Stillwater magic and mystery at Spider Lake
On Nov. 1 I took a chance and went down to Spider Lake, hoping the rock had migrated from its original position. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Purgatory Rock had actually moved to the side enough for me to launch my punt on my dual-wheeled setup with no trouble.
Otto Winning was there and he was getting organized to fish from the shore in the bay. There was a boat on the lake with two dedicated trollers working the main body of the lake.
I am not certain who to thank, but to the people in the ministry of the environment, the highways people, the parks people and the people from the Quarry a heartfelt thank-you for making this old man’s access to one of his visions of paradise without purgatory so much easier.
As I slowly rowed out of the entrance bay I glanced at Otto, who had just called, “Fish on!” while he was busy with a nicely bent rod playing a good-sized trout. As he pulled the fish up onto the beach I couldn’t but think how successful shore fishing can be when you know what you are doing, as in Otto’s case.
In the meantime back to the business at hand – finding a fly pattern that will attract some action. In spite of the rain over the past few days the lake remains at an unusually low level. I started slowly rowing down the lake with a deep sinking line on one rod and a medium sinker on the other.
I was prospecting for feeding fish, as is my custom when I start on the lake. My starting patterns were a leech on the deep line and pumpkin head nymph on the other. I had no action except to change my deep line to a slow sinker because the deep line was picking weeds. At this point I was in the main body of the lake and I became aware of something unusual.
The lake was so calm it looked like a mirror on its side. There was a profound sense of total stillness, with virtually no breezes of any sort. The sound emanating from large flocks of Canada Geese on the west side of the lake and the whistling of duck wings as they travelled up and down the lake did not distract from the stillness of the water.
The cloud cover was low and there was no sunshine. As I looked across the lake I saw the odd circle as a feeding fish disturbed the calm surface. The small waves from the trollers on the far side of the lake moved across the mirror surface. What I found truly profound was the abundance of small feathers and down floating on the surface of the water They created a snow-like effect that I tried to capture with my camera but wasn’t successful.
It was truly one of those magic times in the outdoors when you are privileged to commune with nature in a soul-enriching high that for me lasts several days.
As I moved into the secluded bay that was my destination I changed my fly patterns again to a dragon fly and a sedge pupae. I also noted a small bit of moving fish action just under the surface in about 10 to 15 feet of water. The water was so calm I did not bother to put out one of my anchors.
Shortly after I started to drift and cast I was rewarded with a prime fish in the 13-inch range. I netted it and after killing it I cleaned the fish to examine the stomach for clues on what they were feeding on. In this case it was empty.
During the next two hours I had continuous action and seven fish to the net. I kept four prime trout up to 15-1/2" long. Upon cleaning them, none of the fish had any significant food in their stomachs.
When I returned to the ramp Otto had left a note on my truck that he had taken four trout similar to mine, as did the trollers. I am not certain what to make of it; but I suggest that if you are so inclined there is some excellent trout fishing to be had on our stillwater lakes.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.