Monday, 23 June 2014


One of the tough times for a guide is having a break down. I filled in for H when his motor quit. It hurts to lose the motor, and the income until it is fixed. But probably worst is missing fishing with guests who have become friends. I subbed in, in a bittersweet situation, enjoying the company of his old time clients. H had already guided Wayne, Bonnie and Terry into quite a few fish, we caught some more, and released some.

The Ursula Challenge

 Ursula phoned me from her vacation rental house.  "Can you take me fishing for a few hours ?" Well, I explained, my normal minimum is 5 hours but.......we kept talking. " I am getting older and I have a sprained knee and I'm feeling a bit fragile. "  We made an arrangement and I further agreed to postpone if the wind came up. I assured her we could fish in nice conditions. So , Ursula's request was quite simple: take her fishing with her daughter in nice sea conditions, no wind or rain, catch a salmon or two and stay out only two or three hours. Oh, and not early in the morning. Hmm, there's a challenge.
  Well, we did postpone due to weather. And on the evening of her trip I phoned her again. I asked if she would mind going out late in the afternoon so I could fit in another fishing party , in order to fill in for a guiding friend whose boat had broken down. She agreed, on my assurance that it was not a less favourable time.
 So we went out at 3 pm. Ursula's first salmon was a coho that we had to release, but it was an exciting practice fish. After an hour and a half or so, she caught a nice chinook, followed by Angela's shortly after. No more bites for quite a while, and so I trolled a fishing route toward home. We picked up one more at almost the three hour mark. Ursula said a lot of enthusiastic things about the thrill of fishing but that was enough and we came in.  
 I hope she'll want to do this again in another year, but she might have high expectations to meet on the next challenge !
Rick 250 830 8680

Thursday, 19 June 2014


 Dean and Curt got into some busy coho fishing. We caught 14 in the morning , of which 6 were hatchery marked cohos that we are allowed to keep.  Great sport on light tackle. We took tissue samples of the first ten. The regulations allow 2 hatchery cohos per person  ( per day, 4 in possession ). We tag and turn the heads in , which have a tiny pin that encodes information about the fish. So, you can see a couple of extra cohos in this photo, which belong to the skipper. I did it for science, you know, but they will taste good.
 We couldn't find a chinook at that location, so when the tide changed favourably, we went to a different spot, and targeted the chinooks. The fellows brought in 3 , and had some more action.
 Rick  250 830 8680

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day collection

Katie and Zak caught four chinooks that will be served at Bradley and Amelja's wedding reception.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Andrew and Catherine

Andrew and Catherine returned again this year.  We had a full day planned and fishing was good, so we also moved around the islands to check out some spots toward Desolation Sound.    
Rick  250 830 8680

eagles ,whales, fish

  I happened to see an eagle swimming in from the deeper currents with a catch, and guessed that he was pulling in a small salmon, because that water would be an unlikely place to catch a greenling or a rockfish on the surface. His, or her, partner was swooping around cheering him on, or on the lookout to grab the prize if he dropped it. I went for my camera, and then back down to the boat, untied, and taxied to where I had last seen wings fluttering on the far side of the boulders on the shore. I thought I had plenty of time, but the great photo got away, again. The dry partner eagle swooped in at the shore, and carried the fish to the nearby nest, while the wet one shook himself off.  In the photo , you can  easily see one eagle in the nest,  and if you look closely, the wet one is above, in the tree branches.

I had hardly tied up again when a pod of orcas ( Killer Whales ) came in to view. There were two or three boats, including the "whale watcher" tour operators, keeping the respectful 100 metres to the side which is required by law. Andrew and Catherine had arrived, so I went up and asked them if they wanted to go out to see the whales, which they did.
These orcas are the mammal eaters that we see all year around, at unpredictable times as they try to ambush prey such as seals and dolphins and porpoises.
It is easy to get too close if you are actually trying to get as close as allowed but not closer.
And from a distance, sometimes boats look closer than they are. It is also easy to get surprised at cruising speed and find a whale close by. The Coast Guard boat came running up through the Tyee Pool ( not rowboat season, yet ) and looking like he is too close to one of the kids in the Orca pod (family).

While we were watching, one of my guide friends pulled in briefly to share the view with his guests, on their way back in from their morning fishing. S came near and said the fishing was good, but his three anglers raved that they had all caught their limit, and their excitement was contagious.
So we decided to go out. Well, the next tide was not so good at all, for anyone. Salmon do have their ways. However, fishing for us the next day was very, very good.

Monday, 9 June 2014


        Way to go Ben !       Happy Birthday !
   and cheers to Dallas, deckhand, coach, cheerleader.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


 I am a big fan of hands-on ,light tackle fishing. Locally , many of us just call this "shallow fishing", common and proven decades ago, but which is getting to be a forgotten art. The tackle is a light rod, approximately like a #9 fly rod , but with a longer butt behind the reel, 15 lb line, and small weight such as half, or 1 or 2 oz. weight, trolled only 40 or 50 ft behind the boat. The angler handles the tackle, rather than watching the downrigger and boat do the fishing. Often, the angler is holding the rod. I guided 15 or 20 years without downriggers, or even rod holders. The bite is dramatic, electric, personal.  We are close in to kelp, or shore, or boulder reefs, in shallower depth than length of line out. Sometimes you can see bottom. In deeper water the salmon are attracted up behind the prop wash.

Today we took two chinooks in the shallows. When I felt that we had covered the bite and it was time to move, we went to the downriggers and fished deep off of the nearby shelves, and caught another chinook. We also lucked into a hatchery coho, which grabbed the spoon in the upper part of the water, while it was being retrieved after losing a chinook. I fish lures or bait straight on the fishing line, with a "dummy" attractor flasher on the rigger, so that when the line comes out of the clip, it is just you and the fish. We  also sampled and released two undersize chinooks.

Here is my improved rig for measuring and tissue sampling for live release.

 In the shallows, you are much more aware of the food web. We see the krill and herring schools we are fishing around.  The chinooks had large herring in their stomachs. The coho was stuffed on the shrimp that he and the herring were feeding on.
Peter loved the light tackle style, and took home quite a few salmon meals for his family.
Rick  250 830 8680

Saturday, 7 June 2014


This afternoon at 5:00 pm , while talking with the neighbours,  a great surging and turbulence attracted our attention in the very shallow water right in front of the bow of my boat.  Suddenly an eagle swooped down and carried off a lovely salmon about 18 inches long. The seal ,who had done the hard work of corralling the salmon into the shore,  backed off into deeper water and watched his dinner plan head for the tree tops.
 For the seal it was the story of the one that got away.  I don't know if the salmon was a small chinook, or a coho. I wasn't quick enough to get a photo. So for me it was the story of the photo that got away.

Friday, 6 June 2014


 Here are three similar sized chinooks from a recent trip. We hope to help scientists learn which rivers they come from by taking tissue samples which will have their DNA extracted and analyzed by DFO biologists.
There are only a few guides who are doing this, but I am convinced this is important and I hope that all of my guests are willing, or eager, to put a little effort toward science.
 We use a punch, like a paper punch, to remove a small sample and put it in a small vial, each numbered for identification. In the photo, you can see the hole punch on the tail. We also take samples from undersize fish, which is very important information, and for these live release fish, we take the sample just at the very trailing edge of the tail.
 Within each salmon species, unique races return to their own home rivers, and often there are runs that overlap with their own timing. We catch and recognize some of these broad differences in salmon types. Speaking only of chinooks, a particular type that is talked about are a short-nosed variety that have been called " Columbias " because they look like their cousins which are a significant part of the Columbia River chinooks.  But the " Stubbies " that we catch here on the inside of Vancouver Island are almost always from the Fraser River's interior plateau, and related to their cousins from the other side of the mountain divide by their common history at the end of the last Ice Age.
 The extreme examples of those " Stubbies " have obviously short noses, but also bodies that are much more tubular in shape than the vertically flattened deep bellied chinooks like the Campbell River chinooks, and they have little or no spots, particularly on the tail. The lack of spots of these chinooks can confuse new anglers who are reading the official identification guide which says that the spots are a way to distinguish chinooks from cohos. . We generally do not catch such fish among the feeding fish, but do hook them in the "Straits" on their homeward migration route.
 The nearest fish in the photo has a somewhat "Stubby" face, with the short round mouth, but it's body is otherwise much like the other two. So here is an example of a middle type. Fascinating, I think. I hope we will be able to learn where these fish come from.      250 830 8680


 There goes SEA BEAR with the new owner.  Some of you really appreciated that boat , as I did.  I'm especially thinking of you , Renata , and how much you liked the high freeboard and the " Texas heater".  But , on the other side, Terry and Juli called her the " Minnie Winnie" as in Winnebago.  All the boats are compromises between shelter and open platforms.  I think the Grady is a good balance to fulfill all needs.  I'll miss that classic old Sea Ray, but I just couldn't keep her in storage indefinitely.  Travel well, my old friend.