Salmon fishing, and an interest in salmon, keeps one in mind of the passage of time, the seasons, and the renewal of life.
You will have noticed that many of the things in my blog show an abundance of life. Many species, like Humpback Whales, Orcas, dolphins, even large herring , are more abundant in this area than in recent decades, but it is complicated. Fishing is still grand, but we know that we need to be responsible custodians of the resource.
Things change, and attitudes change, too. In my father's time people thought the Killer Whales were pests, and dangerous ones. They called them Blackfish, and we now call them Orcas. He would be very surprised to learn that so many people want to go out on the water just to get a glimpse of one. I’m trying to share with you my experience of , and appreciation of, all the parts of the salmon world.
This evening several Orcas appeared in the Passage near dusk. For most of my guiding life it was rare to see Orcas here in winter. There were decades of a greatly increasing seal population in Georgia Strait, and then the mammal eating type of Orcas showed up a few years ago, and now it is common to see Orcas through the year. I’m showing photos just to show, even though the pictures are not great.
As of January 1, the senior Orca known as "Granny" was pronounced dead, estimated at 105 years old. She was "J2", the matriarch of the southern straits J pod, salmon eaters , and deemed to have died, because she was not seen for several months. My father was born in 1910, so he and she were born at about the same time. Those two really saw some changes in their lifetimes, and she lived much longer.
Looking back into those older times, I feel great respect for the Tyee Club of British Columbia ,which fishes with very simple tackle, in rowboats, under the same basic rules drawn up in 1924 to promote sportsmanship in fishing. Even earlier than that, Campbell River was known around the world for salmon fishing.
Zane Grey , the famous angling writer, heard about Campbell River and made a trek to try for Tyee Salmon himself, in 1919. On arrival an experienced angler from New York tells him " Fished out long ago ", and the tavern host said he had come fifteen years too late.
We can only imagine the core bounty that we are working from. In 2013, Mike Gage, guided by his son Richard, registered a 63.5 lb Tyee in the Club. That fish was determined to be just five years old, so it gives hope that another like that could appear at anytime.
The photo at the top of the page is a memory milestone for me. I was later than most of my guiding peers in switching from the open Boston Whaler to the comfy covered cruisers we use now. Fish and fishing patterns changed. That fish is the last big one that I know of from Row n' Be Damned, close by to April Point and Quathiaski Cove, guided in what was the earlier standard method, small boat mooching. It was on my birthday in 1995. 46 lbs.
three Orcas showing near Tyee Spit
off of the rocks just south of Row n' Be Damned
the commotion of seagulls feeding that caught my attention