As if we aren’t bombarded daily with what is becoming an overwhelming narrative of endless environmental destruction, you get me harping on about some bird that no one gives a fuck about.
You can ignore me, that’s fine, but the governments of the day have been living in some perpetual and empty version of 1982, an alternate dimension where everything living in the wild is just endless grist to the mill in pursuit of owning a summer home or a new car. Loggers don’t need jobs this bad (or they’d be logging Stanley park) and we don’t actually need the power from all these projects at all, so what’s the point? Surely not just to blow 8 billion dollars (and climbing) to prove that you won?
Disagree? There still isn’t sewage treatment in greater Victoria, but a bunch of dimwits are collecting a pension or a salary on careers made out of debating sewage treatment. Look at the contaminated soil site in Shawnigan lake and the communities fight to stop it, when the company operating it is is being vociferously defended by the provincial liberal government while breaking the law and operating outside of the government’s own regulations. How about the gutting of the federal fisheries act, or the LNG, tanker, logged to oblivion, hydroelectric project guillotine cloud of threats that hangs over goddamn near every watershed on the whole coast of BC.
When you vote for a fuckwit (as the world has recently seen) you don’t get anything but a fuckwit who has power. What does a fuckwit with power do? Guess, or turn on the news. Christie Clark and the larger government she represents are fuckwits. Criminals from around the world are basically being courted to use our real estate system to openly launder money on a grand scale and the response is to do nothing. The amazing wild places in B.C. like the highly significant and unique Skeena river are being sacrificed to appease a company like Petronas who I think you can be assured are not going to look out for anything or anyone in this province. Why would you as a voter enable this? There isn’t even a strong economic argument to be made to build the site C dam, unless you count smoke and mirrors and the endless “job creation” sound bites that “journalists” seem to be gibbering on about every day.
Honestly forget the fuck about climate change for a moment and realize that there is a real threat to all the wild creatures and places we cherish disappearing long before the shifting climate brings death to the cold water salmonids of the west coast, or the caribou, or the Monarchs, or any other wild species.
Protecting habitat and biodiversity while maintaining an economy is possible when it isn’t about your team winning.
Please consider that when you go and vote.
Those birds are as important as these fish.
I’ll be brief, it is damn good to be back on the island. Anadromous fish and their stream resident brethren are doing pretty shitty over here, and that really hurts, because this island is a special place. It’s also home, and I’m back, in the comox valley this time, and I ain’t leaving unless you chain me to the ferry to hell(tsawassen)
There are many things to reflect on after a year of living on the mainland, and working in the tackle industry.
1. The tackle industry is a poisonous farce, manned by a bunch of “guides” and “professionals” who if left to their own devices are going to destroy every last fishery that exists on earth.
Buy whatever you can afford and be happy with it, only human waste look down on others because of the cost of their tackle, Farbanks and all the other purveyors of high dollar cool can all go suck a bag of dicks. I have never felt less interested in fishing in my life than the time I worked in this industry.
2. The island is a special place, the vedder river, not so much.
3. I am still going to keep this catastrophe of a blog going, if only to piss off idiots and entertain my ambitions to be a Walmart level fly tier, and more importantly because fish like the coastal cutthroat are magnificent creatures deserving of our awe and reverence.
There are still some signs of life in some streams here (the water in this stream stays cold, don’t worry)
Fly tying, through dire chance or fateful cock up it seems is my sole creative output, so here is a slice of the last year or so’s efforts, enjoy, or conversely, don’t
There’s muddlers, and then there’s ADD fly tying party time
It seems people get caught up these days in a lot of the revisionist, messy imperialistic and racist parts of the past especially for some reason on rememberance day. Those debates do not change the reality of the sacrifices made. Please remember today the reality that those people who fought and died or fought and came back scarred and in many cases broken weren’t there to drop bombs on little kids or uphold some imperialistic notion of border lines on a map. Just a thought.
Lest we forget
It seems my days in southern Vancouver island have come to an end. Unforseen events otherwise known as life have converged to send me back to the Fraser valley, which happens to be where a bunch of my old stomping grounds are located. So while Vancouver island topics will definitely fall by the wayside, there are many more conservation related rants and BC flyfishing topics to come including kayak fishing, and mainland cutthroating amongst others.
In the interest of keeping things honest unlike so so many things in the world of fly fishing, I now work at a tackle shop in the Fraser valley. Just to clarify previous to this I have never worked or received any monies for anything to do with fishing, and while this blog has zero relation to or influence from my employer a little honesty is required relative to publishing tackle reviews and the like.
I hope this doesn’t cloud your judgement of this blog which continues as ever to celebrate the amazing salmonids of this coast and flyfishing in the most honest way I know how.
Don’t believe in the system? This is reality, not dungeons and dragons. When you let apathy take the wheel and let a party who got themselves a majority because only 20 odd percent of the country actually voted for them and then allowing them to “run” the country as a purely cynical and completely autocratic exercise in message management, at the cost of the very things they claim to represent including the economy, you put everyone else in this entire diverse and great country over a barrel. Canada is so very much more than the picture the conservative spin machine is trying to paint it over with so stop acting like a 16 year old girl and involve yourself in this thing called democracy. Please fucking vote. Please.
Now as you may have heard we have been experiencing exceedingly high temperatures in conjunction with very little rainfall or snowpack this spring/summer on the west coast. Many rivers and some near shore estuaries are warm and in many cases will only increase in warmth over the summer and into the fall. Adult Summer steelhead, trout of various life histories, and summer returning salmon as well as fry and parr are very vulnerable in these conditions. Warm water and exhaustion kills salmonids, so please realise it hurts absolutely no one and nothing to leave those canyon bound island summers and Cowichan trout alone.
Undoubtedly our salmonids are resilient and have lived through what must be beyond countless droughts long before the Internet and self righteous bloggers such as myself, however there are many alternative and important activities to playing steelhead to death. Join a conservation group. Volunteer. Whack and stack some perch. Perch are a horrible invasive species that are very dumb and very tasty, and they live in many waters they have no business being in. The same is true of many bass and sunfish populations. Carp fight far better than any summer you’ll ever catch. Halibut are a strange, tasty and hard fighting fish and there is still low impact salmon fishing (wet wading pinks from the beach on the fly amongst others). Black rockfish and greenling from a kayak with a fly rod are a blast. Better yet go pull invasive plant species, God knows there’s enough ivy, broom, or blackberries out there along the stream sides of the world.
It’s the summer time, get out there.
I find it really interesting that there seems to be a consensus amongst otherwise completely reasonable, and conscientious anglers that go pro cameras are the devil itself. As if the shitty behaviour they record exists because a camera is running. Do you think that the lame hyperbolic extreme sports Ya brah behaviour displayed on go pro videos and Facebook and blogs these days is new or truly there because of the technology that is now so readily accessible? I don’t. You see, I remember before all this technology was there too and what I remember was that salmon and steelhead fisheries here in BC were hyper competitive kill fests and full of crowds of people who would kill anything that swam. People booting Chum, Chinook, Coho, Steelhead out of spite, holding fish out of the water for pictures for 3 minutes and getting cheered on. People picking up wild non-retention salmon up by the gills, cutting off adipose fins, fishing with barbed hooks, flossing, snagging, bragging, the ever present jealous stares directed at the one guy in the pool who flossed a nice bright spring, clueless fuckheads taking 4 minutes to pull the esophagus out of a wild sea run cutthroat they caught on worms, then throwing it back dead, rebaiting and casting back out as if it doesn’t matter. It’s not new, if anything these behaviours are less acceptable now than ever. There is an illusion that is being presented as if the decades long gone were better and that the hyper exposed world of fishing we live in now is in a state of moral decline. Nymphing for steelhead is not moral decline. I have a popular fly fishing magazine with a major article on Steelhead nymphing the west coast rivers from the early nineties. It ain’t new, it’s just a different type of fly fishing. Honestly, put it into perspective, a bunch of people fishing with dink floats and roe, or a bunch of people fishing with globugs is same shit different pile. There is nothing wrong with it, and if there truly is then really nobody should be fishing these rivers or these fish. You can’t honestly bitch about gear guys fishing so why are you bitching about nymphing. Just put aside the anger and disdain for all things new for one second and look around. The world of fly fishing and anadromous fish is in the terrible state it is because of indifferent unsustainable resource extraction and a too large world population, governed by and large by a bunch of greedhead mega politico-corporations. Within that wonderful context anadromous fisheries have in the past, and in many cases continue to be, managed by a generation of people who thought nothing of catching and killing the most celebrated anadromous fish that swim on this earth. None of this is because of graphite, fluorocarbon, tungsten, buffs, blogs, the Internet, or go pro cameras.
Here’s a positive thing for you to consider about go pros. They allow you to capture the moment as it is, without lies, you can release a fish without touching it and still get a true record of it, I think that’s great. Don’t like all the videos out there? Don’t fucking watch them. If you aren’t having fun fishing then truly what is the point. Don’t like people fishing for depleted stocks? Stop fishing for them then. Fly fishing needs to lose the giant chip on its shoulder that has nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with empty hubris. Open the holes on your face and see that anadromous fish stocks on the southern coast have already been in essence destroyed; promote conservation and values that respect, restore, and protect what’s left, enjoy what you have, and lose the ‘my shit don’t stink’ attitude.
*Hint* you can’t find them sitting in yer underwear covered in cheeto crumbs at home, everything I have learned I have learned hands on at the beach or in the river. The only thing the internet is good for is killing time when you can’t go fishing. So jump out that sofa and get hiking. All you need is waders, a 5 or 6 wt. fly rod, floating line, a few leaders, tippet, and a few flies so don’t obsess over getting any new gear(at first). If you have been fly fishing for any length of time you probably already have these things. Most beaches get breezy and a 5 wt is usually lacking in the wind(unless its a new fangled ultra super fast action rod, but that’s that’s because they just write 5 wt on what is really a 6 wt blank)
Get yourself a copy of Les Johnson’s book and a tide table you can find these online now (back in the old days you had to look in a newspaper or use a tide book and convert the time based on where you were) and if you still have any money left get a copy of Chester Allen’s book, go fill your tank full of gas, string up your fly rod, and start exploring. Don’t give up if you haven’t found anything for the first few weeks, and be careful in tackle shops, because most guys will make it sound like the waters teeming with these fish when they most certainly are not. I’m not going to give it all away. Look for creek or river mouths with cobbled beaches, it shouldn’t be too hard to get an idea of a few likely spots to start out at, and then start fishing the low and high tides. Observation is at the core of this fishery.
When I read what a lot of the Puget Sound anglers on forums such as the washington fly fishing forum have to say about sea run cutthroat I generally agree or understand what they are talking about. The only exception is tidal currents. Most of the areas I have ever fished don’t have any rips or significant tidal pull or speed, whereas most of the spots favoured by anglers like Chester Allen (as documented in his book) contain fast flowing tidal current with surface disruption almost like rivers. I can’t really swing a fly in the spots I fish, due to the slow movement of the current and yet cutthroat are found and caught year round on the beaches that I know really well. I probably wouldn’t look for the faster water as is described as being prime water and yet we both catch fish in our favoured locales. I have noticed that fishing is better on a tide of greater height differential but it doesn’t neccesarily translate to faster water here. One thing I do know is that the mystery of chasing cutthroat is never formulaic or obvious and if I ever get bored of it then its probably time for me to go on to the great cutthroat beach in the sky…or the great wormy pit in the ground…whatever.
a subtle amount of tidal flow is a characteristic of this favoured beach