Thanksgiving weekend is an appropriate time to pause and reflect on the generous bounty we harvest from our waters, forests, fields and gardens. For those who touch the living earth and take appropriately from its generosity, the weekend is a celebration of the bounty and a time to reflect on the delicate ecological systems that through their balance provide a surplus for those who gather it.
On Thanksgiving Day I drove down to the Condensory Bridge to check out what was happening with the Puntledge River chum fishery. When I arrived around 2 p.m. it was pouring rain, but to my pleasant surprise the river was clear, moderately high, and from where I stood on the bridge I counted 21 happy fishers casting into the clear waters.
There were at least three fly fishers, several others casting with spinning outfits, and the balance were using level wind reels. All were in appropriate waders with the exception of one brave young man who was fishing in shorts, knee boots and standing above his knees in the cold waters – some anglers are just plain tough. It was especially rewarding to see him catch and play a nice chum. I stood and watched the exciting scene below and marveled at the skill of some anglers as they navigated the fast-moving currents in mid-steam.
As I reported last week I participated in a nice catch of chum in Johnstone Straits last weekend: it is, however, especially exciting to see what appears to be good return of chum salmon to our home river this year. From the bridge I watched as at least 10 anglers played mint bright chum that were fresh from the sea. The one fish that was kept weighed about 10 pounds and it was mint bright.
The current high waters are acting as a magnet to draw fresh fish into the river on every tide. If you plan to actively wade the river I would recommend a personal flotation device and consider a wading stick. By early indications we are in for an excellent fall chum salmon fishery. As a reminder, the daily limit is two chum salmon, and all chinook, coho and pinks must be released back into the river. We can be thankful that ecological systems make the river a healthy place for chum salmon to come and renew their kind.
Hunting is in full swing throughout the province with many reports of good success for moose, elk and deer for hunters returning from the mainland. The same is true of local hunters although some hunters report seeing good numbers of does, but the bucks are keeping out of sight.
Those who hunt Canada geese report easy limits. In the meantime Canada geese are a growing threat to the ecological balance of our critical marine estuaries resulting in a growing movement to increase the bag limit in an attempt to control the numbers of resident geese. Urban deer are also becoming a growing problem in the Valley as well as other urban areas on the Island and elsewhere in the province.
Put Oct. 23 on your calendar as a day to visit the Puntledge River Hatchery Open house. Sunday, Oct. 23 is Rivers Day celebrated throughout B.C. The staff at the Puntledge River Hatchery invites you to attend their Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The hatchery is on 38 Powerhouse Rd. off Lake Trail Road.
If you are not involved in volunteer enhancement work this is a great opportunity to meet some of the people who work in this satisfying volunteer ecological enhancing work so vital to the health of our salmon bearing rivers.
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.