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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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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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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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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Fishing At The Seaside

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Fishing At The Seaside.

I stood on the shore at Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, looking out to sea. It’s always therapuetic and reminds me of home.

The sea brings a characteristic smell of salt and sea weed.  Waves make a sound upon the shore which cannot be emulated by the waters of  a large in-land lake. The tide was going out as I stood and watched container ships heading for the Pacific and the ferries passing along between the mainland and the island.

I could have stood for hours just watching the mesmeric action of the waves. As the gulls flew past with raucous call I spotted this fellow trying to get a meal. He walked steadily and without taking his eye off the water. Suddenly down went his beak and as he held his head under water it made me wonder at the success he might enjoy. Probably 2 out of 3 stabs was about right.

A heron at the seaside, something I had never seen.

Fishing At The Seaside

I had no idea what fish he was catching and it’s always a cliche to say that one will see something new everyday, but I was glad to have had this opportunity to see him fishing at the seaside.

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Getting The Catch

Note And Photo:- From Audrey,BC

Getting The Catch.

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On a visit to Vancouver Island, BC Canada, we had gone to see Port Renfrew and the salmon boats.  We sat on the porch outside the pub/cafe where the locals told us that bears came down to get the fish from the shore. Also, the previous week, a cougar had been seen in the high street.

All of this came to mind last week when a black bear had run down the jetty at Port Renfrew, jumped in a fishing boat attacking the owner. Luckily other fishermen came to the man’s aid and the bear succumbed after a violent struggle. An autopsy showed the bear to be old and thus, very dangerous in these conditions. The fisherman suffered a few good bites, but survived.

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Sooke, Vancouver Island, BC

Sooke, Vancouver Island, BC (Photograph and Article submitted by Audrey, BC)

We stood on the Spit at the entrance to Sooke Harbour on a very warm & hazy afternoon, watching a man fishing for salmon. He stood on the beach casting into the narrow entrance to the harbour, a thing he did frequently when the time was right.

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Writers, Photographs Wanted!

We are in the process of preparing a number of books, and items for printing and sale. Take a look at the page Writers/Photos Wanted page for more info on upcoming projects.

If you fancy yourself as a writer, or have some photographs or pictures you think are worth a look send them to the editor[at]fromthewatersedge.com (Remember to replace the [at] with @ of course. We’re trying to weed out the scurge that is spam….)