Season 2

CHINOOK FISHING

Campbell River, British Columbia

by Susie Lee

I am not usually a morning person but I was looking forward to getting up early to begin my four-hour fishing adventure. I tackled the water at 6:00 am. For some fisherman that is a late start, for me it was a miracle. This was my first time fishing for salmon, so I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was excited, to have the honor of fishing in the “Salmon Capital of the World,” at the Discovery Passage waters of Campbell River.

I met my mentor and guide, Randy, who was going to teach me how to catch the big one! I was thankful that I was bundled up as it was cool on the morning waters as we sped along in our 17-foot Boston Whaler. Twenty minutes and a motion-sick cameraman later, we reached our fishing spot. Guides will choose fishing spots by looking at their fish sonar locator, from past experience, or by word of mouth from other fishermen.

I asked my fishing expert what made this spot a great place to fish. He suggested it made an ideal spot because of the backwater, eddies and the island’s tidal current.

Randy baited two hooks with colorful hootchies and tossed the lines into the water. Before I go any further, you may be asking: “what are hootchies?” According to the dictionary, a hootchie is:

1. a female who dresses scantily or in a revealing fashion; or 2. a squid-like lure.

I will let you decide which one we used as bait.

I noticed we were drifting - every so often Randy motored up the boat and re-positioned our lines. While we waited for a bite, I enjoyed listening to stories of Randy’s love for fishing and how he got into it at an early age. He has clearly accumulated a ton of experience and knowledge of fish, fishing techniques, and great fishing locations over the years.

CATCH OF THE DAY

We caught our first bites at 8:30 am. We had hooked 2 small Ling Cod, which we let go. We decided to change our hootchies for better luck. Randy opened a tackle box full of his special prize hootchies! After touching and asking about the different types of hootchies in the box, I finally picked “Tiger Prawn” because I liked the stripes and the color. It was a good thing I listened to my instincts, because within a few minutes of putting my line into the water, a fish bit my line. It was a thrilling experience when my line struck. It took me about 5 minutes to reel in my fish.

The technique I used was to lean forward with my rod when there was tension in my line, and then to reel it in while leaning back when I felt slack in the line. In other words, I let the line out when the fish was “running” but quickly reeled it in when the fish was resting. I know this sounds horrible but that’s the technique to use if you don’t want to snap your rod or let the fish get away.

When I finally reeled the fish into the boat, I realized I had caught a 17 lb Chinook salmon! This was a thrilling experience for me as it was my first salmon catch. It was large, beautiful, and its metallic scales shimmered in the sunlight. I held it up high and proudly had my picture taken with my first catch of the day. Did I mention it was my first salmon?

What was even more exciting was that within twenty minutes I caught a second salmon, this time with one of Randy’s hootchies named T-Rex. My second fish weighed 22 lbs! We headed back to the pier and Randy gutted and cleaned the fish. We were curious to see what was in the intestines so he pushed the food out and found an undigested squid and a small herring. Randy stomped on the dock and a harbour seal poked his head out of the water anticipating something good to eat. We threw the salmon gills to the resident seal. It seemed to know the drill for their tasty treat. It was an added bonus to feed and get so close to a seal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I do not consider myself an avid fisherwoman. However, after this adventure, I am definitely hooked on the sport. I felt the thrill of catching a fish and enjoyed the serenity of being out on the water. I am deeply thankful to Randy who made this an incredible and unforgettable fishing trip. He taught and helped me so much. A guided trip is worthwhile whether you are a first timer or a veteran. I developed a love for fishing on this trip and I look forward to many more fishing adventures in the future! Happy tails!

ADVENTURE TIPS

  • All gear and equipment are provided
  • Your guide will weigh, gut and package your catch for you
  • Fish cleaning and refrigeration is complimentary
  • For an additional cost you can have your fish canned or smoked at St. Jean's BC Cannery and Smokehouse http://www.stjeans.com/

PHOTO GALLERY

FOR MORE INFORMATION

1625 McDonald Road Campbell River, British Columbia
Phone: (250) 598-3366
Toll-free: (800) 663-7090
www.painterslodge.com/fishing/

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