During the first week of June, Smitty and I were first season special guests of Ken Jenkins on the first 2015 charter trip of Codfather Charters operating out of the marina in Port Hardy.
It was an exceptional trip on many fronts; but when you have an average age of 92 in two old anglers as guests, the operator has to hope for calm waters and biting fish. We had both, – but let me digress.
We are in the two most important months of the year – July and August for the charter-boat – fishing guide business throughout Vancouver Island and the coast from Vancouver to Prince Rupert. Depending on the species, the charter-boat business operates throughout the year. They provide guided fishing trips on virtually all species of fish in tidal waters and many in the non-tidal waters; it is a huge, important business to our province. There is a wide variety of services offered by individual operators – but their major goal is to catch fish for the customer and ensure that they have a pleasant experience during the charter-boat trip. In the Comox Valley we are served by charter operators in Deep Bay, Comox Harbour, Oyster River Area and Campbell River. By shopping around you can get day trips that are much less expensive than full guided trips with accommodation and ancillary services. For recent retires who may have moved to the Valley and want a crash course in local fishing, I suggest a local charter trip is an excellent introduction.
Codfather Charters offers a complete angling service plus accommodation. Your catch can be taken to Hardy Boys processing plant for flash freezing so when you go home all you have to do is transfer the fish from your cooler to the freezer. Needless to say, this feature is very popular with the ladies on the home front. There are similar services available in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.
We start early – on the wharf at 6 a.m. all ready to board the 31-foot Bertram that Ken operates throughout the summer with his deck hand Barry Pooley. This boat is a luxury to fish from in many respects – we were being spoiled; heck once in awhile it is nice to be spoiled.
Our first fishing stop was briefly at Duval point where Smitty caught and released a small chinook. From here we ran north to waters above Pine Island in Area 11. In the space of the next six hours we had a dream trip for two old guys. It is safe to say that Ken knows these waters as well as he knows his living room. Our first target was halibut – in a short time on the grounds we landed two small halibut in the 20-pound range. We then started to fish salmon and our best fish was a prime fish of 22 lb chinook. The next challenge was lingcod and incidental red snappers. Barry baited our hooks with large herring and sent our jigs into 200 feet of water over rocky outcrops. The jigging was made easy with some clever rod holders on the stern of the boat. In what seemed a short time in the company of whales we landed two prime lingcod and two small red snappers. When I think about it, how do you improve on a one day fishing trip where each of you land halibut, salmon, lingcod and red snappers? To further enrich the event our fish were cleaned, flash frozen and packed for us to take back to Courtenay the next morning. From two old men who have fished and hunted together for over 40 years – thank-you Codfather Charters.
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.