Sunday, 31 March 2019

John Rose 1954

Mike Rose sent me these images of John Rose, his father, taken in 1954.

"These three pictures were in 1954 when we were living on Foul Bay Road and I was attending Victoria College before going to UBC in Vancouver."

Surprisingly, they lived only a few blocks from where I currently live just on the Victoria side of the Foul Bay line. 

"We spent most weekends and some evenings fishing on the Inlet and that craft was a fine fishing boat with a 32hp inboard grey marine engine with bunks and heating and cooking facilities." 

 "It was one of the many craft that John owned in the period 1953-1970 before he got the Salar."

Saanich Inlet was just the right spot for both of these boats, as it is protected from wind from many directions, as well as has very slow tidal currents because it is only open at one end, rather than at both. Wind against tidal currents makes for rough water on the inside straits of BC.

"The Salmon was one of many “button fish” that he caught. He had a box full of buttons when he quit fishing just prior to 1997."

The buttons were from the Victoria Saanich Inlet Angling Association.

"The cod was on an early morning trip to Cowichan Bay in September while the springs  and cohos were schooling in the Bay waiting for the first fall rains. I used to fish the Cowichan River and canoed and waded a lot in the summer and early fall when the springs came up before the rains. Just off the River Bottom Road in Sahtlam there were several large clay banks which are mostly all gone now  and we used to watch the springs and summer steelhead resting in the pools below the banks from July on.

"The big ling cod as I recall had swallowed a smaller one as we were wining the smaller one in."

I recall that as the days moved deeper into September and then early October - in a dry year, of course, as rain was/is the trigger for coho to hit their river - the morning fish would move north and come to rest off the Mill Bay shore and ferry terminal, in 225 feet of water or deeper. One of the usual tacks was to start in the dark off the south end of Bamberton, for its chinook bite, and once that was over, you would follow the 200 foot ledge north, where it steadily moved off shore until you were a half mile or so off the ferry terminal in Mill Bay.

It was a distinct fishery, and in the area from Tozier to Tanner rocks, that we did not fish any other time of the year, unless it was fishing deep for chinook. There wasn't any need to go that far, as in January and February, the fish could be inside Brentwood Bay and Tod Inlet. If I recall correctly, it was tradition to fish Tod Inlet on January 1 of the new year.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Kermode and Other Bears

I really enjoyed the images of all the bears in the TC  newspaper recently, particularly the photographer on his knees filming a Kermode just a few feet from it. As I spend as much as 50 days a year in the wilds of Van Isle, I have had hundreds of bear experiences over the years.

On one occasion a big black bear and I looked up to observe the other wandering along when we were several hundred yards apart. We both went back to looking at the gravel in front of our feet and shambling along – bears really do shamble – and came to a gravel ridge the winter river had left. As my head came above the gravel, the bear’s head did too, so close we could have touched one another. We both had heart attacks, let out screams and raced backward into the forest on our side of the river.

Last fall, I was standing calf deep in a river fly fishing, when I looked behind me and had a heart attack. There was a bear only 10 feet from me. The only reason it hadn’t come right up to me and filched my apple and banana out of my vest’s back pouch with its claws was that it was dipping one toe in the water, checking whether the water was too cold to bother. I rapidly searched my pockets and found only a scuzzy, old protein bar covered in chocolate, and tossed it at the bear.

The bear slowly figured out how to separate the chocolate protein from its bag, and, chops drooling, reluctantly began to eat it. Its nostrils and lips were shrinking back with every chew, and though it did eat the offering, it looked at me with the look of, ‘I really would have preferred your banana and apple’ as I slowly inched backward into much deeper water. It remembered toeing the water and, licking chocolate from its teeth, put its hands on its hips, unfulfilled then disappeared back into the woods.

For several falls there was a female bear who never had cubs with her. She was identifiable by her limp, having broken a back leg some years previously, and by how thin she was. On this morning, I had put my packsack on the gravel bar and wandered around in the water, casting to a large school of 30-pound springs, and 15-pound coho. When I turned to see her limp her way to my lunch, I busied myself casting, and was able to hook a big coho, before she got into my pack. Once the fish was in hand wet and slippery, I hit it between the eyes with my fist, and launched it back over my head in a long arc, falling past my packsack. Sensing something good, as in real food, not people food, she limped over to it and discovered it was the best lunch she’d had in years. She didn’t thank me, but disappeared into the willows, and I could hear ripping flesh shortly thereafter, until every molecule was in her tummy.

I had another bear lunch experience, while almost chest deep casting a chartreuse Nitnook fly to fall chinook milling about on the far side of the river, a place where all fish are, as we anglers know only too well. Someone started to laugh, and I turned to see a boar with his head completely inside my packsack, which was sitting on the shore. I yelled, ‘Hey,’ and started trying to run out of the water, much to everyone’s amusement as I was so deep I couldn’t muster much speed. The bear had by now taken out my single-use plastic bag full of my own special chocolate chip cookies and other good stuff, including a can of Coke I was looking forward to guzzling. Realizing he had all the time in the world, he put the bag on the ground, and, to get a better grip on it, picked the bag up neatly by its handles with his long front teeth – he actually did this – and ambled into the woods, me in hot pursuit.

I ran into the woods and almost fell face first over the bear because it had decided to sit down on its bumb and savour my Coke first. What I mean is that the bear knew what Coke was and how to separate its nice sweetness from its can, presumably having done this many times before. It sat there paws out in front, with its head tipped back, mouth the highest part of him, and crunched the can and drank my Coke. At that point, looking at all the teeth holes in my tin of pop, I started scrambling backwards, crab-like on my hands and feet. I didn’t want to end up like the can.

When he finished the Coke, the bear put the can down neatly, picked up the rest of my bag of lunch, by the handles, and ambled deeper into the woods to eat his ‘catch’ in peace. I picked up the can, full of holes, and as I broke from the forest with only an empty can in my hand, every other fly fisher at the school had a good laugh.

On another occasion, I was walking an old logging road, and spotted an alder that had been thrashed from fifteen feet to about two feet, then covered with bright red scent by a large cougar. The cougar had, before marking the stalk, taken hold of it and ripped it pretty much clear of the ground, an immense amount of strength. I past 25 alders similarly thrashed, pulled from the ground and marked with bright red urine. Eerie it was, as I was all alone.

I left the track, went down through the jungle that is west coast bush and started walking along a dry gulch of gravel in second growth forest. I noticed a 500-pound boar down the wash before he saw me. I cleared my throat so it would hear me. The huge bear looked me in the eye and began running directly for me. I didn’t give a half second’s thought but started running full speed toward it. As we rocketed together, it veered off slightly into the forest, leaving me catching my breath and thinking how lucky I had been, still here to tell the tale. Later that day, stumbling a summer low Eve River a couple of clicks higher, I came upon a rock of 6 to 8 feet across that looked exactly like a cougar’s head.

I have had many other bear experiences but have found that they aren’t that interested in people, and so we just acknowledge one another and go on with our days. A few weeks ago, another bear, within 10 feet of me in the jungle, while I was in the water, didn’t realize I was there. I cleared my throat, the bear had a heart attack, and thrashed the rainforest jungle to escape. Bears on this Island are timid, I think because the bold ones get shot, and it’s safer to run away. Even so, having watched a small bear thrash, any bear could kill you easily.

Here is a crop of the Coke can that now graces my mantel above the fireplace, with other fishing memorabilia, like a chartreuse Clouser smashed to smithereens having caught 15 black bass in 15 casts at Langara Island in Haida Gwaii. You can find an image of the cougar head rock here: It is the bottom image below the poem. The image there of the elk carcass looked like it had been killed by a cougar, but the lack of bones, and how the jaw cracked big ones in half, suggested that a bear scared the cougar off. In my experience, bears don’t kill deer, but are brutish enough to steal a carcass from a cougar.

Here, is a post of images. The one of the Little Nitinat canyon is as beautiful as it looks, on this day like a fairy tale, in deep fall:

And another post of images. The Fomitopsis pinicola is a beauty of a fungi: I have video, too.

Here is a story from A Man And His River, a book that has just found a home with Hancock House:

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Hi Everyone

The WSAC has released it’s report on how BC plans to bring back wild salmon.

At the same time as this has happened, some fish farms are actually shutting down in the Broughton Archipelago, a day most of us thought would never come: