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Archive for January, 2009

Our Global Ocean

Published on Saturday, January 31st, 2009

An international petition against salmon farming has recently been set up. As most readers already know, open-pen salmon farming in British Columbia has been linked to the sharp decline of wild pacific salmon due to the explosion of sealice population and other factors. In addition, farming predatory fish simply is not sustainable due to the amount of food that is being extracted from the ocean to feed farmed fish. Citizens of many countries around the world that have experienced this also voice the same concerns. Perhaps these voiced concerns can be united at last and make a difference.

Visit Our Global Ocean for more information!

A slow finish to a successful week

Published on Friday, January 30th, 2009


After going without a bite yesterday and putting in the most time on the river for one day this season, I thought I should be able to change that today.

A bit of frost greeted me and the other early anglers who were on the river at first light, which was coming a little earlier, by 3 minutes each couple of days. Hopefully winter is slowly slipping away, lets hope so as we have seen enough snow this year.

I settled in with another angler who I know at the scene of some other action this week, we were pleased to see the water in good shape once again today. We felt there would be a fish waiting for us as the run looked so promising once again. I was hoping that it would be a wild fish for the tube.

The other angler had the first chance but on the strike he came up empty. A few minutes later it was my turn as the Maple Leaf Drennan dipped. On the strike, I made contact but for the 4th time out of the last 6 hookups, the fish was only on for a head shake and a splash before it was gone.

We worked the run and were joined by other anglers in this and the surrounding spots but I saw nothing on for the two hours when I stayed in the area. There were a dozen or so anglers most of the time.

I decided that it was time to do some exploring and checked out some new areas but that would be after a visit to Tims for some refreshment and a snack. I also checked in with The Master and he had released a hatchery and heard of one wild landed but not tubed as no one was around to do that honour.

After a leisurly break, I was back at the river a bit before noon and I ended up walking over a mile of river. I found some nice spots but the only opportunity I had was when not looking at my float. Instead I was watching my footing while walking down river in the middle of the drift and I felt a good tug, but the float was above water when I looked up. I did not even see it going down. It would not give me a second chance.

I fished for another 30 minutes down river and then returned back to the mentioned spot again and to see if the fish had forgotton about the feel of the hook but it would not or had moved up river. It was near the end of tubing time, three o’clock and the rain started falling. I was tired too and I had another mile to walk back to the Leaf Mobil.

My day started with an opportunity and ended with another chance when for the only time during the whole trip I was not watching my float.

It shows once again in sports angling things can happen when you least expect it.

Presentation changes enticed a fish and a half

Published on Thursday, January 29th, 2009

“Should have been here” were the first four words that started each phone call from Chris in the last several mornings.

Although taunting, reports of fish catches are music to an angler’s ears. It loosened the tension while slaving away by the computer desk, but it motivated me enough to bring out the drift rod and tie some roe bags for the first 2009 trip to the Chilliwack River.

5:00am the alarm sounded off. It was so tempting to tuck under the blanket and forget about the one hour plus drive, but visualization of a chrome bullet in my hands won the tug o’ war. There were still over two hours until daylight, but Chris said we needed to be at the run first. Someone obviously has the steelhead bug.

I pulled up to the parking area at 7:00am, the blue Leaf Mobil was already there and the occupant was no where to be found. I quickly dressed up and trekked out to the river. It has been three months since I last visited the Vedder, which has of course changed. I wondered if I could find Chris in the dark without tripping over newly formed side channels. It took a slight detour but I managed to reach the destination. We stood and chatted in the cold for ten minutes before the game began.

Chris directed me to the “Hot Spot”. “Cast into that slot, that’s where they were biting yesterday.”

Sure, free guiding is always welcome. Knowing where they were biting is an advantage, but I had to remind myself that steelhead are always on the move. They maybe here one day and gone on the next.

It only took about a dozen casts before the float went for its first burial. It was definitely not a snag, as the float depth was set very short and past drifts went through freely. I set the hook and the entire rig with a ripped sac at the end flew over my head. It was a disappointment, but perhaps it was a sign of a great day to come. I shook as the anticipation and cold hands took over the body.

A great day, or morning, it was not. The first float burial turned out to be the only one for a few hours. Chris and I fished up and down with no success. The icy rain did not make it that much more enjoyable. By 10:30am, the steelhead bug was starting to wear off. The brain started turning with ideas.

“Have I missed the bites by a day as usual? Kind of hungry… Hmm, deluxe classic burger, farmer sausage, sunny side up… Cookies Grill…”, I thought. I suggested the idea to Chris, he agreed too.

Meanwhile, I looked upstream and a familiar figure was making his way down to us. It turned out to be Marco, who apparently just arrived on the river! He casually walked and casted, as if he couldn’t care less if he would not catch a fish. We chatted briefly, suggested Cookies Grill to him. “I just got here! I need to fish!”, he said.

We decided to do a few more casts with him and worked the slots where I initially had a hit. While chatting away, I watched Marco’s float took a sudden dive but there was a short delay at the other end of the rod. The hook came up empty.

It seemed like a change of presentation did the trick again. Marco had a box of freshly pumped ghost shrimp, which can be so deadly for steelhead.

Its effectiveness was confirmed a few casts later, when the float took another dive in the faster slot. This time, the fish stood no chance. Marco set the hook precisely and the soft rod bent to the cork immediately. Seeing the kicks on the rod rejuvenated our spirit. Sometimes it is just good to see someone has a fish on when you cannot find one yourself.

The chrome doe took several sporatic runs before surrendering herself in the shallow water. The absence of the adipose fin confirmed that it was a hatchery fish, which Marco wanted to keep. What happened after that is probably the funniest misplay of 2009, and January is not even over yet.

The fish flipped gently in the shallow water by the beach. Marco was ready to bring her up to dry land and I was ready to say, “Looks like someone is coming to breakfast…”. Suddenly the hook popped out! Marco panicked and began kicking the water like a peewee soccer player, attempting to keep it in the shallow water.

The fish bounced once against the nearby rocks and back in the shallow water, made a short burst toward Chris, who began kicking the water like a peewee soccer player too! Why both of them did not bend down and use their arms still baffles me to this minute. The whole fiasco took 15 seconds and the steelhead managed to find a light in the tunnel. She used one more burst of her energy and shot herself back into the run. The three of us stood motionlessly and were speechless. Did that just happen? Laughter then bursted out from all corners, but the fish obviously had the last laugh.

Yep, now it was time for breakfast.

The fries, coffee, burger and sausages sure hit the spot. Sometimes a short break is needed, otherwise it is too mentally tiring.

We returned to the hot spot at 1:00pm. Perhaps things would heat up in the afternoon. Instead of roe sacs, I decided to switch up to a Jensen egg and wool combo. I used a combo that has produced fish for me in the past – orange egg and chartreus wool.

Marco flogged the same slot with more fresh ghost shrimps with no takers. Chris went through it with his big roe sacs. I wedged in between them, threw the combo out. After a couple of drifts, the float did a short dip. It did not completely sink and popped back up before I even reacted. I looked upstream at Chris, who was retying. I looked downstream at Marco, who was focusing on his float. What was that? A fish perhaps? Or a snag that we had hooked up before. I whipped the combo out once again to just above the same spot. It only took a second to drift down and the float was once again pulled down. This time it was a decisive pull. I yanked the rod back as hard as possible, thinking that it was most likely a snag. A silver flash appeared under the float. I looked in disbelief but was absolutely excited at the same time. “Fish on!” and my neighbouring anglers brought in their rigs and watched the show. It was not a very big fish, which rolled and rolled without doing a single leap. I carefully slid the fish into the same shallow spot where people had been playing soccer earlier. Marco reached down and did a fine job tailing the fish. It was another hatchery fish, so I decided to keep it to end my day of searching. I let out a sigh of relief. This was in fact the first steelhead that I have ever kept, as all my previous fish were wild.

I watched the gang fishing some more, but no more fish were interested in the offerings. Meanwhile Dion made his way down to our run. We exchanged information and it seemed to be a slow day overall. I was one of the few lucky ones who managed to tangle with metal head. The trip ended at 3:00pm, the cut-off time for hatchery to pick up broodstocks. For me, this was an excellent start for the 2009 steelhead season. Hopefully more trips will resemble this one in the next several months.

Good luck to all who are heading out this weekend. It should be a fantastic one.

Triple darns but one more for the hatchery

Published on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Fueled by the excitement of yesterday fishing trip, it did not take much urging to get back out there again today.

I wanted to get to the river right at daylight but when I got in the Leaf Mobile I saw the gas gauge needle at empty, darn forgot to fuel it up yesterday. This meant a detour for some petrol that made me 10 minutes late arriving at the river. Roll Eyes Was this a sign of what lay ahead for this forgetful angler.

As the”hot spot” came into view when I clambered down the river’s bank with daylight now 10 minutes old, horrors of all horrors, there was someone in my run. Shocked  Grin I could not believe my eyes. Huh Grin

Anyway that’s OK, I got my tube, if the angler hooked one that I felt he would, the tube would be ready. Actually I was so cocky that I had 2 tubes today, just waiting to have a wild steelhead put in them.

I decided to work a secondary run and leave the run to the lucky one but I kept an eagle eye on him to see if his pole would indeed bend.

I was just getting started at the head of the run when all of a sudden the angler in the “hot spot” was on the move. Huh I was excited to move down to the now vacant run but with no one in sight I might as well finish fishing the run I was at before I moved to it. After about 5 minutes I could wait no longer, I was on the move.

I trembled with excitement as I made my first cast thinking, “Are they here again today?”

I did not have long to have my question answered as near the tailout the Maple Leaf Drennan dipped, I was ready, I striked, there he was, one head shake, two head shakes, darn gone! My first loss of the year after landing the other three I have hooked to start the season. Little did I know things were going to get worse.

About 50 feet above the initial hookup the float dipped again, I striked nothing there, was it bottom as the run is fairly shallow, no I estimated that I was at least a foot above bottom. The next cast same spot down again, I striked, one head shake a bit of a boil then slack, double darn. What was going on? I check my hook, it was sharp.

Nothing more for a while so I moved up to the top of the run. On the first cast down went the MLD, the strike saw the Drennan flying out of the water onto the rocks. Luckily it did not shatter. On went another bait, I am ready now, as the MLD drifted into the zone down it went again, the hook set yielded a solid feeling, as before a single head shake, a boil, then the sickening feeling of slack line, triple damn.

What was going on here? A long time since this has happened to me, what a beak I thought to myself. Maybe the two tubes were the problem, way too confident in myself. Another 10 minutes of nothing so I moved down a tad to another run with a nice spill over. I put on an egg sac for a change of pace. On the second cast and for the 5th time of the morning the MLD is swimming below the surface, once again I striked only to come up empty, the egg sac was torn up some but good enough for another drift. Same spot down again, head shake once again but this time the steelhead is taking line, hooked. Grin Grin

It put up a good fight certainly better than the one yesterday, I was hoping for a wild of course. It took around 5 minutes before I saw the pleasant shape of an adipose, a steelhead on the upside or downside of 9 pounds, a very chrome doe.
It took another couple of minutes of back and forth action before I had her on her side and she easily slided into the holding tube. Well it was about time after so may chances. I phoned the hatchery to arrange the pickup.

I also checked in with “The Master” and told him of my good and bad luck, he had been blanked so far. “The fish that were in the location I am at must have moved into your area” he added.

I had tied the tubed fish up to part of a limb, I checked it a couple of times to make sure she is resting comfortably. Shortly after it was like bees being attracted to honey as anglers start to appear from all sides of me. Huh Two had moved into the run where I had all the action. I stayed near the tube. It did not take long until one of the anglers was into one. The angler was packing a tube too so I moved up to watch the action and helped tubing it if it was another wild, its a good sized buck, near 14. As it neared the shore we saw there was no adipose and one less steelhead in the river.

It was not long until George and Ron arrived for the pickup, they told me that they picked up another on the way down. It appeared after a slow start the wilds are now being caught.

As they were getting ready to leave they got word that another wild was in a tube a few hundred yards above us, a worth while trip for them this morning.

Shortly after they left the cell phone rang. It was The Master, I guess all the fish had not left his area as he told me that he had landed a good sized hatchery buck but he was not sure of the weight. I know it must be a good one as he would not have kept one that early in the day.

I joined up with Lew who had just come out, we tried some other runs but come up empty.

I decided to leave Lew at it while I went for lunch. Just as I left, Nick called again and said his fish was bigger than he thought, 18.91 pounds, which was good for first place in the Wally Hall Junior Memorial Derby. I look forward to see the photo of that monster.

After lunch I returned to the river and tried for another hour but I had run out of chances and headed for home with memories of 3 fish lost but pleased with another for the hatchery which was the most important thing.

Besides those lost maybe there will be more tomorrow for you or me, time will tell.

Tubing steelhead on the Vedder

Published on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Today I woke up to a bit of snow on the ground and more falling from the darkened sky, it is always amazing to me how snow changes the look of our world. It almost gives it a fresh, new and clean look. I know it makes the commute for many a headache, especially when it comes to the morning rush hour. To me, as I get ready for a morning of fishing I think of readers of this website who are caught up in the traffic jam and hope they are all driving safely.

I feel guilty that I live so close to the Chilliwack River and can almost fish every day. I wish however that day will come for many and I hope there will still be fish for them. That is why my mission today was to get to the river at first light in the hope of getting one in the tube for the Chilliwack River steelhead hatchery program. Because of this highly successful program and the dedicated hatchery staff, we on the Chilliwack Vedder River have a good run of steelhead for many British Columbia anglers and others from throughout the world to fish for. Some people condemn hatcheries but in this changing world if it was not for them I believe we would not have the angling opportunities on the Chilliwack Vedder River. What is better, no hatcheries, no fish or hatcheries with a strong run that we have most years on this system and the opportunity to fish for them? Personally I choose that latter.

I was running a bit late this morning so I did not stop at Tims and instead enjoyed a cup of home brew as the Leaf Mobile carefully delivered me through the snow covered roads to the starting spot for the day. As I arrived, two anglers were already hard at it. I pulled into an area where I could watch them and sipped on the last of my coffee and chewed on a bit of toast that I had wrapped in some tin foil to keep it warm, I hate cold toast. I also hate the cold temperatures that I know will freeze my guides and my hands today but the snow falling silently around me indicated that it was indeed steelhead weather. I had a further excuse to stay in the warm confines of the Leaf Mobile as an angler stopped by for a chat and told me about the 21 pound plus hatchery steelhead that he caught on the first of January, what a way to start 2009. He showed me a picture of it too. Grin

While he headed up river, I listened to the radio traffic reporters and heard all about the traffic accidents everywhere in the Lower Mainland and out to the Valley, why don’t people drive to the conditions?

I finally got brave, geared up and headed to the flow picking my way carefully down the snow covered rocks. I was just getting ready to make my first cast and I heard a whistle from one of the two anglers working in front of me, I saw his pole arched nicely.

“Let me know if it is a wild”, I said. I put my rod and back pack down in case I needed to sprint to the fish, I was hoping at the same time that it was a wild as I had not been able to tube one since the 2009 program started on January 15.  I then heard what I wanted to hear,“wild”, off I went.

I met up with another forum member; sorry I couldn’tt match his face to his handle. Embarrassed He offered to help tubing it which I was very grateful as the place where we would have to slip it in the holding tube was not too friendly. We quickly made our way down to Chris, the fortunate angler. I slipped the tube off my shoulder and we zipped it open, we had some trouble getting it into its temporary home but after a few tries and 4 very cold hands we had it safely in. Chris slipped the hook out, we close the 7- 8 pound buck in, good one for the program as most years bucks are harder to get than the does. The 3 of us felt good as we had all done our part in getting a fish that will ensure more steelhead for you all to enjoy in a few years, be you strictly catch and release or like to take one home. That choice is freely yours, which is the good part of fishing.

We moved the fish from where we tubed it and I moved it a bit off the main part of the river, making sure there was a bit of a current and the fish’s head was facing into the current. I found a convenient snag which I could tie the tube and its occupant to. Once tubed we were also very concerned for the well being of this precious steelhead.

I phoned the hatchery and gave them the location to Bob, the hatchery manager who answered my call. Bob told me that they would be down as quickly as they could, it is the first tubed fish of the day.

While I waited for the hatchery staff I did a bit of fishing but I had no success over the next 45 minutes. Fishers came and went, there were more on the river than I thought there would be for a snowy day. I checked the fish a couple of times that it was doing OK, it was fine. The Hatchery staff, Ron and Kelly appeared on the dyke and in no time they had transferred the steelhead from my tube into the blue carrying case. A short trip was quickly made to their truck and the steelhead is deposited in the oxygen-fed tank and was on its way to the Chilliwack River Hatchery. Before they left I told them I hoped that I could call them again today. Grin

I sat in the Leaf Mobile for a while watching different anglers working the run, to see if anyone else connected but they did not so I decided to go to my “hot spot”, where I have taken two hatchery fish over the last 2 weeks.

I was warmed up some now after the drive to the new location and I was back on the river at 10:20am, very few anglers at this spot. Grin I saw no tracks in the snow on the side stream where I have been fishing but I wondered if the entrance far down river is now too low with the dropping river.

I lost confidence in the side stream and headed over to the main river. As I reached it, I saw Gwyn a few hundred yards below me. I fished a likely looking run but even though it looked fishy, I found no takers. I headed to another run and I saw Gwyn working to it too. He got there first. Grin Just as I reached it I saw Gwyn’s pole nicely bent. “That’s the third one and I just started at 10, should have been here a few minutes ago as I released a nice wild” he related as he played the fish. As he got it to the beach, it was a nice fresh hatchery doe that he decided to retain. As he filled in his license I wondered if there might be a fourth there, I was hoping.

I threw a few casts where we were standing and then moved to the top of the run. The Maple Leaf Drennan that I had put on last night along with some new main line was bouncing along happily in the ripple at the head of the run, it was about 2 to 3 feet deep. I could even see the Maple Leaf logo through the falling snow. Suddenly its journey downstream was interrupted, it was swimming below the surface but not for long as my strike brought it to the top for a brief second before the fish on the end had pulled it back under. “There’s another Gwyn!” I said happily. I saw that it was a good sized one, maybe close to 12. I prepared for a good fight but it did not happen as the fish surrendered quickly. I said to Gwyn “does it look like the one you released”, “no I do not think so”, he replied. “Maybe it is a moving fish”, I said as Gwyn easily slided the very docile doe into the tube and then tied the rope up to a large rock. Once again I was pleased that we have another for the hatchery.

Another phone call to the hatchery and Lynne said that they were on their way to pick up another fish and would get them to call me, which they did a few minutes later. They said that they had two to pick up now and would be getting to me in about 30 minutes or so. That gave me more time to fish as I waited once again. Even though I was confident of hitting another, I did not.

Kelly and Ron once again were the pick-up crew and the process from earlier in the morning was repeated. As I was cold, I followed them out to the truck. As they transferred the fish to the tank, a young family that were out for a walk stopped and had a look at the 3 steelhead swimming freely in the tank. The children and their mother asked a number of questions such as what we were doing. Of course we were pleased to answer their inquires. Maybe one day they will be doing what I was doing today.

As the truck pulled away with its precious cargo of three and I headed back to the Leaf Mobile, I felt good that I had done my small part today of making sure that there will be steelhead in the future for you and I to enjoy.

Tomorrow, actually it is now today is another day to be out on the river for another adventure of seeking out that steelhead, hoping I can be fortunate to encounter once again this magnificant game fish. Around 7 hours to spash down, I hope. Grin Grin

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