Gray Whales – A Magnificent Journey

Gray Whales – A Magnificent Journey

The Tla-o-qui-aht word for whale is Ihtuup. “Ih” means “really big” and “tuup” means “animal” or “creature”. Very soon we will be welcoming back a “REALLY BIG CREATURE”, our migrating Gray Whales! After wintering in the warm water lagoons of Baja California, Mexico, 18 to 24,000 whales will pass our BC shores towards the summer feeding grounds of the Bering, Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas. This 15-20,000 km round-trip migration is one of the longest known mammalian migrations.

Here in Tofino, we are fortunate to enjoy them within 5-km of shore and in shallow waters. Not all whales complete the migration north and instead spend their summer feeding in our local waters. These are what we fondly refer to as our “summer residents”. Gray Whales mostly feed in shallow areas using their baleen to strain out small invertebrates from the soft muddy bottom. Gray Whales can also be seen during summer months feeding on herring eggs and larvae found in eel grass beds.

Tofino Fishing Report – February 2017

Tofino Fishing Report – February 2017

Most of Canada begrudgingly feeds their wood stoves, scrapes their windshields free of ice, and chews Robaxacet for breakfast after long mornings of shovelling snow in February.  I pity my fellow countrymen for having to endure such an inhospitable existence at this time of year.  The promise of fishing in most places across our northern homeland in the dead of winter means slogging through knee-deep snow drifts and chiseling the door open on an ice fishing shack to auger through seven inches of snow and ice.  Brrrrrrr…you can have it I say.  

Here in Tofino we’re pretty fortunate (some would say lucky) to have more milder winter temperatures to enjoy.  It might be wet and windy, but it’s a rare day indeed when I can’t pull on my rain gear and head out to enjoy one of the many winter fisheries that we have available within striking distance of town.  

Most visitors are surprised when I tell them that our saltwater salmon fishing is fantastic during February.  One look offshore from one of our many beaches towards tumultuous, white-capped seas often raises an eyebrow or two, but once I tell them that all of our winter salmon fishing happens in calm, protected inshore waters free from open ocean swells their faces usually brighten....

 

Orca Communities in a Fragile Environment

Orca Communities in a Fragile Environment

Orca communities form different species or ecotypes, each with unique acoustic behaviors, feeding habits and prey preferences. Occasionally, the range of these different orca overlaps but they never interbreed and they rarely interact. Orca are top predators and unfortunately they accumulate pollutants that are transferred through the food web which become stored in their blubber and can be passed along to nursing young.

In the northern hemisphere we have three ecotypes: Offshores, Transient Orca, and Resident Orca.

Tofino Fishing Report - December 2016

Tofino Fishing Report - December 2016

I carefully lift my left foot from it’s secure position and allow the nagging current of the river to carry it further downstream. The felt sole of my wading boot bounces along the tops of the boulders at the bottom of the unseen depths, blindly searching for the next foothold. Once firmly in place, the right leg follows same and I reestablish my balance within the rivers rhythm.

With my left hand I strip the running line in, coiling it in my fingers, and sweep the rod through a practiced, calculated motion. On the forward cast the rod arcs and the wonderful physics of inertia send a long and accurate line across the river. I enjoy the simple beauty of this effort, admiring how the bright, colourful line forms a loop and carries the fly to land in a likely spot within the braided currents where fish are known to hold. The fly settles, sinks, and begins it’s swing across the river, probing unchecked depths for the promise of another fish.

While I wait patiently for a bite to come the rhythms of this wild place envelope me. The river is an instrument of boundless composition. When coupled with the sounds of the forest, it’s creatures, and the weather that moves above a great symphony of wilderness provides an invigorating soundtrack for much needed meditation.