HOT off the press!
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.
Since I took up painting, it has been one of the most fun and most challenging pursuits of my art career thus far. The learning curve isn’t quite as steep as I anticipated, mostly because my brain knows how I want something to look, but there’s definitely patience required when learning a new medium. With pencil, I know exactly how to make something look the way I want it. Pencil pressure, smudging techniques, erasers…I have put in thousands of hours with a pencil in my hand. But with brushes and paint, it’s a whole new game altogether! It takes me longer than usual to get things to look the way I want, but I’m getting there.
This was a really fun piece and the finished product is one of my absolute faves! The one huge benefit of paint, is the colours just glow. I incorporate a lot of translucent glaze layers with several thin layers of colour to give incredible depth and vibrancy, something I couldn’t even think to achieve with pencil. These techniques give the piece a 3D look and also change throughout the day and depending on the lighting projected on the piece. This piece is no exception and in proper light, it grabs you and draws you in.
Before I started painting I didn’t see the allure to why people would pay thousands of dollars for an original painting. But now I understand. It’s not just about the painting itself, it’s about the hours the artist invested in front of that piece. The brush strokes, the mistakes, it’s the whole process. And of course, a print doesn’t do the original piece justice at all. You don’t get the colour depth, vibrancy, or any of the effects that paint offers. Prints can be quite flat in comparison. So now I understand why and I’m so happy with how this piece turned out!
This piece was for a friend of mine, Alfred Pryce, who commissioned me to do his favourite fish in his favourite scene. A Pennask Rainbow hovering over a Chara bed, with chironomids emerging around it. For stillwater anglers, this is their Holy Grail and why so many anglers flock to British Columbia’s stillwater lakes. I was able to also add in Alfred’s favourite fly, the Pumpkinhead Leech, which is one of John Kent’s masterfully devised patterns.
Thank you Alfred!