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Lac Le Jeune Resort

Published on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

May usually marks the stillwater fishing season in the Thompson-Nicola region. Like most lake fishing enthusiasts, we like to load up the boat and head up from Vancouver to catch some fine rainbow trout. There has been a delay this year, due to the late departure of winter, or late arrival of spring, whatever you want to call it. Most lakes had ice on them a couple weeks longer than usual.

A couple of weeks ago, Nina’s family was visiting from Denmark and they wanted us to travel to Lac Le Jeune with them. Several years ago, they visited the area by chance during a stopover to Banff and they really enjoyed the few hours while they were there. I have never been, but have constantly heard fly fishermen bringing it up over the years so was curiously to check it out.

A couple of days before we headed to the lake, I was informed that the lake was still frozen so I chose not to bring my fishing rods. What a mistake that was! I was ready to make a shuttle run back to Vancouver to get them when I saw no ice on the lake upon our arrival. Although I was not able to wet a line, it was going to be a good stay when I noticed the abundance of wildlife in the area.

Our accommodation for the trip was Lac Le Jeune Resort. Normally when we go lake fishing in the Thompson-Nicola region, we either camp or stay at a hotel in Merritt or Kamloops. Never had I expected to find a fine resort in the middle of no where. Lac Le Jeune Resort is not what you’d call a luxury resort, but you can sense its warmth as soon as you step into it. The resort provides two styles of accommodation. You can either stay at the lodge rooms or rent an entire cabin nearby. The resort sits slightly higher than the lake so the view is absolutely breath taking at anytime of the day.

Lac Le Jeune Resort

Cabin at Lac Le Jeune Resort

Lac Le Jeune

The birds were being fed at the doorstep. One can just stand there and watch them for hours. Our host settled us in right away when we arrived and informed us that dinner would be served at 6:30pm. Already impressed, we were even more pleasantly surprised when it was time to dine. The dining room sits by the lake, so we could watch loons, beavers and of course, trout, splashing about while we ate.

Dining at Lac Le Jeune Resort

Dinner menu at Lac Le Jeune Resort

Dinner at Lac Le Jeune Resort

Dessert at Lac Le Jeune Resort

At first Nina and I were concerned that we would not have anything to do at the lake without our fishing rods. The alternatives solved that problem pretty fast. We walked along the lake shore on both days and the wildlife kept us entertained. Nina’s family also thoroughly enjoyed their visit as the lake lived up to their expectation. They were most fascinated by these huge beavers that always seem so busy around the lake. I was able to practice my photography on the birds and squirrels that couldn’t get enough of the feeds on the resort’s patio.

Red squirrel at Lac Le Jeune

Here is a short video of some of the wildlife footages from Lac Le Jeune.

After seeing some fine rainbow trout jumping on both evenings while we were there, I am now itching to return with my fishing rods.

A pictorial journey of Danish spring

Published on Saturday, May 9th, 2009

You may have noticed that there have been less activities on the website so far this month. The reason being that I am once again back in Denmark. The colours of Danish spring are much more vibrant than its grey winter. Here are some photographs that I wish to share with you.


The flight over, on Lufthansa’s 340-600 again, which are finally installed with PTVs so the flight seemed extremely short for once. Interesting landing, so hard that two of the compartments opened up two rows ahead of me and one smarty decided to unbuckle and stand up just a couple of seconds after the front wheel touched down so he could close them. Well, I guess someone forgot that the airplane was going from 200kph to under 100kph in a few seconds. He tumbled and rolled forward in no time. Luckily no serious injuries, except perhaps a few bruises and embarrassment. The seat belt sign is there for a reason after all.


I’ve become rather paranoid about my luggages so I stood and watched to make sure they were loaded. All ten rods made it without damages.


Sunrise. Our place is just a few hundred meters from the east coast so the view is pretty nice at 5:00am.


Downtown Copenhagen again… This photo would look better with lots of pedestrians in front of me I think. Normally the area in front of me is just packed, but I guess that I must stink or something, they all decided to take the longer route when I crouched down to take a photo like a typical Asian tourist.


Spring time means street performers.


You don’t really have to get too far out of Copenhagen to see big fields. This is the area where Nina grew up in, probably about 20 minutes drive out of Downtown Copenhagen.


Another field shot…


More field shot… plus local resident…


Close-up of local resident…

There are many little harbour/fishing villages along the coast here, which are really relaxing to walk around. The pedestrian streets are narrow and every corner is worth exploring. The houses are a couple of hundred years old. The exterior retains its historic look while the interior is completely modernized, making these some of the most expensive properties in the country. This particular village is just a short drive from our place.

Here are some bird photographs that I took while walking around the harbour.

These blackheaded gulls lose the black head in the winter. A few months ago I took a photo of them too in this blog entry.

Merry Christmas!

Published on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here are some photographs that I took around Copenhagen tonight.

Breath-taking surroundings, but connection short-lived

Published on Monday, December 22nd, 2008

After developing some success last week, I have explored several other beaches in Denmark but none yielded more bites. All the locations that I have visited are on the northwestern region of Sjælland. I have been told that fish along the western shoreline of Sjælland are known to be smaller and slimmer, because they mostly feed on shrimp and other smaller food items. On the contrary, fish along the eastern shoreline of Sjælland tend to be much larger and deeper, because they feed on larger items such as herring and sand eel. Today we decided to explore one of the more popular spots on the east coast, to see if we could connect with one of those bulkier sea trout.

Our destination was Stevns Peninsula, which is just 40km or so outside of Copenhagen. The coastline of Stevns is mostly made of high chalk cliffs, which are popular sites for tourists in the summer. At the southern end of this peninsula, sits a quiet village called Højerup, where a 800 year old church dangles at the edge of the cliff. In the early 1900s, a portion of the church collapsed as erosion finally took its toll.

 

Stratification across the cliff can clearly be seen from the beach. One can discover and marvel many unusual landscapes that have been created by nature overtime.

 

A thin dark clay layer found halfway up the cliff marks an asteroid impact and mass extinction around 65 million years ago. This boundary separates the Cretaceous and Danian Periods.

 

Beside being historically and geologically significant, Højerup is commonly visited by sea trout anglers year-round due to the productive beaches.

Today’s wind was not so favourable. Even though it was not a head wind, we had expected that its strength (over 50km/hour) would resulted in turbulent and chalky water. Luckily, the water condition was not tampered too much. Several anglers were already working hard on the beach upon our arrival.

Without much hesitation, we quickly bundled up in our waders and jackets and rushed down to the beach. We managed to get several hours of fishing in under the warm sun. The air temperature was 7 degrees Celcius, which is rather unusual for this time of the year in Denmark and quite a contrast to what Vancouverites are currently experiencing back home. We were able to tuck ourselves away in a calm bay during the entire outing.

The fishing result was nothing to brag about. We watched one angler hooking a rather acrobatic sea trout on his first cast after lunch. The fish was around 18 inches long. While watching the fight, I detected a bite on my rod but managed to miss it. I continued retrieving and a second hit came shortly. The fish was hooked but came off after a few brief shakes, which is rather disappointing. It is hard enough to find a bite, even harder to be sharp enough at all time to make sure a fish is well hooked and kept on the line. Persistence is not always rewarded in sea trout fishing. Perhaps a school of fish was moving by. This again indicates that sea trout would not hesitate when a lure or fly is presented to them, the catch factor comes down to finding the fish and intercepting them.

Here are some more photographs taken during the trip. I would also like to use this opportunity to wish all a safe and happy holiday! Enjoy the snow!

A small consolation after numerous chances

Published on Monday, December 15th, 2008

The wind was blowing hard from the east today, which was perfect as I wanted to fish a spot on the west coast of Denmark where I couldn’t last week due to the strong head wind. Strong head wind does not only make casting difficult, it stirs up bottom substrates and reduces clarity. With a tailwind, the sea becomes flat and it in fact becomes an advantage when distance is needed in casting.

As usual, it was a misty morning start in Denmark. Temperature hovered at 3 degrees celcius and was expected not to change throughout the day. One couldn’t really ask for better beach fishing condition on a winter day.

I began working the beach with the spinning rod. Spincasting is popularly fished on the beach in Denmark. It allows the angler to cover much larger area and deeper water, so chances of getting into larger sea trout are also increased. Unlike migratory pacific salmon that travel in large masses, these fish school and travel in an irregular pattern. The behaviour is somewhat similar to coastal cutthroat trout, except the travelling space is much larger. To increase success, one can only systematically cover a beach by taking a few step after each cast.

Typical beach lures used while spinning are long, thin yet heavy ones that resemble either herring or sand eel. Combining the retrieving/pausing pattern and the wave motion, their swim becomes rather realistic in the water. These lures weigh between 10 and 30 grams, so they allow the angler to cast them as far as over 200 feet when needed.

Sea trout hunting ground is usually covered with algae (Specifically, fucus, a species of brown algae that tends to dominate the inter and subtidal zones) and rocks. Reefs, as the locals call them, are prime habitat for shrimp, worms and small fish. They hunt by travelling over, in, between the dark substrates. The idea is to work your presentation through them and hopefully it would grab a hunter’s attention.

Exploring these reefs closely with your eyes while fishing can often lead to small yet fascinating discoveries. They are alive with organisms. Snails, starfish, shrimps, jellyfish and barnacles are often sighted. Today I found myself standing next to a juvenile flounder that laid on the bottom comfortably.

After working across a beach for an hour, excitement began to fade as no bites were detected. The outing usually starts with a high anticipation, not a high expectation. After being blanked so many times, I’ve learned that if one shows up with a high expectation in a beach sea trout fishery, then the disappointment at the end of the day may just be too much to handle.

I decided to walk over to a new section slightly further north from my starting point. The ground appeared to be heavily covered, so perhaps there was a trout hiding in it. When the lure approached me on the first retrieve, I noticed a dark clump of matter behind it. My first guess was a clump of weed but I could not feel any additional resistance on the line. A few seconds later, when the lure was much closer to me, I could see that it was in fact a fish following it! I suddenly paused the retrieve and a second fish showed itself beside the first one. Just as they were ready to fight over the piece of metal, I ran out of retrieve space!

At this point, both panic and excitement were having a party in my head. I made another quick short cast beyond where the fish were spotted. As if a pack of wolves had been woken up, a dozen sea trout suddenly darted out from the weed beds and a few small boils could be seen on the surface! Once again, not a single fish committed to a solid bite before I ran out of water to retrieve. Another short cast and retrieve triggered mor fish to chase, but none were tricked. It ended as fast as it started, after three casts all of them disappeared instantly.

I stood there like a fool. Should I continue casting straight out, or move left, or move right? In river fishing, if a fish is spotted, you can pretty much find it again as there is only so much room to cover. It becomes a bit tricky when there are a gazillion litres of water in front of you.

I decided to continue my path and work my way toward north, hoping that I would intercept more fish. Were they sea trout? Perhaps these were escaped rainbow trout from farms. They were after all, chasing and exposing themselves quite blatantly or foolishly as if they were untouchable. Well, they were not touched, so I guess they were more blatant than foolish. Escaped rainbow trout are problematic in European coastal waters. Like any invasive species, they alter the balance on sea trout’s ecosystem. Local anglers believe that rainbow trout farmers purposely lose their fish for insurance claims.

On second thought, I believed they were in fact sea trout. All fish I spotted were estimated to be between 12 and 18 inches long. Their bodies were silver and possess the slender shape that one would see in a natural growth.

Ten minutes later, more fish followed the lures during my retrieves and once again none could be tricked. Further north from where it first happened, another fish followed right in again. This time, I decided to drop the lure onto the bottom when I ran out of retrieve space. The fish paused, suspended beside the lure and watched. When I lifted the lure up once and allowed it to flutter, the fish took a light peck at it and sped back into the deep before I had a chance to react!

Somewhat deflated, I kept working across the beach. More fish were spotted for another hour then it all stopped at noon. Perhaps they had decided to move on. Not so, because a few more followers appeared an hour later. This time, I decided to quickly rush back to shore and rig up the fly rod. Originally I had thought that these fish were following in from beyond my flycasting range. After seeing so many, I suspected that they were all sheltering in the reefs just a short distance away from me. Retrieving flies that immitate shrimps is another common method used on the beach. Maybe the large lure was attractive but too big and heavy for the pan-sized trout to ingest. Maybe a size 8 fly would do the trick.

Once I rigged up, I made my way back to the location where I last spotted some fish. I casted toward the nearest reefs and before I even had a chance to anchor my footing, I felt a solid take! The simultaneous feeling of the tug on the rod and the unnoticed slip of flyline through the fingers is always wonderful. Such a solid take could not be mistaken and the natural reflex made sure the fish could not get away. It was a small one, yet I was very delighted. I slowly backed up, making sure I would not trip over the round boulders. A dip in this water on this winter day would end the trip instantly. The fish came in fast, but began aiming for all the algae planted around me. The excitement let the guard down briefly and the little bugger managed to get its way by wrapping around one algae mass. I ran over to free the line as fast as possible but it was too late. I could see it making its way back into the deep while my line was still stuck on the obstacle.

“You gotta be kidding me.”, I thought. What must one do to bring a fish to the beach? I thought persistance is always rewarded. This was like smelling a good meal without eating it, or watching a movie without the ending being shown. You get the idea, the satisfaction of closure is missing! At least I now knew what could tick them off, so back into the water I went. On the fifth cast, another fish grabbed the fly. Both fish were taken as soon as the fly landed in the water before the retrieve, so obviously these fish were hungry. It appeared to be a much bigger fish, judging by the splashing on the surface. Just when I was ready to get even happier, the fly flew straight back at me. Fish number two was now back and returning to the laughing squad in the water.

By this point, I had about one hour of daylight left. I worked through the area where I had seen fish from start to finish one more time with no success. Just as I was walking back to call it a day, I spotted one more fish moving casually by me in the water. The day was not over yet! I grabbed the fly rod, creeped back into the shallows and made one direct cast toward the last place I saw it. After a few strips, I felt a good tug and fish number three was now dancing at the end of the line. It was another small fish, but at this point I could not careless how big the fish was. I managed to capture a photo with my frozen numb hands before sending it back to become those 20lb fish that I often hear about.

Finally, after six hours of teasing and being teased, I gained one point while these fish gained fifty. It also was my first beach sea trout on the fly, which made all that effort very worthwhile. Seeing these fish darting in and out of the dark reefs like ghosts was also another memorable highlight, which will probably taunt me in my dreams for awhile. On my way back to the car, I conversed with two gentlemen who fish the area regularly and told them about my rather exciting experience. After hearing about the small findings, one of them pulled out his digital camera and showed me a 60cm long specimen caught at the same location last week, and another 4kg fish caught just north of us. Perhaps I will find some bigger ones next time too.

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