Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category



buck lake ice holeThree years. It’s only been three years that I’ve actually enjoyed ice fishing, all starting with this trip, and the discovery of ice fishing shelters. When you’re not cold, and even more importantly can see the fish down the hole, ice fishing’s vastly more fun. Two years ago, something of a tradition started with our friends at Nature’s Green Acres hosting a weekend in January at Buck Lake, Alberta. Like wine, ice fishing is still enjoyable alone, but far more enjoyable with friends. We were able to land some pike for dinner, a memorable moment being the raw milt from pike dipped in soy. One more piece of off-cut that now is in regular use in the kitchen. Took a big bowl of the stuff done right in Japan while shooting Springhammer to open my eyes. I know people will ask ‘but how do you prepare it?!?‘: you take it out of the fish [white stuff where a roe sac would be on a female], pull off a piece, and pop it in the mouth. The dip in soy does give the creamy fattiness some needed salt. The finish is fantastic.

This break with friends seemed like a good time to produce a short about being on the ice – wanted to release something free other than an episode trailer as I hadn’t for ages.

Sockeye: hook, line, and sinker.


Sockeye UnderwaterLet this be evidence that I have one of the coolest jobs ever. I’m currently shooting a project for Slow Food Canada, capturing what ‘Slow Food’ means in Canada. In so doing, I’m driving and flying across the country doing and seeing some amazing stuff. Like this. The sockeye fishery in the Okanagan was in peril a relatively short time ago, and a variety of groups including many first nations groups got together, decided it was time to do something, and got about doing it. They started a myriad of projects that would give the sockeye a chance – everything from reintroducing fry to ‘ladders’ at dams along the Columbia river. It’s turned into an amazing success story of humans acknowledging some of our wrongdoing in food and making it right. It gives me hope for our species and those that we impact as we go about our lives.

I spent a glorious morning this week in a boat trolling for sockeye on Osoyoos lake. We caught 7 in an hour, and was certainly one of the most memorable salmon fishing trips I’ve been on. Salmon is squarely in my top 3 meat favourites, so I acknowledge my bias, but the Okanagan – which had me at the ridiculous abundance of fruits, vegetables, physical beauty, and increasingly good quality wine – has got me hook, line, and sinker now that salmon is part of the equation. Already planning the trip back in 2015, and so much more to say about this, but will leave it to the coming video.

Trout yes, Pike no


Talbot Lake, Jasper National ParkThis summer, I was invited to a friend’s friend’s place. This friend of a friend was holding an event called ‘Troutapalooza‘, and last I checked, this guy doesn’t turn down offers like that. He had an amply stocked trout pond and I had my first lessons in fly fishing that night – super fun. Landing a large rainbow for my dinner didn’t take long, and while looking for the fish bonker to dispatch the fish, my new fishing teacher held the fish firmly and whacked it with his knuckles, killing the fish swiftly. I was impressed. I so had to try that. So I did that night, killing a few fish with my bare hands, wondering why I’d ever done anything different. So effective, so easy, so low tech.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m at Talbot Lake in Jasper National Park with my family, not being able to stay away after shooting S1E4 of FTW there. I catch a pike in short order, and use my new-found manly, rugged fish-bonking technology of my knuckles. All went well, except that I was shortly thereafter in slight shock, looking for the first aid kit in my vehicle to get the bleeding stopped in my knuckles. The cuts were small, but deep, beyond the capabilities of a band-aid and more in gauze and tape territory. Once seated, bandaged, and assessing what the heck I did wrong, I looked at the fish, with its obvious bony skill protrusions that had easily spit me open. Easy takeaway: when it comes to knuckle fish kills, trout yes, pike no.

Jasper Lake, Jasper National Park




Medicine Lake, JasperOne bucket list item down. I’ve been wanting to do a trout fishing trip, in a canoe, in Jasper National Park…for years. When planning the From The Wild production schedule for the year, this trip’s inclusion was therefore a must. And it didn’t disappoint. Four lakes in three days, with Jeff Senger and Brayden Kozak from Three Boars. Brayden had never caught a fish, and we were resolved to change that. The scenery was epic, we laughed til it hurt, baked in 34C July heat, ate well, chilled our beer in a screaming cold mountain stream, and had some epic experiences that none of us will ever forget. This episode is the first to have footage from my Phantom DJI quadcopter – which explains the aerials around Pyramid and Medicine lakes. It also inflicted the most damage to gear with camera and quadcopter taking a plunge in Pyramid Lake, and a near tip of the canoe with my 5D3 into Talbot – worst prior was getting the 5D3 & post lens covered in muddy water as we raced down a cutline making distance between us and a black bear in Episode 3. If you haven’t watched that mess yet, you really should. Good times.




Northern Pike, Saskatchewan

“the level of excitement when you catch a fish, that could only be measured against the incredible periods of boredom, and the immense amount of struggling – you’re battling the elements, and you’re suffering. Only through that suffering can you know the joy of when you actually get a fish up on the ice” – Jeff Senger, From The Wild, S1E1

What he said. Shooting at Spray lakes was epic and unforgettable despite the slow action, and thanks to a standing offer from my dad to go visit him at his place in Saskatchewan, episode two was equally memorable for different reasons – one being we caught piles of fish. The province of Saskatchewan has a vastly higher lake-to-fisherman ratio than Alberta, which means there’s more fish, and fewer folks after them. We headed off every morning on sleds through the bush to get to the larger nearby lake that regularly produces 20lb+ pike and donky-whopper perch [a term I'm stealing from Jeff, and that autocorrect wants to call 'dinky whopper']. I landed the biggest pike of my life to date hand bombing braided line in bare hands off a tip up. We pigged out on fresh fish and roe, and took photos of fish like it was 1972.


Ice Fishing – First of the Season


Lac Ste Anne - Ice FishingIt strikes me as rather convenient that after a couple months of pork, game, and beef, nature’s thoughtful next step in seasonal food offering is some fresh fish. I’ll take it. Was out at Lac Ste Anne this time around as it was a convenient location for meeting Jeff Senger for a 8 hr business meeting. Between he and I we have 6 girls and 1 boy, so meetings at our homes is rather…inefficient. Ice fishing meeting. We’ve decided that these are a very good idea.

Action was seriously slow. Saw a couple pike, a couple pickerel, and a variety of sizes of whitefish – including some bigger than I’d ever seen, maybe 5-6lbs. Nothing landed on the ice. Such is hunting and fishing. Next time. Still a successful ice fishing meeting. Me sitting here writing to tell about it confirms that the ice is indeed thick enough to get out there, and we were far from the first. I would, however, be mindful of where the inlets and outlets are, as the ice tends to be considerably thinner there. There was some discussion about phobia of slow death in murky water. Who knew ice fishing was so hardcore? It is in a lot of ways. Go upon a big huge sheet of ice, drill a hole in it, risk your life a touch, and be willing to sit in seriously sub-zero for hour upon hour to MAYBE catch a fish. It’s kinda zen. I highly recommend it.

I’m looking forward to taking some folks out for Shovel & Fork’s Ice Fishing 101. Doing an interview tomorrow evening for CKUA about that one, actually.

Lac Ste Anne - Ice Fishing

Sonora Island 2012 Recap


I did something to deserve good luck in a former life. Or something. To deserve having really darn cool cousins that happen to be rad wild food lovers in one of the most beautiful places on the planet – and to be great friends with them to boot. It’d been 5 years since our last visit, and I was overdue for a seafood-fest. This visit really was a stark reminder of how seriously localized our food is – I think I’ve had crab once in those 5 years, for a good friend’s birthday. I think it had been the full 5 years since a spot prawn, oyster, or rock cod.

Our time there consisted as follows: Coffee. Drop prawn traps in the morning. Eat breakfast and figure out what the tides were doing. Fish for salmon on the flood tide, cod on the beginning of the ebb. Pull prawn traps, drop prawn traps. Eat. Visit. Sleep. Repeat. Mix it up here and there with some crab trap action, oyster collecting, foraging for huckleberries, and rowing. Loveliness. Hauling up lunker cod from the bottom is always fun, as is the anticipation of seeing what prawn pots will yield, but after a long winter of ice fishing, casting into schools of hundreds of pink salmon that you could see swim around you was a definite highlight.

It took me a lot of travel to realize that this spot on the planet is special for its epic natural beauty and wild food bounty. I’m glad I now get it, and appreciate it. I grew up adoring this place and these people, and still do. Not sure what else there is to say.

Episode 34: Caviar?


It is ice. And it is a hole.

One day, a biologist will explain to me why it is that when ice fishing, the vast majority of your catch are females, or ‘hens’. As an example, the last day I had a bunch of perch in my kitchen sink, 9 out of 9 were female. So what, you ask? Well what this means to me is that I have a surplus of roe. I’ve been cooking it, mostly, then realized that perhaps I am missing the boat on converting it into something unique and special: caviar. As I’ve since learned, caviar is simply brined fish eggs. That’s pretty simple. Most recipes online [Hank's got a nice post about caviar] were from trout or salmon roe. Perhaps freshwater fish roe would suck? Nope. I’ve had Golden Caviar [Whitefish caviar]. You can buy it commercially. I had to try it.

Turns out one of my favorite ice fishing spots is a mile or two away from Doef’s Greenhouses [Ep. 33]. I shot these two episodes in the same morning. A morning I will not soon forget, as I learned that hauling all my fishing camp gear and all of my camera gear for a km or two in deep snow is not a very good idea.

So I made up a 5% brine, threw it into my ice fishing bucket, and set out to give it a go.  I’d read that you should do it with super-fresh eggs. I can attest to the fact that they do deteriorate rapidly under refrigeration. Subsequent concept: go catch a fish with a DSLR on record, then kill and de-roe the fish right then and there on the ice. Can’t get much fresher than that. If you want to give this a go, you might want to read up on freezing freshwater fish prior to eating a raw preparation, so you can manage any bug-risks yourself. I’ve done my homework. So how was it? Watch the video.

Episode 26: Smoke & Ice


I grew up hunting and gardening, abandoned them both as a young adult, then fell in love with both again later in life. Apparently, same goes for ice fishing. I have semi-fond memories of exhausty ski-doo-trailer rides on to the lake, sitting on a pail getting blasted by the elements, eye lashes freezing together, not catching much of anything, getting cold, and hearing stories about how at one time you caught way more and way bigger fish. When you’re a kid, those kind of stories are far from any form of consolation.

A friend of mine [who I met when shooting another video, coincidentally] invited me out ice fishing with him and a co-worker of his, and I just couldn’t say no. It’s January. In my usually busy food world, action had slowed. Gardening season was over. Hunting season was over. But ice fishing is just getting started. And I had a blast, despite it being a particularly slow day. Ice fishing is immeasurably more enjoyable when you’re protected from the elements in a shack, and more importantly, can see down the hole to watch the fish swim about. Add to that some camaraderie and wild-food action – I now get why folks enjoy it. I’m hooked. I want to go again.

Music courtesy of The AwesomeHots

Sonora – homeward


A little behind on my posts, I know. Yesterday morning Henry took us out salmon fishing. The day before, a 41 lb salmon, and a 56 lb salmon both came out of the same spot. When fishing is slow, this is a major deal. The big one was the biggest in the area since 1963. The highlight of the outing was getting our first chance to see orcas up close in the wild. A very memorable thing indeed. But no such luck for us on the salmon front, so we zipped across the channel and pulled up a bunch of rock cod to take home.
We then enjoyed a nice cockle chowder with a half crab for lunch, and proceeded to pack up to head back to Vancouver Island to catch our flight. Before heading to the flight, Hen and Gerry made up some excellent Hali-burgers. Halibut, mayo, garden lettuce, and sweet onion on a bun. Best Halibut I’ve had. The flight was fine, other than them not allowing me to take blackberry syrup, and some seafood stocks Gerry had given me – can’t have ‘liquids’ on the plane. You win some, you lose some.
But then things got shitty. We landed in Edmonton, and the airport was on ‘Red Alert’. There was such severe lightning striking the airport that they shut down all ground crews. So we sat in our plane, at midnight, for more than an hour, waiting to be able to get off the damn thing and go home. So we weren’t in bed until 2am. Which is bad news for this perm-cold I’ve had for the past month. I think I’d kick it if I got some decent sleep. Decent sleep. Yeah. Not likely gonna happen anytime soon. But I’ll try.
Overall, our trip was fantastic. We chilled. Visited. Drank all 9 bottles of wine I brought. Caught a whack of fish. Smoked some food. Dug up some wild chives. Drank some beer. Did some writing and recording. Ate crab, prawns, salmon, rock cod, ling cod, halibut – how can you go wrong? We hadn’t counted on bringing home fish, so our packed freezer is an excellent souvenir and added bonus.