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Archive for the ‘The Journal by Chris Gadsden’ Category

One unlucky steelhead

Published on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

After landing only one steelhead this past week and losing four, I was anxious to see if I could raise my 1 for 8 land to hook ratio this week. I do feel a bit guilty for fishing on the weekend but I try not to go to a run where someone else is fishing. It also was a good time to scout out some new spots and with no broodstock capturing on weekends, I did not have to carry the tube around. Also I did not have to keep my eyes on other anglers to see if they had a steelhead on that could be a brood fish for the program.

I was tired out from yesterday’s trip after guiding Rodney and Nina, as well as looking after the tubed fish before the hatchery staff picked it up. I worried like a mother hen when they were in my care as I did not want anything to happen to them. I checked them every so often in the tube that they are doing ok. I remember a few years back when I unzipped the holding tube too far and the fish took the opportunity to get clear of its dark temporary home and gave me a wet splash goodbye.

I got to bed early because of this strenuous work week. Five days on the river and walking on the rocks made it almost worse than working. Of course getting to sleep early meant I was awake early too. After making some coffee then picking up a few bottles and tins, I made it to the river at first light.

As I arrived at the run where I was going to start at, I found Doc there, who donated the wild fish yesterday. He said that he took a nice hatchery fish yesterday too so he had a good day all around. After chatting with him for awhile, I left the run for him to fish as he was there first. I slipped down to the run below and after maybe 10 minutes, I saw Doc’s pole with a nice bend to it. He was working down towards me so I went up to take in the action. It was a good thing as the fish left the main run and started down some fast water with a log jam along the shore. Doc would have to climb over a couple of logs as it was too deep to wade past it. I took the pole as Doc slipped over the logs, then I handed him back the rod. He played the fish with some good weight to it, into a nice piece of back water but the fish was very stubborn to give up, so strong. Of course at times this made getting one to the beach successfully a challenge, I had found that out during this past week.

Finally we saw that it was a wild, too bad it was not yesterday as we do not take broods on weekends except by the the upper boundary of the river, just below the hatchery. As Doc eased into the shallows, I slipped out the hook, a nice buck which I would say close to 14lb. I told Doc that maybe we could catch it early next week. We then headed up to where he had caught the fish but two spey anglers were just settling into the top of the run, I left it to them to try their luck.

I tried a couple of other runs but I had been keeping my eyes on the Friday Hole, just downstream a bit. I had seen that no one were at it yet so I decided to make my move. This is the spot where I missed some sort of fish four times the other day. It took me about five minutes to get to the run, while I picked up a 20 cent returnable bottle on the way.

As I reached the run, two fellows were just approaching it on the other side of the flow. One was tying up his gear or doing something as he was sitting on a log. The other chap moved into the casting position just as I was putting my pole together and a fresh bait on. He had made 4 or 5 casts with no action in the small fishing area. which I really like because if a fish is there you should find it rather quickly. I made one cast of my own while the fellow casted a couple more before he moved up a tad to fish another spot on his side of the river.

On my second cast down went the Maple Leaf Drennan. Yesterday I lost my ML Drennan so I decided to change float types, maybe it would change my fortunes which it now had as a fish that felt like a fair sized one was twisting and turning below the surface. It did not show itself, then decided to vacant the main part of the run. I told the fellow on the log who was watching the action that I hoped he does not go down the channel on his side or I would be out of luck. The pole that I bought some time ago from The Master had a very nice bend in it. My heart was beating a little faster than normal. Suddenly the fish said I am out of here and bolted downstream, but luckily on the channel of my side. Line was now peeling quickly off the centerpin, one of the ones that my dad bought many years ago in England. I was in hot pursuit and splashed across a small section of water with some loose sand below me. I lost my balance and sank to my knees but with my adrenaline running high I quickly regained my feet and on I went again.

I reached two logs that had been cut off by beavers. I did not know how but my line was under them. With a bit of effort, I was able to pass the rod under them. In the meantime, the line was quickly evaporating off the reel. I had no idea if the fish was still there, I was afraid to look and see how much line was left on the reel. To make matters worse, I was using 8 pound test leader and 10 pound test main line. The water was really moving too, so I was thinking the fish must have been gone by now but since I had come this far, I kept following it. I had not gone much further and the line was around a small root that was sticking out of the cut bank. it took me 30 seconds to knock the line off with another stick. I had to watch that the sandy bank did not give way. One has to be so careful especially with the excitement in ones veins while fighting a steehead. Actually, while getting the line free, part of the bank fell in. As I moved on, I had another log to contend with. When I reached it my line was again around another small cut of limb that was also hard to free. I had to ease myself over the bank a bit so I was able to reach out to flip it off, which with a bit of luck I did. Back on the chase, I had to go upstream a bit to forge another side stream. Finally I was on a gravel bar with only a small log jam below that did not look like it would be a challenge like what I had just passed by. I had a little trouble walking properly as all the scrambling had made my sweat pants slipping down on my legs a bit, luckly they were underneath my waders.

I held the rod high and saw the line down from me, nearly 100 yards. I tightened up on the pole a bit, yes I felt the pulse of the fish telegraphing up the pole. I could not believe that it was still there. After losing 7 out of 8 fish in the last month with no obstacles to deal with, how did this one stay on? I winded as I continued the downstream march. A chap from our discussion forum and others around me were watching the show that would have been funny on video I am sure. Too bad Rodney and Nina were not here today. A fellow behind the log jam did not see me coming and we shouted to him that a fish was just above him. He slipped out of the way as I held the rod high to easily clear the low jam. I had clear sailing now. After another 5 to 10 minute of battle, I saw that it was a hatchery fish that came to shore to stay. Because I had put my pack down before I started fishing at where I hit the fish, I had to borrow a pen from the forum member. I told him to go up and try the same spot. Two other people were making a line to it too. I sat on a log but the pen would not write so I had to walk up to where the pack was to get mine. It looked about 400 yards but it felt further. As I went up to my pack, I was amazed by all the obstacles that I got by. I must take a picture of them one day.

I took the doe to weigh in at Fred’s Custom Tackle. It came in a tad over 11 pounds, not huge but we now have fresh fish once again.

It certainly was nice to catch a fish in the Friday Hole on a Saturday.

Ten prized catches at successful Boxing Day Derby

Published on Sunday, December 27th, 2009

I did not get an early start at this year’s Boxing Day Steelhead Derby as I was recovering from celebrating Christmas Day, even though the action I had yesterday had me somewhat enthused. I was hoping of course maybe I could land my 3rd Boxing Day Derby steelhead. I am not sure how many times I have entered but it would be around 10 I guess. I also thought of the time when I had lost three on derby day, including breaking a good sized fish off, above the float too. That year, I did not get an early start as I was helping the derby ticket sale at the club house.

I arrived at the club house to get my ticket at around 8:35am and Travis was there already with a fish hanging on the board. The first fish weighed in at 8:17, hitting the scales at 6.25 pounds. When I had just gotten my ticket, in came two more fish in short order with Gary’s nice fish at 13.01 pounds. The time was 8:40am with Ken a couple of minutes behind, a 11.74lb fish. Boy, maybe the early bird does get the worm after all. The good news looked like that it may be a banner derby.

I snapped a photo of Ken’s fish being weighed by Clive then I headed to “The Point” for a great buffet breakfast for only $8.50, senior rate. A number of other anglers were taking a break from fishing and were enjoying the fine array of foods. Make sure you drop in when out fishing that way, I am sure you will not be disappointed in the food that they are serving. While I ate, another angler came in and he had a fish too. Shortly after that, I heard Pete also had one that turned out to be the winner.

Wow five fish and it was only around two hours into the derby. I gobbled down the rest of my breakfast in a hurry now and out the door I went, with steelhead on my mind.

I arrived at the scene of yesterday’s action and saw a good number of anglers on the flow but none in where I had the fish on yesterday, but I was sure that it had been fished before my arrival. I fished another run first using prawn tails for starters. I then moved with great anticipation to the hot spot but after fishing it up and down with prawns and roe bags, the Maple Leaf Drennan did not even wiggle. I phoned The Master to see if he was fishing but he was after webfeet on the Fraser. It certainly was a nice day to be either fishing or hunting. It was fairly warm as the guides were not freezing up but the wind made it feel a bit cooler than it really was. Many non fishing families were enjoying walking along the river trails and gravel bars, another great way to celebrate the Christmas season. You certainly do not have to be an angler to enjoy our precious rivers.

Pistol Pete who had called earlier came down from up river with the same success as me. He decided to try down by the Hydro Bridge while I moved to some runs below the so called Hot Spot. The runs turned out to be non-hot too but one angler said he saw one taken on the “other side”. I talked to a few others who had seen nothing but heard rumours of a wild and hatchery taken “down further”.

I reversed fields and head back from where I started and fishd the runs again. A chap on the other side said he was now fishing where Pete got his. Of course it was on the “other side” from where I was fishing but it looked like I am in the right area to be fishing.

Time was closing in to the derby deadline of 2:00pm so as I wanted to be there to get some pictures and video I headed towards the dyke and the Leaf Mobile. First I tried a side stream on the way out and just before I made my last cast, I saw a glimmer of light reflecting off something, I thought that it must be a blade or spoon lying on the bank that someone had lost. On the way out I climbed down the bank from the trail to check it out. It turned out to be a fairly expensive watch so if you lost one on the river give me a shout.

I got back to the club house right at the derby deadline but of course It did not matter as I had no fish to weigh in. I headed to the board and saw that there were ten fish, which was less than I thought after seeing six brought in first thing. Pete McPherson had wrapped up first place which was nice to see as he has worked so hard on so many fishing issues over the years since I have known him. Of course, most of you know him too after his many years at Fred’s Custom Tackle in Vedder Crosssing. Pete is not only a top rod but one great guy.

I filmed a bit of his fishing story and also some pictures with his Kingfish and the coveted Ferguson Furnell Trophy with so much history behind it, dating back to 1938. Many great anglers’ names are on it, many now sadly gone to the happy fishing grounds in the heavens above. Reading those names on the trophy brings back memories of them to many of us as they were fishing partners and dear friends.

The award ceremony was ready to go and a good crowd was in attendance. When Pete received his awards, he was a popular winner. Paul the Chilliwack Fish Game and Protective Association’s President was handing out the trophies and the prizes and there were lots of them. I even got my name drawn for a $50 gift card, which was great as I can use it for a New Years dinner with my wife.

Thanks to Paul and his committee for putting on a great derby and a good sum of money will once again go to fish enhancement projects.

When I left to catch the hockey game, the prize draws were still going on. I think a good number of those who entered and came to the clubhouse won something.

I was not lucky to catch a fish but a watch and a $50 gift certificate were OK too. Of course, meeting some old fishing friends and members of Fishing with Rod was great too. Maybe next year you or I will join that elite group of anglers including now Pete McPherson on the Ferguson Furnell Trophy.

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.

One more for the hatchery

Published on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Conditions on the Chilliwack River much improved today as was the fishing for some. I did not get a bite but was able to tube one from another angler. Thanks Larry!

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