market. Maybe that’s a pity. Glass Avon rods were produced at 10′ and 11′ lengths and endorsed by many celebrities. I still have a fondness for both my cane and glass Avons. Mainly because I recall days spent in good company on silent pools or meandering streams in search of fish. Each rod has an associated fish which lingers in the mind.

Fibre glass went through the solid and hollow phase with varying degrees of success, but there was the talk of lighter materials having been developed. Carbon, boron, kevlar etc., were all names in the air.

Carbon fibre finally came and we moved into an emotive age of rod manufacture and use. It seems the old skills had gone and been replaced with the "easily" made carbon rods. This was to deny the great skill and knowledge of the scientists and mathematicians who develop such rods and the engineers who design the actual machines for testing and mass production. There were and are, some excellent rods made with many of these companies engaged in space or tube technologies, even car racing.

As you can see there is great scope for emotive debate on the merits of all these rods. Not here. We only seek to peek through the door. There are sites where the debate rages and you can air your view point. Me, I’ll go fishing and be by the waters edge, sometimes using a rod from each of the stables, and I will be transported back to some English water where I sought a particular fish and the emotion of that time, place and moment will be enough.

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Bewl Water.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Bewl Water.

Bewl Water has the distinction of being in "two" places. If you listen to the news from BBC  Kent, the newsreaders  claim Bewl belongs to them. I suppose the confusion arises because it has a post code which is for Lamberhurst, Kent. However, the reservoir is physically in East Sussex.

Bewl Water

It’s a great place to fish for trout, either from a boat or from the bank. I always hoped that one day they might allow fishing for roach. Perhaps a record might be caught there. Once I had the opportunity to see the huge roach which lie under the trout tanks found out on the water. As the feed was thrown in for the trout, huge shapes would appear from out of the gloom – big roach. They were ‘monsters’. I offered to buy a ticket there and then, but my guide around the water way appologised and told me the ticket was only valid for trout. What a shame. I stood looking at a potential record holder only a short distance away. They might just as well have been miles and an eternity away, they would never be mine. Oh how I wish I had worked for Southern Water in Fisheries, still one can always dream.

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A Lake In West Sussex

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

A Lake In West Sussex.

Whilst in England in April, I was invited to fish a small, day-ticket water in West Sussex. It was a pleasent experience to drive through the lanes of my youth and I was surprised at the lack of traffic. Perhaps it was to early or maybe the threat of a shower had made everyone stay indoors.

I had to stop off at a tackle shop in Pulborough as I didn’t have any floats. Somewhat strange considering the amount of tackle purchased over the years. However it was a simple matter to choose a few bodied wagglers and a small tube to protect the purchase. I even bought some maggots, haven’t done that for years. It was to be a relaxing day with an old friend ( not age wise in case he reads this ). We had planned to fish elsewhere, but the day had taken another direction and for two committed game anglers this was to be different.

There was a breeze which had an uncomfortable side in that the air was damp, but it made a change from 3 months  of temperatures down to -30C so there were no complaints. It is always strange to arrive at a new lake or complex and not know where to start. Worse for me as I’m not used to pay as you go fisheries. In British Columbia & Alberta there are probably over 100,000 lakes of over 10 ha and they are all free. Never mind, a fishing trip is always to be enjoyed.

We chose the pool to fish and settled down. T fished in the next swim to me, pitched at the corner of the lake. I’m sure we made the choice through some deep angling knowledge gained from years of experience, but older bones suggest we may have opted for comfort. T lit his customary cigarette and I tackled up the old John Wilson rod.( that dates me ).

Using a 4lb line and one of the new wagglers, the depth was checked. It was like going back years and memories flooded back of early mornings, tackle assembly, grounbait smells and all those essentials that are hard for the non angler to understand. When all was ready I put on the bait, maggot to start with, and cast out to await the action. For some time nothing grabbed the bait so I changed to corn. A few grains were put out for feed, but still no interest. I  must be losing my touch was an obvious remark from T. You must be getting soft with all that fishing on your door step. Two fingers seemed an appropriate gesture.  T came back with the suggestion that I might have more luck if I embraced the past and changed the JW rod for an old cane Kennet Perfection from B James of Ealing. From his bag he pulled an old rod sock which contained just such a rod.

Now, all cane users will understand that this was a definite improvement and the fish would now come dashing to my bait Couldn’t fail. Not quite that easy. I had to get used to slower action and the weight of the rod, but T needed humouring and he was catching fish. In fact the result was strangely positive. The float sailed gracefully out and settled purposefully onto the water, the bait was corn and a few grains were thrown in as encouragement. Disbelief, the float shot under and I had my first fish a Crucian carp. Haven’t seen one of those for years. Throughout the day I continued to catch fish, crucians, bream, roach and even a carp of about 4lb. It seemed like magic, especially when I tried to use my old JW rod and the fish just shunned the bait.

The Kennet Perfection

Kennet Perfection

And here’s the little crucian carp.

Crucian Carp

By lunch time I had amassed a good tally of fish. They were all released as I don’t own a keep net. I travel as light as possible.

Whilst we chatted over tea and sandwiches an angler on the other side of the lake suffered a slight loss. Actually it was possibly expensive. The chap had been fishing with two rods, one leger rod, but the other was a pole. Now all went well for a while, but he hooked a fish on the leger gear and when he went to net the fish he had a bite on the pole tackle. Unfortuneately the pole was sitting loose on the top of his tackle box and balanced on what looked like a large paint roller. We heard the slithering noise as the fish towed a few quids worth of gear into the lake. I expect the fish took it down to show other members of the shoal saying " look what I found lads "

I’m always amazed when this happens and often wonder why we bother to fish with more than one rod. Many old and talented UK anglers have raised such concerns down the years. Some have suggested that we fish better if all concentration and effort are bestowed on one set of gear.  Over the years I tend to lean toward this reasoning.

Well, we fished on into the early afternoon, but the weather became damper and the day started to lose some of it’s urgency so we decided enough was enough, time to head off. As we drove  away we reflected upon the day and compared the experience with days spent on other waters.

I do miss the English countryside and the rivers and lakes of my youth. Anglers understand that there is a distinctive smell and character which greets you as you pass through a gate to get to your fishery and there is an expectation which often fails to be fulfilled but never wains.  Perhaps it dies at the end of the day, but it will resurrect itself tommorrow for the next trip somewhere.

I hope to have a few more trips with T and others in the UK and perhaps I can show them the sturgeon and our fishing over here.

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Tired Wings

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

 Tired Wings.

Not strictly at the watersedge, because this character landed in the garden. It stayed for some time and then some inner sense must have kicked in and it realised it had landed on concrete. It took off and headed  for a pond somewhere or, perhaps, the main lake about 2 miles away.

Lost Dragonfly

I always find the Dragonfly an ugly but spectacular creature. When it’s in the water it’s a fearsome predator. The dragonfly nymph will have a go at all small bugs and fish. It has a voracious appetite. Then comes the day of departure when the nymph changes to the flying creature we see beside ponds.

Just look at the face –  those eyes and the body colours. The most astonsihing thing for me are the wings. They seem to be of gossamer thickness, yet when they beat they do so at such speed that they produce a humming sound and flight. What must the muscles be like that have to move the wings for lift off and for changes of angle so that the creature has manouverabilty.

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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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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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