Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Lake yields namesake pike

While eating locally in the north has its own trials, nature's bounty and long growing days offset some of these challenges.  Hillsides pregnant with saskatoons in August, competing with the black bears on sandy pine flats for blueberries, shooing the neighbourhood cats (yes, plural) out the the garden/litter box like it's a sport.

Home to world-class hunting and fishing, it's unusual that a Chetwynd summer BBQ passes without game meat or freshly caught fish making it on to the grill.
A misread slopitch schedule left last night open for an evening fish on  Big Lake, 45 minutes northeast of Chetwynd.  I hooked up with my found-on-the-road rod into a 56 cm pike.  Eyeballing it bigger than previous catches on Jackfish, Dan bonked it on the head with a paddle and slung it behind the boat through-the-gills-and-out-the-mouth style.  A botched filleting left us with bones to pick out of our teeth, but the work was worth the prize.  

 Pretend this isn't blurry

 A bald iggle keeping watch 

 I dehooked my second one

Released for another day


Season score, btw is Sheri: 7  Dan: 0

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Williston's wilds

There's something spooky about Mackenzie.  Not the town proper, a purpose-built forestry community so much, but the now flooded valley that waxes and wanes under the guise of a reservoir throughout the year.

Created in 1968 by the impoundment of the Peace River in the Peace Canyon near Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia, for the purpose of hydroelectric generation, this fresh (fresh in the most generous of terms) water scar dominates the landscape.

An eeriness as prevalent as the oft low lying clouds lingers in the valley.  Flooded ghosts are everywhere and an unnerving sense of their presence is everywhere.  Combined with soured relations with the first nations, it's uncomfortable, but remarkably not unpleasant, working up there.

"Up there" was truly that this previous shift.  On the same latitude as Pink Mountain, but just over the range, more than 1000 liters of fuel, three flat tires and 1.5 days of driving hauling trailers eventually delivered us back to Chetwynd after a cruisy handful of days hanging ribbons for the manual brushers.

Highlights included seeing two lynxs on back-to-back days, marveling at the volume of water coming into the reservoir from various arms and savouring the numerous flowering plants.

                                 Smilacina racemosa                                       Corallorhiza trifida

Strawberry fields forever

Shaun found beach access!

Looking down the valley on our last block

Pine making their babies

Moose dipping

Only 140 km to our campsite for the night on shitty, potholed roads

One of Williston's contributors

 Shaun: Let's hire this barge so we don't have to do that horrific drive again!

One of the reservoir's scenic spots

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekend fishing soured by motors

Alert, alert Fish Cops of Region 7B: there's poachers/cheaters zooming around on powered boats on Jackfish Lake northeast of Chetwynd, British Columbia.

Looking south down Jackfish
Whether these rogue fishermen zoomed to the far end of the lake, their wake pouring over the gunnels of a people powered canoe, to avoid the scarce enforcement officers or off to a known booner habitat on Saturday I'll never know as the unpredictable winds kept Dan and I harboured in sheltered bays and close to the launch.

Back on the fresh water after a four year hiatus, I was surprised when I hooked up after only an hour on the lake.  Used to fighting Bimini's13-pound barracudas, the northern pike offered comparatively little of a struggle.  Shrieks of excitement as the fish was landed, dehooked and photos snapped, I released it for another day.

Four more hours on the water under glorious sunshine and another four fish followed, my second hooked deeply in the guts.  Accustomed to staying with a shark doing poorly, we stayed with and swam the pike til it was sufficiently moving under its own power.

Content to paddle and keep the canoe from turning into a submarine, Dan experienced fishing on Jackfish vicariously through silence shattering squeals when I hooked up.  Not nearly as pervasive as the constant, full-on serenity wrecking motors about the lake, I was thrilled to be back on the water.  A fishing rod and reel I found on the Bearhole Lake FSR north of Tumbler Ridge last summer will be my instrument of choice this season as I hope to explore the many lakes and streams B.C. has to offer.

First pike 

 Second one, hooked deeply and bleeding.  We stayed with it til it satisfactorily swam off.  

 Prime bow location

 Stern man Dan having a go with his fly rod

Lovely loon 

Whoops!  Fish are slippery!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Another season raises satisfaction questions

Questions and conversations of "what am I doing with myself?" and "is this industry still for me?" and "do I really want to sharing a holiday trailer with coworkers deep in the woods miles and miles from friends and loved ones?" and "are the novelty, majesty, passion waning?" have been festering this season. 

My current gig requires that I pack Big Blue with wool sweaters, thermals, crib board, a scantly used bar of soap and a coworker and I sharing a space that isn't much bigger than my uncle Frank's sailboat.  Fighting free growing blocks by day and a losing battle of furnace wars by night, personal satisfaction queries are intensifying.  

This is my fourth summer in Chetwynd, fifth in B.C. and sixth in the Peace.  A wanderer by (and of) nature, traveler by choice and up-to-now willing bush bunny, longer term factors are weighing in on potential future projections.  With only each other and, more often, our own echos for company, my fellow bush bunnies and rats are heaps of fun but I long for the warmth of lovely fella and riotous laugh of girlfriends.

Mercifully surrounded by friends, family and acquaintances who are equally unsorted, trading full-time jobs for a SCUBA tank and more interested in spending a beer together than texting, I'm comforted that feelings of searching, longing, AAHHhhhh are part of (eeekk!) being a grown up.

Anemone patens                                     Calypso bulbosa

It's May Long in the Peace.  Grab your toques and layer up with patience, determination and northern Git 'Er Dun.

Ribes triste?

It's been a while since I saw a wolf, but their sign is everywhere from tracks to scat to kills.

Coworker Colin and I saw another black bear and two of their grizzly cousins this shift by Tumbler Ridge.

 Typical offices 

The volume coming over Kineuso Falls, the Niagara of the North, is truly staggering at the moment.