On hook and line, fighting these sometimes monster
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Caamano Sound - BC Salmon & Halibut Fishing AdventureBy Cro Lucas,
We arrived at our Fishing Lodge after a spectacular 2-hour flight from Vancouver. The last leg of the flight was flown in a mint condition Grumman Goose. Our convoy of 3 Gooses had cruised through some of the most beautiful scenery in the World, at an altitude of 500 feet, and then deposited us on the dock next to the ship.
We had to make our way through stacks of insulated cartons belonging to the outgoing guests from the previous trip. One look at the tally board (they don´t call it brag board for nothing!) told us their story.
21 guests were taking home 1370lbs of filleted fish, the biggest being a 42lb monster Tyee. (Over 30lb King Salmon)
The Lodge awards a red hat to all members of the BC Tyee Club, and this group sported 10 red hats! We knew we were in for a treat!
At this time of the year there are only 4 hours of darkness and that´s when you get some sleep, otherwise you fish and then party afterwards.
We fished that first evening until 10PM and returned to the Lodge to find a delightful buffet dinner waiting for us. While we tucked in, and drank some of the best tasting ales on tap, the fishmaster and his crew worked feverishly below us on the boat deck, cleaning, filleting, and vacuum packing our nights catch. What a life!
The day starts at 5Am when one of the staff bangs on your door and says "rise & shine there´s fish to be caught"
After a hasty continental breakfast, you pack sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and beverages in a cooler bag and head for the drying room. Once you have donned warm dry outerwear and boots you head for the boat dock where your boat is waiting, engine idling, cleaned, fully fuelled, bait box and ice chest topped up.
My fishing partner, Don Moore, and I had planned where we would fish the night before, so we headed straight for Renaison Island, and 35 minutes later we had our first strike of the day. It got away but we knew we were in the right area.
After catching and releasing several 20lb Chinooks we bagged a couple of Tyees in the mid 30lb range and decided to head in for lunch because the chef had mentioned that he was doing a seafood spread. We weren´t disappointed. After picking our way through mussels, scallops, clams, grilled salmon and halibut, we grabbed some cold beer and headed back to the fishing grounds. Our boat had been refueled and clean dry towels and fresh bait had been restocked.
We planned to fish an area called Eclipse Point, a distance of 45 minutes from the Lodge, but halfway there we picked up a lot of boisterous chatter on the VHF radio and after contacting some of the other Lodge boats, changed direction to head towards the south end of Renaison Island.
It was obvious that a major run of Kings was coming through, and everywhere we looked, rods were bent double and there was lots of whooping and hollering, a very good sign!
Within half an hour Don and I had a double header and the adrenalin rush was on!
Playing and landing one big King is exciting; two at a time is wild excitement!
I landed my fish first, singlehanded, after 35 minutes of hard play and it looked to be about 35lbs or more. Don had obviously hooked into a monster, which refused to give up peacefully, and everytime it caught sight of our boat, it would sound and head for open water, peeling off yards and yards of screaming line.
One hour and 20 minutes later we had netted the monster and what a beauty! It measured 47 inches long, nearly 18 inches in depth and was unmarked and bright silver. When we brought it back to the Lodge we discovered it was 58.5lbs, and a Lodge record for that area. That earned Don Moore a red hat and a gold Tyee pin, and the daily fishing pool as well as the prize for the biggest salmon of the trip, a total of nearly $1000.00. Not a bad day´s work!!
Once we had our limit of Salmon for the trip (4 Kings) we decided to try our luck at Halibut fishing.
We had heard that there was a Halibut shelf about a mile west of Clark Cove at a depth of 230 feet. After lining ourselves up between Eclipse point and Clark Cove, we maneuvered back and forth; scanning the depth sounder until it suddenly went from 650 to 230 feet.
We rafted 2 boats together because it usually takes more than two persons to land a Halibut, and we all dropped our lines.
Within 15 minutes we had hauled up 3 good sized Red Snapper, when someone in the next boat yelled "got one on!´ As soon as we turned to look, all the rest of our rods bent over and we had 4 halibut on the go.
It takes about 15 minutes to wind up a 25lb Halibut from 200+ feet. 35 minutes later we still hadn´t got a glimpse of our haul.
When the first Halibut surfaced, we knew we were going to have our hands full. It was easily 40lbs and not happy about its situation. A 40lb live halibut loose in a boat can break your legs with its whipping tail and smash up just about everything in the boat! They are very difficult to kill because their brains are the size of a small pea and their skulls have the consistency of tempered steel.
We harpooned it and quickly tied it off to a handrail, because the second Halibut was just surfacing. Fortunately it was only a 25lber, and we broke our gaff beating the daylights out of it, and stuffed it in the fish locker.
The third fish was as big as the first one, so we harpooned it and tied it to the second boat. But now our only 2 harpoons were out of service. While 2 of our group wrestled with the first fish, I reeled up my Halibut, which was easily over 60lbs. When it started to thrash the side of our boat, the other 2 fish that were in the process of being landed, woke up and decided to turn us all into mincemeat!
The ideal way to deal with a situation like this would be to radio the fishmaster to come and deal with the problem then jump out of the boat, and swim to shore, but we were a mile from shore in 45 degree water and that wouldn´t work here!
While two of our foursome tried to stand on top of these thrashing, slime covered denizens of the deep, the rest of us attempted to lasso the tail and then pass the line through a gill, out the mouth and then back to the tail, to make a purse.
1 hour and 45 minutes after we had arrived, we surveyed the damage: 2 broken gaffs; 2 smashed lures; 1 bent fish bonker, and a spilled thermos of coffee. When we looked at one another all we could do was howl with laughter as we relived this contest between man and Halibut!
We packed up headed back to the Lodge with 259lbs of Halibut aboard and a heck of a story to recount around the bar.
Four fabulous days later we walked down the dock to board our plane, and we had to wind our way through stacks of our own insulated cartons. The brag board told our story: "June 25 — 28, party of 28, 3948lbs going out, extra aircraft needed"
For most of our group this was the first time in Caamano Sound because prior to this season there were no resorts to service the area, but as Arnie say´s; "We´ll be back!"
For more information on the above and other trips of a lifetime...
Call: 1-888-388-2811 or Visit BC Golf and Fishing JourneyMakers Guide .
Caamano Sound Trip Report for Fisherman magazine.