Monday, December 7, 2015

The ice has arrived

Well despite mother nature's best efforts, the cold has arrived and with it the ice fishing season. Now if I could only find time to get out more often. Thankfully, winter break is coming up which means two weeks break.

I did manage to get out for the first trip this season. I wasn't there for long due to the onset of darkness in the late afternoon. I unfortunately got to the lake late, and had to make two trips there, because the first trip I had forgot my auger and had no way to penetrate the six inches of ice.

On my second attempt that day, auger in hand, I fished for about an hour and a half and managed a small rainbow and a brook trout. The procured deli shrimp I use when fishing under the ice proved its effectiveness again.

Hopefully a more fruitful and lengthy day of fishing is in the near future. After all, its just the start of the hard water season.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Something different

Some of my recent available days for fishing have turned into hunting days. This is my first hunting season and the first couple times out I saw nothing but a few rabbits and a grouse. I was fortunate enough to take a couple short trips with a friend who is knowledgeable in the area of hunting. In those two short trips I either learned quickly or luck came my way because this morning I finally saw some big game while hunting this morning.

I went out for first light, parked and walked up the gravel road to the next logging road and began hiking up the hill. The ground was frosty and crunchy so I took my time and when I reached the crest i was able to look down on a clearcut and up the other side. Out came the binoculars and low and behold there was a bull moose slowly making his way up the other side of the block. Unfortunately for me he had too much antler for me to shoot it legally. He wandered up the block and slowly dissappeared into the trees.

I glassed the rest of the large block and spotted another moose. This one was a cow and was wandering the block. I watched for about half an hour as it slowly left the block, heading out the other side.

On my trek back down the trail, a few hundred yard back from where I had turned around and I spotted a black lump down another side of the ridge. Up came the binos and there sat another cow moose. This one I was able to get to within 150 yards where I sat and watched for 15 minutes. The moose just sat and watched me. Too bad theres no cow season or I would have taken the shot. She was sitting pretty.

Off I went, back to the truck and driving down the road again. I didnt see anything else except a nice black bear in the middle of a cut block.

Maybe next time a legal bull will show itself.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stellako on a dry fly

I had a bit of time this weekend and my choice was take the boat out to a lake or wade the Stellako river again trying to fool rainbows with a dry fly. Well, dry fly fishing won, so off I went.

Last night I tied up a few dry fly patterns and had one on and ready to go before even reaching the river. Having fished it just last week I already had a plan for where I wanted to fish and went straight for those spots.

Despite some pretty good wind, all it took was one cast and I was already into fish. A healthy rainbow who put up a nice fight and some acrobatics came to hand and was released. The first stop produced a few decent fish and then went quiet. I wandered downstream, hooking into a few small fish on the way. I stopped at a nice pocket of water and happened to look upstream just in time to see the back end of a black bear duck into the shrubs on the opposite bank. As I looked down stream around the corner I could see another black bear, on my side of the river, standing on the bank.
I figured I had better leave them alone and went back up stream to where I started.

When I reached the head of the river, the rain and hail decided to make an appearance which made my decision to leave a little bit easier.

Today wasn't the fast and furious action of last weekend but some nice fish were caught. I think something was trying to tell me to put away the fishing rod and pick up the rifle. I saw six deer on the short drive to the river and two bears on the river. We'll see what happens next weekend.

The fly of the day was a cinnamon caddis type pattern, larger than I would have thought seemed to be more effective in bringing the rainbows up.

Hook: standard size 10 or 12 dry fly hook
Thread: 8/0 tan thread
Body: rusty brown dubbin
Body hackle: brown dry fly hackle
Rib: extra small copper wire
Wing: elk hair

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stellar day on the Stellako - Dry Fly Fishing

This morning I woke up to beautiful sunshine as fall approaches at a steady pace. I grabbed my fly rod and off I went to what has to be my favorite trout stream, the Stellako River. Thinking there would be sockeye in the river I packed some egg patterns I could drift under them to entice the many rainbows lurking behind them looking for an easy meal. Along with the egg patterns I packed some stone flies in olive, tan and black (all of which were effective this time last year). Lastly, I threw in some dry flies, and among them a few cinnamon caddis.

When I arrived at the river there were a couple of guys pounding the water near the inflow from Francois Lake. With a smile and a nod I walked on by, down stream, to find some water of my own. I didn't have to go far and I found some pockets of water amongst shallows. Thinking it looked fishy I tied on a cinnamon caddis a sent out my first cast. Should have started the Gopro before I cast because that first cast yielded a 12" rainbow. Oh well, next fish maybe? After releasing the little rainbow I turned on the Gopro and kept fishing the pockets of water as I waded down stream. Every pocket of water gave up fish. Some more than others and some bigger than others. Put it this way, I didn't have to work for any fish today. The rainbows must have got the memo and were hungry. I lost count of how many fish I landed, the majority of which were around 8" but there were some big fish in there too. I landed a handful of 14-16" acrobatic and strong rainbows and fought a beast that I thought was a sockeye before it leaped into the air and showed its chrome.

I had a bunch of new egg patterns I wanted to try out on this trip but couldn't bear to stop fishing dries. Some of the takes were aggressive and the fish flashed up from the bottom and slammed the fly. Other takes were a slap of the fly to drown it and then they would take the fly. I missed a few being too over zealous and trying to set the hook at the sight of the first splash. It's so hard to hold back and wait before setting the hook. The water was crystal clear and you could see the fish holding, flashing or coming up for food. At one point I watched a little rainbow snap at my fly on the surface four times as it skated across the current before it finally got a hold of it. Very fun to watch.

If you are up in this area I would highly suggest a stop at this little gem of a river. Bring lots of flies, they trashed a number of mine.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On the vise

In preparation on my trip to the Skeena River and surrounding area tomorrow, I have been trying up all sorts of salmon and steelhead flies. The latest of which is a variation of a favorite steelhead fly of mine. I have tied it in a variety of colours such as pink/purple, blue/black and now an orange/copper. I'm hoping to entice some steel and maybe a coho with it. I have had good sucess with copper flies for coho in the past.

For those of you interested the recipe is:

Hook: Owner size 2 - model 5115-091 tied as a stinger on a 25mm waddington shank.
Thread: 140 orange
Tail: copper flashabou
Body: wrapped copper flashabou
Hackle: black hackle tied in at the tip
Dubbing ball: holographic - gold orange diamond dub
Under wing: uv pearl crystal flash
Wing : orange fox fur (or craft fur)
Over wing: black angel hair
Collar hackle: natural guinea

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Family trip to a local lake

Today was one of the best fishing trips I have taken in a while. Not because of the number or quality of fish caught but because I got to share it with my family. It's not very often both my kids join me fishing and it is even more rare my wife joined me.

We got to the boat launch just before lunch and I was pleasantly surprised my skills at reversing the boat trailer down the narrow launch have improved despite it only being my second try at it. We launched the boat so it would be ready and I drove it down to a campsite a hundred yards down to meet my wife and kids where we lit a fire and cooked some hotdogs on it.

After lunch I went out fishing. I got into a couple on the fly while anchored and then went back to get the kids who were done exploring the shore. We decided to drag a couple flies behind the boat and troll around. It took us a bit to find the fish but we did manage to hook a few. Most importantly both my kids hooked into fish. The smiles on their faces said it all and made the trip worth while.

The fish were hooked just off the drop off, some with a black doc spratley and some with a black/red mohair leech pattern.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hot day of sturgeon fishing

Today's fishing adventure was hot. Not fantastic fishing hot, but temperature hot. In fact, at my house we would refer to the weather as "hot enough to boil a monkey's bum". Bonus points if you know where that expression comes from, or your name is Bruce.

Anyway, back to fishing. Since I am heading back up North next week I thought I would hit the Fraser again for sturgeon fishing. I arrived at the river later than I normally would, but I'm on vacation so sleeping in is a right I am taking advantage of. Thankfully there was no one at my spot and soon after arriving I had my bait on the bottom of the big muddy.

The weather was hot, the fishing was not. I was baking in the sun, drinking lots of water and eating a delicious peach from my recent Okanagan trip. Waiting and waiting for a  bite. Since there are salmon migrating through the river at this time of year my first bait was sockeye belly. It produced nothing so I tried a few different baits. I tried pink salmon belly and some roe. Nothing. Since salmon and roe was all I brought for bait, and neither species was working I thought I would cover all angles and put on a strip of pink and a strip of sockeye. I sat and waitied with not even a nibble from a pike minnow.

I was beginning to think I may get skunked when all of a sudden, without warning, my rod slammed down with a big hit. I quickly scooped it up and set the hook. The fight ensued and after a couple head shakes and a bit of line pulled off the reel the sturgeon showed itself with a nice tail stand. The sturgeon ended up giving three nice jumps before I managed to get it to hand to unhook it and send the little four footer back on its way to grow and be caught another day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Carp frustrations

This past week I have been in Osoyoos, BC visiting family. Of course I took a fly rod with me just in case I had time to get out fishing. Well this morning I had a bit of time so off I went. I found a nice spot along a canal, parked my truck and went for a walk. I hadn't gone far when I spotted a handful of carp ranging from around four to seven pounds cruising in a clear pool.

Figuring they would be fun to hook on the fly I began chucking feathers at them. Although, I didn't really come prepared to fly fish for carp. I tried a bunch of different flies but couldnt spark their interest. Cursing myself for not bringing a gear rod with some bait (a method of fishing carp I am much more familiar and sucessful with) I walked the dike a bit. I fished a few more pools and saw some real nice big carp but as with the first pool I couldnt convince any to dance. I did manage to hook a small bass, but that's all I could manage.

Feeling a bit defeated I left to join the family at the lake, already plotting for the next time we are in Osoyoos visiting. Next time I come prepared for carp fishing.

Can you see the carp in the picture?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pink Tide

Went out to the beach again today, and found some larger schools of pink salmon. It should be the tip of the iceburg with the next couple weeks producing some good numbers, but there were plenty of fish moving through already and some good size schools showing themselves. It didn't take long to get in to a fish and the action was non stop until the tide really started ripping in. Then it died off (although there were still some small schools hanging around.

Same set up as last time with the pink clouser was what was wo4king for me today, but when we start to see numbers like this almost anything put in front of them will catch fish. Even the gear fishermen were hooking lots ;)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chasing Pinks

Yesterday I went back to a local beach in search of more pink salmon. I had been there on Tuesday and done quite well with eight fish to hand and four long line releases. This time I had my wife and daughters in tow. Well, sort of. They came with me but dropped me off in favour of swimming in a nearby lake. It was hot out and I can't say I blame them. It also meant I got a few hours of fishing in.

The tide was well on its way out and there were people fishing all down the shoreline as one would expect on a weekend. Fortunately, many people were leaving and since I don't like fishing shoulder to shoulder I walked and found some solitude. In fact I found enough solitude and room that I was able to walk up and down the beach chasing a small school of salmon that were hanging around.

Pink salmon fishing is not rocket science and many over think it. The basics of it are; you need to get your fly or lure in front of the fish and they will bite it. I'm pretty sure you could wrap aluminium foil around a hook and trick one into biting. That being said, I find there are patterns that work better than others. Which brings me to my next point. If you walk along and ask the average fisherman what color to use when fishing pink salmon, 99% of the time the answer will be "anything pink for pinks" or something to that extent. Well I can tell you I have caught just as many fish on chartreuse. Pink does work well but if the bite turns off, switch to something different.

Back to yesterday's trip. I walked into my spot, stripped off some line and began casting. It didnt take long for me to see a few fish rise so I waded down towards them and dropped a few casts in front of where the school was moving. Before long, I had a fish to hand. Unfortunately, the schools were small and far between so the action was a bit slow. I did manage to hook two more, one of which I landed. The two I landed are now ready for the smoker.

Flies used today were again a clouser with dumbell eyes. Two of the fish were hooked on a pink fly and one on chartreuse.

Rumor has it the bulk of the run is just around the corner and should start to show up in the next week or so. Im hoping to get out a couple more times before I head back up north.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Feeling Pink

Got together with a few fellow fishermen for fly flinging fun today.

It was in pursuit of some early pink salmon in the Vancouver area. Typically around this time of year there are a few salmon making there way along the local beaches towards their streams of origin. Armed with my fly rod and a box of flies we went out early and found some fish cruising the beach shore. More fish than I was expecting, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Low slack tide worked the best but fish were caught throughout the day. When they are thicker in there, it doesn't matter what the tides are doing. A helpful hint for those that aren't familiar with fishing for pink salmon, a long cast and deep wading is not necessary. No need to bomb your lure out a long way; save your energy and time. Tip number two, your leader (when fly fishing) should be a little heavier than you would think. I typically fish 15 pound mono. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it helps turn over a weighted fly a little easier. Secondly, and more importantly, the thicker line can take more of a beating on the sharp barnacles which at some point will be contacted either when fighting a fish or on the beach behind you during your backcast. A few knicks in a thicker line will allow you to land your fish, a smaller pound test line is more likely to fray and prematurely snap. Not to mention these fish are not leader shy, so why use lighter line?

The fly of the day was a sparse pink over white clouser minnow fished on a clear intermediate sink tip. I love using this fly on the beach as it rides pointy side up, is less likely to snag and always gets the fish in the upper lip. Not to mention it must also appear tasty to a salmon because it is usually effective.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

One of THOSE days

I had one of THOSE days today. No not an everything going wrong, nothing going my way sort of days. One of those fishing days where no matter where you toss your fly your going to get into fish.

This weekend is the nicest weather we have had this year, it hit 23 degrees and I slept in. I knew I was planning on getting to a lake today to toss a fly but neglected (on purpose) to set an alarm. By the time I got up, loaded my gear and pontoon into the truck and made my way to the lake it was nearing noon.
The lake of choice was a local one, Cobb lake. I didn't want to travel too far and it has produced for me in the past.

Upon arriving, I noticed two things. One, there were a lot of campers at the lake and two, the fish were rising. I eagerly got myself set up and on the water with my go to generic fly; a black doc spratley size 12. I barely made it a hundred yards and I was into fish. A good start by any standards. I let the fish go and kept rowing to where I wanted to go. Another thirty yards and I had another fish on. I landed and released the rainbow and made a mental note of where I was, thinking if my destination was not producing I would come back here. Well, long story short, I ended up coming back as my other spot was a dead as a Norwegian Blue parrot being brought back to a certain pet store in Bolton. I anchored up near where I had landed the other two fish and proceeded to catch fish after fish.
I could see the schools direction of travel by where they were sipping bugs and splashing at the surface. A cast a few feet ahead and a couple strips and they hit the fly hard. It was almost too easy. I was literally calling when the fish wer going to strike. 3... 2... 1... HIT!..  and I was pretty close with my prediction many times over. At one point I went seven casts and seven fish. I lost count of the total number of fish caught but I'd say 30-40 or so.
All the fish were rainbow trout ranging from 12"-17" except one 17" brookie that decided to play and gave up a fantastic fight, and all were caught in six to ten feet of water.

It was just one of those days...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nechako Sturgeon release

Today I was fortunate enough to get to release some juvenile sturgeon from the Vanderhoof sturgeon hatchery into the Nechako river. What a great event and learning experience. The younger grades from the school I teach at got to release a fish each, had a tour of the hatchery and learned all about the Nechako sturgeon. They even had a few 7ft + adults in holding tanks that they were going to get eggs from for future generations.
The sturgeon we released were the same ones I saw in an ealier tour in September and boy had they grown! They were about a foot and a half long and full of energy today as they embarked on a new and exciting journey into the unknown. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.
The students were all buzzing about it back at the school. They all had their pictures taken with the fish they released (which they also named) and the coolest part is they can look up the tag code in years to come to see if the hatchery has recaptured or encountered their fish in their studies/brood stock program.
Thought I would share a few pictures of the release down the chutes and into the river. Thanks again to all the volunteers who helped make this event a success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Harrison Cutthroat

This last weekend I had the pleasure of drifting the Harrison river in my pontoon. We put in at Morris lake and fished it a bit before heading out into the slough towards the Harrison river. Our target species was cutthroat trout and we were hoping to intercept some chasing salmon fry, as they tend to do at this time of year. There were some fry present but not in the numbers I was hoping for.
In the slough connecting the lake to the river there were some cutties thrashing the surface but I couldn't convince any of them my fly looked edible. In fact, I was unable to fool any fish on this outing.
The fishing may have not been hot but the scenery was stellar, the weather cooperated and the company was great.
This was my first time drifting the Harrison and I must say I will look to do it again. Next time, hopefully, the water won't be quite so high and the fish will be in the mood to feast on the offerings I polietly supply.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The ice and the eagle.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp and the fish were calling. It had been far too long since I had gne fishing so I took the opportunity this morning to wet a line.
My destination was Cobb lake again, since I have been having success through the ice at this lake. Today was no different. I was only there for a couple of hours but managed a few rainbows and a nice brook trout. Bait of choice was once again pro cured shrimp dangled down a rather lengthy tunnel of ice into the depths below. I was only fishing in about 10 feet of water but the ice was nearly three feet thick!  My auger was only just long enough to drill through.
The action started with some small rainbows, switched to a bit bigger brookie and then finished off with another little rainbow. The sky was blue and the sun was bright and I had the lake to myself,  for most of the time. Until an noble guest decided to check out what I was doing. A healthy, large bald eagle turned up after I pulled out a fish and decided to bonk it. I decided to give the eagle the free meal it was looking for so I gutted the fish and took off the head wondering if I could get the bird to come down and pick it up on camera. Only problem was I only had my cell phone for a camera today as I left my gopro at home.
I propped my phone up in the snow and placed the fish entrails and head away from where I was fishing. The big eagle knew what I had and he wanted it. After setting my phone to record video I backed away and sat down to watch as I continued to fish. It didnt take long and the eagle swooped down and flew off with his free meal. I did end up getting some cool video but was cursing not having my gopro. Ah well, there's always next time.