When days start getting shorter, a chill creeps into the air, and temperatures begin dropping, it’s easy to shift focus from fishing to hunkering down by the fireplace, however it’s become one of my favourite times of the year to get out and wet a line. The December through May season is a lot kinder to us Islanders than it is to other Canadians, allowing us to get out and fish through the colder months without drilling a hole in the ice. Although winter conditions can fall on the unpredictable side, for the Island angler, there are plenty of opportunities to fly fish for steelhead and resident trout in the rivers, trout and bass in the lakes, and sea-run cutthroat on the beaches.
This time of year, casting a line on the beaches of Vancouver Island for sea-run cutthroat trout seems like the ideal way for the fly angler to spend those long summer days. The sea-run cutthroat fishery is one that is notoriously tight lipped, however the trout are prevalent enough and there is enough shoreline on the west coast that each angler can find their own water to chase this elusive, exhilarating fish.
This is the last month that the streams and rivers south of Campbell River remain open (areas 1-1 to 1-6, closed July 15-August 31), making it the ideal opportunity to spend these final June days stalking trout & steelhead on the gin clear streams of Vancouver Island, before moving to the lakes to sight fish the shallows for smallmouth bass. Few things match the rush of stalking a fish you can see with an ultra-light rod on waters that are removed enough from civilization to stay pristine. It's a combination of patience, presentation, and position that is both technical and challenging. It's the closest to bone fishing on you can get on Vancouver Island, and the fish are there or they are not - there is no denying what you can indisputably see in front of you.
Being able to match your presentation to the conditions or find a new way to offer your fly to finicky fish can be the difference between landing the fish of a thousand casts or going home skunked. The importance of presentation is that the more accurately you are able you are to place your fly where a fish is holding, the closer you can get to reaching the strike zone. More important to catching fish than the perfect cast is how your fly performs in the water and there are at least 5 techniques every Island Angler should have in their arsenal.
As outdoor recreation explodes in popularity, the more accessible the area, the greater the fishing pressure and it can be a challenge to break free of the crowds. Only a fellow angler would understand why anyone would trek miles into the backcountry, fording creeks, clambering over obstacles and navigating slippery logs just to cast a fly to wild trout in an untouched wilderness sanctuary.
Traditionally called “kebari tsuri”, meaning “hair hook fishing”, tenkara fishing originated in the Japanese mountain streams for Yamame trout, Iwana char and Amago. The beaches, streams and small lakes on Vancouver Island make this the perfect place to try this angling technique for trout, char and even bass. The long, telescoping rods of modern … Continue reading Tenkara Rods – Fly Fishing Japanese Style, Island Angler, June 2018, Page 7
A Vancouver Island advantage is that it is one of the few places in Canada that the winter chill does not freeze all the lakes, and thus fly fishing is possible year-round. Typically, the best time for lake fishing is spring and fall, however with the right understanding, a year-round fishery exists. Casting winter lakes … Continue reading Winter time fly fishing for trout, Island Angler, Winter 2017-18, page 3
The belief is that stillwater fishing slows in the summer because spring hatches are over and the water is too warm. And in some cases, especially shallow, low elevation lakes, this is true. However, on Vancouver Island, there are thousands of lakes in 123 watersheds, and summer hatches of damselflies, caddisflies and dragonflies that make […]
For the first time, on May 11, Fisheries & Oceans Canada granted emergency authorization to reduce water flow on my home river, the Cowichan, to below 15 m³/s before the traditional flow pattern ends June 15. To put this into context, a flow rate of 4.5m³/s was reached approximately August 8 in 2014 & 2015, … Continue reading Fly Fishing for Trout in Changing River Conditions, Island Angler June 2016, page 5