Vancouver Island residents are doubly blessed when it comes to recreational fishing because we enjoy both marine and freshwater fishing close to home. During the past two weeks I have enjoyed successful fishing on both sides of the line.
Recreational fishing is an important economic generator for Comox Valley businesses. When you factor in the costs of tackle, bait and transportation it would be safe to estimate that local fishing trips cost in the area of $75 to $100 per day for each participant. My guess is it is about the same as a round of golf. The difference is that golf balls make poor soup, while the proceeds of our fishing trips can add substantially to the family food budget.
Two weeks ago my column was about freshwater fishing, in particular trolling wet flies through the water as a method of fly fishing. It is a bit of a stretch because what I did was try to get people new to lake at fishing to try a simple technique to catch trout with fly hooks instead of lures or worms.
On April 25 I decided to do do just that. I fished with two sinking lines, long leaders and rowed slowly along the shore of the lake in about 20 feet of water.
I started by changing patterns until I had a strike – in this case it was a black leech. About noon I caught and netted a nice 14-inch trout.
The photograph of that fish appears in this column, although it looks similar to the fish in the April 25 column that was taken in the same location a year ago. After fishing for three hours, and with three prime, one-meal fish to the net, it was time to head home.
On May 1 I did a column on the virtues of fishing local marine waters. For starters we knew we would spend about $80 to $90 burning gasoline to reach the fishing grounds.
Add to this the costs of new and lost tackle. Fishing with jigs that cost about $10 each can be an expensive hobby around rock piles that are home territories to lingcod.
After three hours of jigging over rocky bottoms and donating a couple of jigs we netted our second lingcod and it was time to try salmon trolling. The trolling didn’t produce any legal salmon but it did give us two prime rockfish.
One major difference about marine fishing and freshwater fishing is that the food factor is much greater when you are dealing with large fish such as chinook salmon, lingcod and halibut as opposed to singe-meal fish as in trout.
Nevertheless the economic contribution of the marine fishery is probably greater because of the investment in large boats, big motors and specialized navigation devices.
Before we get carried away with the economic or food implications of recreational fishing it is important to keep the perspective that it is a source of great pleasure and mental challenge that can lead to a lifetime of activity. In the case of the Comox Valley and associated fishing opportunities it is an important resource.
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.