June 2007

June  2007
June  2007
June  2007
June  2007
June  2007


Larry E. Stefanyk
(An excerpt from Island Fly Fisherman)

Vancouver Island has a wealth of lakes -- nearly 700, ranging in size from tiny mountain tarns to large bodies of water like Kennedy, Cowichan, Upper Campbell and Nimpkish. Unfortunately, boat rentals are non-existent on all but a few locations on the southern Island and Saltspring Island that have fishing resorts. This means that anglers must provide their own means of flotation or cast from shore. What best to choose? Well, while no one boat will serve all purposes, a few manage to come fairly close for many situations.

For big lakes it’s not a stretch to simply employ relatively large, seaworthy boats like those used for fly fishing on saltwater. On of the most common for offshore is the 17-foot Boston Whaler Montauk, or clones of these popular cathedral-hull vessels. They are functional, safe, stable, manoeuverable, large enough to be comfortable, yet portable enough for one person to easily launch or pull out. Depending on their configuration -- with a centre or side consol, or steering from the stern seat -- they might be powered with outboard motors ranging from 40 to 100 or more horsepower, and may have something in the 10-15 h.p. range as an auxiliary motor.

Another point in favour of this shallow-draft style of boat is that they can be launched in barely six to eight inches of water -- which is often the case at small, unpaved boat ramps. This is assuming, of course, that the rig is being towed by a 4WD vehicle.

While boats of this size easily carry three or four people, for the sake of safety only two should cast at any given time. The stability provided by the wide cathedral hull, means fly fishers can usually stand comfortably while casting, retrieving and fighting fish.

It is probable that 12- to 14-foot aluminum boats make up the largest component of our inshore saltwater fleet, and they all do equally as well on lakes. Being light in weight they are easily towed, and can usually be launched at the crudest of ramps. Another plus in their favour is they can be rowed on lakes that do not allow motors.

Cartoppers usually fall in the 10- to 12-foot range and, as the name implies, they are light enough to carry on a roof rack or in the back of a pickup with the tailgate lowered. Most will easily handle two anglers, but due to space limitations they must work in concert with each other. A point in favour of cartoppers is that they can be carried or dragged short distances to launch where no ramp is available.

Punts designed specifically for one person -- common throughout the B.C. Interior, Cariboo and Chilcotin -- are appearing more frequently on Island lakes. Constructed from aluminum, fibreglass or plywood, they range in lengths from eight to 10 feet. The width and depth may vary, but they are usually a minimum of four feet at the widest point, almost always have a flat bottom, and contain an abundance of flotation material. These lightweight craft are easily rowed, and are amazingly fast when powered by even a small electric motor.

Canoes remain popular with some anglers. Depending upon their length, design, and the material used in their construction, they range from featherweight aluminum shells capable of carrying one person, to hefty fibreglass or wooden freighters that easily handle four people and are best propelled with an outboard motor.
Inflatable boats, pontoon boats and float tubes are commonly found bobbing about on Island lakes, and the latter are often the solution to private property signs posted around urban lakes, which limit access to occasional footpaths. Rafts and pontoon boats are also used for fishing in rivers that are tough going along the banks or simply too deep to wade. While some anglers might grumble about "rubber hatches" cluttering up the rivers, in the hands of persons skilled at rowing and reading the current, rafts and pontoon boats are actually quieter and less disturbing than someone wading, and they have little, if any, disruptive effect on spawning fish and their redds, or on the peace and quiet of anglers on shore.

While no single fishing platform will serve all of the situations and freshwater conditions found on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, probably the inflatable family comes closest, with a float tube by far the most economical and versatile. But when it comes to overall comfort, it’s hard to beat those large, stable boats that must be trailered. It’s all in what best serves your purpose and meets your needs, and, of course, what you can afford.

Island Fly Fisherman, $21.95, is available at tackle shops or can be ordered from Harbour Publishing, PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0, or through Island Fisherman at (250) 923-0939 e-mail: ifmm@shaw.ca

Huxley’s Run: 


Dr. Adipose Huxley

The smiles of September evenings are neither as wide nor brilliant as those of August. Dusk comes shortly after the sun slips behind the horizon, which quickly hastens the arrival of night. And while this rush to darkness speeds up, so too does the anticipation of the beach fisherman.

In August, the languid nights stretch on, and whenever the fish are showing there is no immediacy in their movements. It is as if they roll quietly, simply to show their scorn for a fly or lure that passes by. Even late in the evening, when the light is so reluctant to leave, it seems the coho, too, are reluctant to take. This is not so in September, though. While the September evening slips away quickly, the coho's interest suddenly turns on and anglers may experience 10 to 15 minutes of fast-paced action. I don't know why this is. Perhaps it is the salmon's innate instinct to feed in the last light -- just one more morsel before settling down into the dark depths. But when they are so close to their natal rivers, so close to that final run to their spawning grounds and subsequent deaths, what feeding instinct is left?

Perhaps, since it seems a majority of my fish taken in the September evenings are bucks, the males become suddenly active, suddenly protective, suddenly more aggressive.

It is good that they do so.

In my early days I would hunt the beaches starting in July, and then quit at some point in late September. With September making up for the action that was lacking in the earlier months, I was satisfied. Then I discovered October, and my season grew longer. This led to discovering November, and my time on the beaches extended accordingly. By then, however, the beaches had thinned out dramatically. Many of the late fall anglers had long since ended their season, perhaps readying themselves for winter steelhead.

October and November can be barren -- not so much for coho, but for proper weather in which to fish for them. Certainly, it is well and pleasant to stand in the October shallows of a beach, a weakened sun shining down warmly and the wind hiding wherever it is that wind hides, but this is not the best time to fish.
Perhaps it will be drizzling a bit, and the wind will be whipping a light chop on the ocean's surface. Hands become colder quicker, and a wee dram of single malt becomes a necessity -- fuel for the wood stove of your heart.

Full attention is required. Between the chop, the wind and the rain, spotting coho becomes much more difficult than when the elements are more benign, especially those slow, deliberate rolls of the big fish, disdainful of their dorsal fin breaking the surface, yet wary enough to keep their display to a minimum.
The light chop does make stalking much easier, though. It puts the advantage in the beach fisherman's corner. No telltale rings radiating out from a clumsy stumble, an unintentional blunder that telegraphs a quick warning to your quarry. Yes, October can be a wretched month, but it can provide many fond memories.
Much the same can be said for November, for by now practically all of the anglers have fled. It won’t last long into the month, but the beach fishing then can be spectacular, too.

Some might argue that this is not so much late fall beach fishing to which I have succumbed, but early winter. I won’t argue the point. I must tell you, however, that even when the weather is wet, windy and bone-chilling cold, a certain beauty, peace, and sense of harmony exists that kindles my poetic spirit. But, alas, whenever I endeavour to write of the romanticism about late-season beach fishing, I am overwhelmed by the obvious truth -- I do it simply because I catch more fish then. 

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