Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Did We Become The Enemy?

I have fished Salmon since the age of 18. I am not the most avid of salmon anglers, nor the best. In recent years, after a few years away from salmon fishing, i rediscovered my passion for it. I got to hold one in my hands again for a brief moment. Like I do with any fish, I appreciated it for the gift it gave me and watched it swim away. With reverence.

Now it would appear that me and others like me, have been identified as the enemy. My sport, the downfall of the species. We, in 2012, are interfering with the native food fishery, so we are told. Now we are no longer allowed to fish for them. They say "for now", but no one really knows. The threat to the sport so many of us have passionately pursued, is very real and fly anglers in Nova Scotia are shown the value they hold in the eyes of DFO. None.

At the risk of making my wife angry, let me give you all an idea of what Salmon fishing means to an economy, just from me. I own thousands of dollars of gear. Rods, reel, lines, flys, waders, jackets, shirts, boots and so much more. All of it purchased from fly shops and fly fishing manufacturers. In 2011 I fished for Salmon in Quebec and Nova Scotia. I spent part of 12 days on the water. I spent more than $900 on gas, $1000 on accommodations, well over $1000 on food, drinks, diners, coffee, restaurants, farmers markets and corner stores. I am one guy who does not get the time to fish Salmon nearly as much as I want to, but I spent in the area of $5000 in the pursuit of my sport. There are 2500 licensed Salmon Anglers in Nova Scotia. Do the math. Salmon fishing is a $130 Million industry that employs 4000 people in Eastern Canada, and it's existence is being threatened.

Even more important we took a good friend who has cancer on the trip of a lifetime and created memories we will all never forget.

And now, we are the enemy. The truth is, the angler is the protector of the species. While the aboriginals and DFO might want to stake that claim, no one has done more to protect fisheries of all sorts, than those who sport fish for them. Most of us only catch and release. Our presence on the river is saving it from poachers, and organizations have taken on projects from building fishways, to liming dozers to enhance and protect the habitat. And now, we are the enemy.

Maybe it is time to assert OUR rights. Maybe it is time to step up and make a stand for OUR passion. Maybe it is not right anymore to be treated like second class stakeholders in OUR rivers. Maybe, just maybe, we are not the enemy.

I urge any salmon anglers across this country, and anyone passionate about fishing to write your MP's, MLA's and area Councillors. Tell them as salmon anglers we are the greatest friend the species has. Tell the we are NOT the enemy. I welcome your feedback and anyone who wants to make a blog post about this, email it to me at djphill@eastlink.ca.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012, Here We Go

It has been a while since I posted here. Too long. Things got busy though. As I posted here before I am the distributor for Vision Fly Fishing in Canada and that undertaking has been a lot of fun,time consuming and very rewarding. So I have a few posts to make about 2011 and what it was for me. I fished in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Finland in 2011. The most memorable year in my angling history so far.

I learned a lot about the passion of the people who make the products I sell. I learned about the Finnish passion for hockey which is Canadian like. I also learned the passion for fish I never caught before, including the Northern Pike and the love of them in Finland.

I learned about the Gaspe. The potential high cost and the amazing rivers like the Bonaventure, maybe the most eye catching watershed I have ever seen. I learned about friends and why they are important and how they come together in good times, in bad, and in the face of worse case scenarios.

I also earned a new appreciation for the fishery in Nova Scotia. While it has it's problems, it also has pockets of special fisheries. I am lucky enough to have a camp in the middle of one of them. I also saw a North Shore Salmon fishery that had a very promising year, as did the Margaree.The problems are not gone, but all is not lost. We have a resource worth protecting.

Lastly, I learned a greater appreciation for life on the whole.  Good food, good drinks, good friends, and an amazing family. I reaffirmed that life should be celebrated at every turn. It came from a lot of different sources, including my own wife. Life is too short to live it any other way.

So as the new year arrives, my wife and I have travel plans (including bonefishing) in the Bahamas, I will be going to Finland again, and I will continue the work to make Vision a player in Canada, and of course I will fish May Fly at my camp. I don't believe in resolutions, but I do intend on seeing that 2012 will exceed 2011 in every way possible.  I hope you all do the same.

So look for new posts all week so I can get 2011 in the books, and look ahead to 2012.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Four Friends, Forty Ounces, And The Funniest Tarp I Ever Met

It's May, 1999. Steven F and Derrick have already made the trip to the camp, before there was a camp of course. They will set up a campsite, and Steven B and I will join them. Work, once again, has gotten in the way for us.

Steven and I take off Friday at 6:00 pm. Our only stop is the liquor store. A pint and a forty of rum and we are on the way. Now keep in mind. We had no camp. No set meeting spot, no cell phone service. We got there at 8:00 pm, and it is dark. Too dark to walk anywhere, and we didn't even know where. Steven cracks the pint and in a few short minutes, it is only a memory. From there we are unsure of what to do. My Toyota truck was a single cab. Can't sleep there. We could set a tent up near the truck, but we have no fire, no stove, nothing. I honk the horn of the truck, hoping someone hears. I honk a few more times. Ten minutes later, Steven F. comes out of the path with a flashlight. We are saved. Sort of.

We get to the campsite. It is a tent, a portable table for the stove, and a big campfire. A tarp was placed from tree to tree to give cover from the rain, which has fallen all week long and continues into the weekend. We open the forty. It is gone almost as quick as the pint. Needless to say, we are not sober. Not at all. We stand and tell stories under the tarp. Rain collects on it as we speak. From nowhere, the edges folds down and dumps a gallon of water on Derricks head. Laughing is not a great description of what we did. We lost composure. We laughed until parts of us hurt.

We fix the tarp, and Derrick wisely moves to the other end. Another 40 minutes or so pass, Derricks cigarette gets dashed by more water than dumped on him the first time. Again, we lost it. Worse this time.

That is about the last thing I remember from that night. Steven B and I set up our tent. I know that because we woke up in it. I also know we put waders on to keep us dry from the downpour. I know, because I woke up wearing them. We wake at about 5 AM. It is first early light hitting the tent. I can feel it tearing through my not yet opened eyes. I give Steven a nudge. "Time to get up". I get a mumble in return, and then a "yeah, lets go fishing".

I move my feet. I hear splashing. Steven moves his feet. We hears splashing. I move mine again. Same result. We look down, and we laugh harder than we did the night before with the tarp. We set the tent up near the edge of the lake. The lake has a marshy side and the bottom edge of the tent was down into a wet hole. When we looked down, water was over our sleeping bags, up to our waists. Our state the night before ignored or simply never noticed that.

We fished hard the next two days, and we did well. The rain hampered us but in the times it stopped, the fishing was hot. Occasionally this story still comes up around a drink at the camp. Four younger fools, who are now four older fools. A lot has changed since then. Some good, some not. I think another trip for all four of us at the same time is in order. It has been too long.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fiberglass Is Back - The Vision Cult Fiber

I was asked this recently while showing someone the Vision lineup. “Why fiberglass?”

There is more to it than marketing.It isn’t just a cool label to hang on something. The Cult Fiber was developed allow fly anglers to touch their roots once again. They are not “old school” though. Cult Fibers are light and responsive. They have deep, soft actions with a nice hidden reserve of power. Despite all of that, with all of the types of rods out there, and all of the technology, why fiberglass? The best way, was to fish one.

Two weeks back I got a Cult Fiber and test drove it before sending it out to a perspective shop. It was a 6’6″ 3/4 weight rod. I had a 4 weight GT reel and a 4 weight Attack fly line. The thing that stood out in particular, was the relaxed action. I took the setup to a small trout stream. Lots of Brook Trout from 10-12 inches. I caught 14 trout in an evenings work. It felt peaceful. The rod had a quiet, medium action with a nice throw of power on the 4 weight line. Light tackle all around made 10 inch trout feel like 15 inch trout. The rod handled them with care.

I fish a lot of rods in a season. All types of actions and sizes. Sometimes fast actions and long lines. On a Wednesday evening I fished a small fiberglass rod and a light line for small, beautiful Brook Trout full of fall colours. I will definitely being doing this often next season.

As for others, the Cult Fiber retails for $310 CAD. They will be available at new Vision Dealers coming this spring. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vision Comes To Canadian Fly Fishing

I am pleased to announce I have become the exclusive Canadian Distributor for Vision Fly Fishing through my company, Fish Brooks Tackle. Vision has been around for 15 years in Europe and have a full lineup of rods, reels, waders, clothing, accessories and fly lines. Vision are known worldwide for their fly lines, in particular the Spey Ace series of Spey lines. They are changing single handed lines as well with their Vibe series of lines. You can view the whole lineup at www.visionflyfishing.com. You can also follow and be part of the roll out of Team Vision, following the Canadian blog at http://visionflyfishcanada.wordpress.com/ and if you have facebook, follow us on our Facebook Page. Lastly, join us on Twitter to follow the latest developments.

We are looking for Pro Staff as well in all areas of Canada. You can contact me at djphill@eastlink.ca for more information on how you can help us promote Vision in Canada and the opportunities available.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Caring For Your Fly Rod, Reel, And Line

So the first trip is fast approaching and so is the time for the yearly ritual of preparing my gear. Good fly fishing equipment is an investment and proper care is protecting that investment. Most of you who fish likely know a lot of this, but for those who don't, here is my routine.

Fly Line: Todays fly lines are very technologically advanced but still based on a PVC coating on a Dacron line. In the spring the line needs to be cleaned, stretched and dressed. During the season, several times, the cleaning and dressing should be done again. The performance of a line is based largely on it remaining supple and smooth. Grit can take the sheen off of it. Sunlight and drying out make it less supple. The line can be cleaned with soapy warm water (mild soap only), and dressed with a line dressing. Do yourself a favour and spend a few dollars more to get dressing from a fly line manufacturer. They know what they are doing. To stretch the line to get rid of reel memory, tie the line off to a post or tree in the yard, and roll it off the spool, and pull it past tight. Use some discretion. Stretching too hard can damage the PVC or the Dacron core.

Fly Reel: A modern fly reel is a remarkable piece of engineering. The tolerances are aircraft level and so are the materials. As such we have to take proper care to avoid damage. Most important? Keep the care instructions that come with your reel. Reels have different drag systems and some require different types of care. Know which one yours is. Take the spool off of the body and make sure you clean our any sand, grit, or dirt after every trip. In the spring, a drop of high quality oil (sewing machine as an example) on the moving parts and center shaft. It is also wise to check and screws that hold the reel together and ensure they are tight. A reel has a lot of movement during casting and they can work loose over time.

Fly Rod: I always check the guides for any grooves. A gritty line can make them easier than you might think. The tip guide takes the most abuse. If it is grooved or has sharp edges it should be replaced. A local rod builder can replace it easily. Also find yourself a silicone cloth to clean the blank, clean and smooth the guides and also to clean your reels as well. Check all of your fits on the rod sections and the strength of the handle and reel seat. Also check the ferrules and windings along the length of the rod. Damage to those could mean a repair or a replacement of the rod. Regular cleaning and careful use and storage can make a good rod last a lifetime.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nova Scotia May Fly Hatch

The Black Quill. Leptophlebia cupida. The Nova Scotia may fly to most of us. It is a brief, fleeting moment really in the overall length of a season. For anglers here it is a roughly two week stretch of the most intense fishing of the year.

The Hatch as it is known is responsible for eating up a weeks vacation every year for 24 years. In my youth i fished the hatch at a lake called Governors in Harrietsfield. (Unfortunately riddled with Bass now but that is another discussion.) At 13 i was spending weekends there fishing what to this day remains maybe the heaviest hatch i have ever seen. At the age of 18 or so i started to move around the province more to target the hatch. I found out early on that smaller waters often produced by and large better fish. Not a rule, more an observation. So i started to look for those in the less pressured areas of the province. It was hit and miss but eventually, i found some.

So how do i approach it? The hatch is not rocket science, it is a blend of technique and will. It starts with wetting down some fir boughs and tapping fly from lakeside trees and brush onto them. They join me in the canoe, usually with my 8' Innovator HLS fly rod. Then, we have to find the spots to fish. Over time, you learn them. On your home waters you will in some ways master them. All are not always readily apparent. Some however, are. Points, shoals, submerged rocks, incoming streams are all good places to fish. If you have a wind blowing offshore and taking fly down a lake, usually somewhere on that winds path, you will find rising fish. On a day with a gentle breeze, you drop fly into the water and let the breeze move them. Then you wait. Sometimes not long, sometimes all day, until it happens. One raise, two more, three more. The game is on.

For a lot of years i have read, studied, explored and each year i still see something that i would not have thought of. Something that doesn't make a lot of sense. I still get surprised 31 years into the hatch. I suppose i will for as long as i am able to do it.

For fly choice, many would think the fly is known as the Black Quill, so you use a Black Quill. That is right, and wrong. In my youth at Governors, it was the fly of choice. Now, in the more pristine waters i swear by the Blue Upright. For some reason, not always apparent to me, it out-fishes a Black Quill by a wide margin. I also will use a Brown Quill more than the Black Quill. Maybe it is more comfortable for me. Maybe the Trout like it better. All i know is it works. All of the flies in sizes 12 through 16, although for me 14 seems to be best.

The best times to fish, early morning, first light in fact, and supper until dark in the evening. Now on cloudy/rainy days, this can extend all day long but a bright mid-day sun is not usually a bonus for someone fishing the hatch. For me the first and last light have been the most productive and most exciting, especially for large trout. My largest trout ever was caught in what would have had to have been the last cast of the night for loss of light. 18.5 inches and 3.75 pounds. Stephen caught one at the exact same time, almost the exact same size. When we fish our small lake near dark, seeing those large Trout move is an adrenaline rush. The most fun i have ever had fishing.

"The hatch" is a truly special time for a Nova Scotia Trout angler. For two or three weeks, we fish the most intense period of our season. Many fish have been caught, many stories told, many more to be written. We are about a month away. I am counting the days.