Friday, April 29, 2022

Farewell to Our Dear Friend, Bernie Peet

It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you the passing of our dear friend Bernie Peet at the age of 72 on Wednesday April 20th. Bernie lost his battle with COVID that was complicated by pneumonia! Bernie passed away back home in England. Bernie wanted to move back to be close to his family! He and his wife, Cathy, were just getting settled after relocating from Lacombe.

Bernie's close friend Stuart McKie shared the devastating news with us just a few days back! It brought tears to both Karen and I! We were on the road fly fishing in Washington State. 

Stuart had these thoughts about Bernie:

Bernie had a heart of gold. I first met him when I started working for Alberta Pork and was introduced to someone I thought was just another smarty-pants Englishman. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our friendship flourished as he mentored me through my fledgling career change, but particularly through our common love of fly-fishing and Scotch. Along with our wives, we spent some fantastic times, eating, drinking and most importantly, fishing. He was also responsible for introducing me to fly-tying. The Scottish in me was excited by the prospect of saving hundreds over bought flies.

Bernie was more of a big brother than just a friend and I will miss him and the many great trips we will not now have. Rest well, old pal! 

I have so many fond memories of Bernie and Cathy! Bernie was a regular at our fly tying club and we shared a boat many a time in the Parkland Region of Manitoba!

Bernie was a passionate fly fisher and fly tyer! Bernie wanted his fly rod, line, leader and hand made flies to be just perfect. I always admired his flies and they definitely had a "British" flavour to them. If you watched Bernie fly fish, he wanted to be methodical and that often resulted in his success.

I could always count on Bernie to conduct a fly tying workshop for our club each year! His presentations were outstanding, creative and always well thought out! I do remember the time Bernie forgot his tying vice for his presentation. He used my old Thompson vice, and he was aghast at its quality. It made for a humorous evening!

Bernie loved attending workshops presented by Phil Rowley. I am sure he did not miss any of the 11 workshops Phil did in Central Alberta! Phil was quite sad about the passing of Bernie. Phil and Bernie planned to go to a Liverpool soccer game together in the near future. 

Bernie became a legend in our group that regularly went to Manitoba to fly fish the Parkland Region. His story telling was hilarious. Many a yarn will live on with those of us who heard them. Bernie was involved in the pork industry. He travelled the world educating others about pork! I do remember Bernie volunteered to cook pork tenderloin on the barbecue for a group of us at Arrow Lake Lodge in Manitoba. He wanted that tenderloin to be perfect. His eyes narrowed when he found out the tenderloin was from Costco. The tenderloin was perfect but Bernie couldn't believe he just cooked up Costco pork!

Manitoba was also the place we named 12 feet of water, "Bernie Water!" You see, Bernie always loved to chironomid fly fish in 12 feet of water. To this day, many of us still use this figure of speech! If you hear someone say they were fishing in "Bernie Water," you know the chironomid is 12 feet down!

I can still picture Bernie tangling with a big tiger trout at Twin Lakes in Manitoba. Bernie was fly fishing with his favourite water boatmen fly. The tiger trout could not resist his offering and Bernie was having an excellent afternoon! I can still see that big smile and Bernie talking to himself about not messing this up!

Socializing with Bernie and Cathy was always fun! Bernie rarely missed Pub Night. I do remember one evening where I am sure Bernie tried every scotch on my dining room table. I laughed when he said, "I just need to put that scotch on my tongue."  Pretty sure Cathy drove him home that night!

It is very sobering to lose Bernie. He was definitely an original and so likeable. I know that so many of us will miss Bernie. I wish I could give him one last hug! I will definitely raise a glass of quality scotch in his memory. Not just any scotch will do!

You could always find Bernie and his close friend, Stuart, in a boat together!


Coastal Cutthroat Trout-Mission Accomplished

Karen and I just got back from the Tumwater/Tacoma area where we continued our mission to catch all 12 subspecies of cutthroat trout. Karen and I travelled to Spokane to pickup our friend Leon and then carry on to the Olympia Peninsula. It was definitely a long drive but we knew that it had to be done to carry on with our quest. After getting set up in rainy Tumwater we hit several beaches to try to catch coastal cutthroat. We had to focus on public beaches. 

Our friend Steve Anderson's son, Austin, is a biologist in the area and he helped set up our fly fishing! We also met up with Greg Shimek, Executive Director of the Cutthroat Coalition of Washington State. Greg was an excellent source of information about coastal cutthroat! He has been working on the science of the coastal cutthroat trout for many years! We all were able to connect with some coastal cutts. It was an excellent day. We all learned a great deal about the behaviour of the cutthroat. 

Fortunately the coastal cutthroat population is protected and seems to be doing very well. I was surprised at the following of fly fishers in the area that love to pursue coastal cutthroat! Of course we had to pay attention to the tides. We tried to fly fish on the outgoing tide. I am sure an incoming tide would have been productive too!

We mostly used a fly called a Chum Baby! It imitates a chum fry which start to head to the ocean from the spawning creeks early in April! It was all cast and retrieve with intermediate lines!

We owe a great deal of thanks to Austin Anderson and Greg Shimek! They helped point us in the right direction and they both took time off to fly fish with us. It was also so nice to spend three days with Austin's dad, Steve. We have spent many a day fly fishing together. 

Austin with a coastal cutthroat!

Tides change close to 15-17 feet twice a day in the area!

Greg Shimek

Steve with one of the larger coastal cutthroat that we caught!



Friday, April 15, 2022

Snorkelling With the Sharks on April Fools Day

We always devote at least a day to snorkelling along the reef at Hol Chan Marine Park and Shark-Ray Alley. This year bad weather delayed our day of snorkelling to the very last day. West Coast Tour guide, Kevin, picked us up at 7:30 am. We headed off to Hol Chan Marine Park before the tour boats arrived with lots of snorkelling tourists. We enjoyed the marine park for 90 minutes before another boat full of guests came. Seeing turtles, so many species of fish, lots of colourful coral along with rays and sharks makes the experience quite exhilarating. Our morning snorkelling lasted close to 3 hours. We stopped to look at dolphins on the way out as well. We were lucky to have a good tide for snorkelling and absolutely no crowds. When we left Shark-Ray Alley, they were 15 boats at the marine park. We smiled after having our very own private tour with an excellent guide early enough to not have to tangle with the crowds. It is always a great time. Karen and I have been to the marine park 6 times. We will always devote some time for this experience. It is no April Fools joke.