Sunday, 21 July 2019

just right

A couple of salmon of the right size made a great morning for this family from high country .  The first two hooked were too big , then the next too small , and then just right .  

Saturday, 20 July 2019


 I've been doing a few trips recently in groups led by other guide friends . 

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

among the islands

Carter really understood the hunt .  I picked him up from the Super Island dock and headed to the first choice spot .  After half an hour of no bites and not much for clues , we picked up lines and moved a little way .  Ah , stuff on the sounder .  Herring , and dogfish , maybe salmon.  Trolling , trolling . Potential looks good , and then,  thump, thump, yes , there's the bite .  We stayed and searched around the little islands and had pretty darn good action. As usual we took measurements and tissue samples . All alone .

Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy Canada Day

 Happy Canada Day !  Some of you might recognize this spot from fishing the Campbell River waterfront .   

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Fishing got even better ! It's a long story.

Fishing got even better .  But it is a long story that I have procrastinated writing about .  Here I'll try to keep it fairly short .  

 Fishing has been terrific this year  !   There appears to be an abundance of chinooks around .
  It is ironic that this season is especially good for chinooks , while at the same time there are more new restrictions on them .  There will be no retention of chinooks until July 15 .  After July 15 it will be the same as last year , and more to keep after Aug 30. 

  The reason is that the regulations are meant to protect some weak stocks ,  but boy , other stocks must be doing very well at the same time .   Some chinook types rear for a whole year in fresh water , living like little trout , before going to sea . The ones that come from the dry country of the upper interior of BC are having a hard time with low and warm water in summer , and forest fires, and pine beetles killing forests , etc. . Then the First Nations in those areas have first priority to harvest some of the returning adults .  

 The stocks of concern migrate early in spring/summer , so this year we are restricted to catch and release fishing in this area until July 15 .  Actually they hardly come this way on the inside route , and, in previous years , sport anglers caught less than 1 % of those fish .  The stocks at most risk migrate primarily off-shore .  It appears ironic that the more rare a fish is , the less likely we are to catch one , the more likely we are to have fishing restrictions.  As Chair of the Campbell River and District Fishing Guides Association , I have been following this pretty closely and we made our submissions.  Sport Fishing Institute ( SFI ) and the Sport Fishing Advisory Board ( SFAB ) presented the facts thoroughly, with disappointing results .  Sport fishing is not the problem , and this strategy isn't the best answer , but  here we are , and there is a lot to enjoy still .

The news to the public has been very poor and misleading , with a negative general message that there is some kind of issue with salmon .  Many people would be very surprised to hear that experienced anglers and guides  are describing chinook fishing this year as one of the best in decades .  Yes , really .

Spring / early summer, until July 15 .  We are fishing catch and release for chinooks until July 15 .  You can keep a coho if it is hatchery marked , and a lingcod is a delicious bonus for the table.  Fewer people are fishing in this period but those who are are enjoying this fishing very much .

July 15 to Aug 29 ,  , the regulations will be like last year ;  one chinook per person per day .  As usual , the possession limit is the equivalent of two days catch .

Aug 29 and after , 2 chinooks per person per day , 4 in possession .

Releasing a chinook is still a great thrill , and handling it carefully and seeing it swim away in good shape is a wonderful feeling .  In addition , we are taking tissue samples for DNA which will tell which river systems the fish are from .  We are supporting science by collecting necessary data .

Come on over for lovely salmon fishing .  It will be great fun for all , and fishing will be in a manner that is appreciative and respectful of the salmon stocks.   

Saturday, 29 June 2019

That is a day trip !

 This is a day trip !!  Fly from Vancouver for 5 hours fishing and catch the next flight back again ! 

 Nao was in Vancouver for business and fitted this in .  My part was filling in for Eiji , who had this all lined up .  ( AG Fish Enterprises ) . I met Nao at the taxi , picked up lunches from the floating Snack Shack , and off we went. 
  Fishing was terrific , as it has been this year . Nao caught and released several chinook salmon, and also caught a hatchery coho , which Masumi boxed for flight . 
 After a few hours of fishing , Nao asked if we ever see whales , and just that minute a couple of humpback whales appeared . 

Ahoy , Eiji 


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Just Kevin

 Kevin came out fishing , just himself , while his wife stayed back at the Bed and Breakfast . It was a beautiful morning for lots of action .  All hands are full fishing two lines,  and especially so with a couple of  double headers .  

Monday, 17 June 2019

family from Germany

 This family from Germany is exploring around western Canada and , of course , that has to include some salmon fishing .  The salmon certainly showed up to entertain everyone .  Lots of fishing action to share .  And other challenges for the kids ,too , like blowing lots of bubbles , and watching where you are going when you are steering . 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

who's counting ?

 Maurice and Elizabeth graded this trip as great as any they've had .  And Maurice has been coming for , well , let's say, lots of decades . We did it all the comfy way , starting each of the two days at 8 am after breakfast at the hotel .  We came in for lunch at a floating restaurant ,  and then a short afternoon fish nearby . The weather was calm, and it got hot by mid-day. 

 We're taking tissue samples for DNA , and keeping those on a blotter paper card .  But Maurice remembers even better , he keeps track , and counts the one we lost the sample for .  All the salmon were released , and one lingcod went home for meals .  Catch and release is the order of the day ,  The count for the two days was 18 salmon sampled , just two of which were undersize ( less than 24 1/2  inches ) , one wild coho , and the lingcod.  None of the fish were weighed, but the largest was 37 1/2 inches ( 95 cm ) in length .


 On day two , after lunch, we motored several minutes extra to go out to where we could see boats watching some Orcas .  We are required to keep a distance . These are the mammal eating kind , not the fish eaters. We went out to them , but later they came to us , right where we had been fishing , so we fished along, and then away , riding the tide toward the dock , to end a fine trip. 

Thursday, 6 June 2019

June in the mainland back country

 June is my favourite month .  Chinooks are all around,  all over the neighbourhood in northern Georgia Strait and the mainland inlets in dependable numbers . The world feels alive ahead of the busier mid-summer tourists. There are some some nice big ones in the mix .  Here are some photos from the mainland side , guiding for a luxury lodge .

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

New Zealanders love fishing

Spring is under -appreciated . That meant a keen New Zealand couple had lots of room on the water .

 I had committed myself to carpentry work so I passed these guiding days to my colleagues Jeremy and Brant .  They had lots of action and released all the fish for the two days.  There are lots of chinooks , but there are catch restrictions for early season this year . More to say about that in a later post .  Taking photos of fish to release is controversial , although  I am in favour of the occasional picture for memories.  But none here for this couple . Good times , for just memories .

Saturday, 5 January 2019

How do you like to cook salmon ?

                               Here is a morsel saved in time for a photo.  

I am often asked how I like to cook salmon.   Here is my old answer, and then my better answer.

The short answer is that I usually do the simplest thing . Barbeque a section of a fillet , skin side down , with just a bit of steak pepper or lemon pepper sprinkled on top.  Maybe a few splashes of soya sauce.  Check the fish often , and when the flesh is cooked through the thickest part , serve immediately.   Use your spatula to separate the flesh from the skin , especially if the fire has been too hot, and leave the skin behind, stuck to the grill.  You can let the skin get extra crispy on it's own and serve it separately, as a treat for those who like that. 

 Another way I cook salmon , the opposite of crispy,  is with aluminium foil .  Spread out a sheet of foil and always be careful not to puncture it at any time.  Put a big dollop of butter in the middle and place the fillet on top of that , skin side down. Then turn up all the edges to make a shallow tub and add a bath of white wine. Cover over the top with foil and you will poach the fish in white wine.  Putting some lemon slices and dill on top of the fish makes a nice combination .  This method leaves a wider amount of time for serving ,and of coarse it stays moist. 

I'm not much of a cook , so I am extremely appreciative that my better half, Shamra ,can cook very well.  While I am lucky for that, I still get involved with the cooking of salmon , at home and away . 
 In my life , it has been very interesting to notice the change of cooking style from hot and fast , to slow and easy , and now settling gently into a sweet spot .  

 I was very influenced by the fishing folks around me in the late 1970s when I was fishing from Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast to Pender Harbour. Hot and fast , with care to not overcook, was what I learned.  This was re-enforced in the book " Mooching , The Salmon Fisherman's Bible " , by David Nutall , published in 1980 , and revolving around that particular area. Mr. Nutall says he had tried every possible way to cook salmon , and there was one method he loved best . As follows ;

  Put three tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan . Dry the fish with paper towel and then sprinkle  it liberally with pepper on both sides .  Set the stove on 9 out of 10 . Place the fish flesh side down in the oil and put a pot lid over the frying pan .

 Quoting Mr Nutall " The next step is a little hard to comprehend but I just let that fish cook in that very hot oil for about three minutes . You will experience a moment of panic when you see clouds of steam and maybe smoke emerging from under the pot lid and you will think you are ruining your fish, but the trick is to cook it fast over a very hot heat. "   After three minutes , turn the fish skin side down and repeat approximately three minutes , checking the fish with a fork,and when the flesh turns from red to pink , serve it . Nutall sums up, " I have never tasted fish that appealed to me more than doing it this way and I strongly recommend it to you ."   

Then I moved north to Quadra Island and the Campbell River area.  In the 1980s and most of the 90s , I was guiding from an open 17 ft Boston Whaler , which was great for going to shore for beach picnics . Sometimes we had several boats in family or corporate groups, and we cooked up fish fresh caught that morning.  So , I got to see other fellows do the cooking as well. In this situation it was hard to control the heat over the fire , or charcoal, so the temperature must have varied a lot from time to time , but the general technique always worked .  Cook until just done through , and serve immediately.  

 Around this time, I became exposed to how some people in this north end of Georgia Strait cooked salmon at home.  Often it was cooked slow and delicately , softer in texture , and many times surprisingly close to rare in the centre of the thickest part. This is the acquired taste of these fish eaters , I thought to myself , recognizing that this was exactly the result intended. 

This post is inspired by the delicious dinner that Shamra served recently from a chunk of chinook salmon from the bottom of the freezer . It was SO GOOD .  She found the recipe on the website " The best salmon you've ever had is slow-baked in just 22 minutes ".

 I made a fuss about how wonderful it was , so  she showed me the page , and I was delighted to see the comparisons of cooking at a range of temperatures in their test kitchen.  The best temperature was 275 . I love the science meets craft aspect of this . In slow baking  "the fat renders gradually and gives the fish a luscious, silky, melt  in your mouth texture " and no fishy cooking smell..  Some panko crumbs on top with mustard and paprika , and voila . Simple , and easy when you know how.  At least Shamra makes it look easy.