Fishing the Ugly Days

Unfortunately, dealing with every element of weather you could imagine comes with the territory of spending time in the outdoors on a regular basis.  Learning to embrace it is a large part of the battle, as is making sure you’re prepared for it.  A lot of time is spent on the water through the winter and spring months, when Mother Nature becomes an unpredictable psychopath sometimes.  2 hours of rain, 4 hours of sun, and hour of snow and an hour of hail? sounds like a lovely spring day in BC.  Nothing will ever make it change, and nobody (or very few!) have the luxury of being able to fish any day they want without having to deal with the conditions once in a while.

Low pressure can put fish down, with ugly weather often comes cold and windy conditions which also work against you.  But what about the days that make you glad you decided to gamble it instead of staying home, only to have it pay off in a big way?  The days when everything lines up, even when you know it seems too good to be true.  I have two tales that proved every assumption I had made about the weather affecting the fish completely wrong this year.


The first took place on that one winter steelhead river near Vancouver you always hear horror stories about getting low-holed or your vehicle broken into, the super top secret one!  The river was colouring and rising at a rapid rate the day before we were supposed to do a fairly lengthy float.  Checking the weather obsessively that night, it was not looking good as my phone screen was still showing 20-30mm of rain no matter how frantically I refreshed it.  I haven’t ever been so close to cancelling a day of fishing, but we followed through with our plan and met up at 7 the next morning.  The rain was present but not unbearable, the excitement was outweighing any worries I previously had about the river being unfishable.  As we pushed off I knew there was no going back, and was prepared for the worst.  Maybe it was just luck of the draw, but the rain seemed to hold off for a majority of the day.  It was cold, it did pour on us off and on but it never lasted.  We were float fishing (call me a bad person, float fishing is fun) and connected with a bright winter doe in the second run we pulled into.  I thought it was a rock as I had drifted an unthinkable ways down into the tailout where the water was no more than 18 inches deep.  Next run we stuck two, the run after that we stuck two more, three runs later we hit another two fish.  Was this even possible?  Each time one of us would hook a winter steelhead I thanked the fish gods for getting me out of bed that morning.  We saw 3 anglers all day in 15km of river, by the end of the float the skies had cleared and it was bright sun.  To top it off I got to watch my better half hook 3 winter run steelhead, including her first one ever.  Some days you just face what you are given and make the best situation possible out of it.


The next one that was even more puzzling than having a stellar day steelhead fishing in high and dirty water, was at a favourite lake of mine that serves a healthy dose of punishment and frustration when the fish decide to be selective.  The air temp was around 6 degrees, I layered on every thermal piece of clothing I could find and reluctantly began unloading my boat.  Rowing out to my favourite ledge, I knew it was going to be a cold and miserable day.  Hopes of big chironomid hatches were dwindling, though the water was sitting at a perfect 54 degrees.  There are few stillwater fisheries you visit expecting to get blanked, but this is one of them.  I got anchored up and sent out my first line, before I could get the second one out the first indicator was so far under the surface all I could see was my floating line tightening while the rod was in the holder. By the time I got to it the fish had spat it, but it was a glimmer of hope. What happened after that? Both rods went off within seconds of each other. Then followed up by twenty nine inches of interior BC rainbow trout. I was kind of expecting to see my boat start leaking or get struck by lightning just to remind me that days like this were not only uncommon, this would probably not happen again anytime soon. Plenty more nice ones that decided they would pick the rainiest, coldest day to have an epic feed we’re keeping me from remembering how frozen my hands were. I returned to this lake 4 days later on a perfectly still, sunny day and proceeded to hook 1 fish in 6 hours of fishing…


Days like those mentioned above are a good reminder not to let yourself be limited by the weather forecast. Is it going to be brutal some days? Yes. Are there days where you actually would’ve been better off staying in bed? Perhaps, but take it all in stride as an experience. You never know unless you go! Amazing things can happen when you least expect it. Thank you for taking the time to read things lengthy one-page novel, until next time happy fishing!

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