Ebb & Flow Week 4: June 24, 2015
June 24, 2015 | 3544 Views
Strange as it may seem, I have decided there is a downside to experiencing the kind of fishing in which you can’t get a second line in the water before the first one goes off. We get spoiled. We think this is the norm. Our expectations soar for all subsequent sessions on the water.
And so invariably when the fishing normalizes – repeat, normalizes – we incorrectly determine that the fishing is no longer good. “Things got real quiet today” we tell ourselves, when in fact all that happened is that the fishing…normalized. It went from, say, 20 to 40 Chinook Salmon caught and released in a day (a regular occurrence so far in June) to a mere five or six. And if you tell anybody who hasn’t experienced the fishing at Haida Gwaii that you “only caught five or six Chinook Salmon yesterday,” they write you off as a chronic malcontent – a glass 99 percent empty kind of person. Of this, I must plead guilty.
You see friends, last week up at The Outpost, things “normalized” in the last two days of the trip. That meant that on our last afternoon on the water, my fishing partner and I only caught three Chinook and two Coho Salmon. I told my pal Chris Dale who met us at the airport on our return how catastrophically poor the fishing was on the last day and he looked at me like I was a whiny teenager. “That’s still pretty good fishing,” he patiently observed. Of course he was right.
The moral of the story friends is that fish swim, which means that they move in and out of regions on their migratory patterns and in search of feed. They can be in massive abundance one hour and scarce as Edmonton Oiler power play goals the next (as a long-suffering native Edmontonian, I have special dispensation to utter such truth). In other words, the fishing so far this June has ranged from steady Eddy to double headers all day long, and nobody has complained for a second – even me, the glass 99 percent empty guy.
So with that as context, what does the recent “normal” fishing look like up north? Well, starting at The Outpost, it means that each and every guest on last week’s trip limited out on Chinook Salmon and released scads more. Each and every guest also limited out on Halibut, and I have a hunch that my fishing partner Brad Portlock just might have been the first guest of the year at any of the lodges to limit out on Coho too (that would be four, since he already had possession of four Chinooks). Were it not for an extremely rare botched net job on the part of our guide, I may have been the second (I forgive you Carl. Sincerely pal. After all, you were good on the other hundred or so attempts).
The best fish of the trip was boated by Art Van Klei, a beauty 31-pounder right out of Brock Bay. Len and Carolyn Whitney celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary with an excursion to Port Louis and once again had a great time. Len and Carolyn have lost track of how many times they have been guests of The West Coast Fishing Club, but Len does remember being on the first trip ever to The Clubhouse after the first phase of it was completed back in 1991. Ditto for Mike Dusterhoff, who up until that time had frequented a competitor’s lodge and never looked back. Mike and his buddy Steve Swenson caught all the fish they could handle last week too and are now hunting razorbacks (wild boar) somewhere in Texas.
Meanwhile up at Langara Island, the fishing ranged from normal to crazy. Roughly translated, that means that all guests at both North Island Lodge and The Clubhouse limited out on Chinooks and more and more Coho hit the docks with every passing day. There were some nice Tyees up on the board too, including a 39 for Brandt Louie, the biggest of the year so far at The Clubhouse. North Island Lodge guest Nathan Merkel is still holding down top spot overall with a 42 out of Bruin Bay a couple of weeks back.
The last week at The Clubhouse saw a lot of large Halibut too. By way of example, Joel Miller released a 200; William Miller said hello and goodbye to a 220 and Chris Kolozetti and Deborah Hoffman both parted with 150s after lifting what felt like grand pianos off the ocean floor. The recent Father’s Day trips were the kind that guests dream about, with glass calm waters, on-fire fishing and whales doing what whales do all around the island. Nice introduction to Haida Gwaii for the first-timers on this trip.
It was a particularly memorable trip for Clubhouse guests Ronnie and Deborah Hoffman. According to Chris (the aforementioned realist), their guide Owen left quite the impression on these two avid anglers from Houston, Texas. Deborah and Ronnie have fished all over the world and said that he was “hands down, one of the best guides they have ever fished with” and that his skills and professionalism went well beyond his 19 years. Chris spoke to Deborah on the phone yesterday and figures that if it wasn’t for the 25-pound luggage restriction, she would have taken Owen home. No wonder. On the first strike, Deborah grabbed the rod and settled in for a long and eventful battle that involved Owen dealing with a couple tangles in the down rigger and around the motor. A few minutes later he slipped the net under a beautiful 31 pound Chinook Salmon. Nice way to kick off a first West Coast Fishing Club trip. Other notable Tyees from last week at Langara include a 31 for Mark Hoffman, a 31.5 for Ken Konkin, a 31 for Ross Grieve and a 30 for Kai Olafson.
Some parting thoughts upon reflection from last week at The Outpost, where every trip feels like a throwback to younger years and attending summer camp. With just 14 guests, the interpersonal barriers break down as quickly as an Italian sports car. The commonality of an extraordinary experience like a fishing trip to mystical Haida Gwaii and living in the lap of luxury at the same time just does that to people. E-mail addresses and business cards are exchanged, farewells back at the airport sometimes border on tearful, and new friends pledge to stay in touch. Even if that doesn’t happen owing to the torrid pace of life in the 21st century, it’s nice to know that we can still feel that way if we allow ourselves the time and the chance.
And for that, there is no better place than one of the lodges of The West Coast Fishing Club, all of which have been operating at full capacity right from the get-go. This of course merits another shout-out to the staff members who haven’t missed a beat in delivering on service and experiences far beyond even the wildest imaginations. Nice work team – you are the best – seriously.
Talk soon friends. Until then, you know the rule – Tight Lines!