June 2012

June 2012
June 2012
June 2012

SMALLMOUTH BASS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND
By Larry E. Stefanyk

In 1901, smallmouth bass were introduced into Langford and Florence lakes, near Victoria. At least 16 lakes on southern Vancouver Island now contain smallmouths, plus two on Saltspring Island. Bass in nine other lakes have been reported to provincial fisheries biologists at Nanaimo, but none are confirmed.

Most island smallmouth lakes contain rainbow and cutthroat trout, offering an interesting mixed-bag fishery. In fact, experienced trout anglers find adjusting to smallmouths fairly easy, for much of the tackle, lures and tactics are similar. However, two important pieces of equipment are a depth recorder, to identify water depths and submerged structure, and a temperature probe. Eastern smallmouths favour temperature ranges of 18-20 degrees Celsius, but Island bass prefer 16 to 18 degrees.
My tackle box contains spoons, weighted spinners, spinner baits, lead-head jigs, plus floating and floating/diving plugs. Smallmouths can be maddeningly colour selective, so there is a good range of colours. My favourite plug is a 2 3/4-inch perch finish Rapala Shad Rap. For weighted spinners it's a toss-up between Mepps Aglia, Panther Martin and Rooster Tail, all in sizes No. 1 to 3 — silver blades preferred, with a yellow or black body or tail dressing.
My most productive lure is a 1/4-ounce jig with a black head, trailing a three-inch Mister Twister Meeny (a soft plastic grub with a sickle-shaped tail). Best colours are yellow, white, and black. Soft plastic Poc-It-Tube jig bodies in brownish tones are also good.
I use two outfits: a lightweight, 5 1/2-foot casting rod with a level wind reel, and a five-foot ultralight spinning rod and reel loaded with six-pound test.
Weed beds, shoals, reefs, islands, rocky shorelines, wharfs and rafts provide sanctuary for small fish and aquatic insects, which attracts predatory bass. Cast as close to the structure as possible. If your lure lands near a bass, it usually hits immediately, but they seldom chase lures more than a few feet.
When using a floating or floating/diving plug, let it sit motionless on the surface for a full minute, then twitch it gently. Bass often stop a few feet away and watch a plug until it twitches — then all hell breaks loose. However, if nothing happens, let it sit for another half minute, then twitch it again, wait five seconds, then quickly retrieve the plug.

Also try casting and retrieving parallel to the faces of structures, again, as closely as possible. The easiest way to do this is to hold the rod, on the retrieve pointed at the lure, and at an angle about 20 degrees above the bait. When the strike comes, pause a beat or two and then set the hook, immediately drop the rod tip to point directly at the lure, and watch the line. If the line goes slack, the bass is moving towards you and you have to crank the reel to get a tight line, if the line tightens, the bass is moving away.
Start on the surface with top water lure, using a stop-and-go retrieve. If this fails, switch to a floating/diving plug, spinner bait or weighted spinner. Finish up by scouring bottom with a jig, thus, covering all depths from top to bottom.

Good ‘bassing’ starts in mid June, right after their closed season, and continues until November. Early mornings and late evenings are most productive, but they seek deeper water as summer daytime temperatures soar.
 

As most small lakes are often crowded with boaters and swimmers, try fishing between midnight and dawn. Topwater plugs can be deadly, especially on moonlit nights when your lure is silhouetted against the light background.
 

Smallmouths of over seven pounds have been recorded from some lakes, but the average is more like one half to four pounds. When you do hook a smallmouth, be prepared for some acrobatic cartwheeling, flashy tailwalking, and strong, determined bulldogging. They are truly a "game" fish in every sense of the word.

SIDEBAR

VANCOUVER ISLAND LAKES (size in hectares), best bets:
Beaver and Elk (224 total), Diver (15.5), Durrance (8.4), Glen (17), Green (13.4), Holden (37.6), Illusion (15), Langford (60), Long (34), Matheson (25), Prospect (72), Quennell (120) Shawnigan Lake (537), Spider (57), Thetis (35.5).
SALTSPRING ISLAND:
Cusheon (27), St. Mary (195).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huxley’s Run: 

Two Worlds

I like both worlds. The one I inhabit most of the time has computers, newspapers and information feeds of all types. The world I don’t get to enough has nothing, yet it has everything. Like an alcoholic or drug addict, going from one world to the other has its withdrawals.
Such is the beauty of the fishing trip. Not the trip involving a quick jaunt to favorite river or lake location, but the one that is the over-nighter, double over-nighter or longer. That’s the one where fire, water and sky are the entertainment — the keyboard to a different existence.
The first evening of a fishing trip is the best and the worst of times. There is that time when fishing is done, supper is consumed, dishes done and then? No computer, no television, no artificial entertainment at all. Fingers itch of course. There is that tendency to reach for a mouse and the quick realization that the mouse you reach for will have fur.
It is transition time. Slow down. Even a mind full of an emotional spreadsheet — figures and facts of our hectic life — quietly melts away. And then there is that moment, marked by the starry night, or the whipping wind and rain, or the dazzle of the fire, or the hushed and infrequent conversations from companions or the sound of the river in the darkness, when one world becomes another. There is nothing to do, yet everything to do. Thoughts seem to become clearer, appreciation for all things wild and remote become almost religion-like. You feel if you give it more of your soul, it will reciprocate.
There is a sharpness that develops. By shedding what was, the brain accepts what is. The sky is larger. The stars are brighter. A breeze becomes a living thing. You feel it touch you and then move on, and you think you can see it in some bodily fashion whispering on its way, telling this world that you are okay, you have been checked out. The trees are not a forest anymore. They are individuals. You pick them out and wonder how this one or that one manages to cling to the eroding bank, its roots assailed by the relentless water, its top stretching ever upward, disregarding gravity, patiently relishing its own, hard-won view of the world. The river becomes more than a noise. It is saying something and you strive to understand a language that is so close and so far from your understanding it becomes a pleasant puzzle.
Then, as always, you gaze to the fire. Oh what ancient memories it stirs. It speaks with every crack and pop. It smiles and frowns as it licks at the fuel you feed it. You think you understand it. It is, after all, a simple fire. Yet it casts light and shadows and warmth that are incomprehensible. It is nature’s flashing modem light that tells you, you are connected.
Sleep does not come easy. The new world has triggered new senses. You want to relish them. The fire’s flames flicker lower. Your eyelids follow suit. When sleep comes it is exquisite and morning finds the fire smoldering, grumpy and dark. A few well-placed pieces of wood make it smile and grin again.
As do you.

 

 

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