Earlier this year our grandson Kenzie Brown phoned from Prince George and enquired if I would be interested in a four-generation fishing trip. My response was quick and to the point – “Yes. What do you have in mind?”
“Well grandpa, I have booked a two-day charter for July 16 and 17 with Northern Bounty Fishing Charters owned by Kevin Wiley out of Prince Rupert. We fished with them last year and had a wonderful catch of coho, chinook and halibut.
“There is room for you, (great) grandpa Shaw, mom, (grandma Luciak), me (Kenzie), and Madelyn (nine-year-old great granddaughter) to make up our charter group. Now the next problem is how we get you from Courtenay to Prince Rupert and back?”
Simple: I flew from Courtenay to Prince George where I joined Kenzie and his family for a brief family barbecue with our other grandchildren on Saturday evening July 14. On Sunday the four-generation fishing party made the 740-kilometre trip on Highway 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert. The drive through the Coastal Mountains was under a clear sky where the scenery was as beautiful as it gets in this mountain paradise we call home. On the way to the coast we travelled the Bulkley and Skeena River valleys.
Our excitement built as we passed numerous river fishers either fishing on bars and stream mouths or travelling the mighty rivers in river boats.
We arrived in Prince Rupert in the late afternoon and checked into the Black Rooster Hostel where we had a nice two-bedroom suite complete with kitchen and living room. After settling in, we had an early supper, played rummy for about an hour — then off to bed for a 4 a.m. get-up-call so we could be down at the fishing wharf at 5:30 a.m.
Our charter boat captain and guide for the first day was Darren Bell and we were soon travelling through a well-marked maze of narrow waterways on our way to open water in his sleek 28-foot Grady White boat. On the way we stopped briefly to put a large crab trap out to be pulled when we came home.
We travelled in relatively calm waters under blue skies for about an hour until we reached the sheltered waters in the lee of the Melville and Dundas Islands. We ended up just south of the Alaskan border in sight of Portland Inlet, which leads into Portland Canal.
There were several other charter boats in the area and we joined them along the rocky shores where there were good kelp beds. The action came quickly after Darren baited one line with an anchovy and the other with cut plug. Kenzie set up on a nice coho and the trip was off to a great start. Shortly after he set the hook on a small chinook of about 10 pounds that Madelyn successfully played to the net while her father assisted her in holding the long rod. The salmon fishing slowed down at this point and we opted to go halibut fishing.
We moved into open waters about two kilometres off the Green Island Lighthouse. We were fishing in about 250 feet in calm waters. The boat was anchored and we had four rods in rod
holders baited with appropriate baits on circle hooks. Action was steady and one of the highlights of the trip was when Grandma Luciak landed her first halibut – a prime fish in the 30-pound range.
Darren baited a rod for Kenzie with a fresh fillet from an arrowtooth flounder and what followed was a personal best for him – a festy 52-pound halibut that gave him a good workout.
The winds were rising as we started home with four prime halibut. On the way in we stopped and pulled the crab trap, from which we kept four prime Dungeness crabs for supper.
Prior to landing, Darren cleaned the salmon and filleted the halibut and we left the boat with a bountiful catch of fish that were taken to a local butcher shop where it was vacuum-packed and flash-frozen for the trip home.
Day One ended with fresh crab, a rummy tournament and a tired four generations.
Next week – Day Two.
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.