Special to The Record
Last week I fished Kitty Coleman in the company of two close friends – Chuck Ashcroft and Bryan Allen. When you consider that the combined time spent fishing the Kitty Coleman area by the three of us is more than a century, you can get the idea we know the area quite well. Our target species on this day was pink salmon; but in reality we were just spending a day on the water and we would be pleased with whatever we caught.
In line with our target species we started fishing with pink hoochies and a pink google-eye hoochie type that worked well in the past. Depending on where the bait showed we were fishing from 50 to 200 below the boat. Our first fish of the day was a trophy class Pacific cod that would tip the scales at about 10 pounds. Many anglers would toss it back with disgust because they are turned off by its ugly looks. Do not be fooled; Pacific cod are delicious white-fleshed fish that make excellent eating. The next fish was a prime chinook of about eight pounds, followed by another one in the same class – but no pink salmon. As the day progressed we hooked and released a respectable sockeye of about eight or nine pounds.
It is worth noting that when we kept a fish it was immediately killed and bled. Following this procedure the fish was gilled, gutted and placed on ice in a large cooler for the purpose. This ritual guarantees fresh fish at the end of the trip.
During the day we had the following species of fish in the boat: Pacific cod, spiny dogfish (small sharks), coho salmon grilse, chinook salmon, pink salmon, sockeye salmon, quill-back rockfish, and brown rockfish.
In all eight species of fish bit our lures during a six-hour fishing trip. The best fish of the day weight-wise was a prime red chinook of 12 to 14 pounds. If variety is the spice of life we have plenty of variety in the waters off Kitty Coleman hump.
In the meantime, did we catch any pink salmon on our pink salmon gear? The quick answer is “yes”; we caught one pink salmon on the pink gear. The message is that specific gear for a target species will also work for other fish. Why we didn’t attract more action from pink salmon on the special gear is one of those mysteries that make recreational fishing such a marvellous madness.
In trying to figure out why a rather low key day on the water became something special is hard to express. There are times when conditions come together to make a day on the water a 10-plus event. In this case the weather was calm, the fishing was not spectacular, although we had a nice catch.
It is likely that the cement of philosophical discussion and past trips on these waters made the day so special; but from this author’s point of view it was a classic example of the soul enrichment we traditionally associate with a day on the water in the process of gathering some food – fresh fish.
Note – We are in the beginning laps of a long federal election campaign. I was stunned and saddened by the vote-buying offer of $15,000,000 to recreational anglers for habitat restoration to the Pacific Salmon Foundation from a prime minister who has spent the last few years reducing the scientific and management effectiveness of a once proud Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
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.