I missed my annual visit to my family’s home in Bliss Landing, British Columbia last year as my daughter was born in March and I was enthusiastically adjusting to fatherhood. This year I carved out some time and made plans to spend some days up here with my father and two college friends from Portland. While the fishing has been consistent, the size of the fish we’ve been catching has been disappointing with only two keeper Chinook coming home with us in four days of fishing.
I’ve asked my Dad before if he thinks that are luck is a lack of experience or a lack of fish, and in his mind it may be both. Well, I think that we would both agree that our collective experience is no longer a limiting factor. Everything involved, at least on the technical side of things, is dialed in. Downriggers and their attached lines spend more time in water. Our trolling gear is fine-tuned and tackle mostly limited to what we now know works. There’s very little, and I can say at this point that this is true for all of the fisheries I participate in, “riff-raff” or novelty tackle in the tacklebox. We’ve become better and faster at recovering from and avoiding malfunctions that in previous years stymied or ended the day’s angling. With that said, fishing has been slow and this has been stated by others online who see fishing near us and by the staff of the tackle shops I frequent while up here. Knowing that others are in the same boat does help ease the feeling that is is not us, but them.
We have had some success with our two keepers coming aboard and some very nice wild Coho being caught and released. Our two keeper Chinook were caught
at around Sarah Point, but we’ve gotten into hot bites of undersize fish at Sutil Point, Grant Reef, Mystery Reef, and off of Kinghorn Island. Almost all of the fish landed have been on the same flasher/spoon combination that was suggested to us by a young buck at Marine Traders in Powell River. Normally and despite purchasing suggestions from tackle shop employees I’ll wave off these acquisitions as novelty or last-ditch, but in this case I owe credit where credit is due. At least in the case of the spoon he recommended which was a black/green Silver Horde Coho Killer. I used his flasher suggestion as inspiration to choose my own.
Humpback Whales Off Hernando Island
In our run from Sutil Point to Grant Reef on a day before the smoke really came in we spotted some whales approaching us. We were quick to see they were bigger than Orcas and cut the engine as two humpback whales cruised by. The whales circled back to our boat and the following video is the amazing encounter.
I stumbled upon Pete Rosko’s “one man show” video collection while searching for some footage of anglers jigging darts for Chinook salmon. It was nice to some of the techniques and rigging that I’d been using up in BC while fishing from a small tin boat and often also by myself. I’d basically figured out what I was doing over hundreds of hours bobbing around in a small tin boat, close to Bliss Landing. Fred’s Hump is a classic spot for me and one that I learned about from a former caretaker at Bliss who was also a guide on the side. I’ve fished this way, with 2 oz. Pt. Wilson darts for years and hooked enough fish to keep me out there as much as I can when I’m not in the big boat trolling. From Pete’s tactic for measuring depth to his choice of lines, leaders, color, how to cover water, etc. It’s a great technique and one that can even be employed without a depth finder..as long as you have a good set of charts, keep an eye on the weather, and fish with the tide changes. “Teacup on a wooden dowel” comes from Pete’s description of a de-hooker design that one can make in a pinch. We don’t get to see a prototype, but the description leaves one to wonder.
Simms Fishing Products released this series of instructional videos to help teach the bank angler tactics and tips for keeping yourself alive while fishing in rivers, crossing rivers, and even swimming in rivers all the while suited up in chest waders. It’s a few years old, but the series is still helpful in regards to its content and ability to scare the hell out of you as you imagine yourself bobbing down the river and having to decide if you’re going to go over or under the tree laying across the river ahead (go over).
From Fly Fisherman Magazine
A personal favorite documentary short that provides insight into what it may be like to grow up among generations of rod builders and steelhead anglers in British Columbia
From the Vimeo description:
“What if fishing was so important that you would change your life to pursue it? You would focus your entire life around it and raise your family to appreciate every aspects of the sport for themselves. “A Steelhead Family” walks you through a few days in the lives of the Clay family (Bob, Jed, Kaili, Kathy & Kateri), who have done just that. Headed by bamboo rod builder Bob Clay, this accomplished steelheading family makes the sport of spey casting look easy while illustrating the importance of the survival of these great fish in BC, Canada. A true fishing family in one of the last wild Steelheading strongholds left on earth.”
Created, edit, directed and produced by: Andrew Hardingham – Ubiquitous water Media”
Todd is making the best HD fishing videos that highlight PNW steelhead and salmon fly and centerpin fishing. Here is his latest via Catch Magazine
I rafted the Upper Yakima River from the mouth of the Teanaway River to the diversion dam at Thorp on Saturday. We casted red #1 Mepps spinners almost all day, with some occasional bronze ones thrown into the mix. The fishing was incredible, with the hits coming on nearly every cast over some stretches. We got a late start and were hustling to make the take-out for most of the day. Regardless we landed and released around a dozen small rainbows and I caught a cutthroat during a layover on shore while we snacked and rested. The large fish of the day was a 16″ rainbow that I hooked on the water and ran multiple times under my pontoon and back up the river.
This is a classic BC steelhead bushwhacking adventure filmed by BCXHD Productions LTD. and one that I re-watch on a regular basis. This is true bucket list footage and I hope that I’ll be able to make it up to north Vancouver Island here in the next few years and take my own turn getting a line wet in these protected waters, home of the best steelhead fishing in the world.
A neighbor up at Bliss Landing recorded this encounter they had with an Orca one morning and I can’t even imagine what the whale is trying to communicate with this seemingly threatening behavior. I would have very likely required a change of pants. The two men in the boat were on their way to set some crab pots off of Savary Island. This is a crabbing location I am very familiar with and just finished pulling my own pots out of there less than two weeks ago.