We were a little late with our annual halibut and salmon trip to Port Hardy, but we pulled it off during the week of Aug. 21-25. Smitty and I have been fishing and hunting together since 1972 – as far as we can recall.
Since about 1980 we have spent a lot of time his 21-foot open aluminum boat that he had specially built for fishing our coastal waters. Over the years we have fished in all kinds of weather and had many memorable trips. This trip was no exception.
We launched at the Quarter Deck Marina and secured our mooring site in a surprisingly crowded marina. Monday the weather looked problematical so we opted to fish sheltered waters around Duval Point at the western side of Port Hardy Bay.
There were reports of chinook, coho, sockeye and pink salmon in the area. While it is always nice to catch a big chinook, they were not a priority item on our agenda. In fact, the primary item on the agenda was just to be on the water and do some halibut and salmon fishing.
As we approached Duval Point there were about 20 boats in the area with about a 50/50 split of charter and recreational boats such as ours. We also noted a couple of landing nets in action – it looked good. We put on some sockeye gear and hoped for the best.
Action came swift and exciting. Before we really got our act together we had a couple of quick double hook-ups on large pink that ended with a long-distance release of at least one. In the space of a couple of hours we had landed eight prime pink, had them gilled and gutted and returned to the harbour where we presented them to my daughter’s family (David and Leanne Farrell).
On day two we went halibut and salmon fishing with three old friends who knew the waters of the Port Hardy on an intimate basis. We were fishing with Ken Jenkins of Codfather Charters and his longtime guide Bill Shire and wife Fran from a 31-foot open ocean boat set up for recreational halibut and salmon fishing.
The picture of me in my Sept. 2 column holding the 30-plus pound halibut was taken on the deck of our host’s boat. It was one of those red-letter days, when a lot of exciting fishing events take place. They tell me I almost lost the rod overboard when my halibut took an unexpected dive down to the bottom, when I almost had it to the boat.
Smitty had a challenging day with several long-distance releases and Fran gave us all lessons in setting hooks. It was a stellar day in good company. No really big fish, but 10-pound coho and 30-pound halibut are trophy fish in our books. As we have said in the past, if we get one good day of fishing during a three-day trip we are happy.
Day three opened with plenty of possibilities. We were joined by my grandson Michael Farrell of Port Alice who wanted to spend a day with two old men who have taught him a thing or two about the outdoors. It was his turn to show the old men what he had learned from his fishing guiding at Rivers Inlet. He proudly showed us how he had learned to make cut-plug the River’s Inlet way. We ended day three with a nice combined catch of sockeye, chinook and pink salmon.
One change we made this year was to take our fish to Hardy Buoys in Port Hardy to be processed and frozen ready for the freezers when we arrived home. The girls agreed it was a good decision. Three days of outstanding fishing on a three-day trip sets a high standard for the future.
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The Pacific Salmon Foundation annual fundraiser auction, dinner and dance is on Sept. 17 at the Filberg Centre. Silent auction viewing at 5:30, dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are available from Gone Fishin’ at 250-334-2007. Salmon can use your help.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.