It's Getting Hot in Here (actually, out there!)


We are in the middle of a heat wave. Temperature records are being smashed all over the province, and the forecast is for crazy hot weather for the next week and beyond. If there is one true statement I can make about residents in BC's lower mainland (Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley) its that we are never satisfied with the weather. Ever. In the winter we bitch about the rain and cold. This year we bitched about the snow and ice and the lack of rain. In the summer we bitch about the heat. This year we say that its been the best spring/summer ever but omigod its too f-ing hot! It's always either too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, to snowy, too humid, too dry... too something. Right now its approaching 35 C for daytime highs, feeling like almost 40 C with the humidity, and my brain feels like its been boiled into mush. But hey its sunny and beautiful, so I'll try not to bitch too much.

Now if I were a sockeye, I'd have real reason for complaint. Fraser River water temperatures are hovering around 20 C right now, and are predicted to rise to close to 22 C by Aug. 5th. Which means that the risk of mortality for the migrating sockeye is huge. Astronomical, even, given that the water is only going to continue to heat up. And not only that, but early season numbers of returning fish have fallen well below the estimates, causing the Pacific Salmon Commission to cut their pre-season estimates. For example, the Fraser's earliest run of sockeye is the Stuart Run. Pre-season projections put the run at approximately 165,000 fish. This number has decreased four times in the last month, to around 85,000 returning Stuart fish. That's a 48% drop. Early summer run sockeye numbers were projected pre-season to be 739,000 fish, and that number has dropped an astounding 64% to fall to 264,000 fish. Needless to say, due to unfavourable conditions and low returns, all commercial and recreational fishing opportunities for sockeye are non-existent. At this time, the First Nations will be allowed to fish, although even they will probably have to reduce their catch.

Maybe the fish are late, but things are certainly not working in their favour right now. This does not bode well for what is supposed to be a big-cycle year for sockeye, with around 10 million fish projected to return to the Fraser and its tributaries in the 2009 season. Last years numbers were at about 1.7 million sockeye for the season, well below the yearly average of 4.4 million.

I'm not going to start posturing about what we need to do for our declining runs, or give you un educated theories on the reasons for the decline. I'll just leave you with the numbers, and the hope that this season isn't a horrendous disaster.

Now off to continue the slow bake in this inescapable heat.

And PS: I received my tourist visa for Russia - its official! Two weeks less 7 hours before my plane departs, and holy crap do I ever need to tie flies!!!!!!! Donations will be gratefully accepted!


Hello Hopper!


*fly tied by Jake Goranson*


Of Cowboys and Rattlesnakes.

Okay, so the title is somewhat misleading - I saw neither cowboys nor rattlesnakes, but I did see a cowboy hat and eight bull snakes, and the sagebrush, cactus, dust and searing heat definitely confirmed that this was desert country.

We arrived Saturday afternoon to set up camp in a raging wind storm, with dust blowing sideways and filling every corner and crevice of our wall tent, even after it was set up and pegged down. A guick casting session on the water out from camp confirmed to me that yes indeed, the wind was blowing in gale force gusts in a distinct upstream yet sometimes swirling direction. Great. Eating dinner was interesting, for if one's plate wasn't directly in front of one's body then those black flecks weren't pepper. And a mouthful of sand just doesn't do justice to that delicious potato salad. After two beer, a cup of juice and two plates of tortellini were ruthlessly wasted by Mother Nature, we sat around the campfire (which we couldn't light due to the almost guarenteed resulting wild fire) we crawled into bed feeling the tent pulse with gusts and feeling the air mattress rapidly flatten. Apparently we had a leak.

The next day was calm and beautiful, and after a lazy start to the morning my girl Sarah and I hiked upstream to start the day. After hooking nothing the day before, I had reluctantly tied on a nymph and indicator. Reaching the rivers edge, I spotted a small back eddy and nearly drooled. Off came the indicator and on went the dry. Cast, drift, strip, cast again, drift, RISE! Hooking fish consistently for the next few hours, we wandered downstream back towards camp, lost in the swirling eddies and bubbling riffles while delicately balancing on precariously perched rocks.

There's just something about those hot summer days, when the wind is warm and time is meaningless, when the rest of the world disappears and nothing else exists but your rod, line, fly and the river, and all you hear is the rush of water and your heartbeat. The sounds of trains and jetboats barely register and a boat can drift almost all the way past before being noticed. The only reason you notice the midges, caddis and stoneflies crawling up your shorts and arms is because you're trying to imitate them, and you're pretty sure you were more startled than that snake was when you hopped onto the rock it was under. Rarely do I find that rhythm for a few hours at a time, but in the summer this incredible river always provides me that escape.
Four days of fish, blazing sunshine, stars and campfires, good food, good drinks and great laughs with friends, lazy mornings and long mid afternoon swims, and one emergency cactus removal from a dog: summertime at its best.

Sarah, rocking the cowboy hat and jean skirt.


And the winner is...

FoulHooked, because at least he had the right country!

I wish I could say I was going to all of the fantastic destinations that people suggested; Iceland, Florida, Kamchatka, New Zealand... Maybe one day I will have the privilege of fishing them all, but for now I will be (providing I get my visa) headed off next month to fish the Rynda River with the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. Atlantic Salmon, brown trout and char are all on the agenda. More details to follow, but for now, check out their website here.


Counting down to August...

What do you do when you're offered the trip of a lifetime for a price you can (almost) afford with barely a month a plan it?

Jump on it!

Flights are booked, trip is paid for, now just waiting for the paperwork I need to apply for my visa.

Where am I going? Well, lets see who can guess the destination.

I'll tie up an intruder and send it to the first person who can figure out where I'm headed.