Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

After our last hugely successful Steelheading outing, we will now return to our usual type of post about unsuccessful winter fishing excursions. The three of us headed to Gold River yesterday to try our luck. The day was snowy and colder than normal. It does not dip below freezing very often during the day here but it was a brisk -6 most of our morning and afternoon on the river. We hit up 5 spots on our fishing circuit and did not see any fish (and only two other anglers braving the weather). Although I can not regale you with any exciting fishtales I will share the beauty of a cold Vancouver Island January day. We used the day to get in some practice on new (to us) casting techniques. The boys gave me some lessons with their centerpins (and I must say I did pretty well) and Chris broke out the new Spey setup he got for Christmas. Despite the cold toes it was a good day!

View from above

How would he land a fish from here?

Many layers of wool, neoprene and gor-tex

Hey Chris, the rocks are slippery!

Ego and elbow bruised, but he survived

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 fish of 2011

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
10. Four little herring caught at once near Nanaimo

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
9. Big Spring caught on the fly at Little Qualicum River

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
8. A dozen Sockeye from shore in 2 hours at Papermill Dam.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
7. Only Halibut for us this year caught near Port Alice

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
6. First fish landed with centerpin, a Pink in the Campbell River.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
5. The Jester's daughter's first Sockeye, caught near China Creek.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
4. Chinook caught on a solo boat trip outside the town of Gold River.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
3. First Spring landed with a fly rod, he was old but I kissed him anyway! caught on the Conuma River.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
2. First Steelhead for the Prince, Stamp River in December.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
1. First Steelie for the Jester. Stamp River in January.

Pre-fish scouting mission

Today we went searching for the mythical trail to what locals call 'Airport Side of the Falls Pool'. We have fished the other side of this pool a few times but it is usually pretty crowded and you have to stand on a log in a line of other anglers, not my idea of a relaxing Steelhead day. The other side usually has only one or two people fishing and a decent sized rocky shore. A few people have tried to tell us how to get there but it is hard to describe an unmarked trail off an unmarked trail, and then straight down a trail that's not really a trail. So, with a vague idea of where we were going, Chris and I set out this morning with Puppet the Wonder Dog to see if we could find it. The day was absolutely gorgeous, a little above freezing and clear blue sky! We left the rods and waders at home, opting instead for hiking sticks and gumboots.

Our first (and only) encounter with another person was with a nice man working at a gravel pit. He pointed us in the right direction but warned us that the Beavers had been busy and the trail was pretty waterlogged. Ten minutes later it was clear what he meant.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

We slogged our way through and had a lot of fun trying to stay dry while Puppet splashed around us.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Eventually the trail dried out and we fund ourselves on an old logging road. A few kilometers later we turned off when we could hear the river. The trail went down... And down... And down and became narrower and muddier with every step. When we finally emerged where we could see the river we realized that we were about a KM downstream from our destination. There was no choice but to climb back up. Even the dog was not impressed with this situation, and abandoned Chris, hoping I knew an easier way out.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

After a little more hunting and hiking we found another trail down. This one was even steeper and involved a limbo trick under a log that my 6'4" husband did not navigate gracefully. When we finally made it to the bottom we were excited and relieved to find ourselves exactly where we wanted to be. We watched a few fish being caught and then hiked back up.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

At the end of the day we had covered about 10km of trail and bush in four hours and were exhausted! I think it would take us 45-60 minutes to go straight to the fishing hole so this will definitely be a destination for a full day fishing trip in the future.

Steelhead Fly Swap

Some members of the forum are having a fly swap for Steelhead flies. Chris is the only fly tie member of our threesome and this is his contribution for the swap, a glow in the dark shrimp.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hellava Halibut

This recipe is one I have made a few times using the one Halibut Chris managed to catch this past season, luckily one halibut goes a long way!

Ingredients1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
As many drops of tabasco as you like
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 pieces of halibut

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix the cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, flour, lemon juice, and Tabasco.

Arrange the halibut steaks in the prepared baking dish, and cover with the cheese mixture.

Bake 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking 15 minutes, or until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

This is a delicious recipe and I'm sure it would work well with most white fish.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Always looking for the next best thing...

In case the tackle fairy is surfing blogspot late at night, I thought I would just throw this out to the universe. I would really really like one of these:

But I would really really like it to be in this colour:

My goal for 2012 is to master fishing with a centerpin. My fishing partners both used one of these in the last year and rave about the action.. I need to keep up with the Jones's! I have been using my Shimano Curado 200E7 for the past year and I love it. It is smooth, easy to handle and has never let me down. I love that it is low profile but is strong enough and holds enough line for the kind of large salmon we go after. It will always be my 'go to' reel but I am ready for a new challenge.

I wonder which of the boys is going to let me practice on their precious Islander?

Monday, January 2, 2012


I have been delinquent with posting because I was holding onto the belief that I would soon be able to post the story of my first steelhead. We have been trying hard again this winter to track down the elusive silver tricksters. Chris finally caught his first one with a local guide on the Stamp River using a drift boat. He will post that story and pictures soon. I have even prepared a post full of beautiful pictures of all the places I have failed to catch Steelhead but have been unable to make myself hit the publish button.

Chris had to work yesterday but the Jester and I found ourselves free of family and job obligations on New Years Day so we made a plan to head to the river. We got a later than usual start and did not make it to the water until 9:30. The drive to Port Alberni was filled with conversation about how low our expectations were for the day. The cruel world of Steelhead had finally begun to crush out spirits, I could not even muster the usual comments about how just being out there is enough.

The 30 minute hike to the top secret fishing hole was cold, snowy, slippery and soggy. For the first time ever on a fishing trip I found myself daydreaming of the warm bed I had left behind. We reached the shore and I quickly snapped my shiny blue Loomis together and scrambled to the prime spot. I learned a long time ago to prepare my gear at home so I could beat the boys to the water while they are tying their lines.

My first cast was a test of my weight, tension and the drift of the river. The water level had risen significantly since we were there the previous week. Cast number two was a perfect arc into the white water and a long drift to the pool of swirling water which we had been told occasionally plays host to some resting Steelies. 1...2...3... FISH ON!!! The bite of a Steelhead is unlike any other fish I have played. There was no tentative nibble, he bit strong and then began to run. I whooped with joy, the Jester dropped his half tied line and grabbed the camera to snap this shot.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
I played the fish for about fifteen minutes. He was a big silver beauty with the tell tale red streaks of a Steelhead. I began to slowly back up onto the rock shore to bring him closer to the Jester's waiting hands. As he rose to the surface in front of us we could see that he was a wild Steelhead (the hatchery removes the adipose fin before releasing them and these are the only ones available for retention on this river) so we knew we would be releasing him. Steelhead rub their faces on the rocks to try and get free from the hook. We did not want to hurt this beautiful fish so the Jester reached for the line to pull him onto the flat rocks. At that moment to hook slipped out, the fish flashed me a smile and he shot back into the fast water like a silver bullet.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I was sad that I did not get a picture with my first Steelhead but l have a great video of the fight that I will edit and post soon.

After a quick high five my line was once again drifting down the river and three casts later... FISH ON!!! Another wild one with a fantastic fight.

The Jester got in on the action as well and his second fish was a beautiful 8lb hatchery male that we wanted to bring home for dinner. My 28 year old grizzly buddy turned into a little boy.. The moment i snapped this picture he was shouting Weeeeeeehoo!!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
He was fighting hard and I knew it would take awhile so I tossed my line in again and FISH ON!!! So we had a Steelhead Doubleheader! I'm sure our whooping could be heard by the bears hibernating nearby. Kris landed his fish and the smile on his face says it all.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
The action was strong for about two hours and we loved every cold, wet second of it. Now I understand why people get hooked on this, those two hours immediately made the hundred of unsuccessful hours worth it!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos