It is somewhat trite to write about what I and many others perceive as one of the best places on the continent to live; however in many respects our Island paradise fits the bill.
Earlier this week while standing in the area at the Rotary Observation Shelter on the dike a couple of tourists joined us and admired the view before us. They were from Wisconsin and were full of praise about what a staggeringly beautiful place the Island is.
One of them commented on the breathtaking beauty of Cathedral Grove on the way to Alberni. They likened it to a magnificent cathedral built by the complicated ecological life systems of our Island. As we stood in the shelter, several schools of salmon made their presence visible by the waves they created while the harbour seals were catching an easy meal. At the same time, large flocks of Canada geese were landing in the quiet waters in front of us. Off in the distance we looked at the beautiful sky-line of the Beaufort Mountains and the retreating Comox Glacier.
To illustrate the bounty of our paradise I have used a picture of a platter of fish – chinook salmon fillets from one 14-pound feeder chinook taken by Bruce Bell. Bruce is a director of the Pacific Salmon Foundation that is hosting a sold-out fundraising banquet Saturday evening at the Filberg Centre.
In looking back over the summer in local waters we are coming off a most successful chinook salmon season. Salmon are just one of several species of fish that make our Island such a special place – you could just as easily fish for trout, steelhead, lingcod, halibut or flounders to make the point of the bounty of our waters.
We are privileged to fish in rivers, lakes and the Pacific Ocean on any given day the weather permits and we do so without travelling any farther than you would on an urban bus line. Very few places on the planet offer such angling diversity.
On Wednesday we shifted from summer to autumn. Autumn is the season when the sounds on our mountains shift from the calls of song birds to the symphonic bugling of bull elk as they challenge rival bulls for the privilege of fathering the next generation of elk.
It is one of life’s exhilarating experiences to sit in a high alpine meadow and listen to the majestic symphony created by these marvellous animals. A hunter takes away from the mountain the life-long memories of these symphonies and does not need a sound track to preserve the event, although in retrospect there are occasions when listening to a sound track would enrich the memory.
Autumn is the season when many outdoor people shift from an angling program to one of hunting. Deer hunting on the farms and the Beaufort mountains becomes an annual ritual. It is also a time when we harvest migratory birds such as ducks and geese. I am not certain what the dry conditions of the drought this spring did to waterfowl populations but my observations of the local Canada geese populations indicate a successful season. We hear much these days about the importance of growing local food. Hunting and recreational fishing are classic cases of seasonal gathering of local fish and meat.
If you are planning on fishing lakes in the coming months right up to the spring the forecast El Nino event will be a help throughout the winter in keeping many of our lakes ice free. Not a bad idea.
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.