Enjoying a winter wonderland of fishing

Don Daniels displays his catch of winter springs at the end of January. Photo by Ron Fife

Don Daniels displays his catch of winter springs at the end of January. Photo by Ron Fife

By Don Daniels

Driving north to Sayward a few weeks back, I had pulled off at the Roberts Lake rest area. The wind was calm and the sun had been out for the entire day.

There was no sign of snow in the bush and if you wanted to fish from shore, no problem. Snow was quite visible above the cloud line and you knew that the weather was getting colder and the snow was right around the corner; the first snow accumulation hit us on the Sunday, Jan. 24. Going west from Campbell River to Gold River, the signs of snowfall were evident in the upper elevation areas near Buttle lake and the winter wonderland has set in.

There is open water all winter long on the Elk River but getting to a spot and walking in will be difficult because of snow accumulations in the bush.

From Campbell River to Black Creek a more comfortable river fishing venture might be the Oyster River. Seeing a few young guys sitting in their waders and enjoying lunch at the pizza takeout place at Black Creek, I asked about fishing and they were quite knowledgeable about what salmon runs were in season. They simply wanted to get out and find a steelhead or cutthroat trout which is all catch and release. I noticed that the two young guys were drift fishing with wool and the fly rods were adequate enough if they got a tug in the river, but that didn’t happen. They will target the Quinsam River next.

One of the guys who guides for a living wanted to go salmon fishing here in Campbell River, and he said book us a trip and let’s go if the weather is decent; and it was. The sun was out, no wind and the chance to get out and learn from guys who make a living salmon fishing, I’m in.

We met at the boat at 10 a.m. and since I knew the time frame we had, I was open to get on the water and fish for winter springs in January.

The first two hits came from undersizelings and they were released. The smaller undersize springs were coming in and something I have never seen is the same salmon hit the same anchovy bait. We had caught the same fish.

Ron had fished the Lighthouse area and explained the depth of water and made a few passes and the action started about midafternoon. Other boats were in the area and the others had slim pickings for the day but we had two keepers and I registered the catch on my license for area 13. The date was Jan. 18. I was shown how to fillet the salmon and we headed home to enjoy the catch of the day.

There were some reports that a few bigger fish were being caught at Bates Beach but why go that far when fishing close at hand is just fine?

Campbell Riverfishing