Changing of the seasons

Good tides are good news for clam and oyster gatherers

A TYPICAL ONE-meal-for-two-people Spider Lake rainbow trout.

A TYPICAL ONE-meal-for-two-people Spider Lake rainbow trout.

I know what the calendar says about the change of season, but the weekend of March 24-25 had elements of both winter and spring.

On Saturday, March 24 I spent the day on the saltwater in the company of two devoted saltchuckers, Bryan Allen and Chuck Ashcroft. We were prospecting for prawns in two boats. It was clear, but quite cold. So far this season local prawning has been quite spotty with few limit catches. The waters we were fishing varied in depth from 250 feet to in excess of 450 feet.

We would lower the traps to the bottom, soak them for about an hour, and then pull them to see if we were in the right area. As the day wore on we soon realized that the prawns were in deep water – in excess of 400 feet. At the end of the day we had about 300 prawns between the two boats and each family had a delicious treat. We also witnessed a herring spawn and were entertained by sea lions and other wildlife. Not a bad way to close the winter.

On Sunday, March 25 Charley Vaughn and I teamed up to spend the day on Spider Lake. It was a perfect spring day and held great promise for an enchanting day of trout fishing.

We arrived at the lake about 11 a,m, and were on the water fishing shortly after launching our boats. I opted to start slowly mooching a black leech on one line and a sedge pupae pattern on the second line. I hadn’t got out of the first bay and I hooked and lost two nice trout, one on each pattern.

Boy, oh boy! I thought, this is going to be one great day. Be careful how you count your catch because those were the only two solid hits I had for the rest of the day. In the meantime Charley caught and landed a prime one-meal fish in the 14-inch class. I have long passed the stage where I need to catch fish in order to have a successful day on the waters.

My favourite area on the lake is the large bay at the north end. I have had some great chironomid fishing in its deeper waters. Today there was no evidence of fish moving in the familiar places. I talked to a fellow angler who was using the same methods I use and he was not having any action either. When Charley cleaned his fish it was full of leeches and sedge larvae in their little wooden cases. There were also quite a few sedges emerging as the day wore on. If you are fly fishing local lakes over the weekend I suggest leech, woolly worm and sedge pupae patterns will take fish on sinking lines.

While I didn’t put any fish in the boat on Sunday I nevertheless had a memorable day that was topped off by watching one of the local eagles catch a large bass that it had to drag up onto the shore to eat. Upon reflection I believe I wasn’t supposed to catch a trout because on Monday a friend dropped by with a generous piece of winter chinook he had caught off Denman Island on Sunday. Sometime I think the fishing gods look after old fisherman.

The Easter weekend has some excellent tides during the afternoon hours for gathering clams and oysters. Starting on Saturday, April 7 through to Thursday April 12 the tides are good for gathering clams as well as oysters.

The weather for the Easter weekend as of this writing looks good as far as excessive rain is concerned so we should be able to gather some seafood along the beaches. It is prudent to check local DFO offices for closures or visit the DFO website at

• • •

There are two important fundraisers coming up – the Ducks Unlimited Banquet on Saturday, April 21 and the British Columbia Wildlife Federation Convention fundraiser on April 27. These are important events for conservation that need your support – details in future columns. With senior governments ‘cuts to fish and wildlife programs, it is increasingly important that fishers and hunters support these conservation groups.


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.



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