The Thames @ Twickers

Spent a grey day in Twickenham, on our current vagabonding experience in the UK….

A bit of a grey day, but thought I’d try the effects on the camera. Swans and pigeons and, of course, Canadian geese!

Thames @ Twickers(2)

Thames @ Twickers(1)
Just to the right of the shots, is a pub, where many a summer evening was whiled away, as the sun went down, with a pint in hand.

In fact, along the Richmond/Twickenham stretch of the River Thames, many a pub was frequented as we strolled along, or cycled. Not that it’s all about the pubs, but after a days fishing on the water, or a walk on a sunny afternoon, some pub grub and a pint can’t easily be beaten.

I’m on the lookout for a decent Ploughman’s now. Any suggestions?

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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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Oliver Kite, Master Fly Fisherman….

Casting my eye over the ocean that is YouTube and I came across these classics….

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptV1OORfvlI]

Oliver wrote amongst others “Nymph Fishing in Practice“, and invented the Kites Imperial and is synonymous with the Hampshire Avon, in England.

from JesusBoom, www.theboomerverse.com

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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Getting Ready.

The Fraser River, BC, Canada.

Leaving early one morning, I pulled off the lane, down to the edge of the shingle. I was amazed at the sight of about 200 trucks and campers all positioned so that they could fish off the beach for the salmon.

This is salmon fishing on the Fraser at the height of the season.

Bar Fishing On The Fraser River

 It’s busy, you hope for a good run of fish and that you don’t get caught in another fisherman’s line.  Most of the time the anglers on the bank were using beach style techniques with the odd person spinning. In the distance you can see one of the many boats used by the guides, or the regulars, who seek to avoid the crush of close quarters fishing.

Luckily Steve, the guide, and I were heading further upstream for a morning session fishing for salmon.  The rest of the day was to be spent pursuing sturgeon. For those seeking a little more peace it is always possible to find another spot away from the crowd.

Take a look at Steve’s web site and see some of the fish which the Fraser can produce when you are in the company of someone who has a good feel for the water and has the relevent tackle and techniques.

http://www.sturgeonhunter.com/

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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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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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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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