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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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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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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1968

Note And Photo From:- KelownaTrout Angler.

1968

1968 was a great period in the lives of many. We had pop music and the world was changing. That’s a discussion for elsewhere, along with the price of petrol and how many gallons we could get for a pound.

I went to Arundel Castle in West Sussex and spent a lazy afternoon drifting in a boat on Swanbourne Lake. It was a glorious day and the water in the lake behind the castle was crystal clear. As an angler I was captivated by the ducks diving for weed and chasing eels. It was so easy to let the boat drift and watch the show.

Arundel Eels

Arundel Eels

On another outing to view more water for fishing I spent some time walking around the lakes of Sheffield Park, West Sussex. This swan seemed to follow me everywhere. It would paddle along the bank without any sign of aggression and did not want to take any bits of bread from passing strangers. Somehow I had found the only ‘canine’ swan in existence.

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park Swan

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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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The Ancient Mariner

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

The Ancient Mariner.

( Samuel Taylor Coleridge )

Whilst on a trip to England I came across this rather forlorn figure on the harbour at Watchet. I know it’s only a statue but, somehow, it still conveys that message of care to natural things which we should all seek in our lives. Who knows when a fateful blow may be cast to a creature which will be no more.

The Ancient Mariner

Anyway, just down the road from this statue there is a great fish and chip shop. It was to this venue that my senses were drawn as the aroma drifted on the breeze. We purchased  ‘cod and chips for 2’ and went back and sat in the shelter over looking the harbour. So we had a good view, brilliant surroundings, warm sunshine and the seaside dish. What a great way to spend a lunch hour?

We weren’t the only ones to enjoy the view as a coach load of pensioners arrived. Most  ‘hit’ the cafe and tea shops, but two couples had seen us buy the ‘seaside fare’ and they too felt the need to fulfill those moments that we all enjoyed as children by the sea. Except we had all added a few years and the sand was further along the road to be discovered later in the day. I just needed a bucket and spade if I could find a shop selling them.

The whole poem can be read from the link below.

http://www.poetry-online.org/coleridge_rime_of_the_ancient_mariner.htm

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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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