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Archive for September, 2009

Egging for trout in a salmon stream

Published on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Having not fished at all in 2009 due to a lack of motivation to fish spring stillwaters followed by a ruptured achilles tendon, I was just itching to hit some moving water. Usually by this time, multiple trips to the T and Skagit have been done and a longer road trip to the Kootenays has been accomplished.

Two weekends ago I had decided that my leg had healed enough to at least try a walk and wade, preferably on a smaller piece of water. As I enjoy exploring new areas and waters almost as much as fishing, I decided to hit an indirect Fraser River’s tributary that I had visited in the past on a non-fishing trip. I knew then I could hit a more familiar piece of water on the way back. As I would be going solo because my usual flyfishing partner was was up north popping his Skeena cherry, I treated the trip as more of a scouting mission for the following weekend. As part of my scouting, I scoured through the regulations to see if the creek I was intending on hitting was indeed open. After not seeing any mention of the creek and double checking with Rodney, I knew that I was ready.

The drive up was uneventful but the obligatory stops at Timmy Ho’s, McD’s and a quick pee & smoke break at a bridge over a river, I finally reached my destination in just under four hours.

The piece of water where I was to hit first was not very big at all, but I was aware of that. I tentatively began wading the river, more focused on my leg than fishing, but that quickly changed as I totally forgot about my leg. The creek was not very wide or deep but there were very little obvious structures and riffles. Targeting the slower seams and slicks, I finally got into a bully of about 16 inches and then a nice rainbow before I reached what was to be the only pool on the creek. The pool had definite potential as it was nice and deep with the water funneling off a shelf at the head due to a nice logjam and slowly broadening out with a nice tailout. Also, there was a whack of sockeye just milling about and you could see the grey shadows of some nice bulls hanging around.


The creek


The reason to target this creek

Here are some of the results of the initial scouting trip.


Scarface

After landing two rainbows, thirteen bulls and losing a bunch more, I headed off to tributary number two but after such a successful scouting trip on my initial trip of the year, I found that I was not very motivated and more than a bit tired. I did fish for a bit but found that the fishing was slow and was not able to land any fish.

Last weekend, I headed up again but this time with Carlo. As usual, when fishing with Carlo, you start your drive up when it is dark and your drive back when it is dark.  

After we reached our destination, I was disappointed to see that the water had risen and had a very slight bit of colour to it. I also could tell that Carlo seemed a bit skeptical when we did not get into any fish after the first twenty minutes or so. The slower seams and slicks that were so evident a week ago were all gone due to the higher water. It seemed that the fish had either moved to different holding areas or had dropped back down, but I was not too worried as I knew we were approaching the only pool on the creek. In the meantime Carlo managed to land a smaller bull trout.


Carlo playing his first fish

After reaching the pool, things thankfully picked up and we both landed a couple of fish and lost a few more.

After exhausting the pool, we quickly moved our way to the mouth of the creek and were immediately into some nice fish!

Checking the time, we realized that we needed to head to tributary number two if we wanted to have time to fish it. 30 minutes later, we were at tributary number two and although the fishing was not as fast and furious, we were able to each land some decent fish.


Tributary number two


Untangling the leader from a branch while fighting a fish…


and still landing it!


Rainbow

Fall is upon us and the fishing will only get better.

Take your fishing line home!

Published on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

This Lower Fraser River pink salmon has generated plenty of angling interest in the Lower Mainland, which is excellent to see. Angling interest generates angling licence sale and interest in resource protection. While this recreational fishery is healthy, it has also left a bad mark that is so commonly seen in modern human history.

Littering! For some reason, many individuals simply cannot keep their trash in their pockets and the garbage cans. Instead, they can be seen scattered along the Fraser River banks. Beer cans, lure packages, fast food wrappers are just some of the common items found when we are out fishing. One tide cycle can wash these into the river and transport them into the Pacific Ocean. What’s even more damaging is discarded fishing lines that are wrapped around everywhere!

Fishing line kills wildlife! It may wrap around water fowls, end up choking them to death. Somehow this common knowledge is forgotten constantly. Anglers get a birdnest, pull all the line off the reel and casually discard it on the ground as if it is biodegradable. Little do they know that this becomes a permanent animal strangler, working either in the discarded area or anywhere it gets blown or washed to.

We enjoy harvesting these salmon, yet we don’t think twice about tampering the water that they feed in. Pack your trash away when fishing, because in the long run, we would be the ones who pay for this poor behaviour.

September 27th is World Rivers Day. We can all celebrate and do our part by picking up a couple bags of garbage when fishing this weekend. I will be involved in the celebration and cleanup at the Chilliwack River, perhaps we will see you there too!

2009 Chilliwack River fall salmon fishing season information

Published on Friday, September 18th, 2009

As usual, I have started a thread on the discussion forum for this year’s fall salmon fishing season on the Chilliwack River. The thread starter contains basic background information of this fishery such as target species, fish identification, fishing method, regulations and etiquettes. The hope is that throughout the season, readers will continuously provide updates of water condition in the thread, which can only be beneficial to all Chilliwack River anglers.

Please click here to visit thread

A mellow session before a tasty treat

Published on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

After our successful first day of this year’s pink salmon season, today’s fishing was rather mellow. The news spreads fast when the fish are biting, the river bank was lined with eager anglers throughout most of the afternoon in South Arm of Fraser River. A couple of schools rushed through our spot when the tide peaked and turned. Some managed to hook a fish or two while others came up empty handed. Among our group, Vince, Marco and I all hooked and lost a fish, while Nina somehow connected with four fish and landed one of them in a short period of time.

We called it a day at 8:00pm and came home to cook up the fish that we brought home yesterday. I had filleted, skined and deboned them earlier today. Instead of grilling them like we usually do, we decided to follow a recipe that Nina had published on the website many years ago. I chopped each fillet into small pieces and grinded them with onion, flour, egg, milk and seasonings into a paste. The end result was a plate of delicious fish cakes, served with baked potato, vegetables and fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. Late summer is always a treat for the taste buds.

The pink fever begins!

Published on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

The anticipation of pink salmon turns into anxiety as we approach September during every odd year. Each day when no fish are caught, I become more excited and worried at the same time. As other years, we started searching for pink salmon in the Tidal Fraser River around August 20th because small schools often sneak into the river during incoming tides. In previous years, I was always able to connect with a few fish and successfully land them before the massive run arrived. This has not been the case in 2009. Beside one fish that I briefly hooked and lost one week ago, each outing has resulted in no sightings of pink salmon. Where and when are they passing by my favorite spots, these have been the questions that I asked myself each day. Despite of how lowly some anglers talk about pink salmon, I find this chase is just as exciting as other salmonid fisheries.

Yesterday we saw the first signs of much large number of fish arriving in the river during the incoming tide. My UK friend Iwan and I managed to hook three fish each, but none ended up in the landing net. Iwan visits Vancouver with his wife Kira every year to see her family. During his visits, I always try to find an unique fishery in BC for him to experience. We’ve tried fall coho and chum salmon fishing, spring bull trout fishing and sturgeon fishing. This year he really wanted to experience the pink fever that I have described with such enthusiasm, so the mission has been to put a few humpies on his line.

After losing every single fish yesterday, we lost sleep last night because it was likely that today would be even better. We arrived at the same location at 2:30pm, when incoming tide was just starting. It seems like fish have been making their way upstream when the water is low. As soon as we arrived, Mark informed us that fish were rolling everywhere. It only took a few seconds for us to look up and spot some risers. Excited, we scrambled to get our lure in the water.

Fish continued to surface around us but there were no hook-ups. I could feel the occasional tugs but they were too light and fast for me to react. I guess this is what happens after the two year break. Nina hooked into a fish soon after we started fishing but it quickly shook itself off the hook. After an hour of trying, a fish or two were hooked around us before the school disappeared. Some say pink salmon are the easiest salmon to catch, this does not seem to be the case all the time.

Disappointed, we took breaks, chatted and made casts casually while waiting for more fish to arrive. The social aspect of Tidal Fraser River fisheries is why I find them so appealing.

At 5:00pm, Mark and Nina noticed many fish jumping downstream from us in the horizon. The tide was almost peaking, so if they were going to come, it had to be now! It only took a few minutes after the sighting for these fish to surface in front of us. They rolled and jumped in the middle of the channel first before slowly approaching our casting range.

The atmosphere suddenly tensed up. Everyone was eager to hook a fish. Mark was the first person to raise his rod when a pink salmon slammed his lure just several feet in front of him. It was not very big, but it pushed his rod to the limit. I reached down with a landing net after a few minutes and scooped up Mark’s first pink salmon of the year.


The first of the year is always very satisfying!

It only took minutes before others were finding humpies dancing on their lines as the school of fish grew in front of us. Despite of everyone’s success, Iwan, Nina and I could not seem to hook a fish! I could feel numerous bites, but they were always too light and swift. Fish started to circle in front of us instead of migrating upstream. It looked like they were actually feeding because tiny baitfish were frantically jumping out of the water! We had fish porpoising right in front of us, as if they were mocking our inability to trick them.

Finally, I had to change the game plan. I decided that the 1/0 hook was simply too big for these fish because all the ones landed looked to be in the 3 to 4lb range. I switched my hook to a size 2 and immediately I hooked up after detecting the same light tug! I landed the fish in no time and quickly put a size 2 hook on Nina’s spoon as well. She made a cast while I turned around to organize my box. “Fish on!”, she exclaimed before I had a chance to put the 1/0 hook away! It leaped a couple of times before spitting the hook out. Disappointment there was not, because we were finally hooking fish at least.


The right hook size resulted in a bent rod.

A few minutes later, Mark’s reel screamed as Nina hooked into another fish at the same time. The little 6lb setup that Nina was employing was taking a heavy beating by the fish as it peeled line off the spool like a freight train. “I cannot gain any line! It just kept going and going!”, Nina became worried. The fish showed itself on the surface soon after she made that remark and I chuckled because it was no more than 5lb. After the long sprint, the fish surrendered as Nina gained her line back. I extended my arm out with the landing net while Nina guided the exhausted fish into it. It was her first Fraser River pink salmon, ever!


Relieved with a fine catch after hours of trying.

Now that Mark, Nina and I had landed a fish, Iwan was still blanked beside a fish that was lost earlier. Looking deflated, he must have been wondering what was going on like what I was experiencing earlier. The rolls and splashes tapered off in front of us after an hour, it looked like Iwan’s time and luck was running out.

Nina and I gave our spot to him because fish seemed to be surfacing closer to shore at our spot. It took another 30 minutes before another school of fish began approaching our spot again. Finally, just as Iwan was ready to lift his lure out of the water just several feet from the rod tip, a pink salmon made a shallow attack and surprised him. I quickly grabbed the camera to document his first while Mark stood by with his net. After so many losses, Iwan played the fish with confidence while it made short darts and high leaps in the shallow water. Even though it was hooked not far from shore, it was not ready to surrender yet. We held our breath and watched Iwan and Mark putting on a brief dramatic performance.


A miss by the netter!
Success!

A first for Iwan at last after 15 hours of trying! His grin from ear to ear shows how rewarding it is when persistence is paid off.


Another happy Tidal Fraser angler.

September 2nd marks the beginning of 2009′s Tidal Fraser pink salmon fever. Fishing in the next several weeks will only get better. This is one salmon fishery that anglers of all ages and skill levels can truly enjoy, so make sure you take advantage of it while it lasts! If you need more information, please read this article.

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