Experienced travellers on the journey of life take time to look back at the journey they have completed before venturing into the unknown void of the future. This column will touch on some of the peaks in 2015 – it was a good year.
The day started with a simple phone call from my friend Chuck Ashcroft. “What are you doing?” Followed by the observation it was time to go prawning. A short time later, we launched at Union Bay and headed south off Denman and Hornby islands.
Going prawning carries with it the knowledge that you may be in for some hard work. It turned out to be a short day, with hard work retrieving a trap that was tangled on the bottom and a delectable catch of side strip prawns.
My second peak was one of those simple things when we fishers try to get some herring for bait. It was fun catching the large herring for halibut bait and pickled roll-ups.
Near the end of February and into March I got serious about some fly tying patterns for Spider Lake. I had caught some respectable trout and when I examined their stomachs they were bulging with dark green pupae that I assumed were the early stages of large sedge fly pupae.
At this point I created a new version of a sedge pupae that seemed to match what the trout were eating. I seemed to have copied the pattern fairly well and for much of the season it produced some fine trout. A prime 17-inch trout that was labeled at 17 pounds created much kidding about exaggerated fish tails. I also did a little expansion on my own when I ran a picture of three 13-inch trout and called it 39 inches of trout.
Chinook salmon are one of the primary reasons why thousands of like-minded souls move to Vancouver Island when they retire. The Hump off Kitty Coleman has been producing limit catches of prime chinook for most of the season.
In the middle of May I fished The Hump with a friend. Shortly before noon we had our limit of four prime chinook up to 20 pounds plus some Pacific cod. It has been in peak condition all season and as I write this column I have heard rumours of nice chinook on Kitty Coleman Hump.
One of the significant peaks of the season is probably the last trip Smitty and I will make on the salt-chuck. We have enjoyed over 45 years of hunting and fishing together since our retirements. On our trip fishing with Codfather charters out of Port Hardy, as special guests, we caught halibut, chinook salmon and lingcod all in the same day.
Another peak was the return of pink salmon to local waters. They came by the millions. Rivers were low and beach anglers had ball. I caught some nice pinks off the hospital beach and they are part of our smoked salmon treats for the Christmas season.
A significant peak of the year was the visits of great grandchildren from the Interior. Eleven-year-old Madelyn Brown from Prince George succeeded in landing a large lingcod with the coaching of Chuck. In the meantime little Linden Tait of Quesnel forever made his way into my heart, when after wading in tidal pools he came and took me by the hand and said it was time to go.
Another high peak of memory was a family deer hunt in the Interior with my daughter Leanne Farrell of Port Hardy and her son Michael of Burnaby. We were successful along with several storied events.
In closing, the greatest peak for me into the future was the Paris Conference on Climate Change. I believe we are on our way to dealing with the terrible challenges of climate change.
Have a wonderful Christmas with love and friendship.
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.