The other day Elaine and I were just quietly enjoying our evening drink and snack when she remarked, “I would really enjoy a meal of fresh trout.” For the uniformed, that is a permission slip to go trout fishing the next day.
To the young and newly married or partnered, this type of permission slip can be obtained to go winter chinook fishing, crabbing, prawning, halibut fishing, clam digging or gathering oysters to list a few of the possibilities. It is an opportunity you should not miss; however there is a caveat – that is bring something home to eat or you may hear how expensive your fishing habits have become. By the way – I have more permission slips than most guys I know.
On Sunday Elaine packed a super lunch and I set out to explore the possibilities of catching a one-meal fish on Spider Lake. On my way I stopped by the little coffee outlet in Union Bay and filled my mug. Fellows enjoying their coffee remarked, “It is raining,” and my response was, “What does that have to do with it?”
When I arrived at the lake there were five boats already there and a few people fishing from shore in the park. It was the start of a promising day. Fishing any lake at this season of the year, fly fishers usually start with wet fly offering such as leeches, damsel fly nymphs, dragonfly patterns or similar wet fly patterns. If you are using bait or lures the choice will be on your past success; but worms are always a good standby.
Following my experience from a couple of weeks ago I started with two leeches, one on a slow sink line and the other on a deep sinking line. Shortly before noon I caught a prime one-meal trout on the deep sinking line. When I cleaned the fish I found its stomach contained sedge fly pupae and no leeches. I immediately changed to a sedge fly pattern on the slow sink line. The important thing for me was that the pressure was now off as I had the perfect one-meal trout for supper in the box. The trout in the photograph is of that prime one-meal fish that Elaine and I enjoyed with no leftovers.
Towards mid-day the surface of the water was dimpled with rising trout feeding on small chironomids. I opted to try to match the hatch as a fellow angler was trying to do. After an hour of fruitless casting to rising trout we both gave up. The fish were very selective and we didn’t have fly patterns to suit the hatch. I changed tactic and went back to fishing the wet fly patterns in relatively shallow shoal waters. Just as I was leaving the lake about 3 p.m. I had four fish on the sedge pattern and lost all four of them just short of the net – it’s called long distance release.
Time spent fishing is often described as time enjoying the quiet and peace of nature. The rites of spring had much to do with the peace and quiet on the lake this day. There was a group of three Canada geese that seemed to be involved with a severe love triangle about who was going to be a mate and who would be the outsider. Even with my hearing aids it was a constantly moving, vocal shouting match about who was the most suitable. They were still arguing when I left the lake.
As you read this column we are at the beginning of the four-day Easter weekend. It is a great time to take a child on the waters and share the joys of fishing with them. There are some excellent mid-afternoon low tides for gathering shellfish and just seashore adventures. If you take children fishing I suggest the enjoyment and learning curves are greatly enhanced if the children are suitably dressed for the outdoors. It is also neat to have good snacks and timeout when the fishing is slow. It has been suggested that teaching children to fish will enhance their understanding of climate change.
Special note: Your tidal and non-tidal fishing licenses expire on Easter Sunday. To renew online go to www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/recfish/Licensing for tidal, and for non-tidal go to www.fishing.gov.bc.ca.
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.