Steelhead…

Dwayne releasing his first ever Steelhead...

Dwayne releasing his first ever Steelhead…

Dwayne and I have been friends for more than a decade. Initially music and bicycles were our shared interests. Now we also are both keen on fly fishing. Talking about visiting Vancouver Island Dwayne expressed a desire to fish for Steelhead – a rare and elusive ocean going Rainbow Trout.

Vancouver Island magic...

Vancouver Island magic…

I had some apprehension about this plan because proficient Steelhead fishermen can go a whole season without a hook up and I didn’t want my friend to be disappointed with a fishing trip to the island that didn’t deliver any fish. Steelhead are known as the fish of a thousand casts for a reason.Β Dwayne was okay with the odds and you do have to start learning or you’ll never become accomplished at a pursuit.

Fish on! :)

Fish on! πŸ™‚

I shouldn’t have worried because Dwayne [now known as The Chrome Lord] hooked up on cast #3. Yup #3.

That’s ridiculous!

Although shot in a different part of the PNW this video is pretty good representation of what our trip up island was like.

My first Steelhead! :)

My first Steelhead! πŸ™‚

Not only did he catch a Steelhead on cast #3 he went on to hook up 3 more and land one of them in our first pool. Yup 4 hook ups and 2 fish landed in the first hour. Truly epic and he cemented his hold on the title Chrome Lord! πŸ˜‰

My second Steelhead...

My second Steelhead…

As is the Steelheader’s Code once he was 2 fish up on me I got first crack at all the prime pools. I managed to convert 3 hook ups into 2 fish landed.

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I was particularly proud of fish #2 as I could see it far across the river on the other side of a deep pool and I had to really work my casts and mends to present the fly to him so he’d bite. I probably worked that one fish for an hour, but I got him finally.

Dos Amigos getting our wade on...

Dos Amigos getting our wade on…

Dwayne went on to score one more Steelhead while I settled for 2. Dwayne has been fly fishing for 6 years and I haven’t hit 6 months yet so it’s fair to say I am a hack compared to his expertise. Β It’s good to fish with folks that are better than you so you can learn and improve.

Why you want to catch a wild Steelhead.

Working the river...

Working the river…

We rounded out the trip with some trout and salmon fishing. Getting several fish per hour is fun, but ultimately all we talked about was the Steelhead fishing and our plans to try other spots for these amazing fish.

When are we doing this again???

When are we doing this again???

We don’t have many “trophy photos” of fish to share because these Steelhead are rare and long lived with multiple spawning runs in their lifetimes. So it was pretty important to focus on getting them back into the river quickly.

Salmon

The Mighty Chinook...

The Mighty Chinook…

The blog has been quiet because I’ve been injured and it’s gone on so long [since mid-July] I’m not even reading MTB content online or working on my bikes because it’s easier on my brain to not think about trail riding at all. Sad, but true. 😦

Thankfully I’ve had my motorcycle and my fly rod to keep me sane. A daily dose of moto commuting is good for my 2 wheeled soul and weekend fishing trips get me outdoors and focused on something other than the lack of MTBing in my life.

Late summer through early winter on Vancouver Island is salmon time. These amazing fish return in the hundreds of thousands to their home waters after an epic journey in the ocean to spawn and die. Not only is this a truly magnificent spectacle to behold – it also offers fly fishermen a shot at these fish in waters shallow enough to reach them with a 100′ fly line and waders.

Jon and his first ever Coho...

Jon and his first ever Coho…

Being a newbie I’m still learning so much each time I fish my mind gets boggled. We’ve fished in the ocean from the beach as deep as we can wade. We’ve fished river mouths were the saltwater is mixing with the freshwater of the inland lakes draining back to the ocean. We’ve fished rivers and creeks all over the island. And we’ve fished lakes.

The Cowichan River...

The Cowichan River…

Each location and each type of fish has a whole set of techniques that are needed to be successful.

Another tough day at the office...

Another tough day at the office…

I’m happy to report we’re catching fish and our casting has gone from laughably sad to serviceable. I’m not going to impress anyone with my casts, but if there are 10 fly fishermen gathered in one spot I’m no longer the worst caster! πŸ™‚

Double hook up!

Double hook up!

As it turns out casting is just the first thing you need to know to fly fish and it’s easy compared to understanding all the elements of presenting your fly properly to fish in a wide variety of conditions. Choosing the correct fly. Identifying locations that hold fish. Casting to them. Getting your fly to drift the way you want it to or stripping in line to give the fly action. Using the right fly line so that the fly sinks to the fishes level in the water. How to wade without scaring fish. Casting in and around vegetation and in strong winds.

Reviving a fat Chum so it can complete its journey...

Reviving a fat Chum so it can complete its journey…

Fly fishing is quite a puzzle.

Gene stalking Pink salmon...

Gene stalking Pink salmon…

One thing I’m really enjoying about fishing compared to my usual MTB outdoors adventures is that fishing requires a lot of quiet still moments that let me see and hear things I would miss at a bike riding pace.

Chum salmon...

Chum salmon…

I’ve got another month of salmon fishing on the menu then we’ll switch to trout and steelhead through the winter.

My first ever Chum...

My first ever Chum…

Don’t worry I hope to be back on the MTB by Jan 2015. As my arm gets better and I’m doing more road riding I’ll ramp up the bikey posts on this blog. Until then enjoy the fishiness. πŸ˜‰

Salmon waiting for more rain so they can go further up river...

Salmon waiting for more rain so they can go further up river…

Sell me your packraft!

Photo: JH Packrafts

Photo: JH Packrafts

Up until a week ago I’d have told you I had no use for a packraft. I’ve got zero interest in whitewater paddling for fun. I’ve never encountered a body of water I couldn’t cross or get around easily on my bikepacking trips and we don’t have many rivers around here that are suitable for a bike out float back type trip. Then I was at Spruce Lake in the Chilcotins and needed a boat to get my fishing on and had to borrow a crappy rowboat from an outfitter and got yelled at because I didn’t ask the right person and sign some waiver. At the same time two guys showed up with packrafts and their bikes and proceeded to fish like bandits.

Hmmmm….time to start thinking about a packraft! πŸ˜‰

I’ve been using a plastic kayak to fish from, but I am limited to lakes I can drive to and carry a 40lb 10′ boat in to. So a light packable raft would be great to use biking or hiking up to lakes that harder to get to in the mountains that see less fishing pressure.

Yukon Yak...

Alpacka Yukon Yak…

The one I am looking at is the Alpacka Yukon Yak. I’m nearly 6′ tall with a fat ass so I need something bigger than the smallest rafts, but I don’t need the biggest expedition rafts. This bad boy costs $1K with a paddle so I figured I would ask around if anyone had an older Alpacka raft in good shape they wanted to sell to get the latest greatest level of performance? I’m just going to fish from it in high mountain lakes that I hike or bike to.

I don’t want any of the cheapie knock offs so if it’s not an Alpacka raft or a Feathercraft or something comparable I won’t be interested. Colour doesn’t matter.

Let me know…

Killing Trout…

A few Spruce Lake rainbow trout...

A few Spruce Lake rainbow trout…

I’ve been learning how to fly fish lately. Not the easiest thing to do for sure, but it’s a lot of fun and complimentary to my biking obsession. Not only can you bike to a fly fishing spot, but when you are tired and injured from mountain biking fly fishing provides a way to get out without aggravating the situation.

Tools of the trade...

Tools of the trade…

I’m still learning how to cast worth a damn. I’m making it harder by heading out in my kayak and fishing sitting down. πŸ˜‰