Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fish Lake

Another day, another lake. With the leaves on the trees turning to bright yellows and reds as they begin their descent through gravity to the ground, fall is in full swing. Figuring I don't have many warm days left this season I took advantage of the sunshine and spent a couple hours fishing the appropriately named Fish Lake.

The lake is a quick 25-30 minute drive north of Vanderhoof towards Fort St James, so it took me no time at all to get there. The lake was quiet and a perfect size for a float tube or pontoon. I rigged up my fly rod with my go to fly for lakes I have never fished, a doc spratley. Seeing this lake had a bit of colour to it I opted for a red one. I barely made it 100 yards from where i launched my pontoon and I had a fish on. Apparently fish lake has a lot of fish in it. I lost count how many rainbow trout I caught. It didnt matter where I fished on the lake I was catching. The fish were not big, averaging 8-10 inches with my biggest on the day at 11", but there were plenty of them.

I didn't stay long as my wife and kids were waiting for me and exploring on shore. However, I did stay long enough to know that if you are in the area and are looking for a great little lake to take the kids where they will catch lots of fish then Fish Lake is a good choice.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Stellako River

I ventured the 40 minute drive today to a gem of a river, the Stellako River. It is a fly fish only river, a class two classified water and catch and release only. After fishing the river, I can see why.

Upon arriving at the river I took in the beauty as I rigged up my fly rod to the sound of sockeye splashing in the river.
The river itself was quite low and an almost limitless visability. The sockeye were chasing around the various runs and the rainbows were following looking for eggs and holding behing the many boulder within the soft current. Keeping an eye out for local bears (plenty of signs of them along the bank) and working my way down stream i fished a few beautiful runs. And the best part is the solitude. We had the river all to ourselves.

I was told the cinnamon caddis would be the best bet if the fish are rising, if not then a stonefly or egg pattern.
It didnt take long to get i to a fish. My first fish took a dry fly caddis pattern off the surface. It was a beautiful 10" wild rainbow which was soon followed by another about 12" long.

As the day progressed I managed to catch fish on the dry fly caddis pattern, a golden stonefly nymph, an olive stonefly nymph and an egg pattern. The fishing was great and the scenery was fantastic.

The last fish of the day was the biggest (about 16") and was sight fished. In fact it was less than a rod length from shore right in front of me. I literally dangled the stonefly 2 feet down from the rod tip and watched the fish come out from behind the rock and slurp in the fly. I set the hook and the fish took off jumping down stream. After putting up a valiant effort the fish came to hand and i removed the fly from its upper lip and sent it on its way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nechako River Sturgeon Hatchery

I visited the Nechako River sturgeon hatchery today and got to go on a tour of the facility.
The tour started with a little sterilizing. Everyone was asked to use hand sanitizer and to step into a shallow puddle to help sanitize their shoes or anything they may be tracking in. The person from the hatchery took us around the tanks and talked about the sturgeon in the river and the program they are running there.
They use river water in the hatchery (from the Nechako river) and are able to reuse the water at a rate of about 94%. Some is obviously lost to waste.
The sturgeon eggs and milt were collected from the river and some pitt tags were put in the mature fish they collected. The estimates of the population of sturgeon in the river are measured in the hundreds instead of the historic thousands. Apparently they are considered a distinct strain from the fraser river white sturgeon and are considered endangered. The reason for the low numbers is thought to be due to habitat loss because of lower water caused by a dam upstream. More silt in the water is also thought to be choking out the eggs. Apparently the river doesn't get a proper freshet due to the dam so it doesnt 'flush' out all the silt.
I did ask if the Nechako sturgeon ever venture down stream into the fraser and apparently they don't really do it which is part of the reason they are considered a seperate strain.

The hatchery collects and hatches the eggs. The young are reared and fed multiple times a day through an automatic feeder. The feed is a small pellet in which their nutrients are mixed in. They are grown to about a foot in length and then released into the river to do their thing.
In a seperate pool at the hatchery they have two female sturgeon. This two gals (Slimey an Khaleesi) were kept because their eggs were premature and not as formed as they were expected to be for their size (about 6' for Slimey and around 7' for Khaleesi). They will be holding onto them until May when they can hopefully harvest the eggs and release the two back into the river.

It was a very cool tour. I learned sturgeon have a spiral intestine and therefore when they defecate in the water it comes out in little coils. I also left my contact information for when they need volunteers for tagging and egg harvesting/fertilizing. Looking forward to going back again.