Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Ultimate Fishing Experience

OK, time to report on the big fishing trip. On August 12-19, Lance and I went to Canada on one of those "once-in-a-lifetime" fishing trips. It was outstanding. Here is the play by play:

On Saturday, August 12th we flew from Salt Lake City to Seattle. We were supposed to go to Vancouver but it was quite a bit cheaper to fly to Seattle so we decided to fly to Seattle, rent a car, and drive to Vancouver. Big mistake (more on that later). We were traveling with my father (Sherm) and my brother (Aaron) so there were four of us. We got to the Hertz rentals at the Seattle Airport and discovered that the car would not be big enough. It was big enough to hold our luggage but there is no way it would hold all of our fish on the return trip. We checked into upgrading to a minivan or SUV but it would have cost us $1100 (compared to the original price of $400) for the week. We decided to check with some of the other rental car companies. We checked with both Advantage and Thrifty. They had minivans for about $550-600 for the week, but they both told us that we need to buy extra liability insurance (for $10 per day) if we were going to go to Canada. They say that the Canadian border patrol would not let us across the border without written proof of $300K in liability insurance on our vehicle. We decided to check one more rental company. At the Enterprise desk we got a quote for $517 for the week for a mini-van with a folding rear bench. We asked him about the insurance and he said "You don't need extra insurance to go into Canada. In fact, it is against the law for me to tell you that you need extra insurance." We pointed at the other two staff at the adjacent desks and said, "They told us we had to have it." He just shrugged his shoulders. So, we went with Enterprise. The service was great (more on that later, too).

We got the van drove to Vancouver that night. It took us about an hour to get through the border. This worried us a little since our schedule on the return trip was pretty tight. We spent Sunday in Vancouver. On Sunday afternoon we went to a park that had the "longest suspension walking bridge in the world". By the time you walk from one end to the other you have motion sickness. Here is Lance at one end of the bridge:



The next day we woke up at 3:45 am because we were supposed to be at the front of the hotel at 4:15 am. That was brutal. We went to the Vancouver airport and flew this plane from Vancouver to a village called "Massett" on Queen Charlotte Island. Queen Charlotte Island is North of Vancouver and just south of Juneua, Alaska. Massett is at the Northern end of the island.



We flew to Massett in a four-engine prop plane. It took about 2 1/2 hrs.



Then we got on board a helicoptor and took a 15-minute flight over to the Queen Charlotte Lodge.



Queen Charlotte Lodge is in an inlet at the northern end of the island:



Here is the website for the lodge:

http://www.queencharlottelodge.com/index.php

It is a beautiful lodge. The accomodations, food, and service were unbelievable. This is me in front of the lodge with one of my old mission buddies, Scott Bowden, who just happened to be on the same trip. He is a dentist now and lives near Lethbridge, Alberta Canada.



We hurried and got our gear on and jumped in the boats. The lodge provides the boats, fuel, rods, bait, clothing, food, .... everything. We raced out to the fishing grounds (see map above). It takes about 25 minutes to get out there. Within an hour or two, Lance and I caught a few pink salmon (smaller salmon that average 5-6 lbs) and then we both hooked into a couple of big kings at the same time. I landed mine but Lance lost his after about a 30 minute fight. Mine weighed in at 20 lbs:



An hour or so later, Lance hooked and landed a big silver (coho). It was 14 lbs. and was about the biggest silver I saw all week.



It was pretty much like that all week. We caught lots of huge fish every day. The pinks were very easy to land. The silvers averaged about ten pounds and were a blast to catch. As soon as you hook one, they shoot right to the top and start doing cartwheels in the air. They were very agressive. We caught quite a few kings, but the big kings were hard to land. They were so big that you had to play them just right or you would break your line or pop the hook off. We had to use barbless hooks, and that added to the challenge. A couple of days later, Lance caught a nice king very close to where I caught mine on the first day. This fish was 21 lbs:



My brother, Aaron, caught one of the bigger fish caught all week. It weighed 33 lbs. Anything over 30 lbs is called a "tyee" and they give you a pin and a round of applause at dinner each night. I think the biggest fish caught that week was 43 lbs. This shot also shows the boats we were using.



In addition to salmon fishing, we had a great time bottom fishing. We mainly caught halibut, but we pulled up lots of other stuff also. We did the salmon fishing kind of close to the shore in 60-100 feet of water but the halibut fishing was mainly done a mile or so offshore in 200 ft of water. We use salmon parts on a big hook with a one lb sinker and a big stiff halibut rod. It usually only took a minute or two to get something on, then you would crank for a few minutes to pull it up. Here is part of our catch for one day. Lance is holding a couple of halibut. Most halibut were only about 1o lbs, but Lance's two shown here were 14 and 17 lbs. This place is a nursery for young halibut so the really big halibut are kind of rare. The two reddish fish I am holding are red snappers. They were 8 and 10 lbs. They told me that the 10 lb one was quite large and was probably about 50 years old. They live to 110! I felt kind of bad about killing such an old fish.



We also pulled up rock cod and black sea bass. And I caught a "dog fish" which is a kind of shark.



They had a big boat called the "Driftwood" out on the fishing grounds. You can see the boat in the background of this picture. You could pull up any time and get extra bait, drinks, food, or go to the restroom. They fed us hot lunches each day. The rock in the foreground is called "Bird Rock 2". On the last evening my brother, Aaron, was fishing near the kelp by this rock and hooked into what felt like a huge king. He fought it for a bit and then discovered that he had caught a seal! A young seal had eaten his herring. He radioed for the fishmaster to come and help him out and he he cut the line right up by the hooks.



This is one of many commercial fishing boats we saw every day. They were fishing for salmon with long lines (trolling, basically).



Here is a shot of sunrise as we are just heading out to the fishing grounds:



This is Lance feeding one of the friendly black-tailed deer in the area:



Well, all good things must come to an end. That's not all bad; by the end of the week my hands were hammered:



We flew out on Friday. Each of us had two boxes of frozen fish. At the end of each day the Lodge staff would filet, shrink-wrap, and flash-freeze our fish. Lance and I each had about 80 lbs of filets. We ended up with our limit: 16 salmon, 6 halibut, and a few misc other fish (snapper, bass, etc.). The plane back to Vancouver was loaded down with frozen fish:



We got to Vancouver and loaded up the van and took off for Seattle. However, we got to the border and it took TWO HOURS to drive through customs, so we ended up missing our connection in Seattle. We called Delta and asked about getting on a flight on Saturday. The Delta agent (spoke with an Indian accent, by the way) told us that all flights were full and that the best he could do is fly us to St. George. I told Aaron to hang up and I called the Delta SkyMiles number. The next guy got us on a flight the next morning at 7 am. Lesson learned: don't always trust the first agent you talk to and be sure to call the SkyMiles number, not the general number. We got to the Enterprise office and they quickly found us an adjacent hotel that had a freezer big enough for the fish (barely). They drove us there and even helped carry in the fish. The service at Enterprise was OUTSTANDING. I was very impressed.

We got back to SLC the next morning and loaded everything in our Honda Accord. It was a tight fit:



All in all, it was an ubelievable experience. Now I just need to start saving money for next year. I am afraid I am hooked!

1 Comments:

At 9:50 AM, Blogger R. Jeffrey Davis said...

That sounds COMPLETELY AWESOME!

 

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