Ebb & Flow Week 12 ~ August 19, 2016
August 19, 2016 | 1418 Views
Greetings friends from the marine wilderness of Port Louis. It’s been an amazing trip in every way so far, beginning with my brief chat in Masset with 90-year old Dirk Schaap just before he boarded the helicopter for North Island Lodge with his son Paul Schaap. Paul is an environmental engineer and instantly likable guy I met two years ago at The Clubhouse where he was fishing with his son Colin. This time he was making indelible memories with his dad, and it was obvious they were both pretty excited when time came to board the chopper. You should have seen the look in Dirk’s eyes when he found out that meet and greeters Debbie and Colleen had arranged for him to have the coveted co-pilot seat for the flight. As they walked across the tarmac, I had every confidence that they would have an indescribably wonderful time, and that North Island Lodge staff would stop at nothing to ensure they did.
I on the other hand was journeying here to The Outpost, from where I send you these notes from the hot-tub deck overlooking the dock and the eight Boston Whalers that have each seen an awful lot of action on this trip. All of the guests have finished their fishing exploits, and to a person we have limited out on Coho and Chinook Salmon and Halibut, and in fact could have many times over. We have also dined like royalty, slept like the dead, and seen Haida Gwaii at her sunny summery best. Most of the guests here are families making memories just Paul and Dirk.
My fishing partner and I deliberately tubbed out yesterday in hopes that today might be devoted to an offshore Tuna adventure, but the warm water where the Albacore feed this time of year is still too far off shore. We were envious of those who still had room on their licenses for Salmon. The fishing has been absolutely on fire for most of the day on dead calm water. But we happily occupied ourselves by hiking a steep trail to a lookout and then descended to the dock and boated to a nearby beach. There we had an eye-popping sashimi lunch with sake thanks to Chef Steph. We sipped sake and played beach soccer before our 17-year-old guide, Jonah the Wunderkid, retrieved us. On the way home we stopped off at some kelp beds and jigged up a Lingcod each, then then it was home for a drink and a hot tub. Just another happy day here in paradise.
I am overjoyed to report friends that the fishing has picked up dramatically since the departure of the commercial vessels that no doubt contributed to the slowdown that occurred down here Port Louis way in July and early August. No Tyees among us but the Chinooks have averaged in the low twenties and Coho are also here in both number and size. I held this season’s Club Coho record for 24 hours with a 17-pound Northern Coho before being taken over the next day by Carson Tofin who beat that by a pound. Kathy Lanctot appears to have the top fish of the trip at 29 pounds.
In addition to the incredible fishing and weather, we have all been mightily impressed by the service we have received from the lodge staff and guides. If ever The West Coast Fishing Club could bottle and sell the staff culture they have created over the years, I would cross my fingers that they went public and I could back the truck up on stock. It’s that extraordinary. Our guide Jonah is a master angler not to mention wise and mature beyond his years; Adam the 19-year-old dock hand is perpetually cheerful and able to change a leg on an outboard motor in minutes; Chef Steph (“Chefanie”) is simply a force of nature who has silenced and mesmerized the dining room all week with each delectable course.
Speaking of food, a new tradition began with great gusto up at The Clubhouse this week. My friends from WCFC head office Chris Dale and Derek Nyrose were up there invigilating the proceedings of the inaugural Coastal Culinary Experience, a gastronomic odyssey that sent guests to a deserted beach where they dined el fresco on a loooonnnng menu of items that ranged from marinated Salmon salad served on Korea rice crisps to sea snails with chanterelles and fennel to 12-hour braised beef with strawberry and matsutake mushrooms. Special guest chef Charles-Antoine Crête was on hand to oversee the food preparation with his sous Chef Simon McConnell-Enright. Chris assigned a mark of 10 out of 10 for this trip and said guests were reluctant to leave. Steven Ruse was among the many beachcombers on this adventure and luckily found a glass Japanese fishing float that frequently wash up on these shores. Special thanks to Clubhouse staff members Rebecca, Kaitlin, Taylor and Sam for helping the event run smoothly.
The fishing was a touch slower at Langara Island than here at Port Louis but consistent enough for all guests to set hooks into ample numbers of Salmon. Again they caught scads of Coho that went north of 12 pounds, although The Outpost seems to have the edge so far in Coho size with several caught here over 15 pounds and seemingly getting bigger every day. Top Chinook anglers at The Clubhouse this week were Forest Friess and Brian Nixon each with 33-pound Tyees, and John Herzog and Ben Dorman each with 30-pound specimens.
I am not yet sure how Paul and Dirk Schaap made out but I will find out tomorrow when I see them back at the airport. One thing that I have learned over the years is that there is no better place than here in the marine wilderness for hearts to meet in meaningful and lasting ways, and no better way to make the connection than matching wits with nature via a Salmon rod. Again, for that reason, I have a hunch they had the time of their lives.
Until next week friends stay safe and well.