Ebb & Flow Week 1 ~ May 25, 2017
May 25, 2017 | 2857 Views
A warm hello friends from The Clubhouse on world famous Langara Island. The Salmon have again returned to Haida Gwaii and so have all of us. We are the second group of the season, 44 in number, with every whim being catered to by 55 of the most exuberant and affable experts in the hospitality industry. We have dined like royalty, slept like babies, and all – save for me – are now out matching wits with Nature on these mystical waters.
It is morning and I have taken a break from the action to send you this inaugural report, hunting and pecking away from my perch in the Solarium dining room overlooking the ridiculously beautiful vista of Parry Pass. There is smooth jazz playing in the background, the coffee is fresh and the lodge is spotlessly clean and inviting at every cozy nook. Sitka deer are grazing lazily on the lawn and an eagle has held vigil all morning long from a nearby tree top.
Members of the Young Presidents Organization – Southern California chapter were the first guests of the season earlier this week. I chatted with some briefly during changeover and they clearly enjoyed themselves. And yes, they caught fish, plenty in the teens but also a handful of twenty-somethings. Top fish went to John Kralik, a 24, followed by a 22 for Arthur Morris. The Club’s new Marketing Coordinator, Stephanie Hansen, made her maiden voyage to these waters too and was rewarded with a 21-pound Chinook Salmon to clinch third place, not a bad start to her new angling career.
I am crossing an item off my bucket list on this trip, having been accompanied by my two step-sons and daughter-in-law. They have already made indelible lifelong memories that I hope and suspect will endure long after I am gone. Gloria had some trepidations before leaving but has worn an ear-to ear grin ever since she boated her first Chinook Salmon just minutes into the first shift with all-star guide Owen. Younger step-son Scott got into his first fish yesterday morning fishing with Yours Truly as his guide. It was a nice fish, with emphasis on “was.” A massive bull Orca had other ideas about that fish’s destiny. Judging by the size of the head and ragged body parts that Scott reeled up, it “was” in the 20-22-pound range. He was philosophical about it though, and in truth it was rather thrilling to have a close and direct encounter with such a creature. No wonder they call this place Galapagos of the North. Humpbacks and Orcas everywhere, and an enormous variety of sea birds.
We are all hopeful the wind will let up and we can explore some of the other famously productive fishing areas around the island. There is a feeling among all of us that once the waters calm somewhat, there is going to be a lot of action out there. There are a couple of fish on the board in the low 20s but for the most part it’s been a teenagers’ party so far. No complaints whatsoever though, and happy faces all around.
Dinner last night was…uh…indescribable, so I won’t even try. Suffice it to say that new executive chef Rob Ratcliffe has raised a bar that already seemed to have been set at impossible altitude by his predecessors here at The Clubhouse, with guests having their choice from a long list of exquisite appetizers and mains, followed by heavenly temptations from the dessert menu. Rob spent the last five years rising through the ranks at Vancouver’s Hawksworth Restaurant under the guidance of master chef and long-time Club friend David Hawksworth. Ever-gracious newbie dining room manager Reesa Cullen, who comes to The Clubhouse by way of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, has spared no effort in adding her own unique flair to the ambience and service. Stir in the view from here in the dining room and what we get is one of finest dining emporiums in the entire province.
Last thought for this week, and perhaps this has occurred to you too friends. Coming back here every year reminds me a bit about coming back to summer camp as a kid. You arrive with heady anticipation of a repeat of past experiences, and suddenly you see familiar faces from earlier summers. For me, it was my pals Tony Adrian and Howard Grodensky from the ski town of Redmond, Oregon. I have crossed paths with them at North Island Lodge and The Outpost in seasons past. They are always a ton of fun and this year is no exception. We just seem to pick up right from where we left off without missing a beat. It’s that kindred spirit kind of thing that invariably settles in among the faithful fishers who gather here every year, and I love every minute of it.
Alright, time to sign off and suit up. There’s a Salmon out there off Cohoe Point right now with my name on it. Yes, it’s spring time in Haida Gwaii and indeed the living is easy.
Until next week friends, stay safe and well.