2021-03-08 at 10:57 am #9692MarkParticipant
Not sure if this is best place for this post, so please let me know if it would be better elsewhere. While I am not a “new fly-fisher”, I am relatively new to Vancouver island fly fishing. After doing a lot of fishing in the far north and getting “dialed in” so to speak, I was used to associating fishing with actual catching of fish. I now find myself feeling like a newbie in these new waters, and could use some wise local expert advice. The question relates to approximately 15 hrs of fishing with no catching over the last couple of days. I had time on my hands so spent some hours driving and testing local rivers. I decided to stay south or in Comox so went to Little Q, Big Q, Englishman’s, and Puntledge. Englishman’s was running high and dirty so not really fishable (plus regs on upper sections indicated to me that it was closed). Little Q was frustrating since access to anything except near the hatchery was hard to find and regs to me indicated that most of that was closed. Walked some stretches that looked fishy but could not make heads or tails of the regs, so will wait to fish that with someone who knows it better. Big Q was lovely above the hatchery and commenced to put many drifts with euro nymph rig with no luck. Lovely river and lovely walk but no fish. Drove back to Courtenay and fished the Puntledge from Condensary up to hatchery over 4-6 hours. Water was cold but drifts were good and tried weighted and unweighted Prince nymphs, Hare’s ear, Muddlers, bead head crystal buggers, egg sucking leaches and others in multiple sizes. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Was like I was fishing a sterile river, and I also did not see any evidence of fish. From a technical standpoint I was using a 10ft 3weight with Mono rig and sighter down to a 5x fluro tippet. I varied between ticking bottom and drifting through the feeding zone above bottom. Water was bloody cold so I am sure that is a factor. What is expert opinion? A) wrong time of year? B) water temp issue? C) no bite for whatever reason? D) Low density of resident species? D) I don’t know how to fish? Sorry for the relatively unfocused rambling. Opinions?
Thanks!!2021-03-08 at 12:12 pm #9693AnonymousInactive
I am a new fly-fisher by not a new fisher and this jives with my experience as well. I look forward to seeing what thoughts some of the veterans may offer.2021-03-08 at 3:27 pm #9694RoryParticipant
Some very good points you raise. No single one of them is to blame for your recent lack of catching. Considering you only spent about fifteen hours on “new to you” water, you are in the majority as far as catch rate is concerned. It would take much more band-width and time to adequately address all the points you listed, so here is a brief response to get you started.
Perhaps the biggest difference between where you used to fish, in the Far North, and here on Vancouver Island is the dearth of resident fish here. For the most part, salmonids here are mainly ocean going (anadromous). That means they get most of their food out in the salt water. On average, the interval they have for feeding while in freshwater is very limited. And that is mostly done by recovering steelhead and trout spawners and opportunistic Cutthroat trout coming in to feed on salmon eggs during the spawn. Then again, the exception proves the rule. Every now and then a nice trout will holdover in some preferred location and be able to eek out a living in the stream, but they are rare.
As a local example; the Puntledge river. That portion of the river between the impoundment dam at Comox lake and the diversion dam several kilometres downstream holds resident trout, as they have no easy way of getting back to the sea and the low flow velocity and low gradient makes for good bug/crayfish habitat. This is also a “fly fishing only” section of the river. The rest of the river, below the diversion dam, offers upstream and downstream access to salt water but is relatively sterile as far as trout food production goes. And, with the runs of steelhead to the Puntledge river system being in a depressed state, catching at this time of year could be described as “spotty” at best.
For a more consistent catch rate, if that is the motivation, try some little lakes as they have a captive supply of usually willing to bite fish. In between times, try getting back to the streams in search of that one holdover fish which could make your day. Remember; time spent fishing is not subtracted from one’s allotted span.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.2021-03-08 at 8:54 pm #9696David WillisParticipant
Hi there Mark,
I was in your shoes just a few years ago when I moved to the Island in 2018, and still consider myself to be learning the local systems. Although I don’t get out as often or for as long as I would like to, I’ve slowly been chipping away at the streams in and around the Comox Valley, and can echo what Rory says re: their spotty nature through parts of the year. I have also put more time into euro nymphing than any other method this season, and have been able to turn up trout regularly on probably about half of my trips out to the rivers. Also, doing some research and cruising on social media of some local fishers makes it apparent that there are certainly some euro nymphers who have been able to consistently put fish in the net on the local flows this winter.
I’ve found that beefier patterns have worked better for me this season (Beaded ESL, Countach Nymph, etc), and today managed to beach a nice cuttie on the Quinsam the first time I decided to throw a Squirmy Wormy “fly” on the 11′ 3wt. On the Puntledge, I have had more success higher on the river than where you fished today, although access is challenging at times. The rainbow in the pic is from the Puntledge a few weeks back on the mono rig 3 wt.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.2021-03-29 at 8:36 pm #9783MarkParticipant
Thanks for the helpful replies gentlemen. The information on lack of abundant resident species is interesting and makes sense given my observations.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.