The pink salmon are spawned out and waiting to die in their natal streams. Those that have not made it into their respective small systems have put it off too long and face a fate of dying in the tidal pools below the dry stream bed mouths.
Coho, late-run chinook and chums will hopefully be able to wait out the current weather patterns until their natal streams start running with fresh water. My weather report suggests we will receive some rain on the weekend – let’s hope it is correct.
Beach fishing is an evolving sport. In the early part of the season most anglers use waders or shorts as they stalk schools of cruising pink salmon. Now that fall has arrived a significant change has taken place with the majority of beach anglers fishing from pontoon boats and small punts that are either rowed or powered by electric motors.
They fish schools of coho and chum that are frequently in deeper water – out of the reach of wading anglers during the ebb tides. There is a fairly even split of spin casters and fly fishers on most beaches.
Over the long weekend I spent several hours on the shores of local beaches watching events. On the first day during a flood tide I saw one nice fish played and netted by a fly fisher working a school of coho. I saw a couple of other fish hooked and lost.
The second day I watched during an ebb tide. There were five boats with seven anglers fishing a school of fish off the beach. By the number of fish jumping it was a significant school of coho. I saw one fish played and lost by an angler with a spinning outfit. The fly fishers were batting zero.
A friend of mine, Roy Dash, had fished a couple of days earlier and for 14 hours of fly fishing he landed one prime coho in the 15-pound class. Not many fish for the effort, but a fish of that size made the experience rewarding. When we discussed the situation he said with the exception of one angler, that was doing well.
Most anglers were casting to closed zipper mouth fish that ignored all offers. Regardless of whether or not you can entice them to bite, it is nevertheless an exhilarating experience to cast a fly or lure over large fish hoping they will take your offering. In the final analysis that is why we call it “fishing.”
The late summer weather of the past few weeks makes fishing a beach an added bonus to a beach stroll. On the beaches that I walked over the weekend, fishers were outnumbered about 5:1. This will change when the weather kicks in and we get some desperately needed rain.
River Watching If you need to remind yourself we are experiencing lower-than- usual river flows just take a look at some of our small rivers and you will discover dry washes with a few pools in most cases. This brings us back to the importance of the Comox Lake Reservoir and its role in supplying a regulated flow of water to the Puntledge River.
The Condensory Bridge becomes a long viewing stand for hundreds of river watchers over the period of a day. Normally at this time of the year they gather to watch the Reality Fishing Show going on in the river.
This year the watchers are angling starved fishers plus the normal gallery of river watchers. It is an interesting social event where folks discuss the living river below them and other politics associated with the management of the fisheries. Our local fisheries officer has come in for high praise on many occasions.
We often wonder about the effect of social pressure on would-be law breakers. On one occasion I witnessed a group on the bridge persuade two young men about to break the law and fish that they should reconsider what they planned to do. One of the folks on the bridge called down to them and said, “Smile you are on candid camera.” They sheepishly reconsidered, packed their gear and retreated from the river.
Score one for social pressure. Have patience – the rains are coming.
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.