The idea for this column came from a remark that Fran Shire made to Smitty and me during an elk hunt in 2010. She said, “You know you guys are not going to see anything unless you have lipstick in the cab.” What she was really telling us was that unless we had the unique talents of a woman in our group we would miss much of the action.
Last fall she lived up to her lipstick reputation by landing the largest coho and halibut during a group outing with her and her husband. Further to this end Sharon Robinson, Charley Vaughan’s daughter consistently caught the her limits first and also landed the largest chum salmon while fishing with her family in Johnstone Strait last fall.
The picture accompanying the column is of Dorie Smith on the left and Elaine Shaw on the right. They are displaying The Lipstick Effect as they applied it for over 100 years – when you put their collective fishing careers together. It has been a few years since the girls have accompanied Smitty and me, but when they did they caught more than their share of the fish. I clearly recall one day several years when we were Buzz Bombing from our respective boats south of the Comox bell buoy. Dorie connected with a large chinook that headed for Denman Island and Smitty had to follow in their boat.
When they came back they displayed a prime 35-pound chinook which was their best for the season while celebrating a wedding anniversary at the time.
On another occasion Elaine and I were fly fishing on Hyas Lake in the Interior near Kamloops where we had a log cabin. It was in 1980 and we had just returned home to the Interior (we lived in Kamloops at the time) from fishing at Bates Beach and had shown friends some lovely coho salmon we had caught.
It was twilight and Elaine was casting a #12 Tom Thumb up onto shallow shoal waters when she had a hard strike and a corresponding splash and she exclaimed, “My God, I have hooked the beaver!” What followed was an exciting, dragged out fight between a very large rainbow trout and a very small lady fly fisher. When we netted the fish I said, “We have to show it to the folks in the cabin next to ours while it is still fresh or people will think it was a coho.” That trout weighed eight pounds, nine ounces and I believe it still holds the modern day record for Hyas Lake.
Our three daughters were all well endowed with The Lipstick Effect when it came to fishing and the outdoors. I recall an occasion when our eldest daughter Melanie lost a macho boyfriend when her fly fishing skills exceeded his during an evening fishing from our cabin.
I clearly recall when Lynnea caught a chinook in the 25-pound range that was bigger than what her husband and I caught. I shall always remember fishing Buzz Bombs with Leanne when she was a young teenager and we had a double hook-up on chinook at Tribune Bay and of course hers was the larger of the two fish.
All humour aside, I am convinced that women have unique talents when fishing with lures or flies that require sensitive techniques in presenting the tackle, that gives them an advantage over brisk, less sensitive retrieves from the stronger sex.
This is especially true when fishing small jigs as in Buzz Bombs, Zzingers and fly fishing with select wet and dry flies. I can attest that when the girls fished with us they always caught their share.
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Early in July the Comox Valley Fly Fishers and Region 1 (Vancouver Island) of the British Columbia Wildlife Federation combine forces to teach children the skills of fly casting and fly tying during the annual Region 1 free outdoors skills camp for 30 lucky children at the Courtenay Fish and Game Clubhouse grounds.
To this end they could use some old fly rods that may be surplus to your needs. If you would care to donate one to this worthy cause it would become part of their annual equipment list. Please phone or e-mail Wally Nowak at 250-334 9378 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help in this worthy program of getting children into the outdoors. Wally will arrange to pick up any rods.
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.