Winter fishing on Vancouver Island - Triple Crown dream

Dicky Daly

I hail from Potchefstroom, South Africa, and in the winter of 2010 my family and I visited a friend, David Attwell, in Victoria B.C. Being an avid fisherman I had hinted at and was hoping to get in a little fishing. Little did I know what lay in store for me.

After stocking up with provisions, our two families departed for David and Clare’s place at Lake Cowichan for the first weekend of our stay.

Immediately on arrival Warren, another friend and fisherman, hustled me onto his inflatable boat and we set off after some cutthroat trout.

After about 30 minutes of fishing my reel started singing as did my heart. Any sportsman knows the feeling, a bit of dread at losing it, time stands still, heart in the throat, and absolute joy and excitement.

After a short fight Warren netted the beauty and measured it. A prime cutthroat trout. It was a keeper.

Warren took a quick photo as David, my friend, arrived on his Lifetimer. I transferred to Dave’s boat to continue fishing as Warren had to head home.

We fished some more, and ended up walking home. But that’s another story.

After enjoying the trout for dinner, prepared on a cedar plank in the barbeque, accompanied by some delicious B.C. wine, I learned that Saturday and Sunday were to be fishing days as well. Saturday on a boat belonging to Richard, another friend of David’s, off the Victoria foreshore and Sunday on the Cowichan River. Life doesn’t get a lot better.

We woke early and headed down to Victoria to meet Richard.

We launched the boat, a good looking Double Eagle, at Esquimalt, and set out to lay some crab traps in near the Victoria harbour mouth, and then put out two rods on downriggers targeting winter springs, a.k.a. chinook salmon.

After not too long the first rod started dancing and Warren landed an 8 pounder.

A few minutes later it was my turn; a 12 pounder was boated.

We landed one more for the day, and pulled the traps on the way back to the dock; a couple of fine looking Dungeness crabs were on the dinner menu as well.

It then dawned on me that all the talk by the boys of a Triple Crown or Hat Trick was actually a possibility. If I caught a fish on Sunday (we were targeting steelhead), that I then would have caught three species on three consecutive days, on river, lake, and sea.

That evening the meal was prawns, fresh frozen by Richard, chinook, crab, and some lamb chops for good measure, oh and some more wine!

As David said, “life doesn’t suck”.

Sunday’s program, a drift boat trip with guide Dan Williams, had been arranged for us by Gord March from Cowichan Fly & Tackle.

It had snowed the night before and the countryside was brochure perfect.

We headed down to Riverbottom Road on the Cowichan River, and met up with Dan.

We loaded in the propane cylinder, the rods, cameras and other gear and launched “The Cowichan Hooker”. It had a bunch of ice and snow in it, the ropes were frozen stiff, but in we got. It was a spiritual experience for me. I was on a B.C. river fishing, at last.

We drifted and beached for a few hours and on one of the beaches David hooked and unfortunately lost a nice looking chromer after it jumped into a willow root ball.

We moved down-river a bit more and anchored next to some good looking water, after about 10 or 15 more casts (I had made 100s already), my rod exploded and the reel screamed in protest at the rude treatment. I backed up on the ABU bait caster’s star drag and let the monster strip line, worried that it would break up the tackle. After about a 60 metre run down-river it went airborne, it was a magnificent steelhead. I started fighting the fish, slowly I won back the line, bringing the fish back against the strong current, letting the rod absorb the head shakes. It ran a few more times, but slowly I was winning.

During a 15 minute fight with the chromer it was under the boat and between the oars before Dan finally netted the beauty.

It was a wild steehead, so we took a few photos and back it went.

Dan estimated it to be about 13 lb.

Can a three day first time in Canada fishing experience be more perfect?

I will cherish and remember that weekend for as long as I live.

One off the very top of my bucket list!



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