Victoria BC and more

A former colleague used to title his emails “Where’s Johno”?  He used to copy it to himself and use it as an aide memoire so he could remember where he was on a given day’s travel – which is what I feel like I need here in Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Where am I, how did I get here, and what day is it?

It is truly a sensational spot and like our own Victoria, Australia, today demonstrated four seasons in one day as the wind howled, the temperature plummeted, the skies opened to a deluge, before it turned into a warm, blue sky, T shirt wearing autumn day. A great spot, with great scenery I thought as I walked along the foreshore from office to hotel looking across the sound some 25 miles to the Olympic Mountains on the US of A mainland.

As we cruised out to our fishing grounds yesterday, off Sooke, there was a dense fog but flat calm ocean. The sea lions grunted a greeting as we passed the marina breakwater and our trusty skipper Shawn navigated the narrow channels at speed, but with knowledge. As we passed one of the final narrow spits before the open ocean we spotted a pre dawn vessel that had missed the turning and was sitting high and dry on top of the spit – 2 metres out of the water but with fishing lines in the water – optimism and desperation were the two words that immediately sprung to mind. Off the end of the spit two guys stood waist deep fly-casting into the channel. We sent them a boat wake, humorously close (from my perspective) to the top of their chest waders.

The grounds were 5 or 6 miles off shore in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (I’m sure there’s a good yarn in that name somewhere) and we followed a ripping tide line strewn with kelp and other debris, fishing with centre-pin reels on 10 foot 12 weights rods, sinking the large “flies” with a down rigger.  A very new experience.

The fish of course hit like bloody steam trains but it’s amazing how quickly a 12 weight rod slows them down.  The wild Coho salmon are all released. The hooks are all barbless. The hatchery salmon have their adipose fin removed – and you can keep them.  So look out for a down rigger appearing on Fly By Night in the not too distant future. We landed 3, dropped one at the boat, and quite a few more hits and misses. Great stuff for a four hour window on a working weekend.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Col was off fishing with Ray.  They had a frustrating session on Dixieland Dam with a heap of fish midging, and unable to crack the code.  Ray learnt the trials of a boggy soak on Eucumbene and the limitations of his Land Rover. Took a Toyota to pull it out I heard!

Justin and Gary fished on Saturday. Spring was slightly discoloured, Midway gin clear, and Dixieland very slightly discoloured. Gary spotted a couple of fish moving at Midway along the far bank but nothing else. They also reported numerous fish feeding on midge (in fact, feeding frenzy would be a more accurate description they said) in the top corner of Dixieland – but also very frustrating fishing.  One fish grabbed one of Justin’s black buzzers placed right on top of a rise – a very fat rainbow just over 50cm.

Sunday started foggy and cold. They tried Kidney without luck and moved onto Snaggy.  The sun had come out and it turned into a glorious day with an occasional light breeze.  They spotted a fish under the gum trees with no success then moved over to the southern bank to fish the snag pile. Gary headed off the top of the dam whilst Justin hung around to fix his leader. As he walked to catch up with Gary, he spotted a fish about two rod lengths out, actively feeding. For once, he described how everything came together; he managed to land a nymph about a metre ahead of the fish and it dutifully swam over and inhaled the fly.  Another beautiful 50 cm rainbow in great condition. As often happens at this time of year another fish milled around as he was fighting the fish and after the release he put a couple of casts in front of it which were refused before it disappeared.

Meanwhile, Gary appeared to be completely engrossed up near the snag pile.  As he approached Justin saw what had been capturing his attention for the past hour.  Two large fish cruising around the snags and the weed bed, smooching along, obviously feeding. By then Gary had put half a dozen different flies in front of the fish without spooking them, and the fish had refused each one.  After some discussion Gary tried a size 16 BH Flashback which he skilfully landed right in front of the fish, it swam over, inspected the fly, and rejected it. Trawling through his memories Justin remembered the same phenomenon at Dixieland and how the fish was undone by a tiny bloodworm pattern. To cut a long story short, Gary tied on one of Justin’s unused and untried size 18 bloodworm patterns (purchased following the previous event but so far untried), plonked it down and the fish grabbed it without hesitation.  Unfortunately, the hook didn’t hold!

After a leisurely lunch, they headed back to the same spot and armed with the tiny bloodworm, Gary landed one within the first couple of casts, and then another.

There is nothing more satisfying than tough thoughtful fishing, with a good result at the end. One hard earned fish is worth ten suckers any day!

Tight tippets all!

Fly Fishing and Accommodation in Adaminaby