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June 2014 Photo-essay

Published on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

June is usually the month when all the less-known species emerge in lakes and rivers of British Columbia. We visited Cultus Lake several times where northern pikeminnow are rather abundant and can easily be caught on bait, lures and flies.

Cultus Lake Northern Pikeminnow

Beside northern pikeminnow and other native minnow species, carp also become active. MacDonald Park at Sumas Canal is one spot in the Fraser Valley where they can be caught. It’s a nice venue, as the tall trees provide shade throughout most of the day.

Carp Fishing at Sumas Canal

My job always takes me to different parts of the province and I am lucky enough to visit new lakes and rivers more often than others. Last month, I returned to Victoria on an assignment for GoFishBC and checked out several “urban lakes” in the area. One of these lakes really caught my eyes as the setting is just so pristine considering how close it is to the city. Durrance Lake is part of GoFishBC’s urban fishery program and it provides plenty of shore fishing opportunities. I spent a couple of evenings there during my stay.

Durrance Lake on Vancouver Island

Casting from the Dock at Durrance Lake on Vancouver Island

During the last day of my visit, I stopped by Langford Lake to check out the newly built boat launch. Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC regularly work with local communities to obtain fundings so better urban fishing infrastructures can be installed for anglers like you.

Boat Launch at Langford Lake on Vancouver Island

After returning from my trip, Nina and I brought our son Elliot out on the boat for the very first time. Not only did he enjoy the boat ride and holding the fishing rod for one hour, he also had a chance to see a fish being released.

Elliot's First Boat Ride

I took advantage of the nice weather and stopped by a couple of lakes and rivers in the Lower Mainland. Too often we forget how lucky we are because these spots are so close to us.

Chilliwack Lake

Another Beautiful BC River

We ended the month with another family fishing trip.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

May 2014 Photo-essay

Published on Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Last month was yet another fabulous May just like every other year. The beginning of spring in British Columbia always brings on many fisheries we look forward to, from fly fishing for trout in lakes to the saltwater fishery on the West Coast. Here is a series of photographs for May 2014.

In early May, I teamed up with Great River Fishing Adventures and Fraser River Discovery Centre to catch one of the most recognized species in BC – Fraser River white sturgeon. The Fraser River Discovery Centre has been wanting to put together a short film which highlights this amazing species at their theatre, so I have volunteered to be part of this project.

Dean and his assistant guides spent a day with me and a few staffs from the centre for a day, and looked for a few big sturgeon.

Chad Awaits for the Big Fraser River Sturgeon

The Tidal Fraser River has a surprisingly large abundance of harbour seal.

Fraser River Harbour Seal

We were able to find a good specimen for the camera.

Fraser River White Sturgeon

My second stop took me to Douglas Lake Ranch, which is located in between Merritt, Kelowna and Kamloops. This 5,000 acres ranch property has several lakes where amazing trout fishing experiences can be had. We stopped at Salmon Lake Resort and fished for several days. It did not disappoint.

Amazing View While Driving Through Douglas Lake Ranch BC

Douglas Lake Ranch

Cabins at Salmon Lake Resort

Boat Rental is available at Salmon Lake Resort

Salmon Lake BC

How high can a Pennask rainbow trout jump? This high! This strain of rainbow trout is known for its acrobatic performance once being hooked. Pennask rainbow trout are stocked into many lakes in British Columbia by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.

Jumpy Pennask Rainbow Trout

Each morning was action-packed. These rainbow trout were feeding heavily on chironomids for several hours once the sun rose. Timing your outing was important, as the bite often switched off in the afternoon.

A beautiful rainbow trout from Salmon Lake BC

What better way to end a day of fishing? Having a fire by the lake of course!

Camp Fire After Fishing

Right after returning from Salmon Lake, we headed straight to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Most only know Victoria as the city for tourists, but some extremely productive saltwater fisheries are right outside its harbour. We headed out with Island Outfitters and Robert from Gibbs-Delta Tackle, in an attempt to find my friend Kitty’s first halibut and capture it on film. Our guide Dan Findlow got the job done easily, despite of the unfavourable condition. Kitty was able to land a 23lb halibut before the strong tide prevented us from anchoring at the same spot. You can watch the entire video now!

Kitty's First Halibut from Victoria on Vancouver Island

Kitty's First Halibut

Our final stop in May took us back to the interior region where lake fishing is good throughout spring. The target species this time was brook trout, or more formerly known as Eastern brook char. These fish, not native in British Columbia, are stocked at some selected lakes by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. While they do not jump like rainbow trout, they utilize their deep body to dive deeply during the fight.

Fighting a Brook Trout

Releasing a Brook Trout

Splash!

Brook trout are also very tasty, so being able to bring home a few is always a bonus. In this photograph, Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery fish culturist Dan held up several fish from the trip. These fish, averaging between 2lb and 3lb, had been living in the lake for two years after being released by the hatchery as fingerlings.

Brook Trout from British Columbia

Chilliwack River Juvenile Steelhead Release

Published on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has spent the past three days releasing juvenile steelhead into the Chilliwack Vedder River. This is always a three-day operation because fish have to be transported from the Chilliwack Hatchery to various location in the lower river downstream from the Vedder Crossing. They are released in the lower river for a couple of reasons. One is to ensure returning adults do not move upstream too fast so more angling opportunities are provided. Two is to prevent any direct competition between released hatchery fish and wild fish in the upper watershed where wild juvenile fish typically rear. 115,239 fish were released in three days and their average size was 70g. Hopefully in a couple of years from now, we will be seeing these returning as large, chrome fish which we all enjoy catching every winter.

Releasing Juvenile Steelhead into Chilliwack River

Releasing Juvenile Steelhead into Chilliwack River

Releasing Juvenile Steelhead into Chilliwack River

You can find out more about this project by watching this video.

November 2013 Photo-essay

Published on Sunday, November 24th, 2013

November can be a rather somber month for Coastal British Columbian anglers. The air temperature dips below zero for the first time after a long summer, while most of us are still on a high driven by the return of fall salmon. River fishing for salmon usually starts tapering off by early November, but those who enjoy exploring in the frosty mornings can be rewarded with some fabulous fishing.

Last week I decided to give salmon fishing another go before packing away the rods for awhile. The short trip was well worth it as my friend Shane and I were both rewarded with coho and chum salmon. I managed to catch an exceptionally big coho salmon, the biggest one of the season in fact.

Big Coho Salmon from the Fraser Valley BC

This fish had me thinking it was a chum salmon for a couple of minutes while it fought stubbornly by staying deeply in the run. I casually played it, but became rather cautious as soon as I realized what was at the end of the line. This hatchery-marked buck, estimated to be around 12lb, was quite fresh compared to the other fish we encountered that day.

While my friend Shane was not lucky enough to encounter a similar specimen, he managed to connect with an even larger fish. It was a wild coho salmon, as the presence of its adipose fin suggested, so we gently released him back to spawn.

A Big Wild Coho Salmon

Other coho salmon we found at the end of the line were not as silver, which was not really a surprise considering we are now approaching December.

Darker Coho Salmon

Among the many chum salmon which we brought in, I noticed a few were exceptionally small. This fish, approximately 3 or 4lb, was much smaller than most chum salmon we usually see. I enquired about this small buck and my colleagues all concluded that it is most likely a 3 year old fish, rather than a typical 4 year old fish. The fish simply returned one year earlier, therefore it has missed out one extra year of feeding, resulting in a smaller size.

An Exceptionally Small Chum Salmon

In the past two weeks I have wandered around our urban streams in the Lower Mainland. Because we are seeing an exceptionally good return of coho salmon this year, it is not surprising to see these small streams filled with red spawners. My recent visit to Hyde Creek produced these photographs. Both spawning coho and chum salmon can be found along the entire creek. At some spots, hundreds of fish can be seen circling around. These sightings tell us, when given the chance, our salmon populations can thrive, even in the harshest environment such as Metro Vancouver.

Spawning Coho and Chum Salmon at Hyde Creek

While visiting the creek, I stopped by the hatchery to see volunteers from Hyde Creek Watershed Society in action. It is a rather busy time of the year for them, because spawners need to be collected, eggs need to be fertilized, and carcasses need to be counted.

Seining for spawning salmon in Hyde Creek

Collecting salmon broodstock at Hyde Creek

A Coho Salmon in Its Spawning Phase

Spawning Salmon Resting Peacefully in Pristine Hyde Creek

If you have packed away your fishing rods for the season, consider becoming a volunteer at one of many community watershed stewardship groups and hatcheries where help is always wanted. It is a entertaining way to give back to the fishery resource and gain a better understanding on the biology of Pacific salmon.

Low Water Does Not Deter Salmon Return

Published on Monday, October 1st, 2012

If you live in the Lower Mainland and fish the Chilliwack River, you will notice that water level is at its all-time low. Many anglers have suggested that these conditions make it impossible for salmon to enter the stream, which explains the poor fishing.

While the bulk of the salmon run is still waiting for higher water, fish have definitely been moving into the river for many weeks now. Fishing is challenging when water is lower not due to a lack of fish, but they tend to be easily spooked under heavy fishing pressure.

Crowded fishing spot at Chilliwack River

In the past week, we have been able to connect with several coho salmon. Best fishing is of course at first light when fish are still unaware of their surroundings. Float fishing with a spinner has been great to me, while fishing with roe seems challenging as the bites are too light at times.

Chilliwack River Hatchery Coho Salmon

On the weekend, we decided to see how many fish were already in the Chilliwack Salmon Hatchery. The channel leading up to the hatchery is indeed quite full of both chinook salmon and coho salmon. Here are a couple of photographs and video. If you still doubt that there are fish in the river, then perhaps these will boost your confidence during your next outing.

Learn more about Chilliwack River’s fall salmon fishery…

Salmon at Chilliwack Salmon Hatchery

Salmon at Chilliwack Salmon Hatchery

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