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A great year in the great outdoors
It is not a bad idea to stop once in awhile as we travel down our life journey to take a look at where we have recently travelled. Last January I wrote a column that was a pledge to spend at least one day a week in the outdoors. I was successful in reaching my goal, although I had a close call in early December when I had an unplanned health issue, but I was rescued by my grandson Tyrell Bandet, who took me hunting for a day. For my final column for this year I have decided to do a monthly report on some of the fishing and hunting highlights based on my weekly exploits throughout the year.
January – In most parts of our country this month is considered winter. To find winter in the Comox Valley you have to travel up Mount Washington. The most imposing catch of the month was two nice winter chinook taken with Bryan Allen. There were also catches of prawns, oyster and trout.
February – Plenty of action in conservation matters. I spent a serious day prospect fishing in the company of Charley Vaughan and Bernard Lecefs. Our agenda was simple enough: try for crabs, prawns and flounder in that order. We caught crabs and flounder; but no prawns.
March – New halibut regulations. Keith Mackenzie and Ron Watanabe unexpectedly passed away leaving a serious vacuum in the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Club. I caught some nice bait herring while jigging with Bryan Allen and Chuck Ashcroft. Chuck landed a 52-pound halibut in lousy weather out of Port hardy and we also ended up with two nice chinook salmon.
April – Among other things this month is a prime time for some excellent trout fishing. My addiction for challenging trout fishing in Spider Lake took up much of the month. A fishing rod with a fly on one end and an old man on the other is an exciting umbilical chord to the mysteries of freshwater environs. It is a passion I will cheerfully pass on to my readers and especially our youth. If you would learn how lake and stream ecosystems work, take up this socially acceptable addiction.
May – In Area 14 waters the opening of lingcod and rockfish adds much to saltwater fishing trips. This year was generous; on our first trip Chuck Ashcroft and I caught a chinook as well as lingcod and rockfish.
June – This month stands out as a celebration with the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Club annual outdoor show. Other highlights are the Family Fishing Weekend and the Fishing Forever Programs – great stuff.
July – It was a memorable month. Smitty and I were guests on a first day of the season trip with Cod Father Charters out of Port Hardy. Smitty, in spite of his nine plus decades, was the hero of the trip with a nice chinook and halibut brought to the net. We also caught our first marked coho of the season
August – Pink salmon are showing up in huge numbers. Coho are making their presence felt throughout local waters and on some days there are good numbers of marked fish.
September – Pink salmon are present in such large numbers we have a special opening on the Puntledge River. Smitty and I open deer season with a long road hunting trip – no deer.
October – A nice smallmouth bass plus two trout from Spider Lake, and went fishing out of Brown’s Bay with Charley Vaughan for chum salmon. The Puntledge River is producing good catches of fresh chum salmon.
November – I spent much of this month still hunting for black tailed deer, Smitty and I had several close encounters but did not take a deer.
December – Deer hunting continued until I had an unplanned health problem. Went chinook fishing with Charley Vaughan and Bruce Bell and Bruce landed a nice little halibut.
This review may sound like a lot of fishing but that is my job – writing an outdoor column on fishing and hunting. Modern society is increasingly following trends that alienate people from direct contact with the world of nature.
It is the view of this column that we must find ways to get our children and youth into natural places. Any person who seriously takes up recreational fishing is embarking on a program that will increase their knowledge of ecosystems. If lucky they may also develop “Giving Monents.”
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.