It’s amazing how it seems that we are so right in the middle of it all. Our mornings are still early, there are boats to fuel, bait and tackle to sell, we are on the water all day, fish to clean and package, suppers to make and dishes to clear, and then… it feels like in one fell swoop, it ends…
The lodge was full to the brim on the September long weekend. It was hustle and bustle with excited fisherfolks just as it has been all summer. I fished Monday morning till 11ish then back to the lodge, showered, packed my bag and off on a Pacific Seaplanes Beechcraft floatplane. By 1:30 pm Monday afternoon I was having lunch in Vancouver and just like that, my season ends… The lodge is still up and running this week and will be through next week but now it’s more catching up on paper work and getting things ready to close up. And just like that we start the process of dreaming of next year….
As for the few ardent fishers who will still be making the trek to Barkley Sound? We can still offer some last minute advice as to where to go and what to drag behind the boat.
The Derby weekend, in all honesty, I found difficult. I expected to deal with much more boat pressure than usual but that teamed up with some marginal fishing results made things a tough grind.
I fished with returning guest Carmen and his lovely wife Rene. They were at Harbourside with the Pace Processing Group. (Thanks so much to our friend Sean Darrah for organizing such a great crew and great food for all of us on the long weekend!) We fished hard Friday starting at Little Beale and Whittlestone and finishing at Edward King and Kirby. We ran a skinny g at 37 feet on one rigger and a chovey at 33 feet on the other. After 4 hours we returned to the lodge without a sniff. There were 5 other Harbourside boats out with the Pace Processing group Friday afternoon and some boats did well on running bait. Al, Joe, Tom, Sean and Duncan all came back to the dock with 2 or more nice fish. Coach? nope we were skunked…
The next day dawned with renewed hope. We trolled Kirby first light then tried the Wall all the way to Danvers. Again, not even a hit. We ran bait at 33 and 37 feet. Once we arrived near Danvers we ran a bit deeper at 39 and 45 feet. No results but very clean gear. Ahhh… Frustration indeed setting in. This is prime time after all!
We pulled up our gear and set off for Flemming. Running bait in a bloody nose teaser head and green uv flasher at 29 feet and then a purple haze teaser head and purple flasher we finally had some action. The bloody nose hit not 5 minutes after we dropped the gear but didn’t stick. Then my old fav purple took over. We managed two nice springs and a gorgeous coho to the boat expertly played by Rene and Carmen. Not a great day as far as full fish boxes were concerned but it felt like we made some progress and we all had a great time on the water.
Th next day was an offshore day for a hali hunt. Neither Carmen nor Rene had tagged into a hali before so we had high expectations. We hit our hali spot early, 14 miles off Cape Beale on a hump that comes up to 197 feet. The idea was to anchor up setting our gear in around 205 feet or so. We were teamed up with Tom’s boat Aqualady.
My first anchor drop was miscalculated and we did not drift into where I though the best hali fishing would be. I pulled up and tried again. Once again I was off on my expected drift. I was not comfortable with our spot. We pulled up one more time.
Now it was stick and stay and make it pay time. Tom’s boat, Aqualady were into 2 nice hali before we dropped a third time. Not long after we settled our first hali hit. Salmon bellies on spreader bars were once again what these flatties were after.
In the next four hours we had 11 large hali hit and peel line. Only one stuck. It was another frustrating afternoon to say the least. 100 meters to our west Aqualady boated four beauties including a 130cm 65lb fish. We came home with a lovely 37lb hali but were very disappointed at what could have been. Such is fishing….It ain’t catching after all..
So if you are making one last trip out to Bamfield I’d suggest the following. Little Beale, Whittlestone, Brady’s Beach and the Wall all the way down to Danvers will be fishable and produce. We were starting to see some beautiful northern coho show and there will still be the odd spring around. Choveys, glow white hootchies and and small spoons, (skinny gs will be killer in glow green and white) will give you a solid shot at hooking up. 25 to 40 feet on the riggers. Kirby and Flemming will also be productive. I love the tack in tight at Flemming with less than 40 feet of water under your boat.
So we are almost done. I do have one more trip and it’s a biggie. Officially I am done my personal business and I am now back at my real job. I am the Athletic Director at St. John’s School here in Vancouver. Hence my moniker as “Coach”. Every fall during the 2nd week of September I take 44 grade 10 students out to Bamfield and Harbourside Lodge for 4 days. It is an awesome experience. Showcasing 44 teenagers the amazing west coast of the Island and the treasures of Barley Sound is a real joy for me. We hike, we fish, we whale watch. The kids cook and clean and really get into life on the west coast. It’s my favourite trip of the season. Watching the kids eyes light up as they feel their first tug on the line, see a breaching humpback or 1500 lbs of steller sea lion lazing on the rocks likely does more for me than it does for them. Sharing this with our young people indeed goes along way to keeping you young too. Can’t wait…
Until then… as per usual, Aussie John and Franny are keeping the lodge, gas bar and tackle shop up and running. We will be selling bait and fuel all through next week. I’ll have a final run through of the last part of the season and some thoughts on the summer as a whole. In the mean time and in between time,
Tight lines and full boxes…