calm, lifted by the gentlest of swells. It was perfect for halibut fishing, so that’s what we did next. There’s not much I can say about halibut fishing other than from what I experienced that day. Catching these muscular Pacific hyperflatties up to 70 lb is nothing more than a formality. Doug and I elected to fish lures, with me choosing a 385g Storm Wildeye Giant Jigging Shad, a firm favourite with Atlantic halibut in Norway. Trevor fished local style — salmon heads and filleted frames on a circle hook. Bites were instant, assuring seriously bent rods from the first drop. Doug got a 70 lb slab on little more than a bass spinning outfit — sportfishing in the extreme. One of the many highlights of this trip for me was when late one afternoon Trevor took me to fish off a river mouth for a couple of hours. When we arrived salmon were jumping everywhere. At times it was impossible to look across the water and not see at least three salmon airborne, mostly bright silver coho. I fished a 65g redand-white Williamson Yabai jig, and by the time we arrived back at Whiskey Cove Lodge in time for another excellent dinner, I had caught and released six fish. The next few days flew past in a blissful blur of bent rods and shining salmon. On one of the days Trevor took us to a small reef where we dropped lures in the hope of introducing me to some of the plethora of different species of rockfish caught in the area. The action was fast and furious. All too soon I was checking out of the homely comfort of Whiskey Cove Lodge and waving goodbye to Trevor when he dropped us off at our base for the second half of the trip — King Pacific Lodge. FISHING LUXURY King Pacific Lodge, base for West Sport Fishing in a sheltered bay on the remote eastern side of Millbanke Sound, can best be described as a sumptuous, five-star floating sportfisherman’s paradise. The facilities and standard of service and food are, from my experience, unsurpassed. Guests are f lown back and forth from Bella Bella via helicopter, and from the time they arrive until they leave their every need is catered for. West Sport Fishing runs a fleet of superbly equipped sportfishing boats, including all of the tackle you’ll need for your trip. All you need bring is a healthy appetite, and trust me, you’ll need it! Guests fish either with a guide or, as Doug and I did, on a self-drive basis. Cheney Point on the western shoreline of Athlone Island is the hotspot for
hours of daylight salmon fishing, once again very successfully, we ran some 2030 miles to fish a sandbank west of Day Island, passing a pod of killer whales enroute. Halibut were our target, and again catching these proved to be a formality as we landed several just under 60 lb. George knew I was keen to fish for other species so, having quickly caught our fill of halibut, we headed back to fish a jagged reef to the east of Day Island. In the short time we fished before returning to the lodge for lunch we boated several voracious lingcod up to 38 lb, some chunky silver-grey rockfish, and I got a stunning 11 lb yellow-eyed rockfish. After lunch Doug suggested a run to fish some reefs south of Wurtele Island, where I dropped my 90g Shimano Bottom Ship jig over twenty times before it came back fishless. In total that afternoon I caught nine different species of rockfish.
Dave Lewis and George Cuthbert with a beautiful chinook salmon. salmon in Millbanke Sound, and barely five minutes after leaving the dock at King Pacific Lodge you’ll be lowering those first baits into clear water off Cheney in high anticipation of hooking a chinook or coho. Doug and I hit Cheney at first light the following morning, and it came as no surprise when, minutes after we started to troll our “plug cut” herring baits on one of our bent rods suddenly snapped upright. A salmon had hit the bait hard, instantly pulling the line free from the release clip. Normally when trolling natural baits for sportfish your primary objective is to make the bait swim as naturally as possible to replicate a livebaitfish. Not so when fishing Pacific salmon. The head of a herring, the usual bait, is cut off at an angle, with the bait mounted to swim headless end first off a pennel rig. Trolling at around 2mph the bait constantly oscillates through the water, an action salmon find irresistible. The salmon is clearly the number one draw in these waters, but as I have already alluded to, there are also other fish to target. One day George Cuthbert who runs West Sport Fishing offered to take us fishing. After spending the first
LAST FLING All too soon it was our last morning and Doug and I started at first light off Cheney. As we fully expected, we didn’t have to wait long for a bite, and within minutes Doug was tight into what clearly was a very big, very powerful salmon. Playing that fish while I tried to keep us away from the shoreline and other boats was tricky at first, but soon we were out in open, deep water and Doug could relax and enjoy the fight. As soon as I scooped the fish into the net I knew it was our biggest chinook of the trip, and the scales back at the dock confirmed that. It weighed 30 lb 8 oz — a tyee! As delighted as Doug was at catching his trophy fish, it was still a long way from his personal best chinook caught off British Columbia several years ago, a monstrous great salmon that weighed a jaw-dropping 60 lb! FACT FILE: I flew to Vancouver direct with Air Canada and stayed the first and last nights at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, located right in the terminal building. On the return trip I had with me 50 lb of salmon fillets, and the hotel happily stored these in their freezer until just before check-in. For more information on fishing with Central Coastal Adventures visit <www.centralcoastadventures.ca>, and for information on West Sport Fishing visit <www.westsportfishing.com>. For general tourist information on British Columbia, there’s a handy site at <uk.britishcolumbia.travel>. If you’re travelling through Vancouver I recommend the Fairmont Hotel <www.fairmont.com/vancouverairport-richmond/>. SKI-BOAT March/April 2018 • 69
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