HOT off the press!
I’ve been fortunate to have witnessed some truly incredible moments while guiding and fishing for walleye throughout my life. Some of the most memorable events are when the wind is blowing, creating wind-induced currents. Fish were stacked up along windswept shorelines and points, capitalizing on baitfish getting tossed around in the waves, making for easy pickings. They also aren’t shy from airborne predators because of the surface agitation, giving them cover from aerial attacks, and will be feeding in very shallow water. This is the inspiration behind this piece, to try to encapsulate the action onto canvas.
Planning out this piece was a fun process, creating balance with the wave action and the sand bottom, complimented by a pair of hunting walleye and a school of baitfish getting tossed about. I wanted to make the piece vibrant with contrasting blue water elements, sand bottom and the gold of the walleye.
For those who might not know, Bull Trout are hands down, my favourite fish. I have a ton of respect for them and they’re one of the few species of trout that only lives in the wild. Meaning, you can’t stock them in a lake like Brook Trout or Rainbow Trout. For such a big, robust, apex predator, they’re actually very picky and susceptible. They can’t handle warm temperatures above 15 degrees celsius and they require gin clear, freestone streams in order to reproduce.
The reason why Bull Trout populations are in decline is because their spawning creeks are very sensitive waters and any sediment can suffocate the eggs. So deforestation, road building, etc, all contribute to erosion and can potentially harm Bull Trout reproduction.
One of my all-time goals was to video Bull Trout underwater and observe them when they are all dolled up for the fall spawn. Yesterday I ventured way up a small creek that I had suspicions of being a spawning creek. The whole time I was slogging up I was thinking whether or not I’d actually see anything!? It’s a long and very rugged hike and sure enough, when I got up above a massive log jam, there they were.
There weren’t many spawning pairs up there. I think I counted 8 fish in total that I could see and I counted about 6 redds. The fish might be able to push up further than I could as there was another log jam at a bottleneck in the canyon. The majority of the water is very low, riffle type habitat, with pools and current breaks offering refuge. The redds I observed were almost always in or adjacent to a pool and consisted of gravel that was cleaned very thoroughly.
In the furthest pool that I could explore I spotted the largest bull trout I’ve ever seen and was fortunate to video him holding along one of the undercut banks. I didn’t bring a fly rod because I knew if I did stumble upon Bull Trout, they’d be up there spawning.
Hopefully I can run into this fish again once he’s finished spawning and drops back to munch on spawned out Kokanee Salmon.