Tuesday, 29 March 2016

first salmon fry of spring

It was a lovely, calm, sunny evening of perfect conditions to see these salmon fry, the first I've seen in the cove this year.  

The frosty effect in some photos is freshwater from the shore mixing in a little bit.

Many of these little guys are very skinny, a reminder that the greatest mortality is in the first few weeks in the sea. Grow fast and strong little ones, there are mergansers like these, and so many other predators looking for the weak or slow. 
 If you have trouble seeing them , that is a good thing. Their shadows can give them away. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Yikes, again

This time an otter actually touched the spoon, or the hook,and I felt it . It came straight out from under the dock and instead of turning and following, it swam straight, fast,  and touched it ,as I , in a start, tried to pull the spoon away. 
 If you've been following this blog , you know I often go down to the dock and mess around with spoons and plugs. I find this to be a soothing meditative activity , while tweaking lures and watching the swimming action. Over the last two years, I've had several otters follow spoons, and also one young seal, and caught one small lingcod on a plug. , 
This time I was trying out a few old discontinued commercial spoons I had found in Victoria when Shamra and I were there on our break. Today's spoon was a # 8 McMahon, which is a very flat ,boring design, and therefore is one of few that I like to fiddle with because they are easy to bend.  
 So, now I think I'd better put a bit of tubing on the hook to protect the point in case a mammal grabs on. 

 The upper spoon in this set is a Ghandi, a very old, and unusual, design from the Tyee rowboat tradition. This one is on loan from my friend Scott. I had been curious for years , and now had a good look to see how this thing swims.  It has a very wide slow sweep , and a lot of drag.  

When I'm pulling the big spoons, my imagination has me in the rowboat in late summer trying to trick a Tyee under the Tyee Club rules. That fishing is so intriguing for all the reasons that most people are not suited for it.  It is very hard to get a bite. Those very mature fish on the doorstep of their home river are not feeding anymore.  Most trips of a few hours don't produce a bite. If you get a bite, most are light and don't connect. If you get one on,  a larger portion throw off the hook. All the details have to be right because line breaks, and broken tackle are more common. And, I like to be the guide, I'm rowing, and someone else is handling the tackle and playing the fish. Sometimes the angler is a beginner, and is learning by my coaching, in the dark, before the sun rises.  The odds of all things going just right are, lets say, challenging. But when it all comes together, oh wow, what a fulfilling thrill, whatever the size of the fish. And I think about this far , far , more than I actually get to do it, because mostly I'm at my day job , guiding in the motor boat.  Crazy. 

Vancouver Island University Deep Bay Marine Field Station

 Just follow the signs. The function here is part scientific inquiry, and part public education and outreach. https://www2.viu.ca/deepbay/  

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

after the herring spawn

Shamra and I pulled off the highway to take a look around Deep Bay to see if there were any signs of the herring spawn. We knew we were late but we were about a week late. We were heading for Victoria for our winter-spring-summer three day vacation to Victoria.
 There were few signs of the herring. This photo shows a commercial rig pulling out of the area. That is a seiner towing  herring skiffs, for the two very different methods of catching herring: with an enormous net from the big boat, or with gill nets close to shore with the skiffs. 
Not much going on, but we discovered the Vancouver Island University Deep Bay Marine Field Station.   

Monday, 14 March 2016

spring herring in the Cove

Herring made there first big appearance in the Cove this year March 15.  They may have been around earlier but it is hard too see them unless it is quite calm and not raining.  There haven't been predators or birds making them obvious, and on this day that was the case again.  They flowed through the Cove moving north in clusters and spread all across the surface .
I'm guessing that most of these are out-bound mature herring, heading back to the outside ocean after spawning. But again, as in previous years, there are also smaller herring about ,4 inches, too small to be spawners.

Spring colours on Copper Bluffs

Copper Bluffs in summer looks dry and golden, but in spring it has a rainbow of colour.
I took a couple of friends for a quick zip around the neighbourhood in order to put in some more time in breaking in my new motor.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

otters like spoons


 An otter followed my spoon, again. This happened last spring as well. I was pulling spoons and plugs off the dock , bending and tweaking them to see the action, just on a rod length of line. This is not fishing, but I have caught one small lingcod, and attracted one seal and two otters, over several  years. 
I gives one a start when something slips out from the shadows under your feet and falls in line behind your lure.  It's another of those things it is hard to get a photo of.
So now , it appears that mammals prefer to follow spoons, and fish like plugs. That's what fishermen like to do ; make sweeping generalizations from very few data points.

Today's experience was so much like the last time, I just attached the blog post " Don't Bite " from Feb 12, 2015, below, with a better picture of one of those otters. 

Don't Bite !

I was pulling a spoon through the water, standing on the dock, just seeing how it swims, when an otter zipped out after it. I reflexively jerked my rod up and the spoon out of the water before he could grab it. It startled me actually, coming out from under my feet. I don't know if he would really bite down on it, but he was about to get his nose right up close. 
I do spend quite a lot of time just messing around with tackle. I often bend spoons , adjusting how they behave. I mess around a lot with plugs too. It is a relaxing meditative time for me and I can use it for a quick break. Also this winter, a small lingcod came up from the bottom in 30 feet of water and grabbed my plug. 

Here are three different spoons. The big Stuart spoon gives a strong beat, like a beating heart, when rowing for Tyees. The middle is a Clendon Stewart, made for a slow motorboat troll speed. Those two are No. 8s and it seems that spoons of that size are no longer being made. The last is a No.7 Wonder spoon,which will fish at medium to faster speeds. I liked the obituary of an old timer from up coast that said the man would only fish with a brass No. 7 Wonder spoon.  These are all old designs that have survived from among the scores of designs that have come and gone, because they work. 

250 830 8680

Monday, 7 March 2016

eagle kills blue heron

When I saw the eagle swimming I thought it had killed a duck or other seabird. It is fairly common for eagles to swim , towing their kill, if it is too heavy to fly with. This one was making better speed than they do when pulling a heavy fish, which I've seen more often.

 When he (or she ) got to shore he rested for several minutes.  Then he pecked at the meal just a bit and followed that with a distinctive eagle cry. He must have intended to share.
 Another eagle , a juvenile, who had been watching, was on the scene immediately,  Then another and another arrived , while one or two soared above. In ten minutes there were eight !
 They squabbled some, but mostly they seemed to share. They sometimes pulled against each other, but it looked more like cooperation, as seals do when they work together to tear a fish in pieces. Is that sharing?  I don't know, and maybe they don't either, it just works.

After the gang had dispersed I went over with the boat and found the head and neck of a Blue Heron. I think the eagle must have attacked this big bird while it was in flight over the bay.