Thursday, June 30, 2016



Hindsight is a great thing. Should have hunted that area, should have gone out for Fairy potatoes last week and the list goes on. I learned the hard eay that one also needs to anticipate future transportation needs. What to consider when your partner or partners or you yourself are beginning to have difficulty managing to get around

Eight years ago, my wife needed a walker and a wheelchair due to Multiple Sclerosis. Decline seemed very slow, so we opted for a four by four truck with a swing-out seat and a crane in the back to transport the wheelchair. We were very thrilled at first and she even managed the Myra Canyon Trestles out of Kelowna, all twenty-six kilometers, while I had to walk. We were thrilled with our choice enjoying outings together and I could also head up to the back country lakes as well and do some hunting.

A few short years later our bubble burst and she could no longer stand to even transfer from the wheelchair into the swing-out seat. An overhead lift was required to lift her into and out of the wheelchair. Given the expense, we were stuck with this option.

If we had known, IO would have gone with the other option. That being a Van, preferably a four by four, fitted out so that we could drive the wheelchair in, instead of transferring. This would have given her four more years of enjoying trips in natural areas.

Now that she has passed away, I will continue to work towards more wheelchair access to wilderness experiences and also press for more access for the average family vehicle not just for four by fours and Atv's. Once I get my act together and start forging in the hills again, I hope to be back posting more regularly on here.

Happy hunting, fishing and gathering.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Flat Bottom Prams

We have all been in that position. Taking someone out to a great little lake with our canoe, only to have them hold on to the gunnels with white knuckles and scared with each little rock of the canoe.

Noticed this sign on one of my neighbours van "Fly Fishing Boats For Reel" Finally got around to talking to Terry Hunt. These little craft just might be your solution if you are in position to get another craft. Well built, stable and light. You might want to check them out.

Hopefully I can begin to get back up into the hills on a fairly regular basis again. Guess some of the old blogs need a bit of updating, if I can work out the editing and hopefully some new destinations as well.

Middle Clarke Lake now has an underground wasp nest in the old dam. Wouldn't you know it, right where you take the canoe or boat across to launch. Might be a better idea to keep well over the side. On my last trip in a few weeks ago with my daughter, we had as many wasp bites as fish strikes. It was a slow day, but still seems to be well stocked.

Happy fishing.

North end Middle Clarke Lake
 North end Upper  Clarke Lake

Friday, November 16, 2012

Survival Shills...and introduction

Survival Skills

Even children need to understand the principles of survival. I remember vividly an experience at Nickel Plate when I was seven. I had been skiing and arrived home very cold: so cold that I could not open the door with my frozen fingers. I could not even open the door with my wrists and my fingers were to numb to undo my clothing to place them next to my skin for warmth, or even to relieve myself.

Fortunately, before I slipped into hypothermia, Mum arrived from the hill and I was let into the house. A long warm bath, hot chocolate, hot meal and a good night’s sleep and I was a good as new.

Mental preparedness is the essential ingredient for survival. One has to be alert to any harmful situation and be prepared for the appropriate actions. It is often the small things like numb fingers that can make the difference in many situations. Be very aware of your condition and take the appropriate steps to keep warm.

The first things in any survival kits are fire starting implements, water-proof matches, fire starter sticks (or short candles), and a wind proof lighter. Don’t wait until you need to use your fire starting skills, but practice them whenever you go on an outing. One could also use flints and strikers, bow and drill or rubbing two sticks together, but these do take lots of practice. Besides being edible (not always palatable) horsehair moss is usually an excellent fire starter, but burns very fast and one needs to have a good supply of dried twigs to get it kick started.

Water is also very important, perhaps even more important than food. (I love my food though)  There are several light weight and compact water filter systems on the market that are suitable for backpacking. Water purification tablets are also easy to carry and use, but be sure to follow directions. Melting snow in the mouth is not a great way to get one’s supply of water it robs the body of heat: it is much better to melt it over a fire.

A bright orange plastic bag can be easily spotted by searchers and may be used to collect rainwater and dew in an emergency. A cell phone is good for calling for help, but there are many blank spots with no reception. There are new GPS gadgets that with a push of a button send out a call for help with your position plotted. Of course there is also the old standby of three puffs of smoke.

If you happen to be with a vehicle the advice is usually to stay with the vehicle; it does offer some protection and is usually easier to spot from the air. Whatever your situation, the crucial thing is when you are expected back and when would the search begin and most crucially do they know the location to search. If at all possible give as accurate plan of your travel as possible. This not always easy then hunting as conditions change so fast at times.(New logging roads, fires, and weather conditions)

An injury to yourself or one of the party also calls for some fast decisions. A good knowledge of first aid can be of great help in making this choice. I do recommend either keeping up with taking refresher courses on a regular basis or at least studying the book once in a while.

Knowing what to do and applying your knowledge is the test. I like to imagine I’m lost and always look for fuel for fires, possible shelter and for wild edibles. I recommend “Food Plants of British Columbia Indian part 2/ Interior Peoples” by Nancy J. Turner for some interesting reading.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reed Lake

Reed Lake
For years I kept seeing Reed Lake on the maps (GPS co-ordinates N49-35-184’  W119-22-536’) and have yet to hear any reports of the fishing there. Somehow, I never got around to investigating it until now. Reports in the Fish Wizard list the species present as brook trout and rainbow trout the final impetus to set me out on this search, a little bit of exploring early in hunting season with the bird and deer guns along just in case. Normally I don’t get serious about hunting until November when it is easier to care for the game.
Today I left the canoe at home as I expected a long hike in from the locked gate on the Ellis Creek Forest Service Road. It was Saturday October 13th and already there was frost on the windshield as I left in the morning. The plan was simple; up the Carmi Road to the Beaverdell Road past the Ellis Reservoir to the Weyerhaeuser 201, a short distance north and then left on the Ellis Creek Forest Service Road. The landscape kept changing from second growth timber to clear cuts at different stages of new growth. There are lots of small side roads, but keep on the main road until just after the 64 km. sign. Turn right here and then to the left. I parked and then carried on the old road for 885 meters to Reed Creek and then headed up an old logging slash for 322 meters, where I found the lake.
It’s a bit rough, but if the gate remains open, I should be able to carry a canoe in next summer. I see no reason why the gate should not remain open. The recreational use poses much less risk to the watershed than logging operations.
Unfortunately there was a little ice all around the shore and I was unable to really check out the fishing. However I walked all around the shoreline and noticed several tiny streams feeding the lake, which had fine gravely bottoms. Perhaps these would be just enough for a natural spawn. The lake itself is a quiet little gem set in tall timber. The shore is gently sloping grass, so in the warmer weather using a belly boat or wading in with a fly rod could be interesting. If all goes well we will give you an update on fishing here next summer.
By eleven it was obvious that the ice would not be off the lake for the day, so I headed back downhill checking out hunting possibilities. This area is not my regular haunt and I wanted to figure out how best to hunt the thicker terrain. I met a fellow cutting wood who has accessed Reed Lake from Howard Lake, but this appears to be the route with the shortest walk.
I slowly made my way down to the Ellis Reservoir, tried fishing there for an hour and then headed out on the flats behind. Checking the stocking reports, Ellis Reservoir has been stocked with Pennask lake fry in September the last six years. It looks a lot more inviting for fishing when the dam is full. In the fall, however, there is a lot of muddy shoreline to contend with which does detract from the desire to fish here. Of course, with the lower water the fish just might be concentrated into smaller areas.
Not particularly excited by the fish action, I checked the maze of old roads south and west of the dam before heading home. I did see a few grouse and only a few bottles and cans. Yes, there are still a few people who do not respect this beautiful area where we live. There are a couple of places where it might pay to set up a tree stand for deer hunting as there is a good Population of mule and white tail deer in the area.

Note: This was in 2011 and somehow, I have not had the time to get back in to check this out. If anyone has any new information, give me a shout.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Survival Guns

With hunting season upon us, hunters begin to seriously talk about guns. What is the best gun to carry in the bush for survival purposes. We have all heard stories about the hunter who puts his rifle down to clan and elk, only to be surprised by a grizzly, or tales about people getting lost and perishing in the bush.

I must admit although I am comfortable sitting down and watching a bear at close range, I do get a little concerned when I have others along with me. Sitting and eating a sandwich a scant fifteen meters from a black bear while he gorges on raspberries is s pleasant experience when you have your big game rifle along. When a bear charges out of the bush towards you and your son as you hike into a like is a fit more unsettling. Having a good gun along is a handy in case the bear dos not turn aside.

In another instance, my younger brother and I got lost while hunting. Cold, wet and hungry we plodded through the heavy snow, large wet flakes reducing our vision to a few meters. After about an hour we came upon some tracks, which after a while we realized were our own, we had walked in a circle. Fortunately we had managed to get a grouse and stopped, built a fire and ate while collecting our thoughts and bearings.

What makes a good survival gun? You want some knock down power in case of those unexpected encounter with the unpredictable bruins. However being able to get some small game for a fire is also nice.

My first choice would be a pair of pistols, but unfortunately, they are not legal to take into the bush for the purpose of hunting in Canada. (In the several States in the United States hunting with a hand gun is legal) If I could I would carry both a .22 and a .45 calibre  pistol with twenty three centimetre barrels. Shorter barrels greatly decrease the accuracy and so are of little use. Both these guns with a little practice are accurate enough at close range. The lighter .22 calibre would be great for getting a supply of birds and other small animals. The .45 calibre has the close range knock down power for bears and other large dangerous animals.

Having to choose a rifle instead, I would love to have a .22/306 over and under rifle. Carrying it around would be easier than two rifles and it could be used for both small and large game. The largest draw back to this rifle is the high purchase price. One other thing that needs constant vigilance in suing an over and under rifle is ensuring the hammer is on the proper chamber. Using a .306 to bring down a bird would often result in a shower of feathers and no meat. Still I believe it is the easiest and most versatile gun to use in the bush.

Whether the Federal Government will scrap the gun registry remains to be seen. Rather than a gun registry, all that should be required is a permit to use a gun. The current registry does not identify which guns are used in a crime or even if they are registered or not. The only way to accomplish this would be for all registered guns to have ballistic samples takes at the time of registry. An unregistered person using a gun would have to be under the direct supervision of registered, fire arms user. Requireing all guns to have trigger locks on when in storage or during transport to the range or to the hunting area would also serve as a control over usage. A person registered to use firearms would be able to purchase new firearms or to dispose of his or her firearms to another registered gun user.

It is time for the law to protect the responsible firearms users and to get tough on those who use guns for illegal purposes.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Lower Clarke Lake and small waters

Lower Clarke Lake

In the old days, we used to hike into Mclean Clan Lake from Lower Clarke Lake. Lower Clarke Lake is one of those lakes which have a drastic draw-down in the fall. Take the first road to the left once you have passed where the Allendale Lake road crosses the Weyerhaeuser 201 road. It’s fairly easy to spot, just take it easy. You can drive right on to the dam or if you prefer, park well back and walk in so you know the condition of the road.

This lake is stocked quite regularly and when I checked it out, action was reasonably fast. The fish were between 5 and 9 inches, but when you land about 25 in an hour and a half on a light leader and tiny fly with a peacock feather body, as well as getting many more strikes, it is lots of fun . A blue heron gliding down to the shore was a real bonus.

In the fall the shoreline is a mixture of slippery mud, rocks and fallen trees. I used the canoe, but a person could just as well use a belly boat or fish from shore. Shore fishing does limit the coverage of the lake, but with a reasonably heavy float and a light line you should be able to get out where the fish are rising. More adventuresome fishermen might try edging out on some of the trees down at the shore, but be extra careful trying this.  I still have a four-inch scar on my thigh from when some bark peeled off under my foot and I fell, gashing myself on a sharp branch. So much for that fishing expedition.  I hobbled back to the car with my kids in tow while keeping direct pressure on with my free hand .

Little beaver dams can hold a surprising stock of fish both in number and size. Once behind Nickel Plate Lake my cousin and I pulled about 200 fish out of a hole about half the size of a bath tub. Even then the waters still boiled when we set our fly in and we hardly made a dent in the swarm of fish in that little hole. These fish were very thin-bodied and obviously starving. Not all beaver dams produce small fish, as I have landed trout up to about 14 inches in length.

We usually tend to fish near the tangle of trees or weeds along the shore and wish the fish we see rising there would come out in the open water. One way to fish these tangles of trees or weedy bays, is a method call dapping. Dapping is best done with a fairly long stiff rod and a reasonably heavy line. (Note, hard core dappers use poles from 12 to 15 feet in length with short lines attached.) This is because you need to quickly get a fish under control before they wrap around a weed or branch. Keep the line short and use a small weight so that the fly or plug hangs straight down from the tip. Dip the fly down dapping it just into the water and often just holding it above the water between the logs or lily pads.

You will undoubtedly lose a fair amount of tackle, but sitting there quietly and patiently just might land you some bragging size trout. Try dragging a small imitation frog from pad to pad, or try to match the insect life with your flies. Never be afraid to try something new or to try even the smallest bit of open water. I’ve seen trout near 50 centimetres in length in a tiny creek less than a half metre wide.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taylor Lake

Taylor Lake

It’s been a little while since I had been into Taylor Lake. We used to hunt the Barslow Canyon area and hike over to this lake to have our lunches, and usually caught a mess of nice brook trout even though there were just a few spots to fish from shore.

It can be accessed from the Twin Lakes Golf Course off Highway 3A, from Oliver via Willowbrook or from Penticton in past the Saint Andrews Golf Course. This was the route I had chosen today and was rewarded with the sighting of a cinnamon coloured black bear. Just past White Lake Observatory I met two ladies looking for fossils and spent an enjoyable 20 minutes talking to them. The road then passed the Oliver-Willow Brook Road and traversed the open sage bush country until reaching the Twin Lakes Road.

I zeroed the odometer here and took the left turn for 0.4 kilometres before taking another left onto the Grand Oro Road. The pavement extends most of the through the subdivision before becoming a narrow dirt road. Past the private land and at 5.9 kilometres I took the left hand fork. At 6.4 kilometres a road splits off to the left up to the old Grand Oro Mine site: most of the buildings have been demolished, but there are a few cabins on the other side and the road drops down to Willowbrook. This is a very rough road, however, and should be carefully travelled.

The lower right hand road gets quite rough and the vegetation is much denser, not really great if you are worried about keeping the finish of your vehicle scratch free. There are several old side roads that could easily be missed. The one at 7.9 kilometres circles back and joins up with the Grand Oro Mine Road. At 8.3 kilometres there is one off to the right that takes you out to some good deer and grouse hunting, and if you are lucky you might find the old tree stand.

The next one of note is at 9.8 kilometres. This little road leads up to an old historic cabin: one can only hope that it is preserved. Keeping to the left at 10.7 kilometres will take us to Taylor Lake, while the way straight ahead leads to some open areas overlooking the Fairview Road. This is a good area for mule deer and blue grouse.

The boat launching area is at 11 kilometres, and at 11.1 kilometres there is a nice turn around spot with a fire pit and picnic table. Parking here I took the fishing gear and checked out the lake. I had smelled smoke earlier, and sure enough there was a smouldering fire by the boat launch. Please, take that extra minute and douse your fires. The gusting winds can fan the embers into flames or send sparks for some distance.

Gone were the huge log and rafts that offered a few good spots to fish from the shore. I did manage a few casts, but this is definitely a lake for a canoe or belly boat now. I did see a few nice fish jump and talked to some fishermen on the way out who had landed a few good sized trout.

According to the Fish Wizard web site, the species present are brook trout and rainbow trout. Last year and this year it has been stocked with 500 yearling triploid rainbow trout of the Pennask Lake strain of rainbow trout.

Taylor lake is one of many high mountain lakes that were dammed ages ago without clearing the bush around the shoreline. This has left many dead snags and a weedy shoreline that makes fishing from the shore very difficult, if not impossible. I would recommend a small canoe, boat or belly boat at this lake