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Archive for February, 2009

Rewarded after two sniff-less weeks

Published on Thursday, February 19th, 2009

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.

Odd winter findings at the Fraser mouth

Published on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Well, the bull trout fishing has been slow in Steveston, as expected. One cannot ask for better water clarity, but there simply aren’t many fish chasing metals and flies. Because so much walking is involved when searching for these fish, I tend to bump into interesting items, both fishing and non-fishing related. I thought that I could not encounter anything odd or new after combing through the beaches so many times, but some of the latest findings were pretty strange.

This was the first shrimp that I’ve seen washed up on the beach at the Fraser mouth. I guess salinity of the estuary water is high enough in the winter for them to creep in. That would explain why some anglers caught herring last week by the buckets around Steveston during high tide.

A dead sockeye salmon on the rocks this time of the year? Perhaps it was last year’s fish that has been thrown away recently, but from where?

So why are there so many dead birds around this winter? Since late January, I’ve found 7 dead seagulls. Were they shot? Lack of food? Bird flu? It is rather bizarre.

January 27th, this one almost looks animated.

February 11th, bird identification please. Send your answer to

February 17th, this one had some big gashes just under the neck.

One last note. I just published a new article on Tidal Fraser River light spincasting last week, which focuses on three species – Bull trout, cutthroat trout and northern pikeminnow. Check it out if you are interested in checking out this under-utilized fishery.

Episode one of 2009’s video diary

Published on Saturday, February 14th, 2009

The first episode of 2009’s video diary is now available on the website. This ten minute video feature is only available to subscribers. Episode one features the summer chinook salmon fishery on the Thompson River. Please click here for a preview. Enjoy!

One more for the hatchery

Published on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Conditions on the Chilliwack River much improved today as was the fishing for some. I did not get a bite but was able to tube one from another angler. Thanks Larry!

How thoroughly do you eat your fish?

Published on Sunday, February 1st, 2009

When you bring home that prized catch, do you fillet your fish and throw away the rest? The bones usually carry a few more hundred grams of meat, depending on how well the fish is filleted. Although it does not seem much, it could be precious waste especially when the current salmon and steelhead stocks are not what they used to be.

I usually prefer to save the leftovers after filleting. They are then cut into pieces and pan fried after being seasoned with salt and pepper. The meat can be removed from the bones quite easily and make a good meal or two when mixed with rice or pasta.

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