If you think back about the weather this past weekend your immediate thoughts will probably be that it was wet and windy – not good fishing weather. Be that as it may, on Friday I looked at the weather and said to Elaine, “I have to go fishing tomorrow – rain or shine.” She quietly conceded that it was okay with her and she would pack my lunch with a large thermos of hot tea.
I know several other men who are afflicted with the same serious fishing condition as myself and to this end I phoned Roy Dash, told him of my plans to go fishing on Spider Lake on Saturday and that maybe he would like to join me. I am not certain what transpired between Roy and his wife, but he phoned and said he would join me around 10 a.m.
When I arrived at the lake Roy already had his boat in the water and was waiting for me. A fellow angler graciously helped me launch my somewhat heavy little punt as he launched his pontoon boat. The lake was calm, very low, with a light overcast sky, no rain, and looked inviting in contrast to the cloudy, windy weather we left in the Comox Valley.
What followed was a day to remember for both of us. We are experienced fly fishers and have a good knowledge of the insect life of Spider Lake. I opted to start with a high density sinking line on one rod and an intermediate sinking line on my second rod. Roy opted to go all out with two high density sinking lines.
At the main body of the lake we split: Roy went to fish off the Blue Roofed House and I opted to fish the waters on the northwest shore. After about an hour with no fish Roy showed up where I was fishing and we compared notes. Neither of us had a fish in the boat, but we had had some serious action on our high density sinking lines with small sedge pupae imitations called pumpkin heads.
Shortly after we settled into fish the deep waters about us, Roy said in a loud voice he was into as trout and it was a very big fish and exclaimed, “Do you have your camera with you?” Well the answer was “yes” and I moved into position to take pictures of his big fish.
After what seemed an eternity Roy slipped his net under a fish that was almost too big for it. He carefully lifted it out of the net, measured it on the measuring chart on the side of his boat, we both took a long admiring look, and Roy gently released it back into the lake where it swam off into the deep water, seemly none the worse for its life-threatening encounter with a small sedge pupae that fought back. That rainbow trout was Roy’s biggest ever from a lake on Vancouver Island or elsewhere.
Now if you ask me, “How big do the trout in Spider Lake get?” I can honestly say up to 26 inches because I saw Roy Dash measure and release one that big. Who knows? There are surely bigger ones still to be caught.
The rest of the day was ant-climactic, but nonetheless very rewarding. I caught some lovely one-meal trout up to 16 inches, and Roy out-fished me two-to-one with his double set-up of high-density fast-sinking lines.
As is my custom, when I catch a fish I keep, I immediately kill it, gill and gut it and examine the stomach contents. In this case the examination revealed that the trout were indeed eating small sedge pupae in the deep water, but they were also feeding on small leeches and some dark green pupae that resembled large chironomids. I put on a small micro leech and was quickly rewarded with a nice trout.
The secret that we stumbled on this day was that the fish were feeding in deep water. Throughout the day I fished with other lines, but the only action I had was on the high-density fast-sinking lines.
In closing – fishing in wet weather is part of Vancouver Island winter fishing. However I will not fish open water in dangerous windy weather.
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.