Friday, 19 May 2017

Orca traffic

 It is good form to go slow and look both ways for coming traffic when coming out of the harbour. 
 This family of Orcas was coming up the shore , close in, when I was about to cross Discovery Passage, almost 9 pm Friday night.  I stopped and turned off my motor at the breakwater at the Discovery Harbour entrance.  

We are supposed to give them lots of room, like a hundred metres, but I was just in the harbour entrance and thought it should be okay. They passed by travelling slow and steady. The biggest male has an especially forceful blow.  I had an eye in the camera and found it hard to count them accurately. Maybe there were seven or eight , with the majority being small ones. 
These are the mammal eating kind of Orca, formally called Transients, now Bigg's, prowling for seals and sealions.  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Al and Holli

 Al's birthday is the excuse for a getaway for Al and Holli.  They've come up from the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca , not far from Victoria really, to see what;s up with this Campbell River fishing that they have heard about.  Al has been a skipper for big sportfishing boats in Alaska and Hawaii.  (Yikes, no pressure here.)  It was a fine day for all. Those early fish are going to be so tasty. 

Here's a 7 1/2 inch herring from the stomach of one of the fish. That's good stuff for growing chinooks .  We've see the humpback whales again recently, probably because they are chowing on the same big herring. 


Friday, 31 March 2017


 My Grady White boat is certified for 4 passengers plus the skipper.  Canada's Ministry of Transport requires all commercially operated small craft to be certified , and the allowed capacity is more cautious than the manufacturer stated, as you can see. MoT has a requirement for stability testing, and also adequate seating.  

Monday, 20 March 2017

spring equinox

Sunset to the west behind Victoria peak at spring equinox.

Last light on Mt.Washington. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

mature chinook lures study

Here's something that some of you may be interested in. It's a study to compare the effectiveness of lures for mature chinook salmon. More specifically, it is a study to help Alaska commercial trollers catch mature chinooks that returned to Carrol Inlet , returning as hatchery fish, ( ranched fish ) meant to be caught.
Chinooks from different areas , different genetic lines and run timings, behave differently of course. Still there is much food for thought here.  ( -If you are inclined to think about these sorts of things. Most readers here let the guide do the thinking.  But maybe, hopefully, sharing what's interesting helps share the experience of fishing. )
 We have fishing for very mature chinooks in the waters near the Campbell River when those fish come home in August and September, as in the Tyee Club season . But we also fish for chinooks that are mature migrants coming down the Straits from the north, heading to various river systems over the whole summer, which are often not feeding, or hardly feeding, and tricky to get to bite.
The studies were done in a method whereby by two commercial trollers alternated their style of fishing with one using the proven gear and the other more experimental lures, and then switching styles on alternate days. They logged more than 35,000 lure hours. 739 mature chinooks, over three seasons. It looks like the studies ended in 1992, but weren't posted online until 2016.

If the link doesn't work, Google it.

Some , but not all, of the intriguing points I took note note of :

- a very strong preference of spoons over plugs
- the only one plug rated highly was the brass coloured # 950 Tomic plug. ( Coincidentally, that was a brassy gold colour of the 6 inch Tomic that caught David D's 33# Tyee Club rowed fish for us, several years ago. )
- bronze was best colour of the bright spoons
- the preferred lures changed some from year to year
- the spoons mentioned are all of the oldtime standbys: Wonders,  Superiors, Clendon Stewarts, etc. All are what I might call " wobblers ", that is to say, all have a shape that has both a concave and a convex bend, fore and aft, and swim with a pronounced side to side swing,  as opposed to the now popular sportie spoons which are concave "flutter" spoons.
- there was an attempt to fish slower with the big commercial trollers. Those lures are very speed sensitive. I like the Superiors and McMahons because you can bend them to adjust .
- added scents didn't help
- herring and flasher/hootchy rigs also had good results, but were only part of arsenal.
- most of the fish were caught moderately shallow, but often over deep water
- a few fish were fitted with sonic tags which recorded that they regularly swam steeply down to extreme depths, like 90 fathoms ( 720 feet ) . Deep diving is common for chinooks although not commonly known. ( I should write a post about that.)
-  a fish located with the sonic tag was not scared at all by a seal bomb detonated near to it.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

bird signs of spring to come

It is snowing again.  Big wet slush flakes that don't stick around for long. I hope. I don't really need to show another snow photo. 
The Weather Network predicts a cool spring , followed by a good summer, warmer than last year.

In between the lingering snowfalls, birds are giving hope that the seasons are progressing.  I have seen views of seven or ten eagles out in the passage swooping for herring , each of the last two days. They don't often pose close enough for a decent photo.  They are following herring that is dispersing from the spawning areas. On these dates in the last two years , it was a much warmer spring- like weather when the eagle shows happened. It is all probably happening a bit later this year. 

A pair of geese is coming close in to the docks and shore to feed on the new shore grasses, and possibly to scout out a nesting site.  Just as they have done in past years.  Most of their nests will be found by predators, especially raccoons. 
And of course, the bird of spring is the robin, the first I've seen this year. Spring must be coming. 

  PS,  by evening the grass was covered white. 

Very good herring spawn

 " Bumper harvest as herring return to Strait of Georgia in great numbers. "  That was the headline from the Vancouver Sun. The Nanaimo paper calls it a " boom year " . 
  This is very good news as a measure of the herring stock, the vitality of the ocean that supports them, and a positive indicator for salmon fishing. 
 Herring school up to spawn in enormous concentrated masses in just a few main locations on the coast, and also in some smaller secondary places. The main location for the south coast of B.C. is just south of us a few miles and stretching down to Nanaimo. Predators of all kinds key on them, most dramatically thousands of migratory seabirds, and hundreds of  sea lions.  And the commercial fishers harvest a big bunch, up to 20%, which is controversial, but it is hard to complain when the population is stable or growing.  
 In recent years a large portion of the herring have found good feeding conditions in our sheltered inside waters, and stayed inside ,rather than heading out to sea in the open Pacific. An indicator of this is the increase in Humpback whales in local waters, as well as the chinooks salmon we find in good size and numbers. 

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

from snow to snowdrops

This is a long tail on winter this year. There has still been snow , flitting between rain and sunshine, but it doesn't stick anymore.  

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


I was away with Shamra , on a rare vacation trip. I don't often experience jet travel, as many of my fishing guests do.
By the way, did you know that Vancouver Airport has been awarded the title of Best Airport in the World ?!

Monday, 30 January 2017

edgy weather

 The clear draft of continental air holds back the ocean clouds at sunset in this photo.
 I'm posting some photos for my distant friends. The clear weather, that teases like the start of spring, is about to step back into winter. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Fishing, Fast and Slow

 Life is like fishing.

Michael Lewis, ( author of Money Ball , The Big Short, etc. ) has written a new book , “ The Undoing Project , A Friendship That Changed Our Minds “ , about Daniel Khaneman and Amos Tversky. 
Khahneman received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for their work in Psychology ( Tversky died in 1996 ) .  Khaneman’s  best selling book ,“ Thinking Fast and Slow “ is about how systemic errors in our mental processes effect our judgements.  I hope Lewis' attention makes Khaneman even better known..

 I don’t want to give the impression that I am much of a reader, but certain ideas are very important.  “ Thinking Fast and Slow “ gives a firm grounding to fishing. It carries a theme that is the opposite balancing to the feel of fishing.  Think “Moneyball” in which statisticians have better judgement than baseball Scouts. ( Actually, Lewis wrote Moneyball before he knew about the original source of those ideas. )

But, but , but... I love the feel of fishing, which is all about judgements based on small sample sizes, personal experience, anecdote, and especially intuition. All those things humans do poorly, but with confidence. There is a tension here with the sense of refined deep knowing that comes with repeated cycles, of knowing the signs to look for, knowing what to do. You can trust my intuition, I’m your fishing guide. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

small stuff, big stuff, more stuff

 Today there were gulls, ducks, and mergansers feeding on something so small I couldn't see what it was.  That's intriguing that they can get nourishment out of such tiny food.

 At the same time , a couple of humpback whales were feeding toward the opposite side of Discovery Passage.  Again, big animals feeding on relatively tiny food.

 Those two whales so close together might be the Mom and calf photoed in this blog before Xmas. 

 Some more photos of the day.

Sunrise reflected in the windows of Campbell River under Mt Washington's ski peak. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

winter fishing report

 Salmon fishing goes all around the year.   In winter fishing we are watching the next batch of chinooks grow. The mature chinooks of last season spawned in the rivers in autumn, died, and fertilized the river with their dead bodies for their eggs buried in the gravel.  In the ocean , winter chinooks are in the middle of their lives, usually growing to 3, 4 or 5 years old.  At this time of year, the most numerous bites are the young ones just about the minimum legal size, 24 1/2 inches, growing fast, and faster by spring. A decent number go up to 11 pounds or so. There will also be some lucky bigger ones, in the teens, and bigger, and we all hope to get lucky.  It sounds like an oxymoron, but we call these fish "winter springs".

 I haven't been out , for a number or reasons. It doesn't help that we are having the longest cold weather stretch in thirty years. I can report , however, that the boats that have been out have had good success. 
A good showing of immature chinooks in local waters is a great sign for spring and summer fishing for these homesteaders that have found good food supplies, like abundant herring, inside Georgia Strait. 

Photo from recent trip by Jeremy with friends Scott and John. 
Photo at top, and bottom, from my boat in previous Januarys. 

In the meantime, I have been tweaking lures, pulling them along the dock. I enjoy this, and I can do it in short breaks. I've blogged about this in the past, and will do again, no doubt. 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

winter weather otter

 I haven't seen otters for a long while. This one came across from Grouse Island to the neighbouring dock at mid day. 

 By late afternoon wet snow was starting again, when another otter came along by the same route.  These guys are fishing every day, regardless of weather. 

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