Mar/Apr 2008

Mar/Apr 2008
Mar/Apr 2008
Mar/Apr 2008
Mar/Apr 2008


by Larry E. Stefanyk

On 1 September 2007, I left Campbell River at 11:15 a.m. with my brother-in law, Don Ritter, and drove north on Highway 19. We arrived at the Zeballos turnoff at 2:45 p.m., then it was a 45-minute trip into Zeballos, where we met Adrian O’Connor at the dock. Two anglers from Fort McMurray, Larry Smith and Noel Swanton, travelled with us to Pacific Safari, a two-story floating lodge located on the north side of Nootka Island in McBride Bay. Once there, we had a tour of Pacific Safari, which is run by John Murray and Donna Seymour, then enjoyed drinks and a dinner of ribs, fresh vegetables, potatoes, and a great desert.

As Pacific Safari was fully booked we went to Ceepeecee Lodge in Newton Cove to spend the night. We stayed in one of the original cabins, which was quite a treat in itself. Had a wee drop with Don and talked fishing until 11, then turned in.

We were up at 5:30, and then Adrian picked us up and we headed back to the lodge for a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. We finished in plenty of time to depart at 7 for the fishing grounds at Ferrer Point in Esperanza Inlet.

Adrian fishes with Shimano Convergence rods and Islander MR3 reels spooled with Berkley Big Game fluorescent green line. He said the best setup at that time was an anchovy in a Rhys Davis Anchovy Special, with Red/Chrome and Clear/Green Scale the two hot colours. He attaches a short length of wire to each teaser, which allows him to bend an anchovy’s tail for increased action.

The Clear/Green Scale was trailed behind an O’Ki Green and Gold Big Shooter Flasher; the Red/Chrome on its own, but with a similar “false flasher” about 10 feet behind the downrigger cable, so it was above and slightly ahead of the bait.

We started trolling at 40-50 feet, and within minutes the false flasher line popped off the downrigger. Don had first dibs, but quickly lost what would have been his first Chinook. The next take was mine – a 20-pound Chinook on the same setup. It was like fly fishing – just me and the fish, and that Chinook had more than enough backbone to make it a true tug of war.

With my fish safely in the net, a fresh anchovy was quickly back in the water. Don was soon back in business, and played a good-sized Chinook all the way to the boat like he had been doing it all his life. Once beside the boat, however, the Chinook went crazy – rolling and twisting wildly – and finally spit the hook.

My next fish was a 21-pound Chinook that fought so hard I thought it was much larger.

As I had limited out on Chinooks by 9:30, all rods were now Don’s, and he quickly landed an 18-pound Chinook. The fast-and-furious bite suddenly ended, and we trolled for nearly an hour before Don got his last Chinook, a twin to his first 18-pounder. With our limit of Chinooks in the boat by 10:30, Adrian decided we should try for coho. This called for a move, and a change of gear on one rod, which he rigged with a Luhr Jensen Halloween Coyote Spoon behind a Green and Silver O’Ki Flasher. We were soon rewarded with a couple of nice mid-teen coho, and then called it quits.

After returning to Pacific Safari, Adrian filleted our fish and iced them down, and into the cooler they went. Our two travelling companions from the previous day had also experienced a great day of fishing. Noel Swanton, who actually hails from Whitecourt, Alberta, had landed his first Chinook ever, and was about three feet off the ground as he re-lived the story over and over for the rest of the evening.

Supper consisted of rib-eye steaks, blue potatoes and vegetables, and the dessert was ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries.

We hit the hot tub and were in bed by 11.

We were up at 5:30, showered, had breakfast, and headed back to Ferrer, where we picked up two more Chinooks before striking out offshore for halibut. We quickly landed our limit of chicken halibut and, as the sea was starting to pick up, wisely headed back to Pacific Safari. After Adrian finished processing our morning’s catch, we said out goodbyes to the lodge staff and headed back to Zeballos.

Based on experience I can state that this was a typical experience when fishing with Adrian O’Connor, who I consider one of the best guides on the West Coast. He fishes out of a 27-foot Sea Ray with a 250 h.p. Suzuki Four Stroke outboard, has the beat of electronics, and uses some of the finest gear available. He guides out of Victoria for most of the winter, and then heads to Zeballos to fish Nootka Sound from May to September.

For more information on a trip with Reel Obsession Sport Fishing
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Huxley’s Run: 

715 words
Huxley’s Run


By Dr. Adipose Huxley

The cutthroats were there. I watched as three of them swirled and slashed, sometimes chasing fry right out of the water. I had gone there just to take a peek -- see if they were around. I watched the marauding trout for a few moments, then raced back to my Jeep and donned my waders.

It took only about five minutes, but when I returned they were gone. The water’s surface was calm and smooth. I passed the time watching a drake merganser vying for the amorous attention of the redheaded female, practically drowning her in the process.

Then there was another swirl and the cutthroats were back, breaking the water’s calm surface into elastic circles that expanded and broke as the fish changed direction, slashing at another opportunity.

I cast to one swirl and then another, and soon the water in front of me turned into an apparent feeding frenzy. At least three trout swung around and took vicious swipes at my fly, but they all came up short.

I reached for my fly box and realized that I had left it in the truck. Not wanting to miss the action I kept fishing, and kept missing. Then all was quiet again, but still I didn’t go back to the truck for the other flies -- even though Van Egan had given me some dynamite fry patterns that I was certain would stop the cutthroats from coming up short.

Then a familiar figure showed up on the opposite bank. It was my friend, Francis Drake, who knows those waters better than pretty well anyone else I know, except maybe Mike Rippingale or Barry Ross. Francis eased quietly into the water and we started our usual conversation -- what it was like yesterday, what the tide was doing today, how the fish might move with it or against it, what wildlife we saw. And then the cutthroats were back and right in front of me.

This time they did something neither Francis nor I had ever seen before. A small school seemed to be simply porpoising, rolling on the surface much like pinks will do when they are staging just off the beaches by their natal rivers when they return to spawn.

They were close to me but out of Francis’s casting range.

“I think the wind is going to pick up out of the west,” Francis said.

It was a suggestion that I should cross over to his side and cast with the wind instead of against it. But since there was no wind at that particular time, and the cutthroats were virtually at my feet, I held my ground.
The first brisk gust caught me by surprise, seeming to come from nowhere. Then a slight ripple leapt onto the water and within five minutes the wind was such that I could cast barely 15 feet (fully five feet shorter than my usual casting ability). Try as I might, my casts dropped short and wide. Then I hung up and broke off my fly. The wind had picked up even more, and my hands were so cold that even if I’d had another fly I would have had a hard time knotting it.

Meanwhile the cutthroats were still right in front of me and I could only watch helplessly as Francis, casting with the wind from a good 60 feet away, dropped his fly right in the middle of the trout. A trout swirled and I could tell by the water’s bulge that it was onto his fly. There was a small explosion and Francis was fast into a nice trout. Right in front of me.

I watched as the cutthroat gave Francis all it could before finally coming to hand and being released.
“Nice fish, Francis,” I hailed.

He smiled and said, “It’s better on this side -- tough casting into that wind.”

I rogered that and turned to go, tucking my cold hands into my waders and bidding Francis good fishing.
“Hey, Neil,” he called. I turned back. “You know that Van Egan fly you gave me? That’s what I caught this one on. I caught six on it this morning, too.”

And somewhere close to me another “would’ve, could’ve” trout slipped quietly beneath the ripples of opportunity.


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