The Barkley Princess passes the Ucluelet lighthouse at dawn as the Coho joins in the hunt . Click for more photos
Throughout this summer, I’ve had the good fortune of waking a few times before the sun rises to drag myself out of bed, get dressed and head out into the dark crisp air where a sliver of light hangs in the east. Why is this good fortune you may ask? Well any day spent fishing is a great day.
This past Wednesday I had the day off and headed down to the boats to try my luck. A stillness hangs in the air as most of the town still sleeps. I walk past three young male deer taking advantage of the peace as they graze in my neighbor’s yard. They look up only briefly before lowering their heads once more to resume the endless task of feeding. Walking onto the Coho Princess I greet other guests along with skipper Wayne. After a quick safety talk and introduction for the newcomers, we’re off cruising through the harbour and out into the Pacific Ocean. As we head out towards good fishing grounds, I look over the stern as bright oranges and reds explode over the sky as if rolling out the red carpet in anticipation for the sun’s long awaited return.
I have fished a few times this season with variable luck from catching halibut, to days of ling cod and salmon, and yes, a day getting skunked. They don’t call it “catching” for a reason. But today, like all the rest, I feel the equal excitement of wondering what the next few hours have in store for me. As the engine slows, my heart skips a beat. I jump onto deck, grab my rod, and flick the release as I cast my lure out from the rest. I can’t hide the excitement of being on the water and having already witnessed a spectacular sunrise. I feel an auspicious moment come over me as my lure sinks below the surface and out of sight.
Four minutes after my first cast, I feel my rod pull awkwardly downwards. I pull up hard and Bang! “Fish on!” I yell as I break the serene silence of dawn. It is a good first fight and I work hard to pull in a beautiful Pink salmon quickly. Wayne grabs the net and plunges it under the fish helping me to get my first fish of the day onto the boat. A little while later, guests all around me start suddenly yelling “Fish on!” as our boat finds the fish. I feel my rod jerk and we’re all in for a ride. I can’t help looking over my shoulder as I work my rod to watch halibut and salmon hitting the decking. A beautiful salmon comes into view from below and as quickly as I see it, there is a sudden splash and it is gone. I go on to lose another salmon and ling cod right at the surface! I can’t help feeling slightly robbed.
I continue on as my muscles in my arms start to feel the burn from fighting four fish. I jig the lure across the bottom of the sea floor. My rod goes tight again and this time I feel real weight pull down on my line. I have a feeling a halibut is on the other end. I fight the mystery creature for 10 minutes or so as I slowly work it to the surface. Every once in awhile, the line spins out as the creature of the deep takes a run on me. Slowly, I regain line and eventually, a beautiful twenty pound halibut comes into view. I guide the line towards the net, careful this time to not have the fish break the surface. It’s in there!
It is great to have so much action on the boat as others around me continue to land the fish as well and before the day is out I get another Pink and Chinook aboard! I can’t believe the luck as I have enough fish to feed me for the next month, or a few lucky friends in the coming week. I’m not Irish, but I certainly felt Irish this past Wednesday.
From the bridge,