Monday 9th October.
After visiting the Island for a number of years now we decided to have a morning of discovery and head into some of the backwaters of two of the rivers we have fished before to see if we could find new pools to fish. This proved useful for us not only finding new places to fish but also the access to them. All of this involved a lot of driving on logging roads and through First Nation Reservations and trekking through forest and undergrowth to find the new stretches of river.
After test fishing a number of these new pools we drove to a proven part of one of the rivers were we had a packed lunch by the river and then fished three pools down and had a bit of sport with some long awaited new arrivals. The season appeared to be late but last week the Coho had started to show in numbers and today we had a number of Chum salmon and so we held out great hope for the fishing during the rest of the week. Fingers crossed as there was still no really heavy rain to bring the river up and encourage more fresh fish into the rivers. Due to the lack of rain we have not fished a number of our banker rivers as the levels have been to low and not very good for fly fishing. The local bear population was still giving us entertainment and on occasion coming a bit too close for comfort and the whistles and shouts came into use to clear them off.
Graham H making a quick getaway.
Best fish of the day.
We left at 19.00 pm and Ian decided to drive back to Campbell River and show off his driving skills on the winding road and got back in 1 1/4 hours when the Satnav. said 2 hours and 10 mins. To say it was a bit hairy in the back would be an understatement.
Tuesday 10th October.
We had a late breakfast at 8.30 am as we wanted to go to River Sportsman tackle shop to purchase a tartan one piece fleece, child size, and a few blue flies that are preferred by the Coho. We then went to the Campbell River for a full days fishing on the upper reaches in search of Chum and Coho that we believed were now entering the system. One Chum, one Coho and five Chinooks were landed and a large number were lost, probably Chinooks, which is not unusual. We left the river at 18.15 pm and after a quick turn round ended up at Boston Pizza for our evening meal. Forgot my camera so no pictures today.
Graham H into a fish.
Wednesday 11th October.
Over breakfast we discussed the plan for the day and decided that we would look at a river to the south of Campbell River , the Little Qualicum, as we had some rain during the night and hoped that the river had risen. An hours drive later we arrived at the fish Spawning Channel to show Ian round the place and to see the amount of fish that had entered the spawning channels. This is a bit different to the one on the Quinsam River, a tributary of the Campbell River, which strips the eggs from ripe salmon and fertilizes the eggs from milt taken from male salmon. The fish are diverted from the main river into spawning channels that let the fish reproduce naturally in a more controlled environment.
After looking round the hatchery intake facility and driving up the river to see the top of the spawning channels we decided that the river was to low to fly fish and so we made the return journey back to Campbell River. We had lunch in the motel gardens by the river and then changed into our waders and drove to a couple of pools at the top end of the Campbell. The fishing on this river is reliable due to the Hydro dam controlling water flow into the system and we had a fruitful afternoon with the best fish going to Ian with a nice Coho on a small blue fly pattern tied on a size 12 single.
We packed up a 19.00 as the light was fading and the walk back through the woods is a bit dangerous in the dark. After changing out of our waders and into some more casual clothing we went to a Thai restaurant in town for a nice meal then back to the motel for an early night .
Thursday 12th October.
The day started with breakfast and then a shopping trip into town to purchase food and fishing bits and bobs. One of the guys wanted to find out about vacuum packed salmon and so we visited three different outlets that smoked and packed the salmon and managed to purchase a nice fillet of fresh Coho. We returned to the motel for dinner and to change into waders and warmer clothing. The temperature in the near three weeks we have been here has gone from a high of 23 deg c. to a low of 8 deg c. in the daytime and was at -1 deg c. one morning. Thermals and fleeces where the order of the day.
The general thought on our last three days fishing was that we should concentrate on the Campbell River due to the lack of water in the other rivers that we had visited previously. I took an extra rod with me to try out with a 600 grain Skagit and a number of T tips in 14 and 17 grains per foot and in lengths of 10ft, 12ft, 15ft and 18ft. This made the heaviest tip just over 300 grains. The heaviest tip on the single handed rod I used was 410 grains at 22 foot long and the exercise was to see if it was possible to get the T tips down to the same level and if the rod would handle a 300 grain tip. The rod was a 13ft 9″ Guideline LXi T pack 6 piece travel rod rated as a 10 weight. The rod had no problem casting the heaviest tip and after adjusting the line control a method was found to get the fly down to the correct depth required. The lines used on the single hander are not available any more and I have not been able to source a similar line with the same performance and this was to find another method of achieving the depth required to be were the salmon hang out, Deep.
Ian and Graham H had gone upstream to fish a pool that had produce fish for Ian the previous day and I stay with my colleague to experiment with the two hander. After this we went back to our usual method of single hander’s and using a 350 grain, 22ft, sink tip. We soon made contact with fish and after loosing a number a nice Chum salmon was landed. The sport really livened up and we had a spell of contacting 14 fish and landing no more. 4 were lost at the very last moment at the bank and all the fish were Chum and 1 Coho. The exhilaration you get from these salmon in the fast water is fantastic and the fight is arm numbing. They do not give up easily.
Ian and Graham came back and Graham managed to land two Chinooks before losing the two top sections of his rod and his fly line in the river. This fishing is brutal on tackle and any weakness in rod, reel and line is soon found out. Today’s total count for the trip is 1 very expensive reel, which was repaired to a fashion but will need to be returned to the manufacturer for rebuild. One 9ft 10# single hander, at least 10 fly lines and a massive amount of flies. Ian does a bit of diving and has volunteered to go in the river to recover what he can find if we pay for the hire of the wet suite, mask and snorkel. The cost is $40 and works out cheap if he can recover any of the fly lines. This is the reason we trawl the internet looking for cheap lines and also tie most of our own flies.
Graham into one of his Chinook salmon.
These Cray Fish are everywhere in the river eating the dead spawned fish.As the light was going we packed up at 18.45 pm and made our way back to the car and then back to the motel to change and then off to the pub for dinner and a drink.
Friday 13th October
We have to move rooms this morning due to a booking cock up and so after breakfast we need to pack up the cabin and move to our new room in the motel. This will be a bit of a ball ache as this will be our last full day fishing and it will be 11.00 am before we can get to the river.
We arrived at the river at 11.15 am and gathered our rods and backpacks for the short walk to the top pools that proved successful yesterday. I started off with my Temple Fork single hand 9 foot 9# rod with a 350 grain, 22ft sink tip line and a Snot fly tied with a sky blue tail and a bright red head. Its was not long before I was into my first fish which lasted about 2 minutes before shedding the hook. This happened most of the rest of the day with contact with eight fish that all managed to got free. I seem to have been making contact with the biggest fish in the river. We all had the same problem and we landed none of the twenty five fish contacted. I did do some more experimenting with the Guideline LXi T pack 6 piece 9/10# 13ft 6″ rod and a 600 grain Skagit with a variety of heavy long T tips. I managed to cast 18ft of T17 with no problem and gave thought to how I and the group could replace the heavy lines we use on the single hander’s as the lines are no longer available and the ones we have tried as replacement don’t do the job required. We will look for a supply of T20 on a roll so as to make sink tips from 10 ft at 300 grains to 20 ft at 400 grains which will cover all our needs on any of the rivers we fish. We finished at 18.45 and returned to the motel before going out for dinner.
Saturday 14th October.
This is our last day fishing on the Island and after three weeks of praying for rain the heavens had opened and the forecast was for more over the following week. We had a lot to do before leaving at 8.00 am on Sunday to drive to Nanaimo for the ferry to the mainland and then on to the airport. The flight will arrive back in Manchester at 9.00 am Monday morning the 16th.First job after breakfast was to clean out the inside of the hire vehicle then shopping for Ian and Graham and download all the photos taken during the trip so that we all have a copy of everyone’s photos and videos. We had a sandwich lunch to use up the contents of the refrigerator before changing into waders and driving to the Campbell for a last try at the salmon. The rain was constant and we were all buttoned up in Waterproof wading jackets to keep out the rain and the fishing was much the same as Friday. A lot of fish hooked but none landed and very aching arms by the end of the session. We left a 18.00 pm and returned to the motel and put all the wet clothing, waders and boots in the Drying room so as not to pack wet clothing in the cases.
Close encounters on Friday.
A very wet last day fishing on the Campbell River.
Sunday 15th October.
We had an early breakfast and packed the car with four lots of equipment and left the motel for the drive back to Naniamo for the ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland. We left at 8.00 am and arrived in good time for the 10.20 am sailing and had booked a passage on the internet to make sure we did not have the same problem of the ferry being fully booked that had happened on the trip out to the Island. The highlight of the crossing was watching two Humpback Whales blowing water plumes and then coming out of the water. No pictures unfortunately. We docked around 12.00 noon and left the ferry for the drive to the airport and the Avis car rental drop off point. All checked out ok despite our trips off road down logging roads and tracks and we unloaded the luggage and went into the main check in area to book in and put the luggage and rod tubes through for our flight to Manchester. Graham was on a flight to Newcastle via Heathrow and so we met up after check in and went through passport control and security checks together and then found a restaurant for lunch. Our flight was at 16.20 but was a bit late taking off but we made up time on the way back and landed in Manchester on Monday morning at 09.10 am a flight of over 9 hours. The luggage and rod tubes came through after about 30 minutes and we said our goodbyes to Ian and Phil and I got a taxi back to my place. I went to the shop for a few supplies and had bacon butties for lunch before taking Phil back to the airport for his flight to Inverness.
This was the end of our 3 week fishing adventure to Vancouver Island, BC. I will put together some thoughts and more pictures and videos later.