March/April 2011

March/April 2011
March/April 2011
March/April 2011
March/April 2011
March/April 2011
March/April 2011
March/April 2011

EARLY SEASON CHINOOKS

with Reel Obsession Sport Fishing

Early June and my first trip of the year was with Adrian O’Connor of Reel Obsession Sport Fishing. We were fishing Esperanza Inlet off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Our accommodations for the trip was Pacific Safaris, a floating lodge run by John Murray, located in McBride Bay between the villages of Zeballos and Tahsis.

My buddy Rob Sayers and I left Campbell River at 2 p.m. for the 2 ½ hour drive to Tahsis. Adrian picked us up in his 24-foot Searay outfitted with a 250hp Suzuki and ran us out to the lodge. We were assigned a very comfortable room overlooking McBride Bay. After unpacking we settled in for cocktails and dinner.

We were up at 6 a.m. and after partaking of a hearty breakfast we headed out to the fishing grounds. In my mind 7 a.m. is a great time of day to start fishing. First thing on the agenda was to see if we could hunt up some halibut. Adrian set up the gear with salmon belly, octopus and one rod with a salmon head.

We started out at 150 feet and as soon as the gear hit the bottom, fish on! They were small, around the 20- to 25-pound range and Adrian suggested maybe we should try for something a little bigger.

After we had released about four halibut each Rob got a real good take. His arms were a bit sore from the smaller halibut that he had just released, but he managed to land a nice 37-pound keeper. I changed to the salmon head and continued jigging, suddenly my rod was nearly ripped out of my hands. The fight was on and it was pretty intense. It didn’t seem like I was gaining any line on the halibut when unexpectedly it’s head broke the surface. Adrian quickly harpooned it and it sounded. This time with help of the float it was a little easer to bring it back to the surface. Adrian reached over, bled the halibut in the water then hauled it into the boat. It weighed in at 78 pounds. After only an hour we were done our halibut fishing for the day.

We put the halibut gear away and headed to the salmon grounds. On route we got a chance to catch our breath and enjoy the amazing scenery. We took advantage of the break to look in the box lunch that had been provided by John. Inside we found a cold drink, and one of his famous egg muffins we had heard so much about. We weren’t disappointed; they were excellent. Adrian’s boat is outfitted with top of the line gear.

Islander MR3 reels loaded with 30lb Berkley trilene big game, mounted on Shimano Technium rods. Today the bait of choice for salmon was Rhys Davis teaser heads rigged up with anchovies.

Rob brought the first salmon to the boat, a nice 10-pound chinook. We hooked and released a number of smaller feeder Chinooks, but ended our day with Rob’s 10-pound chinook, one ling cod and one black rock fish. We headed back to the dock around 2 p.m.; it was a beautiful day and we sat on the deck enjoying the sunshine with a tall cool one in hand. Rob was happy to be invited to go along with John to check the prawn traps and harvest a few oysters for dinner. We enjoyed a great evening and a delicious meal of fresh seafood.

Our plan for the next morning was to start off fishing for salmon. We were quickly rewarded with a nice catch of 11- to 14-pound chinooks, three ling cod and one small halibut that we caught while trolling for salmon. We were having such a great time on the water with Adrian but we had limited out so we headed back to the lodge.

John’s crew took great care of our fish and vacuum packed it in dinner portion sizes for us, an unexpected treat that our wives greatly appreciated. Adrian delivered us back to Tahsis around 2 p.m. and we headed back to Campbell River.

I have fished with Adrian a couple of times over the years and he is one of the best guides on the coast. The way he looks after his boat, gear and his guests makes every trip a great memory.

For more information on fishing with Reel Obsessions Sport fishing contact Adrian at:

www.reelobsession.ca

Toll Free: 1-888-855-7335

In Victoria: (250) 886-0315

Huxley’s Run: 

I got my first cell phone when I was about 12. He was about 60 years old, rode one of those bicycles with the big carrier in the front and lived for all appearances, quite happily, in a bay on Nash Creek in Eastern Ontario.

His name was Haze Rassleman, a gangly figure who had left regular society behind. He had his homemade dock in a bay on Nash Creek and needed little from the world, except beer, a tent and some fishing equipment. He had all the fish he wanted; bass, pike or mudpout.

Most of the parents in the village warned their kids to keep their distance, that he was some evil presence or such, who probably ate kids or something like that. I knew that wasn’t so. I knew he drank a lot of beer, but he didn’t eat kids. Probably better for his digestive system anyway.

I knew Haze because my father was a part-time bartender in the local Legion, between plumbing jobs. When Mom was working at the linen factory, I spent a lot of time at the Legion. Between beer nuts, that semi-flat Coca Cola Legions seem to serve and Haze, I figured I knew all there was about the world.

Dad had the afternoon shifts and Haze was always one of his first customers. That’s when I first realized that not only did Haze know his fishing, his fishing spots were known by others under a strange kind of GPS system.

One of those spots was Cross Bay. My friends and I would hike in there and look for what local legend said was an ancient burial ground with a cross at its entrance. We never found the cross, but we found the pike Haze said hung out there.

I found out the roots of its real name by asking him, on his dock, where I could catch me a big pike. He motioned with his hand, pointing across the creek and said, “Cross de bay.”

On another day I asked him about bass, knowing it was the season. He smiled at me and said, while pointing to the narrows just up-creek of his dock, “Up ‘round de Point.” Round Point! Which was a needle-shape jutting of land out into the bottleneck that was nothing close to being round.

The best, though, was the Dare and Dare Pool. You dared going down the steep face of it and you dared slipping into the deep water while playing a fish. That’s what we thought anyway. It held mudpout that tasted so good fried up with butter and cracker crumbs.

I had, on another occasion, asked Haze about the best place for mudpout and he smiled and pointed upstream to the cliff face of Dare and Dare. He pointed once at the start of the run and said “Der, and,” he pointed at the tailout before adding, “Der.”

It was all too much of a co-incidence that Haze’s pronunciation created such lore. But I am sure that is what happened.

The cell phone? Well on those days that I kind of disappeared and didn’t show up at the Legion, Dad would send a message via Haze. Haze was an afternoon drinker who ended up back at the creek early in the evening for a fire, a feed of fish and a good snooze. By the time he had biked there he would be well into his cups. If I wasn’t at his dock or Cross Bay or Dare and Dare he would somehow find me, puttering up in his little skiff. He would yell to me that Dad wanted me home. The first time Haze did that, I, in all my youthful splendor, with buddies beside me I wanted to impress, declined his suggestion with a shout out to his boat that I regret to this day.

“You old drunk! I ain’t leaving. You just want this spot.”

And that, my friends, is how I got to discover the “Slapupsideyourheadyoulittleungratefulbastard” pool that exists on every creek and river and is known well to me and the man who, well, just was.

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