Steve and Sandy have known each other for ages, and would have said that they enjoyed everything even without fish. We delayed our start a little bit for morning fog and headed north through Seymour Narrows. Sandy is from Hawaii but doesn't seem to mind the cool start. Steve is originally from California, but he's a real sailor. The sun wins out in time and it is a beautiful day. September 28.
Sandy wants me to make a point of describing my prediction for the day and how it turned out as expected, and more so. This isn't magical, I've just been saying what any local guide would know fits a pattern, although this was an extreme example.
We started on the the ebb, changing locations in steps, moving north as the fog lets up. In recent days the chum fishing has been slow but there have been fair numbers of cohos coming in. This should be a good time in September for both, but it seems the chums have been travelling by and not biting very much.
I describe our fishing for the first and biggest part of the day as searching, and picking away at it. (This ebb would be a great time to be south fishing for chinooks on the deep ebb drift off of Cape Mudge , and that fishing has been good and steady , which has attracted many of the other boats to there.) We hope to come apon a concentration of fish tucked in, but never do. But we are moving in a strategy to arrive at one of a couple of spots that could turn on when the flood starts.
We are in position , patrolling a favourite section of coastline, when the tide turns. Right time, right place. At the first push of the flood we start to see travelling salmon on the surface, some tight to shore, along the kelp, some in clusters off of our deep side. A large school of chums shows porpoising toward us and I turn the boat downstream in their path, and suddenly we have two fish on. Two good fights , from two nice cohos. Suddenly action. In short order we have caught some, missed some bites, lost some , and have caught all that is allowed or needed. We happily bring in the gear and tidy the boat for the ride back. Interestingly, while we are seeing chums, and have some gear specifically targeting them, we are catching only cohos, but a couple of bites did look like chum bites. Schools of salmon are porpoising southward, homeward bound, as we leave.
Alistair and his wife are Australians, exploring BC and ,for a time, joined on this trip by two more Aussies, his brother Chris , and a good friend, also Chris. They really love the BC wilderness and are making a trip with a schedule. Today is the day for fishing, because they have just come from grizzly bear watching up-coast yesterday, and tomorrow they are travelling down -island . Unfortunately, Alistair's wife caught a bug and isn't feeling well enough to join in.
Sept 22. The weather forecast is for rain and wind, the first storm for a long time. We head north and as you can see, we are in a very sheltered spot. The rain comes, but eases off, and stops.
That is a nice mature coho in the photo. It is late enough in September for chum salmon to be migrating through here. We see the top of schools of them on the surface several times, but the moody chums are not biting very much. We do get a couple of good bites that don't stick. Tricky rascals. Two pink salmon also come to the net. Not a bad day for a day with a nasty forecast.
Michael and Beth were so enthused by their fishing trip in early July that they came back again ( from the Okanogan ) in mid September and brought along Beth's son Steve and wife Betsy. The weather was perfect and calm. This time there were prime cohos as well as chinooks. ( We weren't really competing, but we did notice that the other boat caught more chinooks than we did. Good job, Hugh.)
Sheyenne planned ahead for this trip for her family with husband Jason, and daughter Augustine. She had read my webpage and liked the idea of the big experience, lunch at a restaurant ashore and seeing wildlife, as well as catching some salmon. They departed from home in Seattle at midday, and stayed overnight in Campbell River. After their fishing day they carried on to stay at a B+B on Quadra Island. Sept 16.
The morning salmon fishing produced action, cohos to bring home, and then trying harder and deeper for chinooks turned up some dogfish sharks and a hake before it was time for a lunch break. It turned out that the restaurant at Gorge Harbour , Cortes Island, was already limiting it's hours by mid September, so a flexible plan was in order. So we stopped at Dick's Fish and Chips, a floating eatery on the Campbell River waterfront. Then north through the Narrows for a change of scenery, a view up the Straits , and fishing close to the hard edged shore for the big one, which didn't come. There were a couple of bald eagles checking us out, especially our released undersized chinook, gorgeous scenery, but not a lot of wildlife really. But there would be an encore.
We were tying up back at the dock when we heard from CR Whale Watching that there were Orcas coming nearer on the south side of town, So, we headed back out, toward Willow Point, slowed when we saw a couple of boats holding position, got a fleeting look and then positioned ourselves at a respectful distance. It was a pretty nice showing of an Orca family, lovely calm conditions, and still it isn't easy to get a great photo, especially without a long lens. Everyone was delighted to see these Orcas, which made a fine end to the day.
The schools of big herring just keep hanging around in Georgia Strait. In mid September these mature cohos and many of the immature chinooks are about the same size. ( Those are mature cohos on the left, the tiny eggs indicate that this chinook won't spawn for another year. ) The cohos will be on there way soon, but the chinooks will be here growing all winter, and spring, and summer.
These herring are likely also the reason that humpback whales have been in Georgia Strait so much more in recent years.
Reg and Connie came out and got a sample of what was coming down the straits as we got well into September. The great sockeye run has pretty well all gone by, but homecoming cohos are are right on time and some nice chinooks like this one are still coming through.
This trio loves to fish, has fished everywhere, and also loves to eat fish. They hoped for some sockeye fishing on an afternoon trip as they passed through Campbell River. The fish cooperated and we made an arrangement to drop fish off at High Tide Seafoods for vacuum packing. Thanks for fitting this in Steve, Mark and Rob. And, thanks Scott for lining this up.
That's Trent , Gerald, and Dieter with just part of their catch. This trip was a donation to help the fundraising project for rebuilding the Mossom Creek hatchery after the fire.
Sockeye fishing was pretty hot. There was one coho in the mix, plus a limit of sockeyes.
The Mossom Creek Hatchery is on the creek that flows though Port Moody into Burrard Inlet, on the edge of Vancouver. There was a terrible fire that wiped the structure out and then a terrific effort by volunteers to rebuild it. My sister lives in the area and she asked if I could help out. A day of fishing with Brightfish Charters went on the auction block at the Gala night and was bought by Linda Weinberg, who gifted it to Gerald.
Bob and Bob came to Quadra for a short trip. They might not otherwise have thought of this place , but they are married to sisters, and family connections brought them . The sockeyes had been biting , so that seemed like the fun thing to do. They managed to catch their limit of four each. That is lots of delicious salmon to share.
We just squeezed this in . Jessie and his young family were staying at the Q Cove Quadra Vacation House, on a holiday trip from Victoria. There was just a late afternoon spot to fit and we did it. - Had to take the little tyke , of course. Kids are usually better in the boat than you might expect.
Jessie had a couple of coho bites that didn't stay stuck on. A bit later when we committed to chinooks a dandy one fooled us by playing possum until he was close, and then, surprise, made a quick move and the line broke. Breaking the line is pretty rare, really. A bad break.
So, no fish on this trip..... I'm offering this family a free trip to try again.
Another great year. I've had the privilege of fishing with this crew for more than 25 years. The core of the original group has still been returning like salmon. Many have persevered through medical hardships. Some have sadly gone to the happy heavenly fishing grounds. New members have joined in over the years. Some are family, some friends. There are several father and son pairs. These fellows bring their California fun attitude big time.
I'm one of the early core of guides, but Scott has been the lead . Some guides have changed over time, too, of course. The base camp resort has also changed a couple of times. But , there remains a close team feeling of good friends.
Zachary is a very keen angler. He and Michelle and youngster Hugh came out from Alberta. He has fished a lot, in a variety of places. Fishing was generally good to excellent over the three days ( and I didn't take enough photos ).
Day 1. We started on the afternoon of the day of arrival, off of the south end of Quadra Island. It was just Zak and me, on a lovely calm afternoon. Schools of herring , large size herring, were up on top of the shelf in shallow water. Gulls and murres pointed the way. We fished with simple sporting tackle, plugs and spoons and kept Zak BUSY ! Lots of bites. He kept two chinooks and two coho, which is his limit, and in between released a chinook and several coho. We took biosamples of all.
On Day 2. This trip is planned to be flexible, depending on how Hugh reacts in the boat. We went north of the narrows with the idea that, if needed, we could take a break at Brown's Bay Marina. We boated three sockeyes and two pinks before crossing over to the west side to try for a big chinook. Hugh was just fine, fun to be around, and not too fussy, considering he still is the centre of the universe. No big chinooks grabbed on, and with the wind coming up, we came back in the early afternoon.
Day 3. Just Zak and me again today, with a start time after 10 am so Zak could take care of some things. We couldn't find a concentration of fish in the shallows this time, but with the downriggers just off the shelf , we found fish. Zak kept a wild coho, a hatchery marked coho, and a chinook. And I got to fish too, keeping a wild coho and a hatchery coho. We released an undersize chinook, and took tissue samples from all the fish, and tagged the heads of the hatchery cohos, which I took to the depot later.
The long weekend in August was a perfect time for Brad and Amelja's wedding.
I took several days out from guiding for this event, including organizing the salmon barbecue. We did manage to get a bit of family out in the boat for entertainment.
Alisha is a rock climber. This cliff is pretty cool, you could fall in the water. But she would't fall.
Todd with his parents, Gary and Barb.
This was booked with a different company. From the guest's point of view, it is the same experience. I don't show photos of guests that are really someone else's clients. This photo exception is just an indicator of that part of guiding.
Jason came with his daughter Gillian and his dad Larry. They drove up from their hotel in Parksville, so we didn't start out until after 8 am. A nice day for a road drive and for a boat cruise up the straits for fishing. One good-sized coho for each generation.
Avra lives on Quadra and California, and had her friends Ira and Marcy visiting from Ontario. So take them fishing, and they.... do a fish dance!
In addition to the two nice chinooks and a coho, we released three undersize chinooks after taking biosamples and measuring them. (You can see the measuring board on the floor.) They were all 22 to 23 inches in length, which is a good sign for chinook fishing next year.