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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Stream Between Houses.

In this West Country village you might be tempted to think the stream between the houses is a lovely feature and, as a trout fisherman,  I might be tempted.  However….

 Stream Between Houses.

What happens when the floods come and the water rises rapidly?

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Minack Theatre

14-Minack Theatre

 "Minack" in Cornish means a rocky place and the black headed crag below the theatre has always drawn local fishermen. Until the 1930’s they had the gorse filled gully to themselves and the cliffs echoed to the cries of gulls not actors. It was Rowena Cade who started this wonderful theatre overlooking Porthcurno Bay and the English Channel.  We visited this amazing site whilst on our honeymoon in Cornwall in 1971.  It was an overcast day and a bit blustery but nothing spoilt our visit.  There is a long history attached to the Minack Theatre and you can read all about it on their website, http://www.minack.com/

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Shoreham Bridge

Situated near the mouth of the river Adur in West Sussex. The old bridge crossing the river was built in the 18th century and became a great addition to the history and colour of the area. Time and weather had taken its toll on the bridge and a Community Trust was set up in 2001.  After restoration it was officially re-opened on 23rd October 2008 by the Duke of York

 Looking up at the bridge from the airport (western side)

 Shoreham bridge

View downstream

 Shoreham harbour

 I crossed the bridge many times and was always keen to see if the tide was running in or out. For me this was of great importance, as I needed to make my plans for fishing. Others would stand and watch the flow, swans drifting with the current or wooden planks and logs going down with the tide and perhaps back again as the tide came in. Sometimes we would sit on the grass banks and look on with envy at the adults as they prepared their boats for a fishing trip. When the tide went out there were the mudflats to see and collect some bait.  Mud is such glorious stuff, designed for the express purpose of covering young children’s clothes and for sliding and getting generally very mucky. When the mud dried on your clothes you could crack it off and try to remove the stain that remained. The mud also had a distinctive smell which reminded you of the sea that was so very close. The water would flow toward the sea and cause whirlpools when it passed over a rock or obstacle and past a post. Gradually the boats would sink down and settle on the mud. The birds would arrive and wait by the waters edge until the mud flats became exposed then they would dash forward to catch worms or any bugs which had delayed departure. Cars passing in the distance were forgotten and we thought only of how the water moved and the fish we might expect to catch. Dreams would be disturbed by the sound of a small plane as it passed overhead to Shoreham airport and we would turn and watch the landing, then back to the mesmerising flow.  In the distance you can see Shoreham, a wonderful place to explore on foot. If you would like to know more of the bridge then have a look at the council site below. http://www.adur.gov.uk/tourism/old-tollbridge.htm

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The Sea.

As the clouds dash across the sky the water colour changes with  an accentuation of it’s moods.  It’s only water you may say, but there is power, as this huge body moves under the influence of tide and wind.

 Devon Days.

Land's End

You can always sit and watch the water at any point on the coast of Britain and just observe.  The sky touches the horizon and there are dreams about the adventures out there. There is also the fear that goes with the power concealed in that movement. For me it’s the changes that happen in front of you and the smallest detail can become important, but don’t take my word, give it a try.

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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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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

Fishing In Rock Pools.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

 Fishing In Rock Pools.

For centuries there have been people enjoying fishing.  It must be one of man’s earliest activies.  Certainly fishing is depicted in Greece, Egypt and China.  In this picture the anglers are on the shores of Cyprus.  They are fishing for small fish, using the long pole which typifies many of the techniques used in Europe now and in the past.  I don’t know what they were fishing for and while I stood there no one was successful.

 Fishing In Rock Pools.

 What are the anglers seeing in the pools ? Were any of the pools better than the others ?  These are the questions we all ask when starting out to catch fish. As with all fishing it’s often a case of just being there.  Who could deny the pleasures of the warmth, the sea and the company.

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