Sunday, 10 December 2017

Cecil Unwin 2

[See post immediately beneath this post, for the other information on Cecil Unwin]

Text from Ron Meuse: Cecil, born 1883, came to Canada with 3 sisters in 1912, building a house in Oak Bay, leaving his brother and other sisters behind in London. He enlisted as a Private in the 88th Battalion, Victoria Fusiliers and fought in Ypres, Somme then was wounded while retreating from Vimy Ridge, 12 April 1917 with the 28th Battalion.

For two years, he wrote home to his sisters here and I have about 30 original letters of his describing his experiences. Seven of these letters have a passing reference to fishing or his boat. Attached is a transcription one describing what he went through during his convalescence, just over 100 years ago.

Also included, is a photo of his name plate. I thought it might be from his house or mail box, but it has been suggested it might be the name plate for his later boat. Also, some photos of his sisters in small boats, possibly in Cowichan Bay or off Oak Bay circa 1920.

DCR: here is a bit from one of the letters (you will notice the period way of speaking) that mentions the pain Unwin was in in the hospital, and how he tried to keep from succumbing to it by imagining fishing. He was only partly successful: 

“Now I became something of an expert on pain at the Ettappes(sic) & really one can do a lot with it with careful management. I remember one night when as it got bad I made myself think of salmon fishing & caught enormous imaginary fish till at last the pain got too strong & broke through. Then I got outside my body & considered the pain from an outside point of view counting the waves of pain as they came up & trying to think that the seventh wave was always the biggest. After a time, a wave swamped me & I fetched up in a litter in the middle of a village in the Himalayas. I had a very interesting talk with the inhabitants about goats & kept thinking how I must remember what they said to tell you, but I ought to have written it down for next day I could not remember a word. It was rather like Una & Dams experience. The only thing that troubled me was that although I tried desperately I could not get out of the litter. Next morning the night sister told me that I had yelled and bawled all night and tried to throw myself out of bed & really I had spent a very pleasant evening!”

And now, some images. The first two are Unwin’s sisters, circa 1920, and likely off Oak Bay.:

Now a couple of photos of Unwin himself with fish and trophy, as well as the silver VSIAA button he won for his 33 pounder in 1938:

Of historical interest though not about fishing Cecil Harrow Unwin's historical record:

Born in England, Nov. 1883, lived in Hern Hill, London
Arrived in Victoria with sisters Mabel, Effie and Hilda in 1913. Sisters Lizzie, Ada and brother Edward stayed behind in London
Built house in Oak Bay, 2178 Beaver St. (now Beaverbrook), just off Hampshire
Raised goats and chickens with sisters. Many Ads for eggs in early Colonist papers
Enlisted with the 88th Victoria Fusiliers Private #180685
Left on the SS Princess Charlotte with the 88th.  May 23, 1916
Then by train to Halifax then to England onboard SS Olympic with 5 other battalions in June, 1916
Wrote home to Oak Bay over the next two years, about 30 letters were among his belongings as found
Trained in Otterpool camp then East Sanding camp and Lydd, England
Assigned to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion, then 28th Northwest Battalion, (The 6th Brigade, 27th, 28th, Tobins Tigers 29th and 31st earned the named “The Iron Six” for the St. Eloi and Ypres engagements)
Went to Ypres and did the “Big Push” at the Somme
Witnessed the first use of tanks in Courecette, September 1916 and Aeroplanes in use over the trenches, the time flying ace William Barker was at same battle
Captured Vimy Ridge, April 9th 1917, up to the ‘Blue Line’ through town of Thelus
Got wounded while retreating from Vimy near Neuville St. Vaast on April 12th
Evacuated to Etaples hospital, survived due to the new Carrel-Daken treatment for wounds
Spent 9 months in various Canadian hospitals in England: Cambridge, Bearwood and Kinkaid
Married Clara Lawson before returning to Victoria, wedding announcement in same Colonist edition as the Halifax Explosion
Arriving home 18th Jan 1918
After the war, became a Postal Clerk, Clara raised goats and ran Oak Bay Dry Goods store
Later retired to Cowichan and loved salmon fishing, won several trophies
Passed away July 1948 in Duncan.
Local names mentioned in the letters:
Major E.A.I. Pym,Major Harrison, Lt.Co. Rous Cullen, 88th
Lt. Lukin (Rufus) Johnstone, (Cowichan and Colonist journalist), Lt. H. Pocock, Capt. Twigg, and Micky the 88th mascot
William Blakemore, editor ‘The Week’
Mr. Moore, Pte. H.I.B.Browne (180589 KIA Sept 1916, buried at Vimy Memorial), Dave Gay, Teddy Payne, Dave Gay of Victoria
Joe Rennie of Hampshire St, Oak Bay, Sister married C.H.Hinkens of Oak Bay
Richard Bledsoe(180734) of Port Alberni, Mr. Darcy of Pender Island
Inspected by Sam Hughes in Aug 1916, Robert Borden in March 1917
Sisters met the Duke, Duchess, and Princess Patricia in Victoria, summer 1916, He previously met the Duke in Ottawa

Saanich Inlet Angling History: Cecil H. Unwin

Ron Meuse sent me the following images, and asked any reader who knows details about Unwin to get in touch with him (send me an email and I will forward it to Ron).

The four photos below are from the VSIAA’s 1939 Yearbook. The images have good resolution and you can zoom into them for details. The first, blue one, is the cover, 1939 being a royal visit year, in May.

The image below the text shows a venerable Clendon spoon from the era, aka the Wonder Spoon. The right side of the page is Unwin with a big chinook, along with the trophy he won. It is inscribed: International Champion, Winner of “The Joker” Cup. As we all know, fishing is a high-class sport, and Cecil sports a suit with his arm around a plus 30-pound spring. You will note the fight was so ferocious he had to take his tie off after the fight to cool off, or so I say.


 The image below on the left shows a classic wood-hulled fishing boat and is part of an ad for Creed’s Landing (Between Angler’s Anchorage and Gilbert’s on Brentwood Bay). The right side of the page has the buttons to be won for catching a chinook of prescribed weight: bronze for a 20 to 30-pound fish; silver for 30- to 40-pounds; gold for plus 40 pounds; and, a gold championship award for the biggest fish of the year, with a diamond in the medal.

Note that among the rules: “the winning of a button makes the holder a member of the Chinook Club for life (see Chinook Club rules).”

The right-hand image is a list of button-qualifying chinook and their captors for April to August 1938. Note the names that anyone who lives in the Victoria area will recognize as street names, and of local lore. The yellow slip beside the list notes Unwin’s 33-pound chinook taken on August 28.


Please excuse that the images and text got scrambled in making this post to the blog.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Krippled Fishing Products and Saanich Inlet Fishing History

After last week’s post on flashers used in winter chinook fishing, I got in touch with Butch McPherson regarding his Krippled Fishing Products, one of the originals on our coast, and part of Saanich Inlet Fishing History. 

The following post may be found at:

Krippled Fishing Lures has been in business for over 40 years, first established by long time fishing buddies Jim Gilbert and his partner Jack Robertson in 1962. However, Jim’s involvement in the fishing industry goes back even further than that. His father used to rent rowboats to salmon anglers in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island in the 20s, and subsequently raised Jim in a boathouse. 

Growing up in such close proximity to some of the best fishing in the world it’s not surprising that Jim would come to be a salmon-fishing guide by the age of 13.

With 30 years experience guiding salmon fishing excursions Jim earned a reputation as one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed fishing guides. He reached a career record of 332 consecutive guiding trips without a "skunk" in the early 1970s and has guided celebrities such as Canadian Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson as well as U.S. President George Bush. Jim possessed a degree in fisheries biology as well as being a noted author, lecturer and accomplished artist. 

In 1962 Jim and Jack went into the lure business, with Jim's fishing knowledge and Jack's contacts in the Orient, through being a 2nd officer for Canadian Pacific Airlines, they started out with their first lure, the Krippled Minnow, which sold 6,000 in its first year. In 1964 Jim worked with manipulating a McKnight spoon, and found that by making the ring holes bigger, the spoon a little wider and using lighter metals he could make the spoon quicker and more erratic. This came to be known as the Krippled "K"Spoon, probably the most productive Krippled lure to date, also in 1964 the Slasher Flasher was introduced, a fish shaped, stainless steel, dodger style blade, designed to attract salmon and make lures more erratic. 

After Jack's tragic death in 1965, Jim continued on, forming Jim Gilbert Ent., which encompassed the lure business, Jim's artwork, books and lecturing. In 1967 the Krippled Herring Dodger was introduced, a narrow, stainless steel dodger, which came in three different lengths, this was followed by the Jim Gilbert Dodger, a wider, stainless steel dodger, which came in five different lengths. In 1970 Jim introduced the Krippled Herring, and later manipulated this lure to accommodate a larger bait. In 1970 Jim sold the boathouse (Gilbert's marina) but continued to guide for another two years. 

In 1979 the Krippled Anchovy was introduced as well as making changes to the Krippled Minnow. Krippled Anchovy to date has sold over one million pieces, and has become the most popular of all the Krippled lures. 

In 1990 the Slasher Flasher was redesigned to be a line-through flasher made of plated plastic. In 1991 Jim Gilbert Ent. sold its lure division to long time employee Butch MacPherson, who worked for Jim for the prior 13 years. Butch brought back the original name Krippled Fishing Lures, and now operates the business from Sooke, B.C. 

Butch would like to acknowledge Jim and thank him for his assistance in the construction of this website.
Butch MacPherson can be reached at:
Krippled Fishing Lures
6871 Talc place
Sooke, B.C.
ph/fax 250-642-3834

Butch has put a lot of text on his site to help in rigging and fishing his products. Here is one text, on bait action. Do go to his site and read all of his information as it can only help your understanding of fishing, and help you catch more fish. Do consider buying something.

Here is one example. There are many more:

Fisherman have used small fish for bait for as long as they have known big fish eat little fish. The Pacific coastal Native Indians rigged baitfish such as herring on bone-barbed hooks and caught any amount of salmon, cod, and halibut. Pioneers on coming to the coast copied and refined the Native's techniques, so that by trolling herring behind a dug-out canoe or row boat (on a basic handline, with a sinker) they could easily catch one's winter supply of salmon. 

In the 30's rod and reel anglers caught salmon by using baits rigged behind a herring dodger, an 8" to 10" flat shiny metal plate which swayed or wobbled when trolled through the water. the swaying motion of the herring dodger caused the bait to sway or dart, resembling a wounded (Krippled) baitfish, an action which enticed salmon to strike.

In the 40's herring minnows were processed in saltbrine and packed in small glass jars, specifically for sport anglers. By the early 50's fresh frozen herring were available for bait. these baits were netted and packaged specifically to fit into the first plastic bait holder heads, designed to facilitate the rigging of baits for salmon anglers. Sports fishermen for the first time could now combine the simplicity of an artificial lure with the effectiveness of live bait. 

Rigging the bait is simple but controlling its action is another skill which requires some basic understanding. Possibly the most common misconception held by neophyte salmon anglers is the fact that they feel one is successfully fishing if he has bait on the end of his line. What he doesn't understand is the bait must have action. The most productive bait action for salmon, whether it be herring minnow, herring, herring strip, anchovy, or sandlance, is a spiral roll. 

Actively feeding chinook salmon in coastal waters where the tidal current is strong (3-6 knots) usually prefer a bait with a roll which is classed as fairly fast (faster than one revolution per second). These same chinook salmon after moving into inside waters (bays and inlets) with little tidal current, prefer a bait with a slower spiral roll. Feeding coho salmon usually prefer a smaller bait with a snappy, loopy roll. The spiral roll can be controlled somewhat by varying your troll speed - the faster the troll, the faster the bait revolutions, the slower the troll speed the slower the revolutions. 

The curvature of a rigged bait will determine the speed of the revolution and the type of spiral roll. A 'banana' shaped curve in your bait will impart a corkscrew fast roll. A slight curve in only the tail portion of a straight bait will often result in a tight slow roll rate.

When fishing any bait spend some time rigging and observing the bait's action in the water before letting it out. Be prepared to make slight adjustments in your troll speed, hook position, placement, and the actual curve in your bait. Time spent in making bait action changes are often very productive and worthwhile. 

Salmon are not intelligent or smart, but can be very fussy feeders, particularly if there are large amounts of natural baitfish in the area. Salmon do not feed constantly, they appear to have activity or 'bite' periods. Salmon will gorge themselves in these short bite periods and may not feed again for several hours or even days. At such times your bait must be rigged and presented to appear as a wounded (Krippled) baitfish, an irresistible easy prey for some stuffed salmon, who just can't resist that one last bite. 

Learn to observe the slight differences in the bait's action and be able to duplicate this when the bite is on. Fine tuning bait action is one of the main reasons 90% of the salmon are caught by 10% of the anglers.

This text may be found at:

All the text on fishing tips can be accessed from this page: