Location Guides Trout & Char

Boulder Creek Scrambling

Article by Rory E. Glennie

I’ll say, right from the outset, do not start looking for Boulder Creek on any map of Vancouver Island. The name of this creek is fictitious, to protect the innocent and confuse the hoards.

Boulder Creek is an apt description of the physicality of this stream; it’s rugged, hard-rock scrambling for the most part. Pair that with sections where time seems to have chosen a fast track toward stream recovery, after suffering industrial strength clear-cutting of old growth forests in most watersheds.

Boulder Creek Spilling Out of the Forest.jpg

Subsequent to being laid bare and exposed to harsh solar glare for a few seasons, second-growth conifers are once again covering the hillsides. Alders, Maples, Willows, Red Ozier Dogwood and Black Cottonwoods crowd each other along some stretches of stream. There, amazingly, native-born trout still exist and hold their own in tiny crystalline pools, shadowy runs and woody debris guarded potholes.

Quite a few of these creeks have year ‘round snowpack in their headwaters and remain refreshingly cool during the hot summer months. With one named glacier and several permanent snowfields dotted along the spine of mountains known as the Vancouver Island Ranges, Boulder Creek may well represent a multiplicity of mountain streams here on the Island which have endured the onslaught of commercial deforestation in the early part of the 20th. century.

Foot Bridge Over Lower Boulder Creek

Trout that live in Boulder Creek are tough little buggers, survivors. In keeping with decidedly nutrient poor water quality and limited food supply, these trout are not large in size; but are huge in heart and firm of body.

They are free risers to just about anything resembling something edible which happens to float past. A surface fly will bring a quick, splashy response; sometimes, even, a fish will be hooked. Where appropriate, tickling the currents with a downstream flick and dangle technique works. Other times, simply dapping the fly onto potholes between cross-stream logs will bring the desired response.

Native Boulder Creek Trout Safely in the Net

This type of fishing could easily exemplify the “one fly only” is needed mantra; as a quick cast onto likely water will bring a response, or it won’t. Pounding the water with repeated casts is futile and unnecessary. Relocate to the next potential bit of holding water and cast to a fish unaccustomed to your trickery. Move with stealth and purpose but do move. One will cover a lot of countryside in a day of tenkara angling on these mountain tarns. Remember to stay hydrated.

Boulder Falls During Springtime Runoff.jpg

A tenkara rod is the perfect tool to utilize in these varying locations. The fixed line is all that is needed to keep attached to a fish here. There is nowhere for them to take off in a line peeling run, even if they were of a size capable of doing that. They duke it out in close-quarters combat.

The inherent softness of a long tenkara rod aids in subduing the wildness of these trout and helps keep the shock of the take from breaking a fine tippet. Often these fish can be quickly lifted into the landing net right after the take is witnessed and first dive back down is over. Then again, in some debris laden holes, getting one’s line snagged on a jagger of wood can lead to a fish prematurely coming off the hook.

Protective Maze of Fallen Logs Over Boulder Creek.jpg

Them’s the breaks… the angler cannot win the contest every time.


Rory E. Glennie, a resident of Vancouver Island, British Columbia has been fly fishing the mountain streams for wild, native-born trout since 1970. The only Canadian member of Tenkara USA Guide Network. Staff writer for Island Fisherman Magazine since 2009.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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