We have reached the end of another year. When an outdoors person approaches a new territory it is not a bad idea to look back over the trail you have just journeyed. The current year, 2014, had some highs and lows and as we leave it, this column will look at some highlights.
January 2014 started out with a challenging outing on Spider Lake which was partially covered with ice. This was followed by a trip to fish flounders and crabs off Savary Island; which we also ended the season with this year. The month closed with another of the endless articles I have written on Maple Lake; which is still muddled in small town politics.
February touched on the joys of childhood in the outdoors. Looked at the importance of Baynes Sound and the threatening reality of climate change as Area 14 waters become too acidic for a scallop operation off Deep Bay.
March reported on the importance of the annual Pacific Herring spawn in Baynes Sound that is truly one of the great gifts of a healthy Pacific Ocean to our local waters. Reported on the deep connections anglers have with the waters they fish and having a successful day without catching fish.
April was celebrated with excellent trips on saltwater for flounders and prawns and freshwater for trout.
May opened with a successful saltwater trip in Area 14 waters where we landed rockfish, lingcod and chinook salmon. The month closed with a successful trip for salmon in local waters that featured taking seniors fishing. I also reported on local folks fishing in South America and Bermuda.
June was a wonderful month filled with Courtenay and District Fish and Game Club (CDFGPA) Annual Outdoor Show, Family Fishing Weekend and the club-sponsored Fishing Forever Program. It was also a month when limit catches of chinook salmon were being taken in local waters and prawn fishing was equally as successful. When you add the freshwater component with excellent trout fishing we truly live in a bountiful land.
July continued to be generous for saltwater anglers as the lakes begin to feel the results of a very hot, dry summer. Local anglers were enjoying one of the most successful chinook salmon fisheries out of Kitty Coleman that old-timers were calling one of the best ever. Another feature of July was the outdoor programs for children at the CDFGPA.
August was a rich month for marine anglers. Pink salmon showed up in the Campbell System and other pink bearing rivers along with superb beach fishing for these exciting little two-year salmon. It was a bonanza for beach and river anglers whether you fished with lures or flies. Chinook salmon continued to be plentiful and some coho showed up in local waters. Sockeye salmon were in some catches but the huge run was not in local waters. The long spell of dry hot weather was beginning to be a concern for local stream watchers.
During September marine waters continued to give generous catches. Hot weather slowed lake fishing. I did a column on the growing concerns of climate change. The importance of food gathering through outdoor pursuits was emphasized in local sustainable fishing and hunting.
October was an important month for chum salmon fishing. In general the chum salmon fishing was a disappointment for most anglers. Big game hunting was challenging in the northern Interior. Record breaking rains filled rivers and lakes.
November brought successful deer hunting for this columnist thanks to the generosity of local farmers who gave me permission to hunt on their property. A column on the disappearing Comox Glacier and climate change raised questions.
December closed with successful flounder and crab trip almost identical to opening trip. Closed the year with smoked fish and holiday treats of wild bounty.
We face serious challenges in 2015.
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.