Ebb & Flow Week 2 ~ June 1, 2017
June 1, 2017 | 2951 Views
Just because there’s smoke doesn’t necessarily mean there’s fire.
On the contrary, the smoke that can be seen drifting lazily across the waters of Beale Cove is the result of slow cooking by well-known barbeque pit-masters who are doing their thing all this week for the first guests of the season at North Island Lodge. Ted Reader, Canada’s own Godfather of the Grill, is back for his third year headlining the Ultimate Grill Showdown, and this year he brought along Rob Rainford, a Jamaican-born Torontonian who, like Reader, is a well-known chef, TV personality and prolific cookbook author.
Park and Charmaine Heffelfinger, the talented and altogether likable husband and wife duo behind the famous Memphis Blues restaurant chain, are also dressed to grill for the lucky guests of North Island Lodge. Those would include my pals Ron Henze and Jim McKeown, who tell me they had a great first day with successful hunts for Chinook and Halibut, and that most guests had tubbed out by 4 pm. The Club’s own Mark Hodge reported in to say that the first welcoming brunch of the season consisted of chili, Baja fish tacos and pulled pork eggs bennie. Who says you have to rough it in the wilderness? Hats off to lodge manager Todd McIntyre and his team, who I visited with briefly last week as they worked long hours making sure nothing got missed in preparing for the first of the faithful fishers to touch down.
Most Salmon among North Island Lodge guests were in the mid to high teens on opening day, with Sean Ozment hitting the big fish of the day with a nice 28-pound specimen, the largest of the season so far for The Club. It was a similar story over at The Clubhouse, where the annual Short Notice Club Derby kicked off on Monday. Boats ventured out in all directions on dead-calm seas but the east side of Langara Island produced most of the action on opening day. Defending champion Anthony Delatolla and Amos Kazzaz shared the lead by day’s end with matching 25-pounders. The smooth water conditions also enabled the big Whalers to head west from Lacy Island in search of bigger Halibut and a number of guests returned to the lodge with 40 to 50-pound slabs that will surely win friends and influence neighbors back home later this summer.
Day two of the tournament dawned to clear skies and more smooth seas. According to long time tournament master Randy Lee, the morning session proved to be a bit of a challenge as the fish that had been in the area for the past few days had apparently continued their journey south overnight. But we all know how quickly that can change as most of action was recorded during the late afternoon period, with Bob Matlock claiming the best fish of the day with his 24-pounder.
My own inaugural trip of the season to The Clubhouse was one for the family archives. My two step-sons, Chris and Scott Gordon, were transformed in the way that folks often are when they first encounter the sea and landscapes of Haida Gwaii, not to mention the comforts afforded by all three of The Club’s lodges in this truly amazing part of Canada. But first-place in the “Man did I have fun!” derby went to my daughter-in-law Gloria Lau Gordon, who was first to suit up for action every morning and every afternoon. She and Chris fished with the wunderkid Owen Drysdale and came home with a year’s supply of uber-healthy protein courtesy of Mother Nature, and a lifetime of memories to boot. True, the action slowed down a bit since we last spoke friends, and the sea lions became a bit pesky for a while, but it didn’t tarnish the experience for guests who were eventually rewarded for their efforts on the water, and then luxuriated to pleasurable extremes in the cozy confines of The Clubhouse. Thanks to lodge manager Terry Cowan and his entire team who made our trip so memorable. As an aside, we were all mightily impressed upon hearing that lodge staffers obliged a lunch-on-the-water request radioed in from Richard and Karen Lock by dispatching tempura Halibut, chips and mushy peas with a bottle of white wine directly to their boat. It was no doubt a lovely lunch under sunny skies in the shelter of Andrews Bay.
Forgive me for a bit of bragging, but step-son Chris finished his trip in a three-way tie for first place for top fish on our trip last week with Brian Gibson and Shawn Elphick, all of whom boated 22-pound Chinook Salmon. Tony Adrian celebrated his 75th birthday on the water and took second place with a 21-pounder. Many happy returns Tony, hope to see you, Howard and Fred again soon in the weeks to come. Last mention goes to Brent Thibault who went home with the largest Halibut of the season, a 63-pounder that was no more than a hair’s breadth below the maximum length limit. Nice work Brent.
In just two days’ time, the first guests of the season will touch down at The Outpost on the shore of Port Louis, which is about 25 nautical miles south of Langara Island on the west side of Graham Island. Best of luck to lodge manager Jordan Knight, who no doubt has all hands on deck at this very minute to ensure the very best of everything for the upcoming season. We’ll have the first installment of the west side story next week. Until then, watch for the first report of the season from our man Mike “Screamer” Tonnesen, veteran head guide at The Clubhouse and quite possibly the most knowledgeable source of salt-water fishing expertise on the entire BC coast. I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed to say he has forgotten more than I will ever know, so keep your eyes peeled for his live from Langara Island reports all season long.
Until then friends, stay safe and well.