Over the years I have had a long-distance relationship with the beautiful little Maple Lake, and I am in the process of changing that relationship.
My primary reason for not fishing the lake is the challenge of putting my punt onto the lake. In the meantime I am overlooking one of the prime shore fishing locations on Vancouver Island. Another irony in regards to my not fishing the lake is that it is located just over five kilometres from my home.
Maple Lake is cradled in a forested valley with shore lines that slope into deeper water from shoreline locations. For beginning anglers this means that you do not need to cast long distances to put your bait into fishable water.
Maple Lake is so much more than a fishing lake – it is surrounded by a second-growth forest that is home to a wide variety of Vancouver Island wildlife. One of my friends is a longtime dedicated shore fisher and he told me about his black bear encounter. He recounted on one occasion he was sitting in his folding chair watching his float on the line when he felt a presence. He looked up and found himself almost nose to nose with a black bear that was walking along path on the shoreline. The bear was as startled as he was and quickly turned tail and disappeared down the path.
On another occasion an angler was quietly trolling along the shoreline when he noticed a cougar observing him from the open space of a shore fishing station.
This past week when I was visiting with Otto Winning, a lifelong Maple Lake angler, we saw two otters swim past us about 10 feet from shore. Allison, a novice lady angler that Otto was coaching, saw her first wild otters.
I am certain if you fished the lake for a season you would have a good chance of encountering other wild animals such as mink, beaver, pine martin, squirrels, deer, wolves and possibly elk.
This list of animals is impressive so when you add the list of wild birds that live around the lake and in the forest you could spend much of your time observing wildlife.
Pictured with this column is a prime triploid rainbow trout that was just landed by Otto from his shore fishing location. This fish is part of the 1,900 catchable trout that were stocked in the lake last week. There is a significant carry-over of trout stocked in the past, so the chances of catching a nice trout are good.
I have not counted all the shore fishing locations, but I am told there are about a dozen.
Last week I counted 20 cars parked at the parking area. I would estimate about 10 of the anglers were fishing from small boats of one type or another and the balance were fishing from shore locations. At no point did it seem crowded.
For novice anglers and children I would suggest the following gear from a shore fishing location: Use a light spinning outfit, a suitable float, a small amount of split shot on the leader for weight in casting and to sink the bait about three feet below the surface.
Place the split shot at suitable places on the leader between the float and the baited hook. Small swivels are useful just below the float to keep it from slipping down the line. You can purchase Berkley Power bait or worms at local sporting goods stores.
Another good source of worms is the family garden plot or compost bin. Tell the clerk what you are planning to do and they will help you in gear selection.
A good place to by fishing gear is garage sales. When baiting a hook with a worm take a medium sized worm and cut it in half, then carefully thread the hook down thee worm until it is covered by the worm, then leave the lower part so it will wiggle and entice fish. When you get a bite let the fish gulp the worm down before you set the hook.
When fishing this privately owned lake remember you are on private property – no littering or tree cutting. Fishing is always a game of chance when you fish small lakes. This paper and many local business give out Tide and Bite Guides. for 2014. I would recommend picking up a copy and read the solunar tables section on pages 26-31. It has useful biting time information.
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.