Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas morning

All of these were taken from the porch in Q cove on Christmas morning.

At the right time in the morning, on a clear day, the rising sun gives a reflected glow from the buildings on the south side of Campbell River.  On Christmas day, this is photo is about 9 am. 

Even on Christmas Day, the Quadra ferry makes a few trips.  Cheers. 

Yes, that is a hummingbird. There are a few in the neighbourhood that get through the winter with help from sugar -water feeders. 

Stellar's Jay

This the local eagle pair that stays for the winter.  Others will come when the spawned herring are moving out in early spring.  

The north end of the cove with the mouth of the Campbell River and Tyee Pool in the distance. The tide is ebbing , moving north to the right in the main channel.  Diagonally through the bay you can see the backwater riffle with up-welling that brings food closer to the surface, and there is a line of  gulls pecking along the break. Even in winter the pattern holds. 

The days are getting longer, spring is coming.  Hang in there.

December 23 snow

We had a very intense , very wet, snow on the afternoon of December 23. It made a nice Christmassy picture.  I had to sweep the boat top a few times, so the heavy slush wouldn't stretch the canvas. By bedtime it was raining. 

November sunset

changes: urchins, kelp, dolphins, orcas

Green urchins dominate the bottom in large areas.  This is a patch in Q Cove. In the extreme these are called urchin barrens, and appear to result from the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome which killed most of the starfish from California to Alaska.  The sea stars ( starfish is the old term ) would be a top predator on the bottom and kept everything in balance. I've posted about this before, but now the cause is know to be a virus. The sea star population seems to be coming back.

Kelp has disappeared from many areas because the urchins graze it off before really gets started growing. This photo shows a kelp patch holding on in November. Bull kelp is an annual plant. 
Although there are many local spots where the kelp forests have disappeared such as locations in Georgia Strait, there are other exceptional examples. I have noticed that on the south side of Race Point to Middle Point in Discovery Passage, the usual extensive kelp bed was gone this year, but on the north side of Race Point into Menzies Bay, the kelp bed was wide and strong as usual.  
 The most unusual thing was the several kelp stems that appeared in the Tyee Pool, on the south part, near the Can Bouy. That was a new thing, and a set of challenges for rowing  precious lures around. 

 The Pacific White-Sided Dolphins have become a regular sight in summer. I think that it is a newer development to see them often in winter. Here is a gang in November in front of the Tyee Club clubhouse,( which is closed until the rowing season begins July 15 when the big chinooks come home. ) 
Also note how tall the boat houses appear in the background due to high winter tides and high river level in the river . 

These Orcas ( Killer Whales ) are likely looking for seals in the mouth of the Campbell River. This is  November.  These are the mammal eating type of  orcas, which have been called Transients but are re-named Biggs Orcas. In recent years they have stayed in the general neighborhood all year round, but they move around a lot to ambush their prey, which include seals ,dolphins, and porpoises. 

Humpback Whales

 Of course we should not intentionally be so close to whales, but it can happen that one surfaces nearby while we are fishing.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Armin and Bernard

Armin and Bernard are from Italy.  They were here fishing rivers in Canada, as Armin has for several years.
Armin contacted me from Chilliwack, where they were fishing for salmon and enormous sturgeon ( catch and release ) in the mighty Fraser River.  
 " Is it too late in the season for ocean salmon fishing ?"  
Well, we can fish for salmon all year round here. Come on up, this just the right time for chum salmon. They enjoyed the ferry and drive up Vancouver Island.  Look at those bright beauties ! 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

October cohos

Here's a late October coho showing that it is very mature and still bright and feeding like crazy !

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dale, Lyn, Cory, Nancy


Targeting chum salmon and a bonus coho comes aboard as well.  While we were trolling slowly along Separation Head, this massive surprise must have come around the corner at depth and suddenly it surfaced close beside us. Didn't see that coming. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Shamra's fishing day was wonderful.  She hoped to get a lingcod, and a coho would be nice bonus. Actually, she said any fish would be a bonus on such a beautiful day on the water. 
 The lingcod was a just right size, and the coho a bright mature male with the hooked nose that many people call " Northerns", just about 12 pounds. 
 We spent some time drifting and watching the dolphins. Its hard to guess the number, but maybe 50 or more,and this time south of Seymour Narrows. They rush in a wide line pushing and corralling the herring , and then settle down again before repeating the cycle. 
There are about ten sea lions that have been hanging around Seymour Narrows.  They came around the point and right close by as we drifted while jigging. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bob and Doug

What a lovely September day. Bob and Doug thought they should get off their yachts in Campbell River's Discovery Harbour Marina and go fishing. It was an idea that came in the morning , so we left at 11 am.  We came through a hundred or more Pacific White-Sided Dolphins on the way out.  And we saw a few small schools of chum salmon porpoising as well, while we were fishing but we didn't catch any of them. On the way back we saw a gang of sealions. The fishing was pretty good, too. Some nice bright cohos and a late chinook that tried to fit in with the cohos. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

fishing with Harley and Rich

Harley and Rich asked me to join them on a fun fishing trip. It was just a great outing with old pals.  
We were hoping to find some chum salmon, which will be increasing in number with their migration timing. We expected cohos as most likely, and hoped for a bonus chinook salmon. We did get one chum,  three cohos and released a couple more of those, and got lucky with this big mature male chinook, a Tyee of 31 pounds. 
And we saw marine wildlife that was hard to get photos of.
Dalls porpoises zipped around near the boat for several minutes.
A gang of Pacific White Sided Dolphins passed by.
 And two massive Humpback whales rolled by a bit further out.   

Notice the spawner teeth. 

That's a very nice coho Harley is releasing.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Painting by Dr. Tom

 Dr Tom painted this way back in the ol' days. When he and Dee returned for a final trip several years ago, I took it to Nanook Lodge and hung it in their building. It stayed at Nanook until this summer when I brought it back.  Boy, lots of memories there.
 This painting is an expression to retain  a memory, a moment of camaraderie, and an appreciation of  the salmon world.  It reinforces an idea that all those bragging type photos are often much more than just showing the catch.

Monday, 21 September 2015

more and big chinook returns

More.     We've just had an exceptionally grand return of chinooks passing through our end of Johnstone Straits and adjoining passages.  Terrific in number. 
In sizes, mostly up to about 18 pounds, and a large portion of those on the small side. This is very good news. Those are three year old chinooks  and this indicates good survival rates at sea. So we can expect, or hope, that the siblings which didn't come back this year, the ones that will mature as four year olds will come back as older and bigger fish next year.  
( Backgrounder ; chinooks mature at a range of ages. Most chinooks we catch are 3 or 4 year olds. Some fewer go to 5 years, and possibly more. Another few, mostly males, will mature at only two years old. All Pacific salmon die after spawning. There are complications in counting the ages of chinooks as some go to sea in the spring after hatching, while other types remain in the stream for a year before descending.)

 Big.      In very interesting contrast to fish caught in the lower " Straits ", the return of chinooks to the nearby Phillips River have been big fish.  Those fish are counted in the seine netting for brood stock in the very successful Gillard Pass Salmon Association chinook enhancement project. They are returning as mostly older fish, which is likely a result of the program " kick starting" that genetic line.  Reports are of fish commonly in the high 20s, lots over 30, with many over that, into the 40s, and at least several in the high 50s.  And, in numbers this is a great return. 
 I had hoped to join Rupert and the volunteer crew seining in the river this past Saturday but the plan was cancelled due to rainy weather and the river blown out of condition. As well as giving a helping hand , I would have liked to have seen those fish. Rupert will have a total assessment of the run later.

 I'm also excited about prospects for the Campbell River and the Tyee Club rowing next season. There was a great improvement in the fishing action in the rowboats this year. But the fish were mostly in the smaller sizes, with quite a few in the teens, and into the mid 20s, and several 29 pounders just short of the Tyee 30 pound qualifying weight. Just 15 Tyees were registered , with two in the 40s. I'm optimistic that the 3 year olds are a favourable sign of good things to come : more older and bigger fish could be in store next year. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015


The Pacific White-Sided dolphins are fascinating. They are common to see in recent years, but they weren't here much at all in the prior decades. They are regular sights in groups of dozens to fifty or more. 
 The experts say that in the "Straits" they are eating the schools of small 3 or 4 inch herring by constantly herding them. I was very skeptical about this when I first heard it a few years ago, but now I believe it.  Just think of the amount of tiny herring that these numerous warm-blooded mammals must need.  They work hard for their meals. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Amie makes it look easy

It was Katerina , the grandmother who made it all possible. She made the original arrangement and volunteered to look after the babies so Amy could go fishing.  And Amie sure made fishing look easy in front of her husband  Zeb and father David. ,   The family is staying at a vacation house on Quadra . Zeb and Amie, visiting from France, and her folks from Alberta.
 On the way out we saw a humpback whale and stopped to watch it until the big tail came up signalling the start of the long dive.  Then we saw a mother black bear and her cubs on the shore. And we didn't know it , but there were Orcas nearby, but we missed them.  And there were dolphins in the channel when we were fishing.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

more rowing

David, known as Magneto, popped this one out as the wind gusted up.  24.5 , just a bit smaller than his earlier one. These grand fish are a thrill even if they don't make it to the very special Tyee 30 pound mark.  Note the mark of a predator tooth, an Orca or maybe a sea lion. With this success we came in early. The weather was a challenge to work around this session.

Holly with Scott.  Each looking always ready in relaxed concentration.

David with Rich.  Again, each looking always ready in relaxed concentration. 


Norm and Laurie skip class

Norm and Laurie elected to go out in the motor boat instead of rowing. We found nice sheltered
conditions and good fishing , including two double headers.
( I'm of mixed mind whether to put up slice of life photos or tally the catch. Today was 4 chinooks, and released 3 cohos , one lingcod, and one small chinook, )

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Charles and Peggy

Charles and Peggy are as old as.....well, as old as they are nice,  which is remarkable.  They are probably bored of people complimenting them on their abilities and especially on their adventurous nature, So, we won't mention that again. 
They had a wonderful two part trip. First they stayed several days at Nanook Lodge, where their hosts Larry and Sam supported them going at their own pace. Salmon fishing was hot for chinooks the whole time, but they didn't get up early, and they made some side trips for crabbing, and hiking. 

 Then , for my part, I picked them up mid- day at Nanook and made a bit of a tour on the way down to delivering them at Steep Island Lodge. Chantal was a perfect host for them there.
 The weather was rainy and windy for the first day and they just stayed in. But the following morning was good and we got out at the crack of 10 am for a short fishing trip north of the Narrows and back for an afternoon lunch. The fishing was fairly busy for some pinks and cohos biting , but hard to hook , and no big ones. So, it was fun when Charles caught a beautiful example of a pink salmon, nearing 5 pounds, and he said he was glad to get one of that size because he was able to get it in without any help.
 That was it for fishing with me because I was booked up for the next days, but Charles and Peggy stayed on at Steep Island for a couple more days. Chantal was great, taking them to Gowland Island for a hike and over to Quadra for a look around, and indulging them relaxing at the lodge with good food and quiet time. 

Charles and Peggy are pretty special, and I'm very glad to have been part of the team.