I am never certain how to write about successful fishing trips that end with no salmon or trout.
Last week I joined Chuck Ashcroft for a day on the water. We launched at Union Bay and headed down Baynes Sound in quite heavy fog. Chuck activated his radar and about the time it was fully operational the fog cleared and we enjoyed nice weather for the balance of the day.
As we cruised down the Sound we were once again reminded we live on an Island paradise. The scene with snow-capped mountains that surrender to the greens of the Valley slopes as they approach the coastline of Baynes Sound is one of ever-changing natural beauty.
When I cruise these waters I enter the fishing grounds on a natural high that lasts all day.
As we travelled past Norris Rocks, they were covered with several hundred Stellar and California sea lions. Lying on the rocks they resemble a huge one-ton sausage stuffed with Pacific herring. Other factors aside, I suggest they are an undeveloped tourist attraction on a par with grizzly bears.
Has anybody considered the ecological implications of the complex web of life in Baynes Sound and surrounding waters? As I understand it, our web of life may just have become a little simpler with increasing acidification that has created a system that makes it a challenge for shellfish to grow and prosper.
As part of our day’s activities we set a few prawn traps to do some prospecting for fresh prawns. They don’t fight very well; but to their credit they offer an exercise program when it comes time to pull them out of 400 feet of water.
We had a plan to fish chinook in the waters off Tribune Bay. After five hours of serious trolling the only action we had was several small chinook, three dogfish to the boat and the odd bite from coho on the surface.
We gave up and pulled our prawn traps; which provided each family with a couple of meals of these delicious shellfish. In our case they made our daughter Melanie, visiting form Prince George, very happy with the surprise shellfish treat.
In the meantime I had several friends that were fishing elsewhere and the reports were not encouraging. Two friends who fished the lighthouse drift below Quadra had a long-distance release on a legal chinook, had several small fish to the boat and released a dogfish.
A friend who fished the hump at Kitty Coleman reported a blank. On salt water it was slow everywhere.
In the meantime a group of fly fishers who have a habit of leading me and other innocents astray were testing their skills on Spider Lake. In the company of several other misguided souls they spent a pleasant day on the water – the number of trout to the net – zero. I have no report on Maple, but if what was happening elsewhere held in these waters it would also have been a nice day with no fish.
The above report spells out in simple details the hazards of winter fishing, even during days of relatively good weather. Some days you catch fish and some days you go home without fish – but in the process there is no such thing as a bad day of fishing.
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As you read this column you have about 10 days to buy your new fishing licences. Governments are moving to a system that encourages us to renew our licence online.
For many this is a simple process. For this angler it is a challenge. For people like me you can buy your licence at select public access points as in tackle shops. We have several outlets in the Valley.
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During the spring break it would be a nature adventure for families to walk along the simple paths on the shoreline of Maple Lake. Thanks to the generous access policies of Hancock Timber (the owners of the lake) we are allowed simple access for hiking and fishing.
There are many cleared places along the shoreline where you can enjoy shore fishing with a reasonable expectation of success. If you are unfamiliar with the lake I would suggest a day exploring the area would pay big dividends.
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.