Jackpot on Spider Lake

RALPH SHAW caught this prime 16-inch triploid rainbow trout at Spider Lake.

I decided to go trout fishing on Spider Lake the day after the Easter long weekend in the belief that the lake would not be too crowded. The lake was not crowded as in the real sense too many boaters, but when I arrived in the bay I had planned to fish there were nine boats plying the waters of the relatively small area. I took a quick assessment of the situation and opted to fish out in the main body of the lake.

You may recall that the weather has been far from warm, and most days seem to be plagued with rain showers and strong breezes. None of these conditions promise a good day on the water, but not withstanding if you dress appropriately; i.e., warm clothes and rain gear you can still have a great day in the outdoors. Believe me this old man knows how to dress warmly for inclement weather.

Before leaving the bay I took a slow turn around it while dragging a couple of flies behind my boat. During my quick survey one boat landed a nice trout taken on a gang troll. I talked to a friend and he reported several small trout, but no large ones. In my exploratory short trip one small trout was released from this season’s catchable trout stocking and I also had several good strikes. Trout were dimpling all over the bay and some of them looked to be good size. They were feeding on emerging chironomids (midges), which is an important trout food at this season of the year.

Upon my return to the main portion of the lake I noted there were only two other boats in view. As I have learned over the years a lake will have quite a few places that offer different sources of food at the same time. I knew one sheltered area that offered a good chance of taking a fish on a dragonfly nymph or sedge fly pupae. I wasn’t in the sheltered bay very long until I hooked and landed a prime 14-inch trout that fell for a small imitation of a sedge pupa. After landing the fish I quickly killed it and dressed it to put it on ice as is my custom. After examining the stomach contents, sure enough this bay of the lake was serving fresh sedge pupae.

As lunch time approached I opted to anchor my boat in open water of about 20 feet in depth that gave evidence of hatching chironomids. Stiff breezes challenged my anchors but they held. The lunch time show was one to remember. Over the years I have frequently written about the eagles who maintain a toll system on the lake where they take trout from successful anglers. On this day the eagles did not seem interested in what anglers where catching and I think I discovered why. As I sat quietly watching the pleasant scene before me I realized that an osprey was flying near my boat and then it dove into the water near the boat and came up with a prime trout of about 12 inches. As it started to fly across the lake two eagles came out of nowhere and harassed the osprey until it dropped the fish and one of the eagles scooped it up. As the show continued another osprey appeared on the scene and both of them were catching fish and being harassed in the process. As it turned out the ospreys were able to get away with some fish, and the eagles also seemed to get their share of the bounty – in the meantime anglers went free of harassment from the eagles. There are some wonderful nature shows away from TV screens if you just take a day and go fishing.

In the meantime most of the anglers had left the small bay so it was time to have another look at one of my favourite fishing holes. There were still five boats in the bay, but none of them were near where I wanted to fish. Large trout tend to feed near the bottom where there are both large insects and the small chironomid larvae. Within half an hour of plying my fly near the bottom, the prime 16-inch triploid rainbow trout in the photo above made my day complete and a near nine out of ten rating. No wonder fishing is addictive.

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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