March/April 2012

March/April 2012
March/April 2012
March/April 2012
March/April 2012
March/April 2012

West Coast Bucket List

By Dr. Adiupose Huxley

I would caution anyone who wants to add a fishing trip to the Charlotte Princess to their bucket list. And I would do that only because a bucket list is about one thing you want to do before you die. A trip to the Charlotte Princess will disappoint that dream, because once you go you will want to go again.

To hell with death.

I had the opportunity to go on a four-day, three-night fishing trip out of the Oak Bay Marine Group’s vessel located in Langara in the summer of 2011. The only draw back was that I was going with my very good friend, the one and the only Larry E. Stefanyk — or Lawrence as I call him.
I say draw back not because Lawrence isn’t a fine and adept fishing companion. But I say draw back because well, we do things differently. Because of that, I did have some concerns about the trip.

It wasn’t long before that trepidation proved itself. We had headed out from the ship, completely supplied with bait, gear, food, refreshments — everything and anything you could want was waiting for us in our 16-foot Fat Cat, one of their newly refurbished and superb fishing boats — when it came time to cutting and hooking up the cut plug herring.

Lawrence had his done and in the water well before I did, despite being responsible for driving the boat. I noticed the look on his face as I held my cut plug up and marveled at its beauty before dropping it over the side.
Both our rods were in the water several minutes. Even though we conversed a bit, there was the edge of first fish. Then my rod went off. I grabbed it and set the hook. Into nothing. I reeled it in and saw that my herring had been ravaged. I shucked it off, cut another cut plug and looked up as Lawrence watched, intent and the hint of a smile on his face. I dropped my gear over, stripped out line and sat down.
Lawrence sat there at the tiller. Our eyes would meet and that mischievous grin would spread across his face before he would look away. Finally, I broke.
“What?” I said.

“What?” he said.

“What?” I said.

“What?” he said.

“Obviously something is amusing you, what is it?” I asked.

Lawrence reached for a herring, cut it and then put the two single hooks in. “This is how I do it,” he said and explained about how his set up would successfully hook more fish than mine.
I reeled in my line immediately. I shook off the herring and hooked it up again, the same way I had done it before. And plopped it in the water.
“Fine,” said Lawrence, nonchalantly.

“Fine,” I said, more emphatically.

"Fine,” said Lawrence.

“Fine,” I replied.

Then we were both into fish, coho after coho. That was something that would take place during our whole trip. It was, as the youth of today say, sick. Hook-ups, angles on the cut of the herring — it didn’t matter — everything worked.

But, enough of the fishing, for a moment. The service provided by the Charlotte Princess crew was the kind that made you check to see if you had a crown on your head. Food? Lots of it and done any way you want. Anything else to make your trip a “bucket, bucket, bucket” list and it was provided. All done with smiles and follow-ups to make sure you got what you wanted.

And then we fished for halibut.
I baited up my hooks with a salmon belly, dropped it over the side and free spooled for bottom. Lawrence looked at me, smiled again, and then turned to watch his line.
“What?” I asked.

"What?” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“What?” he said.

Then he broke.
“You’re bottom hook is in backwards,” he said, holding up an example. “This is how I do it.”
I watched, snorted, reeled in my line and hooked up a fresh salmon belly — the way I do it. And dropped it overboard. Lawrence proceeded to outfish me, thoroughly, completely and to such an extent that I think he is the God of Bottomfishing. Of course it did help that he had brought his handy-dandy new halibut rod and reel. It is probably the sweetest set-up for bottom fishing I have ever seen.

It’s a good thing that Lawrence fought most of the bottom fish too, because Lawrence is a big man and had I had to do all that reeling, well, my manicure and typing fingers would have been ruined. Not to mention my back.
Lawrence also has another habit that proved somewhat irritating. Every evening when we arrived at the succulent dining experience aboard the Charlotte Princess he would wear a new, neatly pressed shirt. “It’s something I always do. Adds some class to the company,” he said looking down his six-foot-something-nose at my fishing shirt — the fishing shirt I wore all day, every day for our whole trip.

But while I’m sure the crew and chef appreciated Lawrence’s fresh appearance every evening, it didn’t really matter what you wore — you were king or queen in their eyes and treated as such.
I tried to save some face by reminding Lawrence that I had caught the largest Chinook, but his bottom fishing prowess was too much to overcome. So with time dwindling before our plane was to arrive, I was desperately hoping for something otherworldly to happen to my line. And then Lawrence said those fateful words you dread on such a fishing trip. “Thirty second warning Doc,” time to call it a trip.

As Lawrence smiled at me and started to reel up I said, “Give me a 10 second warning.” Lawrence smiled even broader, knowing I was pulling at straws. He leaned back, looked at his wrist watch and began.
“10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, (smile), four, three, two, (bigger smile), one…”

I yanked back on the rod and was fast into a coho that was close to 14 pounds. ‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘victory.’
I looked over to Lawrence hoping to see the disappointment on his face. Instead it was just a big grin and he said, “Doc, it’s been a real pleasure.”

And then I realized I couldn’t imagine a trip to the Charlotte Princess being anything but.

 For further information contact:
Oak Bay Marine Group
1-800-663-7090
www.ombg.com

Huxley’s Run: 

by Dr. Adipose Huxley

Paul Quarrington wrote an excellent book called Fishing With My Old Guy.
The title is self-explanatory. The book is excellent.
It certainly made me think of the ‘old guys’ in my fishing life. There was my brother Russell, who was in his late teens and I only 12 when I first started stealing his spinning rod and the expensive Rapalla lures and the Daredevils he kept secreted in the bottom of his tackle box. The bass and pike fishing was fabulous and well worth the ass kicking I took when he found out I had, again, absconded with his treasured fishing gear. But it isn’t a particularly good feeling about an ‘old guy.’
Old guys in my later life were those who I surreptitiously waited for on the trail as they meandered along to the river behind me. Or the old guy who couldn’t hop in the boat anymore and instead sat there smiling as I pushed off and scrambled aboard as best I could. And usually with a reprimand for causing a spillage in said old guy’s single malt.
Or my old guy who had to pull into every rest stop along the road. “First rule of aging,” he said. “Never pass a washroom.”
Or my old guy who scoffed at fishing the pools above and below the ‘hot’ pool we had hiked into only because he didn’t want to do the ‘shore maggot waltz’ along the river to get to them.
Or all old guys who always started off conversations with “I remember…”
And so not long ago I had my young friend Brent help launch my Tyee boat. The tide was out and the launch water was shallow. I sat in the boat while he waded in and pushed me off. He didn’t, however, spill my single malt.
Then not long after that on a north Vancouver Island river we were moving (he was, I was barely) from one pool to another through a semi-trail-slash. I told him to go ahead and start fishing. I would be there sometime before dark. It was 10 a.m.
Half way along the trail he was leaning against a log, sipping on a beer and smoking a cigar. “Very hot,” he said, “had to take a break.”

Then winter steelheading on yet another north Vancouver Island stream…

He hopped and skipped down the path towards the river. I watched as his lithe, young legs carried him down like a ballerina-come-mountain-climber. I slid down on my arse, like a slow grey toboggan on a ski hill.
The pool we fished had one steelhead in it, which I managed to hook and release via long distance.
“The pool below is nice,” Brent said. I looked down the cobbled shore, thinking of my arthritic knee and short breath and my intense knowledge of the river and its fish. I had never fished that pool, or laid eyes on it, but that really didn’t matter to an old guy.
“Nothing holds there,” I said. “Water’s nice, but never any fish.”
“Nice pools upstream too,” came the reply.
Same cobble, same old joints, same knowledge and the thought of a cold beer back at the vehicle. “Nothing holds there either,” I said.
“Well maybe I’ll just go down and take a poke, you can wait here,” said Brent. “What do you think…?”
“I remember…” I started saying, and dragged my ass after him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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