No.2 Steelhead

It’s been a long time since i have posted but we have gone out a few times in January with nothing to show for.  February was a complete write-off in terms of fishing as i had a hectic schedule traveling to Asia.  Anyways, no one wants to hear about my business trip.  It’s all about fishing here.

Snow from the previous week, warmer weather this weekend, rain warning in effect, only 1 steelhead under the belt.  It’s time to head out.  Even though we knew that the elements of nature isn’t on our side, we didn’t care.  Wet, cold, numbness and miserable are all so familiar as these are days that near the end of each type of fishing season.  No difference here but this is our winter here in the lower mainland during this time of year.

Excitement + Faith + opportunity is what keeps us doing what we enjoy most in the great outdoors.  But really, it’s the post from the previous weeks of others having success keeps me wanting a piece of the action.  Today, was a great day for the both of us.  We arrived just minutes after 8am and next to the water by 8:30.  Nope, the walk wasn’t that far, most of the time was spent trying to dress ourselves.  With the down time, we couldn’t figure out which leg to put in the wader first, hahaha.  Nah, just kept on forgetting to put the thermal on first so everything had to come off.  A couple more times, we will get right back into it.  Anyways, back to the water, nice little run about 200ft, with all your key ingredients.  Fast, slow and slack water running in harmony.  Thinking to myself, does it look fishy?  Only one way to find out.  Started at the top with blade while Kemal on the bottom with jensen and white wool, nothing, then Kemal and i switched places.  With the cooler air near the water, it’s typical this time of year to have toques and hoodies on.  Blocking out as much wind and nature as possible to the head.  But also, i couldn’t hear Kemal yell, “Fish On!!”  Absolutely no sense of direction on where the voice was coming from.  But later, got a wave from him to come over.  Pointed out exactly where he had the take down but spent another 30mins with nothing.  Quite unfortunate that it got away but with a glimpse of what could have been put a smile on his face.  Time to move on to the next run.

Playing within channels of channels due to the high waters did yield something little.  Here is what Kemal got on his 3rd cast.  Fishing is fishing regardless of size.  :D
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A whitefish that would have been great for a little snack on the fire, hahaha. But too bad the rain just wouldn’t allow it.

I moved on from where Kemal was fishing to a familiar spot that i have fished during the coho season. Made myself a mental note at the time to come back when steelheads were around. Luckily, my memory serves me well when it comes to fishing, not so much with everything else. I had switched to yarn by this time already as the clarity of the water was about 6″. Needed something bright, larger and more juicy. Pink yarn, didn’t have a pink gummy worm with me, otherwise that would have been my first choice. Drifted in the slot which i thought would be my best chance but noticed that it was just going a wee bit too fast. I need to slow it down. Added another 1.5″ of depth in hopes to slow it down as it drags the bottom every so often. First cast after the adjustment, slowed it down to a speed which i liked. About 3 seconds in, BAM!!! FISH ON!!! HOOK SET!!! I know it’s solid, but with the ease, i thought it was a bull trout. That’s okay, a fish is a fish. But as it comes closer to shore, it gets heavier and starts to pull line. What? At that time, i was taking no chances. I yell for Kemal. Got a sore throat because of that, he didn’t hear nothing. Took out the gopro, set it between some rocks and continued to fight the fish. After about 5-7mins, the fish is to hand. A steel with some color dressing. Here is the highlight of my day, :D
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Because of the absent of chrome, i decided i wanted to try for another one. Released hatchery which i didn’t think i would do since this is my second steelhead ever. But it felt good to release something of such beauty.

More rain for the next couple of days but sunshine for the next weekend. Should be good but unable to hit the flow as i’m heading out of town again. Hopefully the week after provides even more opportunities but it’s just so soothing to be out again. The water is high and fast, almost lost my footing at one point. Visibility is limited so be careful when wading, even in well known spots as things have changed. Anyways, keep dry and play safe!!!

Making Balsa Floats

Had a bit of time on my hands over the holidays so i decided to make my own floats.  I’ve lost quite a few this season and it is costing a fair bit so i thought i could make a bunch and save some money.  Well, that’s not really going to happen because i spent more money on the material than it thought.  Oh well, fishing is expensive.

Here is a few pics.
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This took a few days to get to but the hardest part was the painting of the top. I don’t have an airbrush yet so this was painted with a sponge. Took me at last 6 – 8 coats to get it evenly covered but if you look closely, there are a few lines. But whatever, that is the best i could do by hand. You might be thinking that i could just dip it but the paint is a bit too thick and i didn’t want to have such a thick top. So, by hand it was.

Here is the finish product after 8 coats of gloss to bring out the shine.
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Vedder River 2013.12.15 — A Fish of a Thousand Casts

Haven’t been out fishing for 2 weeks now and i find myself from time to time reminiscing about the good old days which recently passed.  Depression is starting to set in and i know it’s time to make a trip out for whatever is in the systems.  I know it’s a bit early for the winter steelheads but i just need to be out casting the day away.  I can’t sit in front of the computer playing games all day nor can i sleep in past noon.  Those days are over now.  My body naturally wakes up at around 5 – 6am on the weekends with the anticipation of head east on HWY#1.  Time to plan a trip.

Over the week, we talked about the possible trip we could do this weekend as the weather was quite warm.  I really don’t want to be out there in sub zero temperatures.  It’s just not fun and not how i remember fishing to be.  It should be fun and relaxing not cold and painful.  Anyways, at close to double digit temperatures today, we set out on something that i haven’t done for a long time.  Steelheading!!  For some, an exciting time of the year but for many others, lots of wasted gas.  Which category do i fit in?  Unfortunately, the ladder.  That’s right, i have spent many trips to the vedder over the course of 5 years with nothing to show for.  And many years have just stopped trying for it as i had no idea where to begin with these so called “fish of a thousand casts”.  Today, Hook, Kemal and I started the adventure at 8:30am at the Vedder River.  Trying our luck to see if we could get something but we just wanted to be out next to the river.  With little to no expectation of catching anything substantial.  Catching a trout would be an awesome day in our minds.  We are opportunistic hunters in a sense or we just suck when it comes to steelheads.

Worked the flow down by the canal for approx. 4hrs.  Multiple stretches of water and i think i got 1 hit but it wasn’t there when i set the hook.  I was using a blade and it could be a trout as they are quite aggressive towards silver flashy objects in the water.  I was starting to feel there was nothing in there but i did see a fish in the above run that i couldn’t get to bite.  We sat down and talked over the game plan and decided to head up to another spot.

Arrived shortly after, enduring a bumpy ride on the way out.  My car is as low as it can be and the dyke road is just filled with potholes.  Some so big that i would have bottomed out my ride and Hook would need to push.  But anyways, got to the next stop without too many under scratches to find a hand full of guys thinking the same thing.  It’s such a nice day out so i’m sure there are going to be anglers out there to try, just like we have.  We all worked very hard at trying to save the day and i even crossed a stretch of water to see if the grass was greener on the other side.  I’m glad i made this leap of fate.  I must have made my 1000th cast to finally land this beauty of a fish.

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The next weekend will be close to zero degrees and i think i might just opt out this one but you never know.  I hope i don’t have to make another 1000 cast before getting another steelhead.  The feeling i had with this one was like the first time i ever hooked a salmon.  I can’t even express with words but hopefully many more to come which would allow me to formulate some sort of theory behind it all.  And i will share with you all on how to catch these beautiful fish on the Vedder River.  I love this place.

Fraser Valley 2013.11.30 — The student becomes the master

Some rain has come to color up the water and bring it up to a level where we could have some success.  This long overdue moisture has finally arrived and just in time to finish off the season.  Yup, that’s right, the season has come to an end for us now.  We may still go out one more time next week to another river just to see but not expecting anything at all.  The year has been a great success for us all, especially for Kemal as he has graduated with honors.

Today, with some fresh fish in the system.  Lots of wild coho but Kemal managed to save the day with this.

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The student has mastered the technique of catching these illusive cohos. We all managed to hook something but nothing worth keeping. We had some beauties as well but as always, wild.

Temperatures are dropping and raincoats are mandatory now. Keeping warm is a challenge. Gas is expensive with the shorter trips. Is it time to give it up? One more time next week before we through in the towel and wait until February 2014 when the steelheads are in bigger numbers. So if i don’t post next week, you know what happened. Just in case you don’t hear from me for awhile, have a great holiday and see you again next year!!!

Fraser Valley 2013.11.23 — Landing ratio sucks!!

Started out the day like any other lazy day.  Not hitting the flow till the sun is well over the mountains.  Today is a very cold day and probably one of the coldest i have faced this year.  With alternating of gloves, it was still blistering cold to say the least.  Just changing into my waders sent chills down my spine and the thought of being in the water to chase the illusive cohos had me thinking.  Is it really worth all that trouble?  At least Dice thought so and he stayed by the car for an extra 1hr before coming out.

Hook was the first to set foot on the battle grounds where we have had many successful days.  Kemal and i scouted for a bit but eventually had to head in Hook’s direction.  I quickly made way to my usual spot and so did Kemal.  We each have our favorite spot to stand so no real conflict between us.  But as a team, we are always courtesy to one another when it comes to space.  Within minutes of making casts into the familiar run, we all hook fish simultaneously.  Coincidence?  Not really.  As predicted, with the rain from last week, not a whole lot but did manage to spike up the levels for a brief period of time.  Fresh fish moved in, then it got cold and clear.  Where do you think the fish will be hiding now?

About an hour has gone by, with multiple hook ups.  Finally, Hook lands something rather big.  At first, i thought it was a chum but corrected by Hook after landing that it was a 9 – 10lbs male hatchery coho.  A nice start to the day with only the 3 of us on the flow.  Only a few others were out there but they were way too far in the distance to see what was happening.  Now i tell Hook to give a call to Dice to let him know that there are fish around.  He was quite skeptical about the abundance of fish in the system.  Can’t blame the poor soul as his record has been on a steady decline.  Anyways, he does make an appearance 30mins after the call.

While Dice took his sweet time to gear up, i land an okay condition male hatchery as well.  But only after losing at least half a dozen.  I don’t know what it is but today has been really tough for me to land fish.  I have no problem hooking them, well over 20+ fish but landing only 4.  The definition of “Landing” is either retained or released.  Breaking off at your foot doesn’t count for squat.  No picture for me as i was too lazy to pull out the phone.

Not long after, Kemal gets his chance at a hatchery fish.  He actually did the best today, 6 for 6.  100% hook:landed ratio.  And as he fish more and more, the skill keeps on climbing.  Previous weeks, i mentioned to him that he was playing the fish a little too lightly.  Mainly because of the fear of breaking his rod and losing the fish.  But over the numerous hook ups in the past several weeks, he has gain so much confidence that one could not tell he started salmon fishing only a couple of months ago.  Well done!!

Here is what we got excluding my fish as i was away from them when they took the shot.

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Again, the color change is inevitable and rather quick today. Not sure why that is but all of them were fairly chrome at the time but some may say that it’s a figment of your imagination. I know Dice would say that and call them all tomatoes. Only because his ratio sucked the most, 0:8.

We will be heading out one more time tomorrow before we decide where to go next or is it time to throw in the towel? Numb hands, numb feet and runny nose or warm and cozy in front of the computer looking at pictures of the past, reminiscing of the successful days till the next season starts? Not sure at this point in time. Depression will kick in soon once the season ends as each year this happens to most of us. Fishing is exciting but really, we just want to be out in the great outdoors.

Fraser Valley 2013.11.17 — Still some silvers around

Yesterday, we all agreed that the amount of day is not enough for us to fish.  From the long 12hr days during the summer months and now only 6hrs.  The day passes so quick and sometimes we just need that extra 30mins to get what we are after.

This time of year, the air is cooler and everyone is warmly dressed but the crowd has really thinned out.  That gives us a better opportunity as there are some really nice fish around and it’s all for us or whoever can bare the cold.  Anyways, here is the highlight of our day.

Started off nice and early so we could get a bit more sunshine but it was overcast with scattered showers.  That’s ok better than the nasty wind we had.  Killed my drift and suspended my float.  Lost a lot of hooks today because of that as well.  I have made hundreds of casts in the same spot and never did i lose anything in that spot.  Oh well, that’s all part of fishing.

We fished our usual spot and had a fair bit of time in that run all to ourselves which yield some good number of cohos.  At first, most of them were a bit colored but as we filtered those out, we were in for some nice looking fish.  Here is what we got.

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Only Hook and i got nice ones but Dice had numerous fish to the beach. One of which was just as nice and bigger. A lot bigger but what happened was, he hooked the fish, had control but after a few coho rolls, he couldn’t manage it anymore. My suspicion was that it bite, hook set in the mouth but during the coho roll, all the line wrap around the body causing the hook to come off. Then the hook pierced the side of the fish and then became unmanageable. So after a long battle, it was released back into the wild. A nice hatchery but too bad as this would have been the trophy of the day.

Still lots of nice looking fish around and only if the weather remains dry otherwise, our salmon season will end quite abruptly. The thought of the season ending is quite saddening as we have waited a long time to fish. Just seemed like yesterday we started the salmon season but the end is near. We will be ready for next week and let’s hope we all go home with fish. I’m going to end it here cause i’m just rambling now. Have fun all!!!

Fraser Valley 2013.11.16 — It’s not over yet!!!

We have had some rain over the last few days.  Maybe not so much in Vancouver or Richmond but mainly in the chilliwack area.  I knew that the river was going to turn a bit darker than normal, but how high will the river be?  We prepared ourselves for the worst, blown out and chocolate color but it was still very acceptable.

This was the type of water when Dice, Hook and I had one each to take home but with numerous hookups of wilds.  Today, somewhat the same but the only difference is, Dice and Hook got nothing.  I too am not the hero of the day even though i did land 2 hatchery and a couple of wilds.  But here is the hero shot.

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The smile says it all.  He never gave up as he knew that there are fewer and fewer days left.  With ice-packs in the car, a cooler to fill, he did what he intended to today.  Congratulations on your first and second hatchery cohos ever!!!  I had one as well but no photos for me as i didn’t want to steal this man’s thunder today.

You can notice a slowdown on the number of fish caught and the quality of fish as well.  These were quite silver at the time when they were caught but color change is inevitable.  Either way, an excellent day for some of us but nonetheless, an enjoyable day for all.  Hope there are still a few more of these days but only the weather can dictate this now, keep the rain away for a bit and we may still be seeing a few more to bring home.  Anyways, have fun out there while it last!!!