As that first frost hit the other day and the leaves started to race each other to the ground I realized just how close we are to the wind down of the season. Once again I reflected on how many trips I had promised to make and didn't take. That's life, and like the 50th birthday card one of my fishing buddies gave me now 15 years ago, it said "Don' t think of 50 as over the hill, just think of it as picking up speed." Time moves much too fast and the fall moves fastest of all.
As fall approaches a sense of urgency overcomes us. We love the fall for its pleasant days and cool nights, no annoying bugs, glorious colours, fewer people on the fields and streams. But, we also know that could change overnight with the harsh reality of the cold and snow. The diminishing daylight warns us that time is finite and the clock is ticking. What we don't do now may never get done.
Local and visiting anglers often plan their fall trip to our Steelhead streams months or years in advance. Some of our guides have a limit of rod days and consequently have a waiting list of clients. Mother Nature with the help of "Murphy" often throws a wrench into the works with fall rains and clouded waters. All is not lost however with a little extra planning and/or research.
We often hear the quote that "90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the fishermen". It is probably close to the truth. Did you ever notice how the anglers who are really 'lucky" also seem to have a wealth of experience? One angler who I had the pleasure of fishing with, always would give the same answer to the question "What did you get them on John?" He would reply "Skill, and a wee bit of luck." John wasn't being a smart ass he was just saying he had done his homework.
Fishing is definitely an art and some are Masters. Trolling is a great way of covering a body of water, the trick is fishing the productive areas of the lake or ocean and not wasting time on the less productive regions. Do your homework. A depth chart of the water may be obtained from the Angler's Atlas or Go Fish BC At these sites you can also find lake info, stocking data, directions, special regulations and the very important depth charts. The depth charts are the key to finding the dropoffs, shoals, reefs, points and structure that the fish need. If the lake is an old friend you may already know the "hot spots" but when fishing a new lake the depth chart is invaluable.
Looking back through my old fishing journals of the last thirty years reveals an evolution in the fly du jour. Back then the steelheader tied on a Skunk or a Skunk. We varied the size but the Skunk was the fly du jour of the day, month or year. Sometimes you tried something a little more exotic such as a Thor, Skykomish Sunrise or Burlap. Inevitably you would reach in the box and tie on that old familiar friend, the Skunk. After all the Skunk had prevented a skunk many times and you don't want to throw an old friend into the feather pile to slowly rust in peace.
Halibut are a favoured target for the West Coast angler and no wonder. They are excellent eating, grow to very large sizes, and fun but heavy work to land. The world record halibut for rod and reel is around 450 pounds! That is a lot of steaks. Unfortunately, any halibut over the 80 pound mark are egg laying females and should probably be released to preserve the stock. We grow some very large Halibut here in BC and every year you hear of triple digit fish being taken off our coast. Limit for halibut is 1 per day with a possession of 2.
There is an old saying among fishermen that "all fishermen are liars except you and me , and I'm not so sure about you". In this weeks tips we will tell you about the trout's lies. Those fish lie too, but it's not about stretching the truth but where they live.
Steelhead Paradise was the name of the book authored by John Fennelly in 1963 that first chronicled the wonderful Steelhead fishing to be found in the waters of the Upper Skeena drainage. Of course, the locals had known for years of the abundant and large Steelhead in the Kispiox, Sustat, Babine, Bulkley, Suskwa and Morice. Back in the 60's I made many trips from Prince George out to the Bulkley, Morice, Suskwa and Kispiox Rivers and unfortunately like most anglers of that time success was measured by whether you limited out or not. We look back at pictures of Steelhead spread across the tailgate of the truck or the lawn and remark about the "good old days".