All Hands On Deck
Savvy anglers know that come July and August, Nootka Sound fishing is legendary. When they converge on the area—checking in to local resorts, throwing their lines in the water, and soaking up the gorgeous west coast wilderness—the hard-working resort crews know that it’s all hands on deck. In the fish processing plant at Moutcha Bay Resort, Jim Crouch is at the helm.
In the Nootka Sound area, Jim and his team are well-known for their work. “They do a fantastic job,” says one Moutcha Bay guest on TripAdvisor. “Jim was a powerhouse in that fish processing plant. So many fish!”
“The days are long,” admits Jim, who has worked for Nootka Marine Adventures for 6 years. “I start early, around 5 a.m., and often don’t leave the plant until it’s dark. We’re one of the busiest departments in the resort at peak season, and the fish keep coming so we’ve got to keep on our toes!,” he laughs. With thousands of pounds of perishable fish coming through the department on a daily basis, it is critical that the team doesn’t leave until the job is finished.
The Fish Keep Coming
The fish processing team this season consists of Jim and two assistants working out of a small plant attached to the main lodge building at Moutcha Bay Resort. Inside is a main room with cleaning tables, sinks, two vacuum sealers, and a small desk at the front window. In the corner are two large freezers with heavy doors. Each worker has their own station for the day, or changes jobs at Jim’s direction as needed.
As guides and guests drop off their catches, the team collects the fish and records licence information. Each fish is carefully cared for. Processing generally takes place within an hour of collection, with the fish filleted and cut to the guest’s specifications, individually portioned and then vacuum-sealed, labeled, and flash- frozen at -40 degrees Celsius. The finished product is then carefully placed into a travel box with required travel documentation and waits in a freezer until its owner picks it up on their departure day.
During a typical year in July and August, the fish processing plant at Moutcha Bay Resort might see 750 to 1,000 lbs of fish daily coming through the department.
Prime Time Fishing
This is the time of year when anglers are most likely to have a crack at larger-than-average Chinook salmon, thanks to the very successful supplementation efforts of local hatcheries which are producing enormous returns of larger local fish, coastwide. As they start to turn the corner onto the sheltered inside waters of the sound, these big salmon come within easy reach. Fish in the upper 20-lb to lower 30-lb range are still here in Nootka Sound, thanks to the efforts of our local hatchery programs.
This summer, we also anticipate a phenomenal return of southbound coho salmon, a good number of which come directly against the Nootka Sound shorelines.
In sunny July and August, prevailing northwest wind systems become commonplace. With more reliable and predictable weather forecasts, anglers can more easily get offshore for bottom fishing, making halibut a favourite species to target. Lingcod are also popular and plentiful.
Two Hours Drive West Of Campbell River
Moutcha Bay Resort is a local’s favourite within easy reach of Campbell River on a scenic westbound road trip. The resort is known for its unique yurt accommodations, which are available both in luxury and mini versions. Other stayover options include the resort’s full-service RV campground (with fantastic kids’ playground), two-story waterfront chalets, and a variety of spacious lodge suites. The Conuma Grill has recently updated its menu with elevated, sustainably-sourced food offerings curated by renowned BC Chef William Lew.
Floating Wilderness Resort
For visitors looking for a more exclusive experience, Nootka Sound Resort offers a first-class, all-access resort nestled in the calm waters of Galiano Bay in Nootka Sound. This resort features luxurious suites with king beds or two twins, perfect for couples or groups of friends. Every stay includes a sumptuous dining experience courtesy of the resort’s in-house chef. Four-course dinners are served with wine every night, with a perfectly executed menu created by esteemed BC Chef William Lew.
This year, Nootka Marine Adventures’ third floating resort, Newton Cove Resort, was closed due to COVID-19. The luxurious retreat, moored off of Esperanza Inlet north of Nootka Island, is only 15 minutes to offshore fishing grounds and is due to re-open in 2022.
Anglers can’t help but fall in love with fishing Nootka Sound in July and August. With numerous sheltered inlets and bays across a vast area, Nootka Sound provides inside, outside, and offshore fishing opportunities for every type of angler. During these summer months in particular, a huge array of fish species—Chinook, coho, halibut, lingcod, rockfish—become accessible to anglers, and the fishing is hot for all species! Into August, even the dreamed- of and elusive albacore tuna becomes a reality accessible to island anglers out of Nootka Sound.
It’s Time To Visit Nootka
While many visitors bring their own boats and launch in Gold River or Moutcha Bay Resort, you don’t need a boat to have an amazing experience. A full fleet of 18′ aluminum boats are available for rent at great prices, and they come fully equipped for a day of fishing, so you don’t need to worry about packing up your gear. This is a great way for families to get into fishing for the first time, or for those with limited time to pull the boat into Nootka Sound.
A guided fishing experience is a good way for novice anglers to learn the basics, but experienced anglers can also benefit from learning some of the more subtle techniques of fishing Nootka Sound. The pro guide team at Nootka Marine Adventures is comprised entirely of returning angling professionals with extensive experience fishing in the Nootka Sound area. Full or half-day tours take place on large Grady White vessels equipped with twin V6 Yamaha outboards, making them safer and quicker in the water. All boats are outfitted with Lowrance HDS-12 units or better, for top-of-the-line fish tracking.
A typical guided trip in July targets all available licensed species, starting in the morning with Chinook fishing (with a good shot at reaching your full limit) mixed in with some coho salmon, then moving offshore for halibut, and finally ending the day targeting lingcod and rockfish. It’s no wonder the crew in the fish processing plant are so busy this time of year!
Let Us Take Care Of Your Catch
Any angler in Nootka Sound can take advantage of the fish processing services offered by Jim and his team at the Moutcha Bay Resort processing plant. By-the-pound fees are a simple way to have your fish professionally processed and ready to go on your departure day. For many guests who prefer to relax with a cold drink after an action-packed day on the water, this is a bit of luxury that allows for more vacation time with family and friends.
If you are headed into Nootka Sound this summer, take a look at the accommodation options offered by Nootka Marine Adventures’ resorts. Keep in mind that July and August are very popular and sometimes book out a year or more in advance, so you may want to think about reserving your spot for next year!
Visit https://www.nootkamarineadventures.com/ to learn more.
This article appeared in Island Fisherman Magazine. Never miss another issue—subscribe today!
This article is sponsored content.