Turn the pages of time back about 20 years and I was grandpa with my two grandchildren in the Comox Nautical Days Bullhead Derby, and like all grandparents I was a keen coach in the business of hooking a bullhead. At that time one of the children was Chantel.
Now fast forward to 2013 and I am a great grandparent helping Chantel and her husband Dwayne coach three enthusiastic little fishers in hooking a bullhead. There is another little brother at the derby that is too young to participate, but I suspect his turn will come next year. Pictured with this column is father Dwayne Steeve, Cody, Damien, and Lacy and as you can observe father is holding one of the rods – this is really no different than when a charter boat guide sets the hook for the customer and hands them the rod to land the catch. If it is OK in the charter boat business I suggest is OK at the bullhead derby.
The 2013 derby had in excess of 500 entrants. How does one judge the success and importance of a derby that annually draws such large numbers just to catch a bullhead? I confess I am at a loss, except to stress the point that fishing is something that must be in our gene structure going back in time when our ancestors lived off the land. I like to think of fishing as one of our natural bonds to the mysteries of the natural world.
As I walked around the wharf I observed hundreds of little fishers staring into the murky waters below them as they practised their fishing skills. What they saw was the swirling waters of the rising tide, crabs, starfish, and a living world at their fingertips. These may be the beginning contacts with the natural world away from the TV, which are real.
It is at times like this when I wish some collection of politicians in the Comox Valley could see the value of developing Maple Lake as a family fishing lake. It is a link to nature we urgently need in our Valley along with the athletic fields we develop at considerable cost- while Maple Lake is full of trout and already created – it remains in the private sector. On behalf of my readers I would like to express thanks and appreciation to the sponsors of this important derby.
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Area 14 and adjacent areas fishing report: Wind was a challenge over much of the long weekend but it was possible to work around much of it if you timed your trips. The Comox Ramp was closed, but when we pulled our boat out at Union Bay ramp on Sunday there were 30 vehicles and trailers at the parking area. I suggest most operators were fishers.
Pink Salmon – Reports of active gillnet and seine net fisheries taking place in Johnstone Strait. There are fair numbers showing up on the Eve River, sporadic in the Campbell system, but increasing. We have caught a couple and will have fresh pink salmon for dinner tonight.
Coho – The large numbers of marked fish of couple of weeks ago seemed to have moved – my luck has been to feed seals and release wild fish.
Chinook – A few days ago I fished with Charley Vaughan and Bruce Bell. Charley landed a 32-pound chinook on green glow Coyote spoon in 34 feet of water and no flasher– not bad. Bruce followed with a prime 16-pound fish. Me, I just fed some seals and handled the net.
Gold River is producing limits of chinook from the Conuma River run. As of this writing Qualicum fish are not showing up in any numbers in Tribune Bay waters. When releasing small chinook take a look at the fish before letting it go because it may be a pink salmon. There are a few tyee being taken in the Tyee Pool in Campbell River.
Bottomfish – In our deep line trolling we have taken some nice yelloweye rockfish and while the limit is one they are a welcome addition to our catches. Time spent around appropriate rock piles will usually produce a legal sized lingcod.
Crabs and shellfish – I have heard of limit catches of Dungeness crabs in local waters. Prawning is sporadic at best.
Remember: A day spent fishing is not taken from your allotted span.
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.