Don’t cheap out!

Published on July 27th, 2011 by Rodney

Since everyone has had some success lately on the Capilano River, Nina and I decided to give it a go as well. Surprisingly, I haven’t been to the Capilano River since 2004, even though I live so close to it. This is mostly due to the dreadful Lions Gate traffic at 7 or 8am on the way home from fishing that we’ve always had to endure.

This morning we dragged ourselves out of bed at 3:30am and were on the road at 4:15am. As we crossed the Arthur Laing Bridge, something popped up on my mind. I had forgotten to buy salmon conservation surcharges on our freshwater fishing licences! It was too late to turn around to do it, so today turned into a mandatory catch and release fishery. The dream of a delicious coho salmon dinner suddenly vanished.

We arrived at the parking lot at 4:50am and hit the trails shortly after that. The hike in the dark was quite an experience without a flashlight, and bear spray (more items that were forgotten at home). Eventually we made it down to our spot, when we could start seeing our fingers.

The early start was definitely worth it. The river flow was just perfect, high enough for fish to move in. The sky was cloudy, and it drizzled occasionally. The air was as fresh as it could get, you cannot ask for more at a fish spot that is just outside of a densely populated city.

After preparing our rods and bait for about ten minutes, we were ready to fish. I immediately spotted a fish rolling at the tailout, which was a pretty good sign. After a few drift, Nina had her first take down but failed to hook up. On the following cast, it was my turn to see the float disappearing. I set the hook and the the kicks on the rod felt pretty good. It was a pretty small fish, around 1 to 1.5lb. It came in shortly after being hooked and of course it was released after we had a look at it.

The next little while was pretty uneventful, even though I thought the fishing was just picking up after hooking one so soon. We saw the odd risers and the float dipped a few times, but I was quite certain that they were small trout biting. The odd bigger coho salmon would show their fin in front of us, as they moved up from the riffles downstream from where we were fishing. Fish were definitely moving up occasionally, they were just not so interested in biting.

After patiently drifting through the run for an hour, Nina decided to take a break. I started playing with the float depth by fishing a bit deeper to see if that made a difference. It didn’t, for me anyway.

Nina returned to fishing after awhile and I made her to change the float depth as well. She had a good take-down but managed to miss it again. With two pieces of roe to go in the bait box, I decided to lay the rod down and bait her rod while having the camera ready in case she hooked a fish. She continued fishing through where I thought the fish would be biting.

Finally the float went down once again, but she missed it again after yanking the rod. I thought she was going to reel it in to check the bait, but she kept letting the float drifting further downstream. Right at the tailout, where I had hooked the fish, her float went down again. This time, the fish was not so lucky, it was solidly hooked and the bend in the rod suggested that it was a good sized fish.

Nina kept the tension on while slowly walking her way back to the bank. She had to watch the slippery round rocks, where she took a semi-dunking earlier. The fish didn’t show itself until it was guided to the shallows. It looked to be around 3 to 4lb.

Capilano River coho salmon

After fighting it for a couple of minutes, it gently slipped into Nina’s hands. I took a few photos before painfully watching it (dinner) swimming away from her hands.

Releasing a coho salmon

Nevertheless, it was a fine morning, considering that I have been skunked more often than not in the past when fishing on the Capilano. Hungry, sleepy and slightly cold from standing in the water, we decided to call it a day at 8:00am.

The lesson of the day is, don’t cheap out, buy your licence’s conservation surcharges in advance! Or you’ll turn into a conservationist like me.

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