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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Cold Cruise

I am always amazed at the way these cruise ships sit on the water.  I understand the theory of bouyancy and what’s going on, but if you take out the Physics, then you must feel a sense of amazement.  It looks like a reverse of the iceberg principle with more of the ship above the water than below it.

This particular ship was edgeing it’s way through the channels between the mainland and Vancouver Island. I hope the passengers on board had taken time to spot the Orcas as they rose around the vessel.  I was travelling along in yacht, made of concrete, hoping for enough wind to sail rather than use the engine. The guide who owned the boat was a specialist in whale photography and he recounted the tale that Orcas had been spotted "surfing" the wake from the propeller of these ocean going cruisers.

Presumably they are catching something in the wash, but it is much nicer to think that they like swimming behind these large ships just for fun.

Cold Cruise

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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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Bewl Water.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Bewl Water.

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

Bewl Water

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

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A Lake In West Sussex

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

A Lake In West Sussex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kennet Perfection

Kennet Perfection

And here’s the little crucian carp.

Crucian Carp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tired Wings

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

 Tired Wings.

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

Lost Dragonfly

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

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

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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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