Monday, May 19, 2008

Spider Lake

A Jewel of a Lake

Spider Lake is a little jewel just perfect for family outings, picnics and fishing. There is easy access to the lake, from the Horne Lake interchange, off the Island Highway and the provincial park provides, features a beautiful sandy beach. The lake is stocked with trout and has a resident smallmouth bass population. Both species of fish are great sport and can provide hours of good fishing.

Located just a short drive from Qualicum, Spider Lake is a perfect place to spend the day, or an evening fishing. As the weather warms, the fish begin to forage and become more active, providing some nice catches from shore or from a boat.

At this time of year the bass are spawning. These fish are very territorial and aggressive. They will rise to poppers and big flies like imitation mice. Bass have a strong instinct to protect their nest and are generally easier to catch during the spawning season. This makes for a lot of great fishing, but with that comes a responsibility to protect them. For that reason there is a ban on retention of any bass until June 15th. So catch and release must be practiced; the better to ensure stocks are maintained and allow them time to reach trophy sizes.

The lake also provides some excellent trout fishing, from either the shore or a boat. The trout will take artificial flies, providing great sport for fly fishers and can be caught with a worm and bobber from the edge of the water. A worm and bobber are perfect gear for youngsters anxious to catch their first fish. A short cast near a weedy area or other obstacles in the water where the fish hide should entice a bite.

While the lake has a healthy population of fish it still provides a challenge for fly fishers. Flies like the Wooly Bugger, black or olive Leeches, Halfbacks, and the Guarantee produce very well when cast and retrieved, or trolled from a boat. Try a clear or intermediate sink line during the day and early evening then switch to a floating line as the sunsets.

The lake also supports healthy chironomid hatches, making for some good chironomiding when the fish key in on these little guys. At times during the hatch a well-placed dry fly can raise the excitement level a few notches.

Chironomids are small insect lava that swim from the bottom of lakes to the surface to hatch and fly off. They represent a large proportion of a fish’s daily diet. If you haven’t tried chironomiding its worth investigating.

All in all, Spider Lake is a great spot to spend time. Boaters need to keep in mind that no motors of any kind are allowed on the lake. A little rowing never hurt and just think of the serenity you will enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cutthroat on the Beach

Spring Cutthroat on the Beach

Sea Run Cutthroat, estuaries and beaches go together at this time of year. As the pink and chum fry leave the rivers and migrate to the sea, Cutthroat trout follow: feasting on them as they go. Not only do these young fry have to run the gauntlet on their river journey, they must avoid the large sea run cutthroat who have wintered over in the ocean.

What a great fishing opportunity! In the spring, cutthroat trout forage river estuaries and shallow rocky beaches. About mid April, they take readily to flies and small spoons that imitate the fry. As the season progresses and the fry move on, they key in on small stickleback minnows and tiny krill.

Nile creek estuary and the beach on either side of the river mouth are well worth a visit. Thanks to the efforts of the Nile Creek Enhancement Society, this area is coming back to life in an amazing way. The Society has been very successful with their salmon enhancement program and as a result, cutthroat numbers are responding.

The beach at Nile Creek offers ideal foraging conditions for the trout. Early morning on an incoming tide, while the light is still low, is when the larger fish can be caught. Like most fish, they are vulnerable to predators. For this reason they are most comfortable in the low light conditions of early morning, late evening as well as overcast skies. During these times the fish can be taken in knee-deep water, so try to avoid the urge to wade out a long way. I have seen fish caught when casting between the shore and wading fishers.

As for gear, a good 9’ to 10’ long fly rod size 5 or 6 will work perfectly. You should have a slow intermediate sink, weight forward fly line. One that will allow you to retrieve over shallows without hanging up on the bottom, or forcing you to retrieve too quickly is best. Both clear and coloured lines available. Add to the line a flourocarbon tapered leader and tippet of 9’. Support this with ample backing between the reel and line and you are good to go.

As for flies, a Rolled Muddler is a must have. This fly was designed by Tom Murray, a local fisher, specifically for sea run cutthroat.

Other flies to try are the old stand by minnow patterns like the egg n eye, and shrimp patterns such as, Art Limber’s Pink Candy. There are local tiers who supply cutthroat flies to shops in the area; just stop in and ask. While you are there, browse through the number of books on the subject; many written by local authors/experts.

Above all enjoy your day fishing, and practice catch and release.

Note: Be sure to have a valid saltwater fishing license which is available on the federal government website at

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Steelhead on the Stamp

I want to share with you a video we made while Steelheading on the Stamp River near Port Alberni, with some friends. The day was overcast, raining and cold, but there were fish in the river. After a long walk to the pool my fishing partner Toby, hooked a nice doe on a flourescent orange spin and glow like the one below.
Watch the action
Steelhead come into the river in December. By mid March or early April the action is beginning to slow. Some fishers this year had spectacular days getting into double digit fish.

This time of year the fish will come to the fly more readily, so if you have a hankering to hook a Steelhead on a fly now is the time. Flies like Popsicles, Squamish Poachers, General Practitioners, and Bloodsucking Leeches are worth toss.

General Practioner

Squamish Poacher

Egg Sucking Leech

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fishing Magical Vancouver Island

Spring is a magic time of year on Vancouver Island. The rivers come alive with young salmon fry returning to the ocean, and local lakes shake off the doldrums of winter.
For the fisherman it is a time, once again, to connect with nature. Time to spend on the trails, lakes and beaches of this magnificent island.

In spring, Cutthroat enters the rivers to feed on the young fry. Cutties, as they are called, take readily to a fly, especially one that imitates the minnows they are seeking. Flies like the Muddler Minnow or Rolled Muddler are good bets. The trick is to get the fly down to where the fish are feeding so use a weighted fly, a short 3 to 4 foot leader and/or a sink tip line. Light rods from 3 to 5 weight are ideal. Though a 22inch Cutthroat on a 3 weight rod can present an exciting challenge to the uninitiated.

Muddler Minnow

Bait is also a possibility if the regs allow and remember that hooks must be barbless on all rivers in BC. I actually prefer barbless hooks as they allow for quick, less harmful release when returning the fish to the water.

Rolled Muddler

Practice catch and release, let your catch go to fight another day.