We spent a partially sunny but cold eve of Remembrance Day Sunday afternoon pond fishing for rainbow trout at the Silverbrook U-Catch Trout Farm in Abbotsford. Because it is a private business, you don’t have to worry about getting fishing licenses, bait, fishing rods or fish limitations. And, you only pay for what you catch. This was our fifth visit in two years, but it was the first time that we chose a November outing.
Now you might think that catching fish, particularly in these ponds (which, although quite deep, are also enclosed), is easy. There’s no open water to worry about losing a potential catch to. To borrow a metaphor, it should be just like shooting fish in a barrel, right?
But in late fall, the metabolic rates of the larger and older rainbow trout in the lower pond drop, contributing to their sluggishness. Although numerous castings were made above and around their easily discernable, dark, and torpedo-shaped forms, they taunted us by swimming nonchalantly just below the level of the water, and ignoring the lures and baits hurled at their heads. Whether we reeled in quickly or slowly made no difference; they were clearly not interested in expending energy chasing possible sources of food, even if it landed in their mouths.
That is, with the rare exception of the 18.5-inch, 3 lb 10 oz female brimming with roe—-the biggest catch of the day, according to the proprietor–which I hauled in after 45 minutes of trying. Ironically, it was while I was looking at another fellow fisher reeling in his catch that I absently cast out my line, and, less than a foot from the edge of the pond, got the desired tug on the line. For such a big fish, it put up extremely little struggle once hooked.
Welcome diversions from the frustration of hooking any fish, never mind the big one, included the showstealing resident bunnies: two hutched (one cream with a brushed beige tint, the other white with black spots) convicts (who must have a cat in their distant ancestry for their endless curiosity about strangers), and one (solid black) escapee who came back to say hi to the fuzzy jailbirds and gave me a kind of disdainful acceptance.
Not so welcome diversions were the three semi-feral (farm) cats who paused all too frequently to look in each bucket to see if there were fish worth stealing and eating. At least with my catch, my fiancé assured me that it was already bigger than the cats and thus would not be portable enough for them to cart away. However, that didn’t stop one of them from licking the fish net that firmly covered my bucket (thank goodness cats don’t have opposable thumbs).
The upper pond, with up to as many as 15,000 smaller and younger rainbow trout, actually afforded much better opportunities. They still possessed enough friskiness and naiveté to chase after everything that caused a disturbance in the water. If we wanted giant schools of fish to home in on our lures in a heartbeat, all we had to do was cast in the upper pond. We would get bites on the line before we could can even blink.
After experimenting unsuccessfully with different lures, my fiancé surrendered to the easy temptation of the upper pond. He finally came away with three fish of his own from that consolation pond. Then he returning to the lower pond to see if he could get one from there. No luck!
Between the two of us, we caught a total of 7 fish. The proprietor then offered us a bag of four (three medium and one larger) more beauties at no extra charge! This wasn’t the first time that someone had caught and paid for fish, but left them there because they didn’t want to take them home, clean them and eat them! (In fact, this was the second time we enjoyed free fish!) So we ended up taking home 11 fish (12 lbs) for $50. Not a bad haul for the day. Even if I was starving and dehydrated for almost four hours, and it took another three hours to regain the warmth in my fingers and toes.