A Day on the Fraser – A Guides Day Off

by Vic Carrao

This past summer on a day off with my girls, we did what all guides do, went fishing. My girls have spent many days on the Fraser in the past but this year there was a limited opportunity as we were very busy. A good friend Tom Fiebel and his two girls decided to come along for the day. We decided to go for a long boat ride up the Fraser in search of a fisherman free bar. As most of you who fished the Fraser would know, this would be a challenge in itself. We departed from Kilby and headed into the Fraser, we decided to boat up past Herrling island or until the girls got bored of the ride. We made it just past Herrling where we found a great place to spend the day. The island had a nice sandy beach, there were two-day shelter’s that had been made to look like Tee Pees, they were great for the girls to explore and use there young and sometimes wild imaginations.

Nicole & Deanna

As soon as we hit the beach Tom had his rod out while the younger girls immediately headed for the sandy beach to build a castle. The two old girls were off finding a secret hiding spot witch was quickly labeled off limits to the younger ones. I had absolutely no desire to fish but had a lot of reels to re-spool and leaders to tie. Tom was relentless; he pounded the water for two hours strait with nothing but a few lost leaders to show for it. The girls were having a blast, I went on more than a few nature hikes looking for lost treasures and exploring the unknown. We had a nice lunch on the beach but Tom was quickly backed at it, he was determined to catch his first Fraser Chinook, even if it took all day.

Artifact Front View

A couple more hours had past, a few more lost leaders for Tom but the girls were beginning to get bored. I was sitting in the boat tying leaders when my daughters approached looking for something to do. I had suggested they comb the beach for hooks, corkies, weights and leaders, I offered them 25 cents for weights, five cents for corkies and sharp hooks. The girls began to search the beach collecting old fishing tackle that had been snagged up during high water. My daughters and I have spent many hours in the past searching the shorelines of the Fraser for agates and jade and cleaning up the beaches so this type of activity wasn’t new to them. They had made good money in the past so they were quite willing to search and clean the beaches. It wasn’t long before my oldest daughter Nicole came running back. She had found a very strange looking rock; it was approx 16 inches long 5 inches thick with the center carved out. At first glance, I thought it might have been shaped by fast running water, which would have explained the odd shape in the center. Nicole placed the rock on the boat and headed back to search for more tackle and treasures with her little sister Deanna and Tom’s two girls.

Tom finally hooked a fish and what a fish, a 20-minute battle ensued taking Tom down 200 yards of beach, Tom came back with his first Fraser Chinook, a nice fish weighing over 20 lbs. By this time the girls had returned with more rocks than they could carry and enough tackle to empty my wallet. Tom’s oldest daughter found a large piece of jade while the younger girls had some very nice looking rocks. We showed Tom Nicole’s odd-looking rock; right way Tom knew she had found something special.

Artifact Side View

We took the rock to XA:ytem (Hatzic Rock interpretive center). Although there were no archaeologists on site at the time, the staff there had never seen anything quite like it. One of the staff got very excited when she noticed the rock had a carving of what looked to be a Sturgeon. Tom, the kids and I hadn’t even noticed it, but once she pointed it out it was very obvious. Chris Gatson a director of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society took a few pictures and wrote a story for the Mission city record. In his research, he took the pictures to Dave Schaepe, an archeologist with the Sto:lo Nation. “He said it was a sculptured river cobble, with the base finished into a hand mall.” “It was most Likely used as a stone hammer to pound stakes, hammer wedges for splitting cedar planks, for house construction, and as an all-around hand tool.” He said that it also could have been used as a war club. Mr. Shaepe said that grinding formed the artifact and the head of the tool is quite unusual being carved into a fish head, possibly a sturgeon. He estimated the age to be pre-contact and up to 2,500 years old.

Nicole has yet to have the rock officially identified but plans on having it done sometime over this winter. Nicole is looking at several options for the artifact including donating it to a museum.

The Fraser River has been a big part of Nicole and Deanna’s lives, this one day on the river will hold a special place in her heart for the rest of her life. There are many gravel bars on the Fraser that have good access from shore. If you have some spare time and would like to spend some quality time with your kids, take them for a day of fun and adventure on the Fraser, it’s free and fun for both the kids and you.

You can e-mail your comments to Vic @ sts@guidebc.com

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