Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monster Sturgeon

Living in Vancouver, right near the mighty Fraser River has its perks. Lurking in the deep of the silty brown fraser river are some monster fish.
Yesterday's trip out was to target sturgeon. We launched in Fort Langley early in the morning and started up river. We set out the rods with a variety of baits (lamprey, pikeminnow, and chinook salmon pieces). It wasn't long before we had our first fish to the boat. Just a little guy but still a fun fight. It was an untagged fish and being on a boat that supports the fraser sturgeon tagging program, we inserted a tag and sent it on its way. After one more fish, this one on a piece of chinook we pulled anchor and tried another spot.

The next location was up near mission and produced the biggest fish of the day, hooked on a piece of chinook. The rod tip dipped a couple of times, I closed in on the rod ready to strike. The rod tip tapped again and I set the hook hard. At first I didnt think it was a big fish, but then it peeled some line and came up to say hello. The fish leapt out of the water for a nice tail stand and a big splash, twice, before we could get the gopro running and then again for a third time. This was a nice fish. I fought it hard for over 45 minutes. Pulling as hard as I could. My arms, legs and back were shaking. We pulled anchor and followed the fish around, getting it close to the beach before it took one last hard run and the worst feeling... snap... the fish broke the 150lb test line. I was devastated.  Upon further inspection the fish had frayed the line on it scutes (sharp bony protrusions) and there was about 5 ft of frayed line near where it broke. For those curious, this was the biggest fish I have ever had the pleasure of fighting. It was an estimated 8 feet long and a very healthy thick fish. Sigh.
Back to trying for another fish, but hoping for a bit of time before having to fight any other large ones. My arms, legs and back couldn't take another battle like that for a while.
Further up stream, in the Chilliwack area, I managed another big fish. Not as big as the 8 footer but still a big fish and a hard fight. This fish was also hooked on a piece of chinook salmon. Again i set the hook hard but there was not air time for this big boy. The other rods were pulled in and the anchor pulled. The fish decided to pull line and head down stream. Cut a long story short, after another long hard battle the fish gave up and we landed it at the beach. Unfortunately it wasn't as big as the one earlier but it did tie my personal best at 6 feet 4 inches. After checking for a tag (it was a recapture and already had one), measuring the fish and recording it all we sent it on its way.

The day ended with a total of seven fish landed and one big one lost. I got the pleasure of landing four of the seven fish ( 4'1" , 4'7" and 6'4"). Not to mention the 8 footer that snapped me off.  Needless to say, I woke up this morning feeling very sore.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Daddy Daughter Fishing Trip

I took my youngest daughter (six years old) fishing this morning. Our target species was pikeminnow and our location was the North arm of the Fraser river.
When we arrived it was a little chilly but it didn't take long before the sun and the heat came out to play. The trip was a quick one and our mission was to find some pikeminnow to use as bait for a sturgeon fishing trip tomorrow.

At first I tried to drift a light float along the shoreline in the soft current which yielded no results despite trying single salmon eggs and a special dough I had made. We tried a couple different locations along the bank before I decided to change the presentation and fish off the bottom. Lesson learned. Whe  it comes to fishing for pikeminnow keep it simple. Two split shot and a small size 14 barbless hook was all it took. The pikeminnow were strangely reluctant to take the salmon eggs  but they were more than eager to chew on the home made dough.
The bait would hit the water and within five seconds the rod tip would be twitching. It was quite frustrating as we couldn't make the hook stick. After a couple hook ups and long line releases we finally landed a small pikeminnow. The action was fast and furious but we only left with two for bait tomorrow.

In case you were wondering what the magic dough was that turned on the bite. It was simply flour, water, plain oatmeal, and peanut butter. Yes, you heard it... peanut butter. It works!

I love the fact that when she was asked if she wanted to go fishing my daughter's eyes lit up and a loud "yes" was heard throughout the house.

What a great day out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vedder Red springs

Today I made it out to the Vedder river. The sun was up early and so were we. The forecast was for hot weather so wet wading was on the menu. Unfortunately for me, I was on the menu too. As soon as I stepped out of the car I realized my mistake. I had forgot the bug spray and the mosquitoes were out in full force.
Beyond the bugs, the water was in good shape. It was a little higher than I like to fish but not unfishable on the spey rod. The visability on the water was good and allowed for our quarry, red chinook, to see our offering as we presented it to the depths with heavy fast sink leaders. They are known as red springs because of the colour of their flesh, pinkish red, as opposed to the white flesh fall springs. This early run does not produce as many fish and does not produce the larger sizes found in the big fall whites. In fact it can be closer to steelheading in that you have to seek out your quarry and find the few fish in the system.

We fished a few nice looking runs under the heat of the sun, thankful for the cold water we stood in. The day did not yield any springs, none were sighted and we heard of none caught throughout the river. However my fishing partner did pull a good size bull trout out of a run that gave up quite a nice fight so the day was not a bust fish wise.

On a side note. If anyone is thinking of fishing this river at this time of the year, there are sockeye moving through too. These sockeye are a part of an endangered run and should be avoided. If you happen to hook into one, and it does happen, please try play it out in a timely manner and release it quickly and gently without taking it out of the water.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Salvaging a Reel

Im going to preempt this post with the fact I am a rookie when it comes to wood working, metal work etc. Its not very often I take on such as this but I thought of it as an adventure as well as something to do while not working due to the teachers strike.

Anyway, I took my daughters crabbing at belcarra on a nice sunny day a few weeks back and had a blast catching bullhead, flounder and some decent size crab. There was an old abandoned sailboat there that the city was about to tow away for the scrap yard. Another gentleman was already working on salvaging the kicker motor off the back and I spotted an old wooden reel. I grabbed the reel off the doomed vessel (I was told it was ok as the lot was headed for greener pastures). It was in rough shape but I had time on my hands.

After many hours of sanding, polishing, drilling, disassembling and reassembling I turned out a half decent product. I have no intention of using this reel (although it is still a functional reel) but I thought it might look good on display. Everything in it is original except the handles, which were random wooden knobs I had to purchase and alter to fit.
Kind of a fun, cool project.

Local trip

This week I took my two girls camping.  Prior to our departure I hit the fraser for a quick few casts to see if I could conjure up some sturgeon. The fraser river is still a bit high to sturgeon fish from shore but I did manage a small two footer. Detecting the bite was difficult due to the rod movement in the heavier current. The bait for the day was eulechon.
Our camping trip was a local one to Rolley Lake. The weather was great, sunny and very warm. Since I had some time to kill, relaxing with the kids on the side of the lake, I decided to cast out my ultra light weight spinning rod and see if I could pull some fish up off the bottom. We walked and found a nice spot near a small cold creek that was dumping into the lake. I decided to fish off the bottom and having forgot to bring any bait (aside from artificial flies) I used what I had which was an old jar of power bait.
Well the old power bait did work and I managed two small cutthroat to hand which were gently released. The bites were fast and furious but not too many of them.
The kids had fun looking at the small rainbow fry in the creek as well as a rather large stickleback (see the picture) while they scoured the shore for neat looking rocks and enjoyed the outdoors.