Rewarded after two sniff-less weeks

Published on February 19th, 2009 by Rodney

I’ve been dropping by Steveston for a couple of hours each day between work to see if I could intercept a bull trout or two. The timing has always been the same, fishing for two hours just after flood tide. You would think that it should not be too hard to see at least a fish by systematically fishing through the same spots with the same lures. That has not been the case. Beside finding dead items on the beach, every outing was unsuccessful.

It is winter after all, fishing is usually pretty slow, but I couldn’t help but wonder what was happening here. Before each outing, I thought, “Today’s the day.” and after the outing I thought, “Tomorrow’s the day.” It was only a matter of time before I come across a school of fish, but it better happened soon because motivation was depleting fast.

Flood tide was around noon today so I dropped by Garry Point Park after an early lunch. Upon my arrival on the beach, I spotted a welcoming sight right in the corner of my eyes. A fish had just splashed in knee-deep water where I know the bottom is covered with rocks. Surface activities are extremely unusual for this time of the year. When they take place, it usually indicates a school of fish that are actively feeding. I quickly sent a spoon out to the deeper water by the edge of that shallow rock patch, hoping to grab their attention. First couple of casts produced no reactions, then on the third retrieve I could clearly see a large bull trout following behind the lure from the rock where I was standing. I could see the large white oval spots as it swam like a submarine without any side motions. It must have spotted me, because it darted away after I spotted it for a couple of seconds. “Argh!”, I thought. I looked around me. Lunch breakers were just going about with their own business, no one obviously saw what I had just experienced. It felt like I just saw a volcano errupting.

Not to worry, if there was one, there should be many others. It took a few more casts before I hooked up just several feet in front of me. The bite once again felt like a light slow pull. The hookset was poor. I was able to feel that it was a heavy fish before the hook popped out! That has always been a problem when fishing with spoons. The hook seems to dislodge itself quite easily. Perhaps it is the combination of the heavy spoon and light spinning rod, resulting in not setting the hook precisely.

I quickly switched to a 1/8oz spinner, which produced well for me last fall. I felt a light tug on the first retrieve, so there had to be at least two fish in front of me. I continued casting from right to left, covering the entire area by sweeping across it. A few more minutes went by and another hook-up resulted in the rod bending to the cork. This felt like a solid hook-set so I had a lot more confidence. The fish took some sporatic runs and deep dives, which are pretty typical behaviour of a bull trout. By now lunch breakers behind me were paying attention. I was no longer a nut who stood in the cold water for no apparent reason.

I brought the fish in after a fairly lengthy fight. It was slender unlike fatties that are caught in fall and spring, but a rather long fish, which I estimated to be around 18 inches. All the fish that I’ve encountered this winter were around this size, perhaps it is the age group that tends to hang around the estuary during the winter months.

Finally I had a fish in my hands, but there must be more! I fished the same area for twenty more minutes with no result, so it was time to move and return later. The other bays did not produce after I fished them for thirty minutes, which wasn’t really that surprising. I returned to the original spot, hoping to find one more fish before heading home.

To my disbelief, a fish rolled right in front of me just when I was securing my footing on the slippery rocks. I quickly threw the spinner out but could not entice it after ten casts or so. If it was still in the area, it’d bite eventually, right?

Of course! Again a fish followed in and attacked the lure just as it went between two rocks. I actually saw the fish grabbing the lure before feeling anything on the rod. It wiggled a few times in front of me before peeling line off the reel as it headed into the deep. This was fantastic! I found a shallow flat bottom where I could stand on and played it for several minutes before guiding it in. It was slightly longer and fatter than the previous fish.

Sighting of one follower, three hook-ups, a couple of misses, it was time to wrap up while it was good. The water clarity of the Fraser River is better than one could ask for right now, so take advantage of it as there are definitely some hungry fish swimming around.


The jacket is slimed, the racoon tan is starting to show on the face, this is fishing in February in Southwestern BC.

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