The SNC Invitational Salmon Shootout: June 5-9 at The Clubhouse LodgeJune 10, 2011 | 1001 Views
The SNC Invitational Salmon Shootout
June 5 to 9 at The Clubhouse
by Randy Lee
Several months back, Brian Grange asked me if I had any ideas for “something different” to add to our schedule during the first week of the season at The Clubhouse. Fishing derbies are always popular because they add the component of competition to the WCFC experience. And competition is certainly something that most of our guests are familiar with in their day to day lives.
For those of you who are not familiar with SNC, it’s an acronym for Short Notice Club, our WCFC stand by program. Every year, a number of trips become available due to cancellations or reschedulings by our clients, mainly due to personal emergencies or calendar conflicts. Just one of those unavoidable things that happen in our business but one that we must be prepared to manage. As is the case in every corner of the travel industry, there are guests whose personal situations permit them to be able to take advantage of value-priced opportunities on relatively short notice. At the present time, there are about four hundred members on the SNC roster.
I was fortunate enough to be invited into the WCFC family in 1998 and to this day, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the smiling faces of our guests as they recount every detail of a day that included a newfound appreciation for mother nature at it’s finest, a sporty tussle or two with energetic Pacific salmon and attentive service from our gracious shore staff – the West Coast Fishing Club Experience. Not that I don’t enjoy working from my home office in Victoria but it’s always a special treat for me to be able to share a little face time with our guests. After finalizing our thirty guests, fifteen two person teams, we were off to The Clubhouse on Sunday morning. Game on.
As our season was only three days old when our heli touched down at The Clubhouse, I had been digging around for a week or so to get some idea as to what kind of fishing we should expect. The reports were very good but given that most in our industry are definitely “glass half full” types, I would reserve final judgement until we sent our guests out and found out what they came back with. Sunday afternoon was to be a “practice session” with the SNC Shootout officially open at 7:00am on Monday morning.
The weather was near perfect as the fleet charged off to check out the action at all of the popular spots. A lack of VHF radio chatter is generally a sign that all of the guides are busy setting gear and assisting guests in landing their catch. The silence was deafening. By 4:00pm, a few boats started to return to the dock, a full three hours earlier than scheduled. This could only mean two things. Fishing was slow and they had given up for the day. Or fishing was really good and they were ready for cocktails. It was the latter. Upon checking with the guests during Appy Hour, it seemed that most of the boats had 10 to 15 fish on during the five to six hour session. Most of the chinook were in the 15 to 25 pound range although two tyee class fish (30 and 37) found their way to the dock. Nice.
Day One. Monday morning brought a change in the weather with brisk to strong northwesterlies predominating the marine forecast. With the west side of Langara pretty much out of commission, guests found more fishable waters at Bruin Bay, Gunia, Boulder and Cohoe Point. I kept an eye on the whitecaps in Parry Pass from the warmth and comfort of the dining room. No longjohns required here. A tip of the hat to all of our hearty derby participants who endured the challenging weather conditions and managed to perform admirably. Despite the churning seas, the fish continued to bite. Day One ended with a tie for top spot. Bob Wills and Rob Onken each landed a chinook measuring 39″ length by 23.5″ girth, 27 pounders.
Day Two. No let up in the weather as the boats continued to work the most protected areas around Langara Island. Catch reports were pretty much in line with Monday’s results. Ed “Mr. Noodle” Anderson captured the fish of the day at 26.4 pounds but there was no change in the leaderboard for first place overall.
Day Three. On the final day of The Shootout, the skies cleared and the wind all but disappeared, providing a perfect backdrop for the derby’s finale. There would be and could be no excuses. Bob Wills and Rob Onken relinquished their lead at the lunch break when Fred Bohn and his “guide”, Gary “Papa Bear” Sells, recorded a fish of 39.5″ X 24.5″ (29.63 lbs.) to grab top spot. As an aside, Gary is the undisputed WCFC Client of the Month for June. Two weeks ago, Gary landed a 600 lb. Blue Marlin at WCFC Punta Coco in Panama. He returned home to Enumclaw, WA just long enough to pack a few pairs of clean boxers before driving to Vancouver to join us for the derby. With only six hours to go, could Fred and Gary’s fish hang on to the lead and claim victory?
In a word, no. Wednesday proved to be an absolutely incredible day of fishing. The afternoon session ended up with no less that nine fish that qualified for tyee pins and there were five changes in the standings for the top three positions. Day One co-leader, Bob Wills, had the “best day of fishing in his life” when he and guide Kory landed and released over twenty fish. Half of these measured out to a weight of 25 lbs or better but it was his released 42″ X 25″ entry that vaulted Bob into the top spot at 32.8 lbs. By 6:30pm, Bob had joined most of the rest of the gang in the lounge who were watching the Canucks getting schooled by the Bruins. The hockey game was starting to look like it was done. Maybe the derby was over too.
Thirty minutes left and I was making a mental note of all of the guests that I knew were already back in the lodge and done fishing for the day. It seemed like there might be a few bodies still on the water so I kept one eye trained on Henslung Cove and sure enough, one of our 27′ Whalers was making a torrid dash down the backstretch that would have made Seattle Slew proud. There had been a buzz circulating that guide Todd had a possible contender but details were not available. The mystery would be over soon in any event. At 6:47pm, thirteen minutes before the close of the derby, a somewhat excited Dave Akins approached me with an entry form in hand. I asked him what he caught and he replied with a question of his own, “what’s the biggest fish so far”. I glanced down at my clipboard and gave him the dimensions of Bob Wills’ 32.8 pounder – “42 by 25”. As if in a new commercial for PokerStars.com, Dave blurted out a “YES” while tossing me his winning slip. 42.5″ by 25.5″…34.5 pounds. It’s 7:00. All entrants are in, the derby is over. This one is in the books.
Thanks to all who participated in the first annual SNC Invitational Shootout Salmon Derby. We hope to see you all again in June 2012. As for Dave Akins, we’ll be seeing him again sometime this summer when he is enjoying his prize of a return trip for two with the West Coast Fishing Club.