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with D.C. Reid

One of the nice things about British Columbia angling is that winter is not the time to put away the tackle. Saltwater angling moves into high gear for the most abundant run of the year: winter chinook . And these are feeders, 2-3 year old chinook fattening up on spawning herring before taking to the open Pacific in April.

Freshwater locales rank right up there too. Most Vancouver Island lakes and streams remain clear of ice, and much of the Lower Mainland and even the interior has open water. Winter proves the time for the most solid angling for trout: rainbow , cutthroat and sea-run steelhead. During the colder months as waters cool and oxygen becomes more available higher in the water column, trout rise closer to the surface and present themselves in prime condition.

Easy to reach and seldom as windy as close by ocean spots, the local lakes fill with brightly coloured flyfishing floats, lime green floating fly line and small rowboats. In the capital region area of Victoria , many stocked lakes make fishing simple: take the boat and the kids and half an hour later you are fishing. Tourists to the garden city can get in on the fun as well, anglers having the option of about a dozen easily-reached small bodies of water: Elk and Beaver Lakes, Durrance, Matheson , Prospect and Langford, to name just a few.

And for those with children who may be too timid to venture out to sea, these small outings can hook the young fry into a lifetime's fishing. My daughter, Vanessa, is among these kids. A diehard to make her diehard dad look only mildly interest, she clamoured for a roof rack (for, as we put it, "our little blue boat"). Out I went to Canadian Tire, the local tackle shop and soon we were fishing for some of the most delicate, beautifully spotted landlocked cutthroat trout in the area.

Shore angling has two simple variants. For free-floating worms, bobbers prove useful. A number of types dot the tackle shop shelves: the Ajusta Bobber, Slip Eze and the Thill. Either used as a fixed or slip bobber, these suspend a worm 2 - 4' below the surface for the bait to wriggle as it floats along gently. A slip bobber has an advantage in that it allows shy fish to move off with the worm before encountering any resistance while the bobber telegraphs the bite to the angler.

The second shore angling technique owes its origin to the recently-developed powerbaits. Powerbaits are a plastic foam impregnated with a fish-attracting smell. They come in many colours, however, the local favourites are chartreuse, orange and rainbow. Because this material floats, it allows for the egg weight to be mounted some distance up the line from the bait and then the bait wafts in the slight currents. When the fish bites, line slides through the egg weight allowing the fish, as with the slip bobber, to move away unimpeded.

For trollers, more area is opened up for fishing and for more techniques. Simple trolling spinners such as the Wedding Band or Panther Martin send off flashes of light to attract the fish. Gang trolls by Willow Leaf with an 18-24" leader to a worm or fly prove a good bet in the late winter, early spring waters. And remember, don't put that worm on the line in a big glob - that isn't natural. Insert the hook carefully through the worm's mating ring and then a little further back so that it gently loops and leaves a nice tasty piece to wriggle and roll in the water.

Three trolling flies stand out as local producers: the woolly bugger (size 8), Carey Special (size 10) and green Doc Sprately (size 10). These can either be trolled behind a Willow Leaf or with a type 3 sinking fly line.

Late winter when the first chronomid hatch touches the surface of the water is the time to haul out the lime green floating fly line and your lightest fly rod. The trout will be in the first couple of feet, gently rolling one after the other in the newly-hatched chronomids. This is a delightful type of fishing. Very quiet and gentle, the swish of dayglo line through the air, the settling of a tiny 16-18 chronomid fly, very slow paddle with the feet or paddle.

Remember that if you go with your children that you should take care when casting a fly rod. Invariably, they end up right under the flight path of the line, as my daughter did on our recent trip. It may be best to troll the small lakes, pulling a woolly bugger behind you. These are the kind of trips that children remember their whole lives and those small rainbows remain as though covered in liquid glass in the memory for ever. Good luck.

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Peter Caverhill
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D. C. Reid
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