My thrust through the coming year will be to urge my readers to connect with nature through activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking and gardening as it relates to some of our activities.
The picture with the column is of yours truly sitting in my little punt, while double anchored and connecting to the ecosystem of the lake with my fly rod and by extension the line and the fly on the end of it. It is a low-key activity that offers many ways to observe and in a sense become part of the landscape and in this way enter into a unique relationship with all the natural things going on about me.
Fishing and hunting are ventures that take place with few exceptions in the outdoor world of nature. To pursue them one must spend time in natural places or at the very least in the outdoors.
Fishing in the Comox Valley and its surrounding ocean waters, lakes, rivers and streams is a many sided affair. Each environment we practise our fishing adventures in is uniquely different from the others and the only common element is water, whether it is fresh or saltwater.
Recreational ocean fishing is by its extreme diversity a truly challenging venture performed by a magnitude of different types. We are fortunate to have many places in the Valley where we can fish from shore for salmon and other species of fish. Add to shore fishing the gathering of shellfish and the opportunities expand.
Many of the activities are open to all members of the family from the very young to those advanced in years. Moving away from the shore we enter the realm of trolling, jigging, and bottom fishing. While fishing in the ocean we come in contact with whales, orcas, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and a multitude of birds that are part on nature’s ever-present side show.
River fishing is a diverse activity guided by the species of fish you are targeting. Chum salmon fishing is a rough and tumble type of river fishing as opposed to the quiet interaction between a trout fisher in pursuit of his quarry with a fly rod. Rivers are complex currents of water that bring the participant into contact with a wide spectrum of the ecological life systems associated with the river and the lands through which it flows.
Lakes are by location storage basins of freshwater usually associated with rivers and in some cases underground sources. They vary in size from small ponds to large bodies of water as in the case of Comox Lake. Fishing techniques will vary from trolling in open waters, shore fishing in select places and intimate fishing with bait or flies on small bodies of water. Small lakes can be cozy places to become absorbed into the intoxicatingly fulfilling state of being one with wild places – a condition I frequently experience.
Hunting by virtue of its name blends itself to close associations of nature as we walk slowly through the woods. Still hunting has all the qualities of spiritual connections with wild, natural places. Hunting in the Comox Valley takes the participant from lowland encounters with local deer and geese all the way to alpine adventures above the timberline. These ventures into wild places contribute much to understanding the complexity of wild natural environments.
It may be a surprise to many, but gardening can be a direct connection to proceeds from the outdoors as in fertilizing with fish parts not used in the house.
I am closing this column with some sobering thoughts about climate change. In the Dec. 24 issue of the Globe and Mail, in the business section there was a small article on the insurance problems the recent storms have caused and I copied the following quote: “Canadian insurers are grappling with the prospect of financial damage from yet another severe storm, capping off a brutal year that raised serious questions about how the industry will deal with the costs of climate change.”
To me the key words in this statement are the unequivocal recognition of problems due to climate change. Throughout the coming months I will do my best to report on climate change moments that affect the Comox Valley.
To close on a happy note, reports I hear on fishing in 2014 are generally positive.
Have a happy and prosperous 2014 – keep your lines wet and powder dry.
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.