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Archive for June, 2009

Slow fishing, but good companions

Published on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

After our first boat trip at a lake just outside of Copenhagen, we had the urge to go back for another try. The first trip to any new fishery is often not productive, so it only makes sense to go back again and again until we achieve consistent result. Nina and I booked the boat again last Saturday. This time, we decided to try the evening hours.

The weather has really improved since a week ago in Denmark. Instead of the inconsistent pattern of rain, wind and sun, we are finally being spoiled by constant sunshine and temperature in the high twenties. Rain was not our worry on this day, instead we were seeking cool shades for refuge.

To make a long story short, the trip did not yield more fish than our previous. Nina connected with a solid fish briefly before losing it, while minutes later I managed to release a small perch on the surface without touching it.

Nevertheless, it was a calm, relaxing evening. The evening insect hatch was rather spectacular. The entire lake seemed to be covered with bugs. Small fish took advantage of this by constantly feeding on the surface. I should have brought along a fly rod and tossed a dry fly. Ducks and swans couldn’t seem to stay away from our boat, especially after Nina started feeding them. Once they associated our boat with food, they followed tightly behind us whenever we rowed to a new spot. Watch the video clip below to see our companions.

Three more sleeps until opening

Published on Sunday, June 28th, 2009

The Chilliwack River opens for (red chinook salmon) fishing on July 1st. I looked at the river today and for anyone trying for an early red, the conditions should be ideal come Wednesday if today was any indication.

There are a couple of things to note. If you are fishing for small rainbow trout, you are allowed to keep 4 hatchery fish of any size daily. Hatchery fish can be identified by the absence of the adipose fin and a healed scar in the same area. You must release any with an adipose fin. Most of these rainbow trout are in fact juvenile steelhead that will undergo smoltification and return from the ocean as trophy size adults.

The dyke is close up and down of Keith Wilson Road to cars until July 15. I must write them to remind them to open the gates come the 16th. Water is high in this area anyway and the bugs are out.

Please remember that when the dyke opens, pick up your garbage behind you and take the time to pick up those that drop it. It is a constant battle to keep this area open for recreational use. Garbage dumping, as well as driving off the upper dyke road, could see our access closed anytime as we saw happened on the Abbotsford side of the canal.

The Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Coalition on July 18th. Give a couple of hours back to the river by joining us. You can fish before and after the cleanup. We will be meeting at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve between 8:30am and 9:30am. Donuts, muffins and coffee will be available for volunteers.

Do not leave valuables in your car while fishing because break-ins continue unabated in the area. I saw fresh glass in the Lickman parking lot today. Good luck in the upcoming Chilliwack River salmon fishing season!

Tough derby at Cultus Lake

Published on Thursday, June 25th, 2009

It was good to get back to some fishing the past week as the end of the steelhead season was a bit of a lull for this angler for awhile. Now with Summer coming on the calendar, yesterday it signalled the start of the Summer salmon fishery on the rivers and the big saltwater lake. Encouraging reports from Matt Stabler on the West Coast of Vancouver Island sure gets the blood pumping in one’s veins. It gives one some good dreams at night of that big one putting you to the test.

The first trip was with the Master, Frank, the two Dons to Cultus Lake to tag 25 northern pikeminnows for the Greg Clark Memorial Family Fishing Derby which was held on last Saturday. Anyone catching a tagged fish would win $100 on derby day.

I was my usual bad self at trying to catch them as I think I got 3 and one of the biggest I caught had swallowed the hook so Nick did not tag it as the hook was hard to remove before it was released. Frank also picked up a nice cutthroat trout on a worm, it was over 2 pounds. Cultus is always worth trying for some trout at this time of the year, before the water skiers take over the lake. Jenna, who is the photo journalist for the Chilliwack Progress, came out in the boat to get a picture for the pre-derby story. Jenna even remarked about my skill level. I should have taken the camera and let her fish!

It took us about three hours to get the 25 and we had to take a break to do a TV story with Shaw TV. I was even poor at that as I stumbled on a couple of questions which lead to a retake. When it ran on TV last week, one of the shots of me casting saw me making a terrible expression but at least the Toronto Maple Leaf Hat looked good, no I was not wearing it. Maybe that is why I was having tough fishing. After we had the 25 tagged fish, an enjoyable lunch with the boys for some good fellowship. The Master was his usual self with plenty of stories. Of course he caught the most, maybe that’s why he was so jovial but he always out fishes us.

I then slipped out for the opening of chinook salmon on Tuesday and picked up a small chinook. It was good to see the Maple Leaf Drennan going swimming again. Of course fresh fish again tasted excellent to the palate.

Then it was Friday, the final day of getting ready for the pikeminnow derby at Cultus Lake.

My Friday night was spent sleeping in the Leaf Mobile #2 as 4 had to safeguard overnight the setup for the derby at Main Beach. By the way LM #1 had been shuffled off to another Maple Leaf fan, I hope. I shed a few tears as she left me as the two of us shared many solitary fishing trips together, which I have shared with you on The Journal over the years. That was after I inherited her from my late dad. I have yet to see her on the roads with her new owner at her wheel.

Before the four of us went to bed, we watched the TV that I brought along. The show was the fishing trip that Nick, Rodney, Terry and I did to the lakes two years ago that I filmed. It Was good to see the fishing again and the nice rainbows that we caught over the 2 days. We have not made the annual lake trip yet. It is a bit hard with Rod in Denmark!

Leaf Mobile #2 has yet to be painted blue, but maybe she will stay in her present color as she is a shy young gal and does not like to be recognized by other anglers she tells me. She is a spry young thing and gives her owner driving pleasure on the journeys she has made so far, good for this pensioner.

The night was short as thinking about the derby ahead did not lend for a sound sleep. Anyway, I was up early to put the coffee pot on per Ev’s instructions from the night before. Buck and Buckeye, who spent the night too, would enjoy a cup when they got up as well.

When I was getting the fishing rod out of LM’s cab I heard a crunch sound. Darn I had stepped on the Maple Leaf Drennan; it lay shattered in several pieces on the ground. It would not be going downtown with a fish on the end again. I was glad that it was dark and no one was around to see its death cry.

I did a tour around the tents and the concession booth while the coffee perked. Nothing around, not even the coons that tried to have a late supper in Ev’s concession around midnight last year. They disturbed my sleep then but I got some exercise by chasing the group of masked bandits up a tree.

Buck finally stirred, it was about 4:00am. He likes to get an early start for the derby and always does well. They got about 125 last year all on worms.

We visited and then went for a nice cup of Java. As he filled his cup, Buck said the coffee looked a little weak.

I looked and said maybe it was not ready yet. Buck then said, “You had plugged in the coffee maker with just hot water in it!”

What a beak I was, first the Drennan now this. Made for some good laughs anyway.

Finally the coffee did get made and daylight came, the wind had died down and the sky looked clear. Good as it would make an enjoyable day for all.

Buck pushed off. Even though I had not entered the derby, I hopped in the Leaf Craft #2 and would try it for an hour before I had to start selling tickets. Buckeye pushed me off into the calm stillwater of Cultus. Only the birds were singing as the human residents of the lake were still snoring. I wondered if they heard the clank of the oars, I doubt it.

As I rowed the Leaf Craft to where I wanted to drop my anchor, a few fish were dimpling the surface, starting their day too, most likely trout. An eagle circled, looking keenly, soaring silently, for an unwary fish. She or he needed food for the youngs, in a nest high up a conifer tree along the lake shore, somewhere close.

Both Buck and I had trouble finding any fish for the time we were fishing close together. After picking up Tyler and his friend, he moved on to another part of the lake. Looking keenly too, like the eagle.

A few other boats were launching, a canoe came by and worked near me and they too were having trouble getting a bite. Where are they, we said to each other. They too moved on eventually. I finally got a bite on the rod but I missed it. I was using a bit of prawn. I was also trying a bit of a hot dog wiener, with no success.

I then switched to bread dough that friend Gary said is good, he gave me some on Friday night. I got a bit every time but they turned out to be shiners, about 2 inches long, I landed one.

My time was up as I had to get back to Main Beach to sell tickets.

As I beached the Leaf Craft I saw the directors were starting to arrive setting out the prizes and displays. The Master, who was looking after the prizes, had many, good ones too. Ev, Frank and others had the concession going; the aroma of breakfast combined with the fresh morning air was appealing. As a joke, I weighed in my shiner even though it was not the fish that were to be weighed in. I wanted an “I caught a fish” button, which all who caught a fish would receive.

People were arriving, boats were plying the waters, looking for the pikeminnows that I could not locate in the hour or so. The excitement on the faces of the children made all the work and weeks of planning by the Fraser Valley directors worth it.

People came asking for loaner rods as some media articles said rods would be made available when it should have read they were for children who were fishing on the docks under the supervision of directors. Steve was busy rounding and rigging up as many as he could to accommodate the eager anglers. Sometimes things go wrong when dealing with the press and you get misquoted. I think people understood that we were doing the best we could.

Ticket sales were brisk and I sold a couple of annual FVSS memberships for $10. They were hard to sell sometimes; we need more members to support the derby and the work of the FVSS as they work for anglers to retain fishing opportunities. Consider taking one out, Email me if you would like a membership. Many do not know that it was the work of the FVSS starting back in 1984 that gave you salmon opportunities for all species on the Fraser and other rivers. Without the hard work by many over the years, I believe that you would not have had the chinooks reopened back in the 80’s.

Nick now had his crew doing the pre-draws on tickets bought by Friday night; they were posted on a board. This was done to speed up the prize draw process as last year it took forever to get through the draws.

My wife’s blue grass band, Work in Process was setting up and starting to play. With my video camera, I recorded one song, Big Fraser, about salmon coming up the mighty Fraser.

Games were in full swing and the kids were enjoying them. The docks were full of fishers. Reports were coming in that the fishing was indeed slow; I had found that out in my brief foray, as I reported above.

Dean Werk of Great River Fishing Adventure had his guides and others in jetboats taking people out for an hour or so. Such a nice touch and many thanks should go to Dean for this as well as the following companies and guides. If you want to book fishing trip consider them as they give freely of their time each derby.

  • Len’s Sportfishing Adventures – Greg Wolf
  • BlueWater Rockies Sportfish Guide Co. – Chris Ciesla
  • Swiftwater Guiding – Oliver Rutschman
  • Reaction Fly & Tackle – Derick Van Nes
  • Great River Fishing Adventures – Kevin Hawryluk, Greg Larson, Dean Werk

Andrew, my younger son, arrived with grandson Max and they got on one of the scheduled trips. In his younger days, Andrew liked to fish and was an accomplished angler back then. Other interests seemed to outweigh fishing in the last few years but a 2 year old son starts to bring back memories from his own youth. I was of course so happy to see this.

They were booked on Dean’s boat and I saw them off, filming them at the same time, hoping they could outfish dad and granddad. When they came back, Andrew had outfished dad again with a pikeminnow and a released sculpin. Apparently Max enjoyed steering the boat with Dean. His time will come, I hope, to carry on the tradition of angling that has passed down from many family generations. They both won draw prizes too, fly and spin combos.

The beach was busy and fish started to come to the scales where Fergy and his daughters tabulated the weights.

No tagged fish were coming in and at the end of the derby none were, but the people who caught any pikeminnows were given a special draw tickets. Five people whose tickets were drawn won $100 each. Our own Daniel was one of them, lucky guy. He better have taken his girlfriend out for supper instead of buying more fishing tackle.

The derby came to an end and the awards were handed out. Fishing was indeed slow with 473 pikeminnows brought to the scales, which was down from close to 700 caught last year by fewer anglers. Is the derby and seining of the fish having an effect on the population or was it the change in weather that put the bite off? Who knows, as this is fishing. The final count of anglers who bought a derby ticket was 420 adults and 374 children, for a total of 794.

The time had passed quickly, the 2009 Greg Clark Memorial Family Fishing Derby was in the books and now the directors were in charge with taking everything down. I am glad that the Leaf Mobile #2 is bigger than its predecessor because I got most of my stuff in, including Leaf Craft 2. Buck’s wife had to take the leftovers to my house before I and the Buck’s family had supper at Ricky’s.

A good day and derby, tiring for many but rewarding to all because of the enjoyment felt by many families in sharing our great pastime of fishing and taking in the event. Frank told me last night that he thinks there were over 1,000 that either fished or came by the displays. A new record indeed.

Now it is time for me to start another fishing trip, another journal and maybe a fish or two but I better not try for pikeminnows.

Learn about Tidal Fraser fishing on July 11th!

Published on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

For many years now, I have been writing about different, unexplored fishing opportunities in the Tidal Fraser River. From float fishing for coarse fish to flyfishing for trout, char and salmon, this area is ideal for Vancouverites who want to go fishing for a couple of hours without travelling far. I regularly receive questions in emails about them. Here is a great you to find out more, by coming to this year’s Fish for the Future on Saturday July 11th!


Fish for the Future is an annual festival that I have organized since 2003. The purpose of the event is to promote sportfishing, create public awareness of the biodiversity of the Fraser River ecosystem and conservation. It is fun and educational for all ages. The event is hosted at the No. 2 Road Pier of London’s Landing from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

During this year’s festival, families have the opportunities to try out fishing. Fishing gear will be available for kids who do not have them. Fish species that you might see include peamouth chub, northern pikeminnow, sculpin, largescaled sucker, redside shiner, shiner perch, starry flounder, American shad, bull trout, cutthroat trout and white sturgeon. When a fish is caught, it will be put in an aquarium for the kids to observe and learn before released back into the water.

Beside fishing, there will also be many other activities for participants to get involved in:

  • Flycasting and flytying lessons will be available throughout the event for those who wish to learn the art of flyfishing.
  • OWL, Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, will be showing some of BC’s iconic birds of prey.
  • Presented by the Seymour Salmonid Society, the aquatic insect station showcases microspecies that make up the important base of a stream ecosystem. There will also be a live tank of coho salmon smolts for visitors to watch.
  • DFO Steveston will be on site to answer your questions about fishing in the tidal waters of British Columbia.The
  • The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC will be hosting learn to fish lessons throughout the event.


Bring a packed lunch! There are picnic tables in the shaded area of the pier where you can enjoy your lunch break between activities. Ride a bike down to the event! Richmond has an excellent network of cycle routes. Park your bikes on the pier while enjoying all the activities.

You can be both a participant and volunteer. Help is always needed. If you wish to volunteer, please email me at I hope to see you on July 11th! This is also an opportunity for me to meet readers and learn more about what others would like to see on the website.

Here are some video clips from last year’s Fish for the Future.

Perseverance paid off for some

Published on Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Most of the fishing that I have done in Denmark has been from shore. There is not a shortage of shore access. The entire coastline is opened to the public and can be fished year-round. Both public and pay-per-day access of lakes and streams are also quite abundant. Boat fishing is available, but most Danish anglers do not own a boat, or a car.

Private transportation is a luxury expense that most choose not to have in this country. Driver’s licence, vehicle and gasoline are incredibly pricey. It is the government’s way of encouraging citizens to utilize public transportation and the well-developed network of cycle lanes. It is a win-win situation. Getting around this city is convenient by train, metro, bus, bike and foot. In fact, travel time by these methods is often faster by car.

The disadvantage of this arrangement is that recreational options become limited. A car is needed to transport a boat. A house is needed to store a boat. Most people do not have this requirement, so alternatives are needed.

We decided to join a local fishing club, which is affiliated to several other clubs. For 400 Kroners (roughly around CAD$80) per year, one of the benefits that members have is the usage of club boats that are docks at many lakes in the outskirts of Copenhagen. No addtional fee is required, we simply have to book the boat on the internet and purchase a key that works for all of the boats.

We decided to give this a go by booking a boat at a lake that offers fishing for northern pike and perch today. Nina and I were joined by her brother Rune, who has decided to revive his childhood hobby after a long break.

Our mellow morning start brought us to the lakeside dock at 9:30am. The lake was flat calm, finally after two weeks of wind and rain. Our boat was a 12 footer, which could easily fit three or four people. Rowing such a large boat was not going to be pleasant, especially for someone whose only preference is an electric motor!

Club boats, ready to be used. Accessories are kept in the club shed.

A duck convention.

A typical Danish house by the lake. This property is actually on a tiny island in the middle of the lake.

Being new to the lake, we did not have any knowledge on where we should be fishing. This is especially difficult when one lacks a depth finder. I had looked at a few mapes of the lake prior to the trip, so I made a few suggestions on where we should fish.

Seeking for hot spots.

We anchored not too far from the shoreline where it is densely covered with reeds. An ideal pike habitat perhaps? Our choices of weapon include poppers, deep-diving wobblers, spinners, spoons and jigs. These ensure that all depths could be covered. After playing with large lures and not finding any responsive pikes, I switched to the light spinning rod with a 1/8oz green spinner that has brought me many fish in the past. After a few casts, I had a good tug and hooked onto a fish. The tug was very brief. The fish was on for a couple of seconds, swam away freely before I shouted “There’s a fish!”

The rest of the morning was rather uneventful beside a couple of ducks that followed us around. We rowed and anchored numerous times with no other bites, but managed to learn the depths in the meantime. Once the drop-offs were located, we could fish with slightly more confidence.

In the afternoon, we decided to work out way back through the deep sections to the original spot where I had lost a fish. Instead of covering waters that are only two or three metres deep for ambushing pikes, we began fishing in much deeper waters where fish maybe hiding from the sun. I rigged up a jighead with a rubber tail for Nina, so she could dangle the rod up and down without paying much attention. Perhaps this would grab the attention of some schooling perch.

Beside spinners, plastic baits are known to work very well for European perch. Jigging, drop shotting are North American techniques that have been successfully adopted by trophy perch anglers in Western Europe. This was in fact our first attempt of using them when targeting perch.

After being blanked for several hours, it was understandable that Nina was becoming bored, but she continued lifting the rod up and down. I watched her rod intently while retrieving my spinner. Suddenly there was a noticeable bend on her rod when she lifted it.

“That’s a fish.”
“No it’s not, just weed.”
“No really, that’s a fish.”, I said as the rod kicked a couple of times.

The more Nina retrieved, the more delighted she became. It was indeed a fish, a rather nice perch. It surfaced quickly after some struggle. Nina reached out and firmly grabbed onto its mouth.

First fish of the day!

Getting a good grip.

An European perch – A humped green body, red fins and black stripes.

No long after she released her catch, a rainstorm creeped in without much warning. The forecast indicated sunny for the entire day, but I have learned that anything goes when it comes to the weather in Denmark. Nina had my Goretex jacket, but no waterproof pants. I had a pair of Goretex pants on, but the upper body was only covered by a fleece jacket. Both of us were becoming partially wet. Meanwhile, with only a pair of jeans on and a regular jacket, Rune was fully wet. Despite of this, we continued fishing. The first fish always brings the bug that does not wear off very fast.

We repositioned ourselves to my lucky spot. Both Rune and I continued tackling the area with our small spinners while Nina was confident that the jig is the ticket to more fish.

It only took a few minutes before Rune quietly announced that he had a fish on. It was a perch, but smaller than Nina’s catch.

Wet but satisfied.

Now that the siblings had caught their fish, my chance of connecting with one was becoming slim because the rain was not easing off. We fished for another ten minutes before both wanted to call it a day. I reluctantly agreed. After two weeks of fishing without a single catch, it was becoming rather frustrating.

Although the fishing result was not spectacular, the boat trip presented many new potentials for future outings. The same boating options are available at several other lakes, which I look forward to explore in the future. The lack of boat ownership requires planning of an outing much ahead of time, but it eliminates the challenges of storage, maintenance and other hassles.

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