Ebb & Flow Week 7 ~ July 6, 2017
July 6, 2017 | 1851 Views
A long-time friend from my old home town recently asked me if it would be possible for him to take his six-year-old grandson up to one of the lodges at Haida Gwaii. Over a second beer, I explained to him that it might be best if he waited until the boy was a little older and had demonstrated some level of interest in the great outdoors. Overall, I think that was good counsel, but I now think I was wrong in suggesting to my friend that perhaps 12 was the minimum age for a West Coast Fishing Club adventure. You see friends, this conversation took place before I heard about Ali Nyrose.
Ali is nine years old. Her interest in fishing is genuine. She lives in Kelowna and fishes regularly with her father, who is none other than The Club’s own Derek Nyrose. As many know, Derek is a seasoned angler and the tournament master of the annual Fishing for Kids Tournament. The Nyroses typically celebrate Confederation Day weekend along with other families in their part of the province, but not this year. Instead, Derek, Kristie and Ali packed some Canadian flags into their kit bags and headed for Langara Island.
When they got back on July 2, Derek sent me an account of their trip, which cannot be mistaken for anything but a heartfelt story about a fishing adventure as seen through the eyes of a child. Whether intentional or not, his account also illustrates how his daughter’s perspective reawakened him to how such rich experiences amidst the wonders of nature can indelibly shape a child’s view of the world in a manner that lasts the entirety of their lives. As a grandfather to a five-year-old, I became more convinced than ever that introducing a child to the natural world in a compelling way is among the most precious gifts we can ever give.
And so with that, I am handing the page over to Derek, who described the first couple days of their family adventure as follows.
The first day of summer holidays started with the Meet and Greet Team checking us in for the adventure of a lifetime. After a quick two-hour flight, it was on to the next leg – Ali’s first time on a helicopter. We landed at The Clubhouse and within seconds she spotted her first deer grazing in a field nearby. Those of us who have been often quickly forget how beautiful a setting The Clubhouse is located in. I was reminded by my nine-year old very quickly. Things I would over look so I could get out on the water as soon as possible were brought back to light – the view, the wildlife and of course, the candy counter.
On our first day we headed out towards Cohoe Point where reports of teenager-sized Chinook and newly arrived Coho were being caught. Egeria Bay had three or four Humpback Whales feeding in the area; another first for Ali seeing whales in the wild. You could imagine how proud I was when she asked if she could help bait the lines and set the gear. With the help of the bait jig, she got the perfect roll and after a quick lesson on the Islander reel (how to protect your fingers) it didn’t take long to get a bite. Ali fought and landed the first fish of the trip all by herself – a 17 pound Chinook.
The rest of the day we caught and released a few Chinook and Coho and then headed back to the lodge to make it in time for appies and of course the company and fish stories that go along with it. The dinner was fantastic, especially by Ali’s standards, who said “this is the best Halibut I have ever tasted in my life!” Seeing how I prepared the only Halibut she has ever eaten, I was a little offended but explained to her that Chef Rob and his team have just a little more experience in the kitchen then myself.
During dinner, it was interesting to hear the stories shared by Ali and the other anglers at the table. Scott and Megan Mayfield joined our table each night and when Ali would see them drift by playing a fish out on the water she would anxiously await to get back to the lodge to hear their stories. With two young children at home, you could see the wheels turning in Scott’s head thinking about when he can get his boys up to the lodge to experience the same adventure.
By the beginning of day two, it was obvious we had created a pint-sized monster angler. Our daughter wanted to catch bigger fish than Mom and Dad, and that she did. Her 18.5 pound Chinook on day two was enough to keep her in the lead over us for the entire trip, although all three of us lost Tyee-sized fish at the side of the boat. My daughter now fully understood “the one that got away” concept. Even though the plan was to release Tyees, there’s nothing like the feeling of losing a leviathan next to the boat, but that’s fishing.
The final day Mom decided to take advantage of the steam room, hot tub followed by a massage. Ali and I had set our sights on Halibut. It was a calm day so we decided to go offshore on the east side. When we arrived, we saw DJ from North Island on the Chicken Ranch (try to get a nine-year-old to say that with a straight face, never mind ask why fish are called chickens). He was just pulling up after success on the Hali grounds. Although we didn’t stay long, there were no Halibut in our cards, but that didn’t bother Ali. With a by-catch of Dogfish (sharks to a nine-year-old), a Cod and a Turbot, she could not understand why we would leave when the fish were biting! We slipped out to Cohoe Point one last time to pick up a couple of nice Coho and then headed back to the lodge to meet up with a well-rested Mom.
And so it went for the Nyrose family on their first adventure together to Langara Island. There were a number of familiar faces at The Clubhouse, including another father and daughter team, Hans and Samantha (Sammy) Kaltenegger. Sammy is now 18 years-old, and was anxious to recreate an unforgettable experience from her formative trip a few years back, in which she caught and released a 44-pounder. Like Ali, Sammy also came by her fishing acumen honestly, as the granddaughter of the late Seppi Kaltenegger, a long-time guest and sadly missed friend of The Club. The seemingly disproportional luck of the young was with her again on this trip As Sammy led the board with the largest keeper Halibut of the trip weighing at 70 pounds.
In any case, the story of a kid’s first adventure sold me on making plans to get Austin Bryce Gordon (my grandson) up to Haida Gwaii sooner rather than later in his young life. Like Derek, I fished as a six-year-old in the creeks of Alberta’s foothills country where my grandfather was a rancher, and I’ve tried to alert Austin to all that is amazing about the natural world. He is showing great promise, understanding that it isn’t good to stomp on bugs – they are living things too – and that if you plant old gnarly potatoes in the fall, you can dig for fresh new ones in the spring. I won’t get everything right – no parent or grandparent ever has – but so far it’s been satisfying in the extreme to see how the IPad has tough competition in getting his attention when there are things to do in the great outdoors. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Before I go, here is a rundown of all the fishers – both young and old – upon whom fortune smiled the past few days. The Clubhouse saw three Tyees this week, led by John Day’s 37.5 (released); Jim Healey’s 34.5 (released) and an even 30 for Hank Miller. Honorable mention goes out to Ronnie Smith and Gary Hammond for identical 29-pound “Tryees.” As is common starting at about this time of year, the fish are getting bigger, with more and more showing up in the high 20’s along with scads of Coho from six to 10 pounds. John Day also led the board for largest released Halibut, an older lady estimated at about 205 pounds. Gary Hammond muscled a 120-pound version to the surface and promptly sent her safely on her way. Lots of chicken and turkey sized Halibut still in the offing on both the east and west side of Langara island.
Highlights from North Island Lodge include a new co-leader on the season in Seth Franklin, who caught a 42-pound Tyee on a self-guided mission to Cohoe Point. Joseph McConaughy followed up with a 35 with guide Will Mitchell (no not that Will Mitchell) caught at Boulder Bay. Tim Stemwedel takes third place for the North Island gang with a 30 which he released in a gesture of sportsmanship and conservation, guided by Jason Wilson. Guide Bryce Belyea has a Halibut whisperer kind of thing going on of late, finding 56-pound turkeys for the freezers of homes respectively belonging to Arland Eliason and Darrin Short. Lodge manager Todd McIntyre reported “incredible weather conditions” the last three days, including light winds and that every shift his guests are finding a few 20-plus-pound Chinooks and stacks of Coho in the six to 11-pound range on both the east and west side of the island.
That’s it for this week. If you are wondering about the news down Port Louis way, stay tuned for a report that is on its way from The Outpost manager (and photographer extraordinaire) Jordan Knight.
Until next we speak, please do stay safe and well friends.
Tight Lines (you too Ali)!
*Photo Credit: Rainbow shot by Clubhouse Guide Jacob Brunelle.