Each year through my Order of Canada membership we receive a Christmas card from the Governor General and this year’s card from the Right Honourable David Johnston and Mrs. Sharon Johnston had a beautiful message I wanted to share.
“Opportunities to give are all around us, every day. We call them ‘Giving Moments.’ The more we act on them, the better and more caring our society will become. Over the holidays and in the coming year, we hope that you will find your giving moment.”
In wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas I wanted to suggest some ways as hunters and fishers we may have “Giving Moments” that last throughout the year.
Over the years it has been my privilege to belong to the Comox Valley Fly Fishing Club. They are an unusual group and one of their main purposes is to share information about fly fishing to all who join the club and in the broader community to share their skills with children and others. In many respects they are the perfect example of applying the governor general’s message of “Giving Moments.”
In general, fishing and hunting are activities that are built around the principle of sharing. In ancient cultures hunters and fishers had social obligations to share the proceeds of their food gathering forays with the all members of the group.
“Giving Moments” abound in our regular outings.
For most folks hunting season is winding down. With few exceptions the big game season closed on Dec. 10. Elaine and I have been recipients of several “Giving Moments” this year. Duck and goose season is still open. One of the most welcome gifts from large big game animals is to share the liver with folks who enjoy this special type of meat. Put it on your “Giving Moments” for the 2014 season.
Starting on Friday, Dec. 27 and running through to Dec. 31 there are a series of reasonably early evening tides that would be suitable to gather some fresh oysters. Take a friend and enjoy sharing this simple outing to gather a seafood treasure – fresh oysters.
Winter steelheading is a high-end experience on our coastal rivers from now until well into the months of March and April. Only hatchery marked fish may be retained. Youth may fish without special licenses if they are less than 16 years of age. If Santa gave fishing outfits try to find some “Giving Moments” to share this marvellous addictive connection to our wild rivers and their life systems. (As with all fishing activities, personally check the regulations for the waters you plan to fish).
Winter chinook fishing is one of the reasons many saltwater anglers live in the Comox Valley. Increasing numbers of sub-legal fish will soon reach that magic length of 45cm. Area 14 waters provide many opportunities to enjoy “Giving Moments” to both share the experience and share the catch.
Winter flounder and flounder fishing throughout the year are opportunities to get children involved in a low-key fishery that offers great potential in developing angler skills. Our shallow waters in Area 14 offer excellent places to share “Giving Moments” with the family.
Trout that come in suitable sizes for small anglers are generously stocked in local lakes by the Freshwater Fisheries Society. Maple Lake, our Valley’s freshwater jewel, has real potential for shore experiences with children. Freshwater lakes also offer many ways for children to come in contact with snakes, crayfish, frogs, salamanders and a vast array of aquatic bugs that do much to introduce them to the natural world. They are treasure chests of “Giving Moments.”
Throughout the years it has been my privilege to enjoy many successful days in the company of outdoor people who have long made it a part of the experience to share the proceeds of the day with others. These others include seniors, widows and people who no longer fish or hunt but still enjoy the special treats of fresh fish and wild game. For these folks a “Giving Moment” frequently involves phoning the recipient and saying – “Would you like some fresh fish for dinner?” Ninety-nine per cent of the time the response is an enthusiastic “Yes.” It is our experience that the rewards from such simple sharing are friendship and appreciation as measured in quality of life.
The Spirit of Christmas makes the world a better place.
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.