Thursday, 29 January 2015

mild winter, hot fishing

 Yes, Claude it really is January 29, write that on your licence to record your chinook catch. It's not much like your Ontario winter, but don't tell anyone.
 The winter chinook fishing has just been very good and steady. These are "homesteading" chinooks that are finding lots of food right around here in Georgia Strait.  This is such a positive indicator of good fishing to come from now through spring and summer. These fish are aggressive feeders, not shy, looking for action. We look for them, but they find us.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Smileys are what the commercial salmon fishermen called maturing chinook salmon.  Smileys also make smiley anglers.

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Friday, 23 January 2015

Bright Fish, Brightfish

 A bright fish. Ken put some of the weight of this one on his knee.

  A " bright fish " is what fishermen say to describe a salmon that is in it's prime. Each of the salmon species darkens into it's particular spawning  colours in its own way. This process often starts while the fish is still migrating in the ocean. Some fish will be bright still even when entering their freshwater streams.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Great bargain dollar rate for Americans

A Canadian dollar  costs only 81 cents for Americans !
 Or, the another way, 100 of your American dollars buys 124 Canadian dollars.
 Wow, that is a big built- in discount for your fishing trip.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

modern times

I'm just catching up with the technologies that some of you, like this Seattle couple, are so natural with. 

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

morning dolphins

 A tight group of six or so Pacific White- Sided Dolphins came through Quathiaski Cove this morning.  They patrolled along close to shore, must be hunting herring.

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A couple of inspirations of fishing out on the mainland side. 

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

herring close by

 Last blog I mentioned seeing herring off of the dock at night in mid-winter.  If I could have got a photo it would look like this .  These photos are from September. 

Here small juvenile herring are feeding fearlessly, coming close, and not much bothered that mechanic Frank Delph is giving my kicker a tune-up. This behaviour demonstrates how fish act so aggressively in a "feeding frenzy" and opposite to their usual shy and easily spooked mode. 

 Massive schools of large mature herring will be coming into Georgia Strait from the outer ocean in late winter to spawn in concentrations, mostly around Denman Island and south, in the shallows in early March.  That is a magnet for all kinds of wildlife and a terrific show .  -Something for another post. 

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Stars, urchins, murder

A sunflower star affected by the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.
Sea Star wasting away,   

Green urchins move in when their predator Sea Stars disappear.  Recent photo from the dock in Quathiaski Cove.  

 Sea stars have been in a massive die-off  called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, SSWS; that has been in the news. ( The newer ,better language is to call them sea stars, not starfish ) The infection blew up the coast from California through Alaska in just a couple of years. It was a mystery that seems to have been solved somewhat last autumn by the bio-detectives identifying a virus.  Luckily it seems that a few survivors may be starting a slow rebuilding population. There is much more to this, as you can find from the following links, and from Google.

 Sea Stars are the keystone species that was first used to establish the concept of keystone species. Locally, the effect to notice is that starfish eat sea urchins, ( as well as other things such as  bivalve clams).  Urchins eat kelp sprouts.  Sea Stars gone, green urchins populations exploding, kelp down.
Kelp creates a very important forest-like environment to shelter all sorts of creatures and small fish.  People have been keenly noticing losses or gains in kelp beds as indicators of ecosystems, prior or the starfish die-off.  Kelp is one of the greatest natural carbon storage systems. The previous well-known story-line about kelp has been how early fur trade hunting of sea-otters, which dine on urchins, has devastated kelp beds over the whole coast.  So, reintroductions and growing populations of sea-otters on the west coast is a good thing.

Winter survivor bull kelp, all alone on this part of the beach.  The leafs are a fraction of their full size. 

Kelp is important , and remarkable. It is actually algae , not a plant, and the largest of that. It is an annual, and about the fastest growing plantish thing in the world, with the stem able to grow up to 2 feet per day in ideal conditions. The holdfast is a specialized root-like part that anchors the plant, then the stipe ( stem) which can be 50-80 feet long, or more, the bulb ,which contains enough carbon-monoxide to kill a chicken, and the long leaves near the surface which collect sunlight for photo-synthesis. As a fast growing annual, kelp usually dies in winter storms, but it is usual to start from scratch every year. However, kelp that can survive winter can live for many years. Bull kelp should get a lot more appreciation.

Another cascading effect is that the unimpeded urchins are eating the fringed colander kelp beds which provide sheltered habitat for juvenile spot prawns.  The massive carpets of urchins are called “urchin barrens” and scientists are concerned about how eliminated species will recover.

Here in Quathiaski Cove,  the green urchins are taking over the bottom.  It took me a while to get a decent good photo because the tide is fairly high in daytime in winter. The photo at the top shows a dense cluster,  this next one is more typical of the green urchins grazing.

This past autumn, there was a flock of crows,( a murder of crows ) hanging around the docks in the north end of Quathiaski Cove, and crapping on the roofs, as they have never done before.  They were dining on green urchins which they could pick at low tide, and ripe chestnuts from a nearby tree, a good balanced diet. Both of these foods have shells that the crows cracked by dropping them on the docks, or the rocky shore.  If I could have got a good group photo of some of that action I would have titled it “ Murder at Dinner.”

I don't want to leave this post sounding alarmist. The ecology may be changing, it is complicated, and very interesting, I think.  On the up side , chinook fishing right now in winter is as good as anyone remembers for decades, and indicates the vitality of the sea.  Winter chinook populations “inside’' predict good local spring and summer resident chinook populations, which we measure a sample of with good fishing.  I sometimes go down to the dock at night , especially around low slack, if is calm, and I can often see herring flashing.  That is another example of something clear to see, but hard to get a decent photo of.  Those Bright Fish give me a lift.

  (photo credit:  Starfish ,,  

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Campbell River Fishing Guides Association

 the decal , from decades ago

 I'm now the Chair of the Campbell River Guides Association.

How did this happen ? Harry MacDonald had been in the position for over ten years, and decided that was enough. A big thank you for all of that, Harry. The election was by acclamation, and I appreciate the confidence that the members have placed in me.  Harry will carry on as Treasurer, and Jeremy Maynard has volunteered as Secretary.
 There will be challenges, and good times too, as the cursed blessing goes,  " May you live in interesting times."

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Locals fishing mid-January

 Fishing reports have been very good , so this Saturday Dec 10, quite a few local anglers got out fishing close to home.  Photos from Willow Point. 

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Monday, 12 January 2015

winter currents

 In winter the tides are high, all day, and float driftwood off of the shores. With help from the winds , and currents there is a lot of wood in the water moving to new places.

After a big rainstorm, the wash from the Campbell River sometimes comes all the way across Discovery Passage into Quathiaski Cove at this time as the ebb starts pushing back into the passage. 

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Winter waterfront ( new camera )

Sunrise reflected in the windows of Campbell River after a storm.  View from Quadra Island.  Note the boat washed ashore on Grouse Island. 

Snow on the mountains, (where it belongs) . 

I've got a new camera. I had lots of frustrations with the last one as the auto-focus started having problems, and it only had a short lens. I'm pretty happy with this one. 

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Friday, 2 January 2015

December odd sample

This fish has already been sampled !!!
As you may know, I have been taking tissue samples for DNA analysis.  This is part of a program called Avid Anglers in which volunteers collect samples for DFO biologists to determine the rivers of origin of the chinooks and cohos. There are about two dozen such anglers, mostly on the south end of Vancouver Island.  In this area there are only a few of us. The others are part time recreational anglers, and guide Jeremy, but he spends a significant part of his year in other areas as well.

Let me take this opportunity to say thank you to every one who helped out with the sampling in my boat , either by just being patient and supportive, or by actually getting involved in doing the holding , punching or recording. This past season I turned in 246 samples.  I hope to get information back to share with you. The analysis will be done through the winter.

The tool for taking samples is a paper hole punch. You can see the previous punch healing and I took out the new punch just below it. There has been some discussion about how long it takes for such scars to heal and some experience from hatchery workers punching adult fish to count them
 indicates they heal quickly.
This fish is already marked by its adipose fin being clipped, showing it to be a hatchery origin fish. Then there is the healing sample mark and then my sample. So this fish has been marked three times!
 The length of this fish was just on the line of being legal. We released it, so there is a tiny chance it could be caught and identified again.
 I had no record of a fish of this description, so inquired of the other local samplers but they had not marked it either. Inquiries are being made of the Avid Anglers from the south .

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November chinooks

Fishing was very good in November and December. The fish are bright feeders, chinooks that are living here , growing up. It sure looks like the fishing is going to stay good right through winter. This one is so bright that Ron has to squint. John is thinking this is going to taste so good.  These "winter springs" are the tastiest salmon.

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October Q Cove and Discovery Passage pics

 Quathiaski Cove,  October afternoon

Discovery Passage,  October view from Tyee Spit.  Gary's guide boat coming in from fishing.  April Point, Shag Rock, and Quathiaski Cove in distance.

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