July 5th, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Just Watching
By B.C. Nick, British Columbia

I live at the confluence of two creeks. The one across the road is called Fulford Creek, a small...at its widest it is perhaps ten feet across. There is a culvert under the road, and it turns into Reid Creek, and Reid Creek passes through my property. Reid Creek to most people would seem little more than a ditch. Anywhere on its length, you could jump across it with ease, and if you choose to wade it, at its deepest, it is for most of the year no more than a foot or two deep.

In the spring as the days get warmer, I sit in the sofa on my porch, listening as the frogs begin their mating call. I am treated to several weeks at first...hesitant chirping, building to a veritable symphony of sound, as more and more frogs crawl out of their winter homes and sound their mating calls.

I have built a bridge over my creek, (a very small bridge) and I lie on it staring at the fingerings. Chum and Coho salmon (Dog salmon to the First Nations Peoples and Silvers to Americans). They are all very small...at this time of year perhaps an inch or so long, and I lie there feeding them pieces of worms. There are the brave ones, that boldly swim in the middle of the current, and when I drop a morsel of worm they are always the first to dash madly over for their free meal. The shy ones (perhaps smarter) tuck themselves into hollows in the bank and to find them, I have to drop my worms in the slower-deeper current close to the edge, and they swim out in a quick mad dash...mouth the worm...and are gone.

Their story starts in November, when the estuary a mile from my house greets its yearly visitors. Chum and coho salmon return from their several year journey, started in my tiny stream, and ending as they mass every evening, at the mouth of Fulford Creek, in the Fulford Estuary - acclimatizing themselves to the taste of fresh water. I venture out in my waders, fly rod in hand. Last November was an amazing time, as the Chum and Coho Salmon came back in record numbers. Wading out a hundred feet from shore and being nowhere near waist deep in gin clear water, I could see hundreds of Chum salmon all around me. Preparing to spawn they are not the prettiest of fish, with their massively hooked jaws and teeth over an inch long. Harbour seals, always present, seem to vanish when the Chum come home. I have thought at times what they could do to me, if they recognized me as a threat; not a pleasant thought! They are a brute of a fish with incredible stamina, and this year I could fish for no more than two hours several times, fighting fish after fish, until my arms could take no more. I believe that a good disk drag reel is essential for this kind of fishing as I need to transfer hands several times in a fight, and rely on my disk drag cranked up high to fight the fish.

I have seen others using their non-fighting hand to support their rod a foot or two up from their rod handle to help fight fish, and have seen several shatter. I like my rods too much! The Coho in much smaller numbers waited farther up the estuary until the Chum Salmon have spawned.

Several weeks after they appear, they move from the estuary into the creek, and my sport is over; but from my little bridge on the creek, I lie and watch them: perfectly still, as they are only two or three feet away. Huge and tattered; females creating the reds, and the males protectively standing guard, waiting to fertilize the eggs, in their peculiar shuddering dance. I have watched this dance for over thirty years. The cycle of life in which the parents must die; their bodies becoming nourishment to feed their young, and I know, that I will never tire, of lying on my little bridge-just watching. ~ B.C.Nick

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