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.


















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