Monday, 26 May 2014

Canadian Adventure

As my 40th birthday approached Mrs C asked me, "Would you prefer a party or a fishing holiday?" Silly question really. I have an Auntie and Uncle who have lived in Vancouver for as long as I can remember so arrangements were made for my Dad and I to pay them a visit for a week.
British Columbia can only be described as stunning. Even in downtown Vancouver the architecture is spectacular, high rise buildings reflect both their surroundings and the sky in spectacular fashion. 

Our city planners should learn a thing or two from across the pond and follow suit!

Everywhere else you look there is amazing scenery. Snow topped mountains and greenery abound. Tuesday morning saw Uncle John, my Dad and myself make a short journey North to a place called Harrison Hot Springs. The idea was to stay with friends Alice and Ken and be closer to the fishing. Below is the view from their front door, imagine seeing that every time you went out of the house!

Wednesday morning saw us driving through Chilliwack on our way to the Fraser river to meet up with Steve Kaye aka the Sturgeon Hunter. 

The Fraser river is by far the biggest river I have ever fished at over 850 miles long. In its lower reaches it is huge and powerful and where the snags back home are sticks and twigs, in this watercourse we had to keep our eyes peeled for whole trees floating down and there were plenty of them!!
The tackle was simple. a 9/0 hook attached to 150lb braid and a simple running rig with a 12-14oz lead.
not exactly delicate but effective. Bait used was a either a small Squawfish officially known as a Northern Pikeminnow (which can grow to over 10lb) or an Eulachon (pronounced hooligan). By the time they were attached to the hook you couldn't really tell them apart.

The first bite was instant and before I had chance to draw breath I was playing my first ever Fraser river White Sturgeon.
These fish have remained unchanged for more than 65 million years, prehistoric monsters than can live for over 150 years and can grow to over six metres long.
The specimen I was attached to wasn't quite in that league but still fought very powerfully in the strong flow making my arms ache. After 15 minutes the fish was beaten and my first ever Sturgeon was boated and lay in the sling. 65 pounds of scaleless muscle with protective bony plates called scutes and a solid bony plated head. You could never accuse them of being pretty but they are certainly stunning creatures.

It is obvious why they are bottom feeders using their barbels and long protruding mouths to find and pick up crustaceans, shells and small fishes when they young. When they reach maturity they can manage whole Salmon.
My old man was up next and the nervous energy racing around him was plain to see. He sat through over an hour of waiting before the second bite arrived. Our guide Steve knew it was a big fish straight away and he was not wrong.

For a good twenty minutes or more the banter flowed about him messing about with it and the rhythm method etc while the monster attached dictated the terms of the fight.
Eventually it surfaced and it was obvious this fish was too big to be hauled aboard. There is a rule that anything over six foot has to be brought to the margins so we towed this one to the nearest 'beach'

6' 2" long (same as Dad!) weighing 150lb (bit less than Dad!!) of leviathan, one chuffed old man and a very jealous son!

Far and away the biggest fish that Dad had seen let alone caught.
Next up was a change of swim and Uncle John's turn. By now we had attracted a spectator. A bald Eagle sat in a tree right by the run, looking unimpressed by our efforts.

These huge Raptors are prolific around British Columbia building huge nests that can weigh almost a ton! We saw so many over our stay that the novelty wore off-nearly.

Eagle in nest
Uncle John was actually relieved when his turn came and the fish was not as big as Dad's! He enjoyed a spirited battle with a 45lb fish and the smile says it all.

The old boys kicked back and relaxed after that letting me have the remaining hours rod-time. We moved spots a couple of times before I landed two bigger specimen both around the 100lb mark, 60 and
59 inches long respectively.

Our skipper thought the above specimen was a sea faring fish due to its pale colouration. Probably upriver for its first attempt to spawn.

That was the last of the action but we didn't care, an action packed day with lots of laughs. There was relief as well when we heard the other boat that went out that day had blanked. It would have been a long way to go to catch nothing!
The remainder of the week was filled with more wildlife, beer and laughter.

Wild Chipmunks:

and of course Canadian Geese:

A big thank you to Uncle John and Aunty Geraldine for looking after us so well and thanks to Dad for the company and the plane ticket!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Linear Tench (and Carp)

Not really what you would call a Spring morning!
Following last weekends successful Tench session I had a hankering for more of the same. Linear fisheries, a favourite haunt of mine when chasing Tincas, was the venue. Quite a risk on a bank holiday weekend being as popular as it is but I was relieved to see several vacant swims upon my arrival. I set up in a nice quiet corner on the road bank and within ten minutes of casting out had the first screaming bite of the day. When Tench run it is normally fairly easy to slow them down within about ten yards but this take kept on going and there was little I could do with eight pound line and my barbel rod. There could only be one culprit, a Carp. Eventually I managed to slow it down, gain some line back and within ten minutes there was a pretty little Common laying in the folds of the net.
There are some anglers who would class this fish as a nuisance when targeting Tench but that thought never crossed my mind, catching fish no matter what the species is always a pleasure in my book.

12lb 9oz
It wasn't a shock that there was no further action until mid-morning as I knew the colder overnight temperature would put pay to sport until then and the only sign of life in the swim was a slight drop back on the left hand rod around 10am. I left it well alone thinking there were fish milling around the area and reeling in and risking spooking them would foolish and thankfully ten minutes later a typical stuttering Tench bite led to 'fish on'.
A mostly uneventful battle ensued until I got the fish close in when it proceeded to power around taking the other two lines with it. I managed to net both it and the tangle and was pleased to have a quality female Tench in the bag.

8lb 8oz
Once again worm hook bait had done the trick in fooling an immaculate well proportioned specimen.
Nearly an hour later the same rod signalled another run and similar to the first fish it ran and ran. By the time I managed to gain control it was probably forty yards further away from where I hooked it but unlike the first Carp (by now it was obvious that this fish was a Carp) the fight was much more deliberate and powerful. The nerves started to kick in as I realised this was a large fish and on light tackle with line whistling in the wind, I trod carefully and constantly prayed for the hook to hold. A large tail broke the surface some thirty yards out which didn't help my disposition one iota! Eventually after what seemed like an age I bundled it into the net, let out a sigh of relief and lifted the fish onto the mat.

A stunning chunky Mirror with apple-slice scales weighing 24lb 12oz. My biggest Carp for three years which is not surprising as I don't ever target them. Daft really as I so enjoy catching them!
At that point I could have gone home a happy angler but there was still a chance for some more action. By now the complex was filling up with other fishermen making the most of the three day weekend and spods were flying about all over the place which usually scares the fish off but there was one Tench who remained and he took the middle rod's worm. An uneventful scrap ended with me being victorious.

7lb 1oz
I played with the camera whilst waiting for some more action but that was the lot. A pretty good day's work and I still got home in time for dinner.