September FOTM: Red Termite

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Often in September large hatches of damp wood termites occur anywhere there is lots of downed trees and stumps. Vancouver Island rivers, lakes and beaches as well as most other areas in the pacific northwest definitely meet these criteria, and yet termites are often ignored by fly fishers. They are usually written off as another minor terrestrial in the long list of random trout foods. The adult phase termites are large (up to around 2.5 cm/1″) with large long wings, reddish brown, fly around erratically, and often helplessly get stuck in the surface film of the water (and your hair and clothes). Ken Thorne’s Red termite is a good all round impressionistic surface pattern for imitating the adult damp wood termite in river, lake, or beach for various types of trout, as well as a good fall dry pattern for summer steelhead. This fall make sure you have a few termite patterns in your box should you come across a hatch, as I did last week on a sea run estuary trip, with nothing even remotely close in my box.

Hook: size 8-10 Mustad 9671 or 9672 (a 2xH/3xL streamer hook) or similar should be fine for all but exceptionally large fish, you know the 15-20 lb summers you dream about. If using in the salt a saltwater hook like a mustad 34011 size 8-10 is recommended but not required, just rinse well

Thread: black or brown 6/0 (I use rusty brown)

Shellback/Tail: white (or reddish brown) 3 mm closed cell foam, coloured reddish brown with permanent marker

Body: layer of thread, wrapped sparingly with dry hackle

Wings: 6-8 strands of black crystal flash, with 1 or 2 strands of pearl krystal flash per side, tied back along the sides from the head

Hackle: medium length ginger dry fly hackle, spin at the front and back tie in points

This simple impressionistic pattern is best dead drifted and twitched but can also be skated or stripped, just adjust the amount of foam to the type of water you will be fishing, eg. more foam for skating or fishing faster moving water like riffles. Whether you give this Vancouver island pattern a try or create your own, don’t be caught without a couple termite patterns this fall.

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The HBFFA at Colquitz Creek

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Above: An awesome Colquitz sea run cutthroat

Earlier this summer I was contacted by a representative of the Haig Brown Fly Fishing Association to volunteer for an in stream survey of salmonids on the Colquitz river (creek) in Victoria. Naturally I accepted and over a weekend, at two separate sites, selected stretches of the creek were isolated, electro shocked and then seined. This survey is intended to establish population numbers of salmonids and help determine the productivity of the creek for rearing coho and sea run cutthroat (it was carried out by volunteer members of the association which is generously funding the work on the creek). All fish (and crayfish) were anaesthetized, then counted, weighed, measured, revived and released. Stream flow recordings were also taken at various locations. Interestingly there were smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed, sculpin, coho fry, and cutthroat of various sizes. These studies are a prelude to habitat improvement work to be done at a later date.

Colquitz Creek has had a myriad of spills in the last several years. It contains non native species, has warm water/low summer flows and suffers from all the other burdens that an urban creek faces and yet remains incredibly productive. Last fall/winter somewhere in the range of 1400 adult coho, and an as yet uncounted amount of sea runs returned to this small creek. There is a fish counting fence located next to the Silvercity Tillicum movie theater at Tillicum mall in Victoria, which is manned by volunteers. In the fall, especially after a good rain, you will get a chance to see urban coho up close and in large numbers at times, as well as sea runs. You can also walk the creek and watch coho spawning at various points along the river. Check it out, the real world beckons!

This was my first encounter with the Haig Brown Association and they really are a classy bunch; generous and friendly. It was certainly a pleasure to meet people who care about anadromous fish and their environs as much as they do. The club has a very strong emphasis on conservation, as their namesake indicates. They have completed many in stream projects (including an interesting one on Sandhill creek for sea run cutthroat) and always have more on the go. Check them out, consider joining or, if you don’t live here, consider joining your local conservation group or angling club. There are many of them out there all over the world. Against a backdrop in which the natural world and its creatures are little more than cannon fodder (even as we still rely so heavily on them) we could all use more people who make real the words that they use so casually. Besides, the internet really doesn’t need anymore meaningless bitching.

HBFFA website:

http://haigbrown.ca/index.html

Here are some photos from the electroshocking and seining sessions

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(Below) the venerable cutthroat in fry form

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Coho being measured and weighed

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One of several larger cutthroat collected during seining

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Pumpkinseed and smallmouth bass were also present, visitors from creek source Beaver Lake

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I can only imagine what this cutthroat thought was happening

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Another nice cutthroat

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