I guess you can call me a hard-core pro staff. Willing to help those who are willing to help themselves. Iwill fish to whatever the circumstance require. Weather I fly fish or gear fish I hold no prejudices to anyone as long as its with ethics. When I do a review its with honesty and without prejudice.
Famous for the hand crafted wood single action salmon reels they are also known for their lures. Created in 1930 The Hookum trolling lures has successfully proven itself catching various sport fishes.
“PEETZ is pleased to reintroduce this legendary lure with some exciting updates. Each Hookum #4 trolling spoon is individually pressed and hand polished at PEETZ workshop in Victoria, BC, using top quality, solid brass that is then nickel coated. They are finished using a wide array of heavy-duty UV and Glo-rich Mylar colour combinations with eye-popping prismatic, holographic and iridescent patterns.”
Another Canadian made Lure from PEETZ Fishing & Outdoors is the CJ Specials. Proven all around the world. In addition to their trolling lineup the 2.5-inch will be used to catch salmon off our East coast Vancouver Island beaches.
“These spoon style aluminium lures have been designed and perfected over the last 15 years and have developed a loyal following with both professional charter fishermen and lodge operators. Each variation of the CJ lures, brass or aluminium, has a specific shape and weight, as well as a bend and twist in the tail to ensure that the lures roll in one direction for 8 to 12 inches, then reverse and roll in the opposite direction. This erratic action mimics baitfish unlike any other lure on the market and has proven extremely effective for all predatory fish tested.”
In addition to the Peetz line up is the Sylvester’s Secret Spoon designed in 1982. A lure originally created for salmon has proven itself successfully catching cod, Pike, Bass and trout.
The line up continues with the addition of the Left Coast Lures “ Holy Roller” Anchovy cut plug spoon and the “The Hammer” Needlefish Spoon.
“Left Coast Lures and Design was founded in 2014 by Ryan Kehn of Victoria, British Columbia. The company develops high-performance stainless steel fishing lures that will appeal to even the most demanding fishermen. All LCL designs have gone through rigorous testing with professional anglers and have been enthusiastically received and supported by some of the most accomplished anglers in British Columbia and Alaska.”
Stay tuned for exciting adventures this coming season for our winter springs. Pro Staff Gil d’Oliveira http://castingaline.com/
We use three types of lures when casting off our East coast Vancouver Island beaches. The spoon, the spinner, and the lead lures. All have an application that is best them.
Spoons represent a fluttering fish and in the early part of the season when the salmon are gorging to build their body weight up as fast as they can before entering their natal rivers or streams. they cannot resist.
The lead lures are often heavier and they are best during heavy storms when casting a spoon is impossible. Or you want to reach out with a farther distance cast to reach them. It will be best when they are still foraging for food .They are designed to cut through the bad weather but one has to retrieve them faster and holding the rod tip high to keep them from snagging the bottom.
Then there are the spinners. When you want to attract their attention the flash of the blade is irresistible. The salmon are often striking not because of their feeding but striking out in anger. What we call an aggressive strike. casting the lures is different also. With spoons and lead lures, you want to cast over the school and then bring it through the school of salmon or cast ahead of them and lead them to the lure. With spinners, we want to cast and landed the lure right on top of the school and then let it drop or flutter. We usually count three seconds and then start to retrieve. Often the strike will happen just as the lure leaves the school.
Nothing is written in stone though and that why they call it fishing. All angler will carry all forms of lures for changes when the current ones they are using do not obtain results.
This year Yakima Bait Co. has sent an assortment of spinners, Falsh&Glow to apply for the upcoming fall season Targeting our coho and Chinook salmon. Perfect for our ultra lite casting with our long rods, they weigh 3/8 to 1/2 ounce.
The “out of water trophy shot” this can be very stressful on the fish and with catch and release often mandatory with most river systems, the new type of sports cameras is ideal. With the option of taking underwater trophy photos, it benefits you as the angler, but the fish as well.
Ever since the introduction of the digital camera, anglers now have the ability for instant gratification of their photo compositions. The new generations of digital cameras are built a lot tougher for rougher conditions. Mostof these outdoor sport cameras can now withstand hardship handling in all sorts of conditions, as they are shock, freeze , water and dust proof.
Some are aimed and shoot as they have no viewing screen for composition so its all guesswork. Others have various size viewing screens stationery or flexible including Wi-Fi, GPS, the feature list goes on. Along with the special effects they can also create telephoto, wide angle, black and white, panoramic and macro photos. With the addition of these features, you can have a dual image stabilization mode to reduce blur for fast moving shots or in low light the ability to record videos. There are no boundaries with the new breed of digital camera.
Most cameras come with a case that helps add to the durability of the camera, I have twice accidentally tossed my camera while pulling out my gear and upon inspection, was pleased to see that there was no harm to the camera. As a sports angler, these features have opened up many new opportunities. For their size, these digital cameras pack a punch. You are now able to preserve the memories of extreme outdoor activities without causing harm to the camera.
Manufacturers are very creative concerning to camera mounting. From positioning on various parts of the body human or animal. Mounts on surfaces like fishing rods, fishing nets, even underwater mounts attached to the fishing line. Your standard tripods to various size engineered flexible leg pods.
It was minus one degree when I had the chance to test the camera’s durability during a heavy snowstorm. As the heavy snowstorm continued, the eyes of the rod were beginning to freeze, and the rod had a thick layer of snow. I was worried about the camera freezing but needless to say, my sports cameras it lived up to the name “tough”.
On another adventure, I wanted to be creative and obtain a photo with two focal points. One out of the water and one underwater. I set the camera for rapid shooting and for underwater exposure. Without being able to see through the viewing screen it would have to be a point and shoot and hope for the best. This is not as easy as it seemed. After four different fishing adventures, an opportunity arose. I had just landed a summer run steelhead and as I reached the shoreline the hook came off. The steelhead though stayed in a staionary position reviving its self. I quickly realized the opportunity and dropped to my knees and started taking pictures as fast as I could.
So for those looking for a new fix, a new way to love fishing, you got to try this. The photos explain themselves.
Nature is full of surprises; it provides great stories and hours of reminiscing with your friends on the day’s adventures. This year a friend of mine, Ian Forbes, and I was fishing the outside of a gravel spit near Qualicum Beach. A spit is a parcel of gravel exposed as dry land on a low tide, but away from the main beach. That day we were chasing Coho Salmon. We waded to our waist on the outside of the spit and cast lures to staging salmon 200 feet off the shore. It was a great location, as we caught and landed four Coho, with several more hooked and lost. With all the excitement of successful fishing we lost track time and the ocean was now coming in fast behind us. We could have been stranded if we had stayed too long. As we crossed the tidewater that had gone around the spit, we turned to look back at where we had been fishing only moments before. There were three Orcas in the exact spot we had been wading. They were hunting their prey, salmon or seals, and we were watching nature at its purest.
We are very fortunate to have this special salmon fishery on our beaches. It is accessible to all gender and ages and anglers can fish with flies, or gear fish for these beautiful creatures. Four out of five species can be caught from shore: the pink (Humpy), the spring (Chinook), the coho and the chum salmon. Fishermen start scanning the beaches near the end of July for pink Salmon. By the end of August, spring salmon move close to shore, and toward the end of September the coho Salmon appear. The chum Salmon are the last to arrive in October.
There is no problem finding our beaches; the challenge is finding the salmon. Every year the salmon will stage on different beaches. Experience is important for successful fishing. The local fishing stores are often a great resource for information on what tackle is successful, and where to find the hot spots. On-line fishing forums, local magazines, and fishing clubs also offer great information and advice.
Another valuable tool for future reference is your logbook, or fishing diary. You can review your notes and maps of previous successes or failures in the diary. A GPS (Global Positioning System) is useful for providing an exact reference.
Salmon fishing on our beaches has become very popular and is growing exponentially. One of the biggest changes in this fishery is the length of the fishing rod. The benefit of the long rod is the ability to cover (cast) longer distances and reach fish that are often out of reach to most beach fishermen. We fish on the East coast of Vancouver Island where the weather is frequently unkind, with strong winds, high surfs and floating debris on tide changes. At times the fish can be 200 feet or more off shore, and beyond most casters.
Whether fly-fishing or gear fishing the rods have been consistently getting longer. The two handed (fly) switch rods average 12 to 13 feet, and the ultra light spin casting long rods range from eleven to fourteen feet. The spinning rods I use are 13 or 13 1/2 feet long. When choosing a spinning rod, consider the weight of the lures for the size of the targeted fish. The weight of the lure will affect the flexibility of the rod. Advancements in technology have allowed rods to become very light, very thin, and with increased power.
I normally use 1/4 to 3/8 oz. lures, which require a very flexible rod that will cast a long distance. Each manufacturer will have the line weight and lure weight classification clearly labeled on their rods. The long spin casting rods used on our beaches are having tremendous results overcoming the obstacles that the shorter rods face. The most common models will have a rating of 6 to 10 lb. line for the 1/4 oz. to 3/8 oz. lures.
These long rods should be balanced with an ultra light reel that has a smooth drag. The line capacity on the reel should be about 6 lb./170 yards, 8 lb./120 yards, or 10 lb/100 yards, and the reel should weigh around 9.5oz. Having spare reel spools loaded with different line weights is a must. A good gear ratio is 6 to 1 with well-made, sealed bearings.
My personal record this year is landing a 22 pound 1/4 oz. Spring Salmon on eight-pound monofilament line. One issue while playing these large salmon is that they often panic when their belly touches the gravel as you try to land them. They can still be 10 feet or more away from dry land. Gravity is now your nemesis. Their size and weight is now detrimental to the 8-pound line. Many rods and line are broken at this time. It helps to have a fishing partner to tail the salmon and assist in landing and controlling your trophy. Salmon that are to be released should not be hauled onto the gravel. Take a firm grip of the tail and quickly slip the barbless hook from the jaw with forceps or pliers.
For the spin fisherman, line diameter affects the length of cast. Thin diameter line casts further than thick diameter line when using the same lure weight. The diameter will relate to the type of fishing line being used. Manufactures talk about line strength, limpness, memory resistance, abrasion resistance, and visibility. They seldom talk about line diameter unless marketing leaders. This is where a micrometre comes in handy. The smaller the diameter the line, the more you can spool on the reel.
Three types of tensions occur when retrieving the line after casts of 200 feet or more. First, the line is spooled loose when picking up the slack line after the cast. Next, retrieving the lure will allow the line to be spooled with medium tension. Finally, when fighting a salmon, the line will be spooled with firm tension. The various tensions mixed on the spool, along with the constant twisting of the line that occurs with spinning reels, plays havoc with some fishing lines. Constant reeling when a salmon is pulling line off the reel will cause automatic line twist. The proper technique is to pump the rod upward while using the reel drag for tension, and then reel in line when lowering the rod. Always maintain firm, even tension when playing large fish, and never allow slack line.
There are various types of fishing lines: monofilament, braid, fluorocarbon and copolymer lines.
Monofilament is the most commonly used line. It can be found in all weight and diameter classes. Monofilament is less expensive than other lines, and can have considerable stretch that will vary depending on the quality and manufacturer of the line. Good quality line is limp and offers low memory, and has good abrasion resistance. Monofilament offers reasonable knot strength and is easy to cast. Using a lightweight line of 6 or 8 Lb. tests, I often replace the first half of the spooled line after every third outing. Monofilament on spinning reels tends to twist and get abrasion damage after landing several salmon. The various manufactures produce monofilament in different diameters for the same pound test rating. I favour a line diameter of .011, which allows the maximum load on my small ultra light reel.
The braid lines, or Spider Wire line, have smaller diameter and increased weight strength. They are considerably thinner than the monofilament and you can load a reel with 30 to 50% more line. Initially, braided lines are very easy to cast; they have no memory and are very limp. However, they are prone to creating bird nest knots from the constant twisting of a spinning reel. Due to the various retrieval tensions, the line will start to dig into itself when heavy tension is applied. This reduces the success of your casts. The line coming off a spinning reel is loose, and a braided line will eventually coil into knots. When fishing under freezing temperatures these lines do hold water and will easily freeze, making casting very difficult.
Fluorocarbon line, whether pure or coated, is considerably less visible. It sinks faster and has the same weight and diameter ratio as monofilament line. However, the stiffness and memory can cause havoc with an ultra light-spinning reel. I found fluorocarbon perfect for the leader, but not for the main casting line on an ultra light-spinning reel. A level wind reel, or a bait caster, is better suited for fluorocarbon or braided line because comes off the reel straight without coiling.
In comparison, the copolymer lines are thicker and more abrasion resistant. Copolymer line is best suited for heavy tackle casting, or trolling with a large level wind reel. It is ideal for big fish like Halibut, Grouper, and Sailfish.
I typically use 8 lb. monofilament line for my main line with an additional 3 to 4 feet of 12 lb. full fluorocarbon line as my leader. The two lines are connected with a well lubricated surgeon knot. Always thoroughly test a knot before using it.
On the East coast of Vancouver Island, beach fishermen often carry a variety of lengths and weights of spoons, spinners, jigs and soft body lures. Lures will vary from 1 1/2 inch to 5 inches in length. Their weight can vary from 1/4 oz. to 3/4 oz. The most popular are the lures that flutter like a wounded fish. Early in the season the salmon can’t resist them. My favourite colours are brass with an orange stripe, all brass, silver, Rainbow Trout colours and green mixed like a Perch. The wind can become very strong and casting against it can be difficult. That is when to use Zingers and Buzz Bomb lures that can cut through heavy wind gusts to reach their target.
Occasionally, the salmon get what is called lockjaw. They have seen a lot of hardware and tend to ignore it. They are ending their staging process and going into spawning mode. At this time spinning lures are more productive. A spinning lure can get an aggressive strike despite the salmon having shut down their feeding habits. A spinner will not achieve the long distances that other lures obtain, but the salmon are usually closer to shore at the end of the season. Cast on top of the school and allow the lure to flutter as it sinks. Wait a few seconds and slowly retrieve the spinner. If I don’t get a strike within the first twenty feet I bring it in quickly for another cast. Very often a salmon will follow the spinner right to the rod tip.
One frustrating issue while fishing for salmon from a beach is the short strike. You get the strike and a very short fight, or a couple of headshakes, and then they are gone. My theory is they didn’t fully commit to biting the lure. What a friend has done, and I have since adopted, is removing the manufacturer’s hook and split ring off the lure. We replace it with a sickle hook attached to a one-inch length of braided Dacron line. The hook trails further back and achieves a more swaying action. This causes less stress on the hook and it can’t be twisted out when the Coho are jumping and rolling. The result has been extremely positive hook sets with few deeply hooked fish. It also allows easier hook removal from salmon meant for release.
The ocean is cold, and often neoprene waders are used for their insulating qualities. However, during hot weather, neoprene’s can be uncomfortable when not in the water. Breathable waders are a better option on hot days. They are lighter and release excess body heat. Air molecules are smaller than water molecules and pass through the wader’s membrane. Breathable waders require layered clothing for insulation and to wick moisture away from the body. Wading boots have to be durable and offer good ankle support. They will be exposed to barnacles, sharp edges, weeds, boulders, and very slippery terrain.
The beach angler is a sight fisherman and rarely casts blindly. They wait until they find the salmon before fishing. More time is spent searching than actually fishing. Once the salmon are found it’s very important not to rush into the water. Fish senses are astute and they will scatter if they feel your vibrations. Move slow and smoothly.
There will be times when the salmon cannot be easily seen. Binoculars are another important tool for beach fishing. They allow you to scan far distances and identify the signs of salmon in the area. The water will be moving differently, dorsal or tail fins might be exposed, bait is surfacing, salmon are jumping, or you can see them swimming through high waves.
Whether it’s a single fish or a school the object is to cast over and beyond them, and then bring the lure through the school. Another technique is to cast beyond a moving school, but ahead of them, and reel across their path. Both techniques work and will attract salmon to your lure. Occasionally, and very often in the case of Pink salmon, the school will be so dense that it is more productive to cast to the edge of the school. Salmon within the school cannot even see your lure.
When a salmon is hooked, try to pull it away from the school. You want to minimize disturbance so that it doesn’t affect opportunities to catch more salmon. When the fishing is slow, I find myself just listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing against the beach. The waves caressing the pebbles against each other as they race up and down the beach is almost musical. Exploring the beaches for that perfect fishing location is peaceful and tranquil, allowing you to forget the day’s challenges and enjoy the wonders of nature.
Its the mystique of arriving at an unknown river gazing upon its beauty not knowing what you will find. The in trepidation of walking on an unknown trail not knowing what’s around the bend.
You can easily be memorized to the beauty of Mother Nature, the fresh air, the rumble of the river and the living forest all around you. It’s very easy to lose track of your location. There was a time I came across a huge crop of various mushrooms and thought an artist must have ben here with all the beautiful bright colors. The distraction had drawn me off the trail and it took another 15 minutes trying to locate it as I had lost my bearings. It important always take mental notes when leaving a trail.
When fishing, my cell phone is in a ziplock bag, a walking/wading staff, drinking water, and a power bar. Getting dehydrated is not good and when you start hiking sometimes it leads to a 2 – 3-hour trek of which the same time is required to hike back.
Steelhead fishing in the fall and winter is also bear time. Often they will stay out of your way if they can hear you. When other fishermen approach me they often will find me singing or whistling a tune. Or they hear me well before they meet me, high pitch bells sounding like sleigh bells. They are tiny brass bear bells about 8 of them on a string hanging from my waist banging against my legs as I walk. It’s amazing how far the pitch sound travels. There has been a time when the bells are chiming and I set off dogs across the river on the local farm. You can take all the precaution and still come across a bear. Do not show fear and slowly back off. Do not turn around. Keep your eye on the bear. He is more often scared of you as much as you are scared of him. Still one can carry a can of bear spray, loud air horns, bear bangers.
On a river that is often visited by bears its a good habit to never clean your fish on the river bank as they have a fantastic sense of smell and will follow the smell of blood. Never leave anything your carrying with you on the banks. The rule of thumb is if you can’t carry it and keep it with you, then don’t bring it.
As you approach a new area that looks promising it is important to take a moment and look at the surroundings. Analyze the water level condition and the safe routes to enter and exit the water. I always carry surveyor tape bright orange to mark my access as I come out of the bush. On new rivers exploring I hang 10 inches of tape on a branch to mark my exit to the trail. I remove the tape on my way out.
Respecting the river is a must; this is also why I use a wading staff. More fishermen are badly injured or drowned in shallow waters as they fall and hit their head or break bones on the exposed boulder.
The wading staff also known as a third leg needs to be strong and have the ability to carry your weight. I use an old bamboo cross country ski pole with the snow guard removed.
The ability to read the flow of the river and determine where are the likely places a steelhead will lay is gained from experience. It’s never the same as the river level rises and lowers during the season weather changes and the Steelhead will lay often-indifferent parts of the river .
A buddy was on the other side of the river taking pictures of me when I got a solid hit as my float drifted on the other side of a large boulder. The river was moving fast. I had used my wading staff to be able to reach that position and it was very precarious.
Your first cast should be the closest. Stealth is important to these wary, sly and sensitive creatures. High water often will move the steelheads closer to the bank.
High water or what is often called flooded out is dangerous. I have in the past when I first began wading taken chances and stepped off the bank and instantly I am 4 feet deep in fast water scrambling trying to get out. It’s an awful feeling when your feet no longer can keep you grounded. I drifted into the trees and it’s like slow motion your tangled in the branches and then you start to be pulled down and you struggle just to keep yourself stable. I lucked out and was able to pull my self out. I was muddy and the top of my waders partially full of water. What stopped my waders from filling up was my waist belt. Often others feel its nuisance but it’s a lifesaver when you fall in as your waders will be full and heavy and will pull you down.
Keep your sense to be safe, it’s easy to enjoy nature at its best….
It’s rare that I am alone any more. Its always safe to be with a fishing partner. It also allows another camera to record our exploits and adventures of the day. Don’t be surprised new-bees that you don’t catch a steelhead right away. I still get skunked and its important to enjoy the journey, as there will be days that wily steelhead will beat you at the game.
I hesitated to go with the temperature being at -5 this morning at the house. I promised though to take my buddy who has never landed a steelhead. This will be his third year trying. With three layers of clothing, neck warmer, and wool hat we decided to go later in the day. I arrived at his home around 8:30 at – 4 degree and took our time driving. I hate ice. On our travels, it was a good call to go slow as we saw a spin out of two vehicles on the opposite side of the highway. Finally arriving at the river around 10 am it was only minus 1. I really wanted Randy to get his first steelhead so I set up his gear and showed him how to position the Steelybead bead and tie on the ghost shrimp. After two miss casts, he lost his shrimp so he came out of the river to regear. I was already set up and he wanted to tie on the shrimp himself so he said to go in. You don’t have to tell me twice. In I go casting. I make the cast watching the float as its indicating my pencil weight was tapping the bottom. Halfway through the drift the float dove under and I set the hook. I felt nothing but the head of the shrimp was gone. I looked at Randy and he was still tying up his set up. I said there is one there for you but he said go ahead he wasn’t ready. I made sure the float drifted in the same zone. All tensed I made sure I picked up the slack and the float didn’t disappoint me as it dove again under water.
With full force, I set the hook and she was a beautiful doe that broke the surface of the river. I brought the Lucky Strike Bait Works rubber net this time so the catch and release steelheads would be in good shape to survive another day. We landed it safely. Randy was ready to go in and made the perfect cast. I guide his drift to the same zone where I got the hit. The same thing happens to him. He had a bite but only the tail was left so oozing guts and told him to throw it back in. It was a good call as he hooked into a big summer run doe.We safley landed it.
Turned out to be a fantastic day as we hooked into 6 and landed them all safely with the rubber net. His smile was all my reward other than he could not stop talking with excitement. This is why I love being a mentor.
The gear used Amundson Outdoors Kudos Casting rod, 10mm Steelybeads, Ghost Shrimps, Lucky Strike Bait rubber net, and # 4 egg hook.
I have always been amazed at the fluid motions the Spey anglers achieve with very little effort in their cast. This technique origin in the history books developed in 1880 originating from England. That, of course, is another amazing story.
Often I am in a situation where I can’t back cast to obtain the distance I require in targeting the salmon. Spey casting and its many casting techniques allow the angler to obtain a long forward casting distance without worry of the structure behind them.
I am proficient with the single hand fly-fishing rods and this would be a great challenge to expand my ability.
My targets were salmon and steelheads. From the small Pink salmon to the power house Chinook and chum salmons. I felt I needed a rod with a strong backbone to handle the Chinook salmon, Chum salmon and the Coho salmon. I have caught these brutes in the past with a single hand rod and I felt a 9wt was more appropriated for me. I didn’t want to extend the fight longer than needed, which would occur with a lighter weight rod as I was catching and releasing.
After talking to various veteran Spey anglers who graciously shared their own individual techniques. Each angler was different. They had evolved their own system and customized their line set up that produced the best cast for themselves.
It is very confusing on how to complete this set up. There is alot of videos available on the web that helped with various casting techniques. The vast amount of information on running lines, sink or float and many different kinds of shooting heads and sinking tips. I still found it difficult to zone in on what I wanted to achieve with my limited ability and what various tackle to acquire.
It is easy to get confused with all the various lines and techniques. The first difference is your main line, floating and/or sinking lines. I knew from experience with a single-hand fly rod it was easier to learn using a floating line. They were easier to lift off the water, easier to mend and also to cast.
I wanted a floating line with an ability to add various sinking speed tips for the various flow speed and depths I needed to get to my targets. It also would have to handle the big salmon flies weighted or not weighted.
There are two different types of casting lines, one being the Skagit casting line. It was developed near the Skagit River in Washington State. The Skagit casting is fairly short and a heavy line that is good for casting large flies in big sections of the river. Another is called the Scandi casting line. The Scandi is short for Scandinavia where it was developed. It’s a type of Spey casting that generally uses lines that are a little longer and a little ‘thinner’ than Skagit casting, and it’s more appropriate with smaller flies.
One of the largest fly line manufacturers has a site that actually will balance out all the various weighted lines, running lines, shooting heads and sinking tapers. It starts with what is your target. For me, it is only for salmon. The size of the rivers and distance I want to achieve in my cast. Throwing large weighted salmon flies was important. The length and line weight of your rod combined with your ability. I know I will eventually evolve and have my own combination but this is a solid way to start for a novice.
I settled on the manufactures recommendations 30 pound Dacron backing, Powerflex max .035, 100 -foot float shooting line, Skagit floating shooting head 625-gr 20 foot and a sinking Skagit MOW T11 10 foot sinking tip.
Depending on the river flow speed and depth the angler should carry an assortment of sinking speed tips. These sinking tips are measured by how fast or how many inches per second they sink.
Once I had the combinations of lines it was time to focus on the reel. I noticed if any reel had the name SPEY on it was very expensive.
What I knew from fly-fishing a single hand rod was that the reel was to be aluminium, sealed bearings, and most important disc brakes to handle the powerful run the large fish can place on your reel. A veteran Spey angler said I should research for a single hand reel with those specs and choose a reel two sizes larger than the weighted line I was going to use. I settled on a single hand fly reel for 11 wt. the line that loaded all the lines with a little space left over.
My leader started with 20-pound mono, then dropped to 15 pound and then to 12 pound allowing easier break offs if required without risking the loss or damage to the fly lines. Clear shallow waters required long leaders. High silted waters required shorter leaders to reach your target.
For flies, I selected salmon cone head tube flies as I could easily change up flies without changing leaders. Another selection was marabou flies weighted and un-weighted. The un-weighted flies would allow me to fish the shallows without snagging up.
There is a lot to learn with the different types of casting. I was told to stay with the basic D casting. I needed to learn to cast left or right side to be able to cover the various accesses. The modern-day social media allows an angler to watch many various pros showing, instructing how to handle the two-handed Spey rod. I started mimicking the movement in a grassy field. After lots of practice, I venture to the water just to practice so no hook that brought some attention to onlookers.
My first river to cover was the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. With a drift boat, there is a lot of beaches and different water flows an angler can approach and cover. The river that day proved that I needed to have a larger selection of sinking speed tips. As a right-hander, I just loved the way the line shoots out. I needed to improve my left side casting techniques though. I found my synchronization flow off my cast was off on the left side.
The next river I covered was the Campbell River for Pink Salmon. I ventured to the fly zone only and spent 5 hours of delight catching Pink salmon. This river flowed from my left to my right. Perfect for the right-hander.
Next adventure came from the Puntledge River for the Chum salmon. Now, this was challenging as the river flowed from my right to my left. Casting from the left was difficult. After 2 hours I was going to give up but a fine gentleman from Scotland was casting a Spey rod also and approached me. He offered some guidance and that’s all I needed. I eventually got that technique and started to throw excellent casts. Mending the line I reached an area were a few fresh chums were laying and bam I had my first silver chum salmon on. I laughed when my daughter caught her first coho. Well, she would have had laughed at me as I screamed with excitement just like her.
I have now caught Pinks and chum salmon on my bucket list. Next season will be for the spring salmon and the Coho salmon.
As it is said to practice makes perfect and so begins my own development to the world of Spey fly-fishing
Today is a special day in many ways. I haven’t fished with Adam my eldest on a river for 10 years. He got his Christmas present early and a nice pair of waders.
We arrived at the river around 7: 30. Two other anglers already took up the first fishing hole we were going to cover. I felt disappointed, as this is where I have had most of the luck. We watch them for a while and then decided to move to the next hole.
Reaching the secound hole I reviewed with Adam how to handle the level wind and control the drift. Just like riding a bike he didn’t miss a beat. I set his gear up the same as mine with a 10mm steelybead pegged 1 1/2 inch above a ghost shrimp using a #4 hook.
I showed him the technique on using the ghost shrimp and he was off to make the first cast. As I started to put my rod together he is screaming He has a fish on. Sure enough his rod is dancing back and forth. I drop everything I was doing and go to help land the steelhead. Alas the line broke and after retrieving his gear I suspected there must have been a nick in the line to weaken it. I re set him up with weight, leader, bead and ghost shrimp. I told him to cover the same area on the next drift. I am off to set up my rod. Halfway there he screams I have another. After a great fight we were able to land his first steelhead. I took lots of photos of action and secured the hatchery. I re set his gear and watched how he tied up the ghost shrimp. Then a left him a bag with a dozen so at least I might have a chance to get a cast in.
I finally get set up and make my first cast. The float approaches near the tail out goes down and I set the hook hard. Out came this huge hatchery buck and the fight is on. Adam comes down to take his share in photos. Finally I said I would get a photo of me in action. Great fight and I was able to land him.
We get numerous hits and misses during the next hour. Finally though I tag one perfect and landed my secound hatchery. The down side I got cocky and decide to take a photo while he was lying subdued in the water near shore. He suckered me thinking he was tired. With two big flips he tossed the hook and was off to the deep. That was 9am and I would have been done for fishing. Adam laughed and said I di it on purpose so I could fish longer. Not to happy with myself we continued fishing this hole. Adam finally tags into his secound steelhead and lands perfect on his own while dad taking all the photos he can. I tell him only I can fish now and if nothing happens we can go home in another 30 minutes. There was nothing working anymore in this area and I noticed the first hole I wanted to cover now had no anglers.
We went back to the first hole as the other angler left. After 20 minutes and I suggested said we could go home but he said no keep trying. I am glad I did as a made a drift in the middle of the flow and I thought I had a hit. Confirmation came when all there was left was the tail. I put on a fresh red female shrimp. Watched the drift closely and kept up to the slack line. The float tapping the odd time to indicate I was touching the bottom. The bobber went down and I struck. Adam yells as he see this beautiful silver do come out of the water do a fantastic aerial display. Great fight from a nice hatchery doe and that meant we both caught our limit after I landed it. 10:30am and we are hiking back to the Jeep to go home.
What a special day to share with my son. Cooked one tonight and it was a special meal, special day, and special adventure
I arrived to find two vehicles already parked off to the side of the road. It’s a big river and lots of fishing holes for the opportunity. I didn’t see any of them. I decide to go up the river and still no sign of any angler. Using the 10mm Steelybead pegged 1-1 ½ inch above the Ghost shrimp. I started short floating and then increasing the length every six-inch longer after each drift. I finally got the length that the float indicated I was tapping the bottom. I tagged a rock a few time but easy release. On the last drift at the end of the drift, the float slowly slid under. I made the line taught and nothing indicating a steelhead strike. It felt like it was stuck on the bottom and then with a couple of tugs released itself. After bringing the float in the ghost shrimp was gone and the bead was resting on the hook. I put another ghost shrimp on and reposition the bead about 1 ½ above the shrimp. And this time as my float approached the same area I stopped the drift and allow the float to drag. Again it went down slowly but this time I had more tension and did a soft strike. Nothing was there. As I brought back the gear I discovered half the ghost shrimp was missing. I have seen this before and the past. So with past success, I kept the remaining shrimp part on. With the lower section oozing away with guts I straighten out the tail section and tossed again. As the float reaches the area I was all tensed and as the float again started to slowly go down I did a full force strike nearly taking me off my feet. Out comes this huge hatchery buck. Lots of displaying jumps and then he took off down the river. I had to make a quick decision before he reached the rapids. I dropped my rod tip deep and to the side in the river. This allowed the line to bow down the river and I let a little line out. What occurs is the river flow created a downriver bow and the force makes the steelhead think he is being pulled down the river? Watching the line and as it starts to lessen in force which means the steelhead has started to move back up river I slowly start to retrieve picking up the bowline slowly. I can see the line is moving up the river so I complete making the line taught and the fight is back on. What a battle. I can see the hook at the edge of his mouth and I had to be as gentle as I could be. Finally landed him to the beach.
As I record his capture I see a steelhead move into position just in front of me. All excited and reset a new shrimp and position the bead. I was sure for the next battle. That didn’t happen. I did fifteen drifts that went by him touching him twice either the line or weight and he just moved a little. He just wasn’t interested in my offering. So I decided to cover other parts of the hole. Again as one of my drifts reached the end I retrieved half a shrimp. Again I throw the oozing part back out and slam in the same spot a beautiful chrome comes out. After a big battle, she is landed and it’s another hatchery. I decided to call it day and quit at 9 am.
There are a lot of products out there being sold to entice a fisherman to make a purchase that promises results in catching the elusive Steelhead. All sorts of hardware like spinners, spoons, wobblers, and artificial worms of many colours, artificial looking roe, and fly representations. The list just goes on. All those methods have been proven producers in catching steelhead.The most successful that’s not often allowed is natural bait. We have earthworms, the roe of many different salmonoid species. The salmon roe can be clustered, or used single, or in roe bags. The rare bait is the Ghost Shrimp. Not rare because they are few, rare because most avid fishermen know little of them. Where they can be found, how they can be caught, how to preserve them, how to keep them alive, and how to present them to steelhead. They are just as mysterious as the steelhead themselves. They are often called bugs or steelhead candy due to the fact that fish can’t resist them. Sandy beaches, estuaries, and muddy bays are a good place to look for them. They will be in the intertidal, especially middle intertidal range. They will not be located at the average high tide level of the beach area but usually within 2-4 foot drop from highest-level tide average. They love muddy sand and you can recognize their burrow entrances as they appear like small volcano’s.
Ghost Shrimp can be found most often on the sandy beaches of western British Columbia and the east coast of Vancouver Island all the way down to California. The best method is to pump them out of the sand with what is called a slurp pump or Ghost Shrimp pump when the sand is saturated with water. This allows the shrimp to be easily drawn out of the sand with the water and sand when you pump for them. Ghost shrimp burrows can be full of mazes and easily three feet in depth or deeper. My favorite time is just when the water comes off the burrows. The sand and burrows are soft and of course with the water being drawn out, sand and shrimp will flow with it. When the Ghost Shrimp pump is placed in the center of the burrow and then pushed in while the handle is being drawn up – this creates suction that will draw sand, water and shrimp. Sometimes two or three attempts are required. I have a bait box tied to my waist with a paper towel soaked in salt water that offers quick storage while I continue to pump more out of the sand. Remember to peruse the burrows that you dug up as the Ghost Shrimp will come out of their collapsed burrows or ones that are missed in the discarded sand piles will climb out. Of all the shrimp that I find, I don’t keep males, those that are to small, and females with eggs are put back under cover so the birds will not eat them. This allows the shrimp beds to continue to flourish. Once I collect what I need I rinse all the sand off them and store them in a clean plastic bucket on a bed of paper towel soaked in seawater with another paper towel over them – the bucket is then stored at the bottom of the fridge.
I use them the next day but if delayed you must remove all damaged or dying shrimps, as they will poison the rest with decay. Ghost shrimp can grow up to 4 1/2 inches but I favour using the small red females. The males are the largest and are white. Be careful of the large claw when handling them. The claw power is capable to apply a mean bite and can draw blood. When collecting them I will occasionally keep ten males with their large pinchers removed. In British Columbia the maximum you can have on you is 50 and you have to have a salt water fishing license. Now for steelhead larger does not mean better. I favor 2 “ 2 1/2 inches in length. These crustaceans actually belong to the crab family and are a delicacy to many types of fish in the ocean – salmon and steelhead included. Ghost Shrimp are often a favourite of surf casters fishing in California. Keeping them on the hook is the most challenging skill. Some will use spider wrap, rubber bands, egg loop knots, and sew the hook through the tail. They are very delicate and you can loose them easily on a cast. The best proven method for me is a very thin copper wire that I wrap around the tail of the shrimp together with the fishing line keeping it straight and firm with the hook that is embedded lightly through the thorax using a #4 Gamagatsu hook. Ghost Shrimp are great on their own but I will often fish a lil corky or bead sliding above the tail on the main line. The corky will hold the ghost shrimp above the bottom and the bead lets it sink faster. I will often lengthen my leader to the float long. I want to see the float indicate the weight is bouncing on the bottom. Often the hit is when I let the float swing in the current. Another event is when the float indicates my weight is touching the bottom I will lightly pick up the line and move the float to avoid hanging up on the bottom. This little action on the ghost shrimp also seems to induce a strike from the steelhead. This method though does create hang-ups and that is why I use 10 lb. or 12 lb. leaders for an easy break off. One of the most interesting thing that occurs is if I think I had a hit and upon retrieving my line I notice that the head of the shrimp is gone – that confirms it was a steelhead! I will immediately throw out the oozing tail that is left and often they will hit again.