Voice from the past sets Shaw on right track

Jack Shaw reminds Ralph Shaw to think big when out to land a fish

A PRIME RAINBOW trout from Spider Lake. It was 16 inches long and took a dragonfly nymph pattern in 30 feet of water.

A PRIME RAINBOW trout from Spider Lake. It was 16 inches long and took a dragonfly nymph pattern in 30 feet of water.




Last week I joined a group of like-minded, socially accepted members of the serious social infection we call recreational fishing to further explore the mysteries of Spider Lake.

Members of this group fish it on a regular basis and you would think there are no more mysteries to be solved – but you would be mistaken. No two days of fishing are the same, which partially explains the fascinating challenge of each day on the water.

Just when you think you have everything under control you are brought up short with dozens of fish all around you –  and not one of them interested in your offering. I guess this i why it’s called fishing instead of catching.

We started to fish shortly after 8 a.m. and got real busy. Two anglers trolling willow-leaf trolls with worms promptly caught three nice trout. Roy Dash, fishing with nymph patterns, broke off on a big fish and landed another.

I successfully took a nice, one-meal-sized trout on a chironomid fly pattern. Other boats were having the same kind of success. All of this action took place just after we got on the water, and the feeling was developing that it was going to be a super day of fishing.

Then the challenges began.

From shortly after 9 a.m. right up to 3 p.m. I never saw another fish landed among the dozen or so boats that were using a variety of methods in various locations spread all over the lake. No matter how good a fisher you may be, after several hours of no action you start to wonder – Why am I doing this?

We were coming off a minor solunar period, there were a few active swallows working the open waters and rightly or wrongly I reasoned there may be some action in the deeper water. I had seen several damselflies that gave me an idea. Then the voice of Jack Shaw from the past said: “Ralph, when small doesn’t work, try something big.”

I changed my rod combination and went to a medium sink line with a damselfly nymph pattern on one rod and a deep sinking line with a dragonfly nymph on the other. I moved into deep water of about 30 feet and started to row slowly along the edge of the deep water shelf.

Suddenly there was a hard strike which peeled off-line on the dragonfly pattern. It got off, but a few minutes later I had another strong hit that took line into the backing. All of this happened under the silent stare of the eagle. I am not certain if the eagle was asleep or what, but my fish only broke the water once, and after what seemed an eternity I slipped the net under a prime, 16-inch rainbow trout.

The trout in the photograph is a triploid planted by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia and is at least two years old, maybe three. During the next half hour I had several more powerful strikes on the dragonfly pattern and netted another prime rainbow trout in the two-pound range.

Throughout this action and while I was catching fish in the eagle’s line of vision, it never left its perch to challenge my right to catch fish in its lake, for which I was much relieved. One day last week the eagles took more fish from the anglers than they landed.

Time was moving on and I realized I had promised Elaine I would be home for supper with fresh trout. As I was in the process of taking my boat out at the terrible launch site in the park, a good Samaritan stopped his car and gave me a welcome hand. It was a perfect ending to a memorable day on the water.

• • •

From the middle of June to the middle of July the hump at Kitty Coleman is traditionally one of the best chinook salmon locations in our waters. While I have not recently fished it, I have had several reliable reports of excellent catches of chinook in these water and a few hatchery-marked coho.

Note: The area closure from Kitty Coleman to Little River opens on July 1.

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.


















Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A fawn stands in a field. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
MARS hoping to build fawn complex for rehab

Their goal is to raise $20,000 in a relatively short period of time.

Aspen Park in Comox is the latest school reporting a COVID-19 exposure. Screenshot, Google Maps
Fifth Comox Valley school reports COVID-19 exposure

Exposure at Aspen Park in Comox was reported for Feb. 22

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read