There is always something to fish for in BC...
The Dogs arrival
During few coho fishing days I noticed several large fish jumping on the top of the pool. Beautifully colored and large, I mean I´ve seen few over 15kg!!! Daniel told me few stories about straighten hooks, broken lines and rods. Huge teeth, power and size that´s all what the chums in the river are. I was only dreaming about those guys. Fight it, hold it, have few good shots with it… Ohhh man, if I would´ve known…
Few days later I was on the river again, it was Friday I think, my buddy Daniel was at work and I was fishing alone. Actually completely alone, it was quite nice feeling and very exceptional on Vedder. Till that day I caught just few Cohos and that was it.. But that day turned out to be one of those we all live for…
I started on our favorite pool, trying to hook one of those stubborn coho fighters on the tailout. For some reason I got pretty soon tired of it. Moved up to the top of the pool and on second cast hooked huge spring - big mama. Few jumps, long run and lost it before realizing what was actually going on. All nervous and frustrated I messed up another good bite. Didn´t know what to do, those were probably the biggest fish I hooked in very long time. So the only idea, which come up to me was stronger tippet – Ooohhh, such a smart ass.. Cohos 8 pounder wasn´t really the fighting equipment, so tied up big stuff - 20 pounder . On third cast I snagged the fly, but that rock started to move and not slowly. In few second the fish was flying across the pool heading downstream and I was trying… Trying was useless, with my line and red backing gone (more than 60m), fish crossed tailout and went down through the white water and that was how one of my epic battles started.
In next few minutes my level of adrenalin allowed me to cross uncrossable Vedder twice, ran about 300m of steady sprint and than ended with big Chum about 400 meters bellow. I was wasted, I know its gonna sound funny, because now, I would just try to stop and keep fish in the pool, if not? Shit happens. But that was first time and I am never gonna forget or regret that. Only think why I was upsaid that the fish died about 15 seconds after landing. That fish should´ve been released, but I guess the fight was just too long. Other think which makes it even worse that chums are fighters, but colored fish meet is not good at all and it´s just not worth to keep fish.
After good hour of chilling and resting on the river bank I was ready to stand up again. But for some reason I was done, I made my day and it can´t get any better…. But yeah, it can.
I decided to pack my stuff and slowly walk towards my ride, which was good 20 minutes of bushwalk and with 15kg fish - NO FUN. But on the way I got into to chat with gear fisherman, who has seen me running down. He kept sending me to the end of the run, where the water was kinda to shallow for float, but my spey…
So I said: „Whatever let´s give it a shot…..“. I unpacked my rod, switched my T14 sinktip for T7 and I was good to go. Few casts, bite, line, backing….. It was amazing, in next few hours I landed about 6 Chums, 2 Cohos and 2 Springs. After that I had to pack my stuff and go home. Not because of some kind of duty or whatever. I had to go, because I wasn´t able to walk how tired I was… Incredible day and I wish we all gona have more of them.
This day was just beginning of the Chums run that year. My fishing buddies landed on the Vancouver airport about week from that day. For them it was a first time in BC. We headed directly to the Cheamkamus river. Cheakamus is one of the glacial rivers which meets famous Squamish river not far away from the ocean. Conditions changed during the week from my epic Friday and the rain with relatively still high temperatures colored and raised river level. Fishing got harder, but it also brought more fish into a systems.
First fish which my buddy hooked was sitting in little hole in the middle of huge run. Salmon thought him that single hand 8 weight is not proper fighting equipment, especially in this part of the river. After that we got into a few spots where we hooked countless amount of fish, landed I don´t know… 10%?? Broke few rods, realized that reel drags are mostly not good, even those expensive ones!!! But in those two weeks we went through peak of chum run. So many fish was in the rivers, we tried to get into cohos, but there was no space. Dogs were just everywhere. Fish were in size from 5 up to 17 kilograms. I bet we hook some over 20, but those large males were just too heavy and mad.
Thanks to really variable weather, water dropping and raising all the time we fished many different flies. From small classic Atlantic Salmon flies to large egg sucking leaches, also little egg patterns worked really well. We were equipped with 9 wt. spey and 9-11 wt. single hand rods. For most of the fish it was ok, but there were hopeless moments when this equipment was just not enough.
With time on the water that fall, I went through entire freshwater adult chum cycle and let me tell you.. It wasn’t easy. With all beauty and respect what I had the end of the long path doesn’t seem to be fair. From the other species of pacific salmon chums are not spawning only in higher parts of the river, but also in mid parts, small side channels and little creeks. Many times and watch several good size fish moving up in 10 cm creek with half of body out of the water. It was amazing to watch it. But later on fish are truly starting to fall a part and all those places turned into a grave. It took me quite while to get over it, but as a biologist I just had to. Decomposing fish body brings so much nutrition to the river, it´s just incredible how it works.
After several weeks of this “hard fishing”, season was almost over. Some late rivers still offered good fishing, but in the most places the season was over. Lots of dead bodies, some smell, but thanks to high fluctuation of rivers and many scavenging animals, lots of it was gone in few weeks. The rivers were getting empty. No jumps, no huge veers, no fights… The contrast was huge! But in the same time, I was very close to the seasons of those famous chrome shadows. The true reason why I was here… I am not talking about anything else than mighty real steels – Steelheads. The winter run was about to start..:)