Adventures on the Blue

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2009 flew by and here I am in Oak bay again bobbing around with Paula in upset seas. Following some fantastic, clear weather over the holidays, the Grey is back with Southeasterlies to boot. I met Paula at the beach in good spirits and ready to paddle her Eliza.



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We launched at Cadboro Bay into a light SE wind and paddled along the southern shore of the bay to Cattle Point. A small bit of swell was coming into oak bay and a light rain started up. A couple of seals watched us from the rocks and we kept close to Willows beach to keep out of unnecessary swell. We met a bigger group of kayakers near the Oak Bay Marina breakwater who were heading out to the chains. I didn't have too much time this morning, so Paula and I rounded Mary Todd Island and headed back home along the same path. Greeting us on the way in was a huge group of oystercatchers all huddled together. We pulled up the beach, packed up and got a quick coffee to conclude 2009's paddling activity.


Trip Distance: 8km



YTD: 308km



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Wednesday, December 30, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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A beautiful winter day out on the water. Winds from the North were solid and the rain clouds had run out of precipitation. I resisted the urge to put in at Dallas road, continuing along beach drive to Caddy Bay. The waters on the south and west parts of the island were mirror finish. I got the boat off the car and emptied all the recent rainwater from the cockpit.



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Into the calm water at the bay, I paddled right out to cadboro point and got to see a bunch of sailboats enjoying the swift winds including one fast little 2 man racing dinghy speeding out of the bay. Haro strait was wiiiiild.. The winds had been running northerly all night and the waves and swell was fun to play in just a mere 20 feet from the caddy bay lighthouse. I'm guessing 2 foot waves or so, so a pretty fun time to play.



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I paddled back to Jemmy and crossed Cadboro bay to Cattle point. The waves were a little higher with the fetch from the bay and the wind began to gust a little. The little racing dinghy I saw fly past earlier was still up on a plane and immediately capsized right off cattle point. The two crew went for a little swim and righted the boat, jumped back in and immediately flew off toward Flower Island.



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Oak bay was a little choppy and there were a number of new shipwrecks laying on shore. One of the weirdest sunken ships out in Oak Bay was the "Dizzy Squid" laying bow up on its mooring buoy. I turned around at Oak Bay Marina and headed back to Caddy Bay against a pretty hefty headwind. I paddled around the Royal Vic marina and back to the beach. The days are super short now, but the weekends are great time to get out and explore.



Trip Distance: 12km



YTD: 300km



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Sunday, December 20, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Good 'ol Portage Inlet had my full attention today. With the wind beginning to howl across a lot of my usual waters, I found peace and quiet here. Talk about a fantastic day too. Bright blue skies all around, sun low on the horizon and fairly cold temps from the outflow winds. I put in at about 10am at the kayak club and gently paddled up the gorge.



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There were number of groups training in both outrigger canoes and dragon boats. The brreze was light on the Gorge and amped up a little bit as I passed under admirals bringe. A whole tonne of seals in the inlet too, probably more than I remember being there in the summer. Herons and eagles were also out. I'm guessing maybe the last of the fish?



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As I got out into portage inlet, I was puzzled by a hissing noise that seemed to be coming from the shoreline seaweed. The wind had picked up quite a bit and what was happening was the wave action was breaking up a thin layer of ice floating on the surface of the water. I had only been slightly cold the week previous, but it was enough to freeze the top layer of freshwater from the confluence of colquitz creek and the inlet.



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Today was also the first time that I can recall seeing swans flying around. there were a bunch of juvenile swans both with and without adults swimming around and eating the eelgrass. Even as young birds, they're still HUGE. I kept a good distance from them and watched them get trapped in the maze of ice while feeding.



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A nice relaxed pace brought be back around into the gorge and from there, a pretty gusty wind pushed me all the way back to shore. I was followed by a bunch of seals all clearly feeding on something in the water. When I pulled the boat out of the water, I noticed she's getting a bit on the oxidized side.. I think she's gonna need a bit of elbow grease in the spring or before.


Here's a Little Video of the Day:





Trip Distance: 8km



YTD: 288km



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Thursday, December 10, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Today was a classic last minute kayaking decision. My day's appointments cleared up pretty quickly and I found myself moments later bobbing on the water near Oak Bay marina, taking the first stroke into a beautiful November paddle. Usually Rememberance Day in Victoria is celebrated by an annual soaking of the crowd. This year it was t-shirt weather, just a bit of wind out offshore. Birds were out today as well as seals. Chatham was my goal - the high tide and beneficial currents would make for a pretty laid back paddle.



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I made nice, even progress through Baynes and Plumper and ended up perfectly on course to the south point of Chatham. The currents and wind had made the ocean all wily and uneven. The North part of Chatham was really wild and would have probably been fun for standing wave seekers. About 500m off the north shore was a strange feature creating 2-3 foot standing waves with a big white cap - it looked like there was a continuous 15knot wind in Haro Strait from the southeast. With all the mayhem off tip of the island, the waters close to the rocks only suffered a tiny swell and I was followed and watched by a number of seals.



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The tide was nice and high, so I was able to access the inner part of Chatham Island and have a look at cactus islet. An absolutely huge bald eagle soared out of his perch as I entered and the little channel filled with little black and white ducks behind me. The wind was just touching the water and I ended up leaning back on the deck and just chilling out for a moment. Kayaking can be so relaxing in small, protected areas like this.



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I made my way back out of the inlet and the ocean was being chopped up just 200m away. I paddled carefully around all the kelp beds that have moved in for the winter and then headed back into the protection of the island. I ended up leaving through the channel that separates the Chatham islands. I got lined up with Jemmy Jones Island and launched out into a building current in Baynes Channel. With a pretty good speed, I paddled on a tight ferry angle and still got push off course pretty heavily. I did a nice slow and relaxed pace home, taking in the fall colors and sunshine.



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Following the paddle, I made my way over to John and Louise's house and we had a little finger food while we watched the video Crossing the Ditch. Gotta say, they got some pretty formidable footage from that boat - it watched a lot like a journal, but some of the conditions they faced (including their own parents) was a really nice touch.


Trip Distance: 16km



YTD: 280km



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Wednesday, November 11, 2009 Leave a Comment 2 comments

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Man I've been waiting for this talk with massive amounts of anticipation. A few weeks back, tickets went on sale by the good folks at Siska for a talk by Shawna and Leon, two of the three members involved in a filmed expedition around (and through) The Queen Charlotte Islands. Held at the University of Victoria, the 280 person capacity hall was filled almost completely by so many familiar faces in the Kayaking community. To start off the night's lecture, we were first treated to an overview from a former Haida Gwaii Visitor center manager, Maureen Weddell.



Paula won a door prize


In a way, I'm really glad that her lecture went first, as it was a great primer to those not completely familiar with the geography of the archipelago. Maureen Weddell was in charge of the center during Shawna and Leon's paddle and was one of the many contacts they made on their trip. Her presentation was simple and clear: A large map sat projected behind her as she spoke mostly about what to know about the economy, people and places in the area. Her portion of the talk was fairly brief and really informative, especially concerning Skidegate, Masset and Queen Charlotte.



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Following a brief door prize raffle, Shawna and Leon took to the stage and worked quickly to get their presentation started. It turns out that they took a month to do a figure 8 of Haida Gwaii and every bit of it except maybe the west coast swells has been added to my kayaking checklist at some point. They're super entertaining speakers, keeping the whole place laughing and ohhing and awing with their photographic fireworks. It sounds like they definitely did the trip properly, though - save for a few malfunctioning movie cameras.



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Some of the highlights of the talk were the bit on Langara island's little fishing commerce ecosystem. The flashed a few photos of this mobile marine operation that would tow a floating hotel from Vancouver out to the northwest shore of Graham Island and quickly dispatch fishing charters and helicopters in all directions in the hunt for wild salmon shoals to fish. The nature of this operation was transient and kind of disturbing for the surrounding environment. On a cultural note, in addition to meeting famous contemporary Haida carvers and jewellers in Masset and beyond, there's another story of previous explorers of Haida Gwaii. On the south shore of Moresby island, there are a number of emergency pull outs with cabins to evade bad weather. They showed a number of photos of this area as well as some of the beaches, that just look out of this world! This talk was a perfect follow up for those who have watched the Haida Gwaii part of This is the Sea 4. I can't thank the Siska members enough enough for putting it on and letting this interesting bunch tell us a little about the area and how to plan.


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Saturday, October 24, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Today's excursion reminds me why every time I visit portage inlet I just keep coming back for more with an even bigger grin on my face. With it's tributaries snaking all over Victoria and Esquimalt, there's so much to see, and all added together, it can make for a rather lengthy paddle. It's been nearly two months since my boat's hull was wet in local waters and nearly that long since I've met with my friends from kayakyak. I've been out and about doing all the things I love: scootering down to California, hiking the mountains in Banff, riding the MS bike tour, experiencing that odd smell in Manhattan, flyfishing in gold river as well as rewriting one of my side project sites. It's been an insane summer!



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The whole gang was at the beach promptly at 9 and we all gazed out over a serene sea in the morning light - all of the colors of autumn mirrored on the surface. The tide was just finishing it's ebb to low tide and John and I launched to have a go at the Tillicum bridge while Paula and Louise got ready for paddling. We regrouped back at the kayak club beach and headed up to portage inlet caching a brief deer sighting in one of the vacant lots along the Gorge.



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Portage inlet was shining with sunlight muted and yellowed slightly by a light fog. People were just waking up and milling about their yards along the waterfront. The eelgrass that was there earlier in the year is nearly all gone save for a few pieces that stuck to my paddle here and there. Over the last two days, there had been a fairly good rainfall which had left a lot of water for us to explore in the watershed that feeds into portage inlet. We started by paddling Colquitz creek.



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We were able to get much further up the river than I had been last time I came out this way. these little creeks are amazing fun to explore by kayak! all the little hidden bridges and meandering waterways take you to unexpected places. Colquitz River was not navigable around Tillicum Mall - too many branches sticking out across the creek. We turned around and headed back to the inlet passing all the sunken docks and lower rent waterfront housing along the shore.



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Back in Portage inlet, the group paddled straight down the center to the far shore to the west. We met a group of adult swans and their juvenile swanlings (no longer chicks and showing the beginnings of adult plumage). Craigflower creek was our next stop, another place that's very difficult to pass at low water. I kept noticing fish thrashing around while we were paddling in the creek, but it wasn't until we got under the highway's drainage tunnel that we realized that the salmon were migrating up the creek for spawning.



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The others held back a bit but I decided to paddle a little closer to the falls and watch the fish. They were interesting looking salmon and the CRD website confirms this is a coho habitat, "Coho salmon regularly spawn in Craigflower Creek, sometimes as far upstream as Prior Lake." In these shallows, the fish's dorsal fins and back would clear the waterline. a few swam around the boat and then back upriver - I dared not move while they were around.



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The paddle ended with a beautifully scenic and technical navigation back out to the inlet. The wind had picked up a little from the south and the current was coming in fast as expected. With little to say, the group paddled quietly back to the Kayak club clubhouse to take out. We headed up to John's place for some of Paula's handmade cinnamon rolls and coffee :) What a great way to kick off a Sunday!


Trip Distance: 16km


YTD: 264km


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Monday, October 19, 2009 Leave a Comment 1 comment

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Heh.. so when is a sailboat a ship? Earlier in the day, we were pondering this very question. This boat has masts so large they dwarf most of the buildings on the Victoria skyline. I was more than dazzled, so I ran home from work and put in at the VCKC beach. The light was already beautiful and only a light wind rustled the trees.


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I thought I'd try to beat the current today even though there was a fairly swift flood under Tillicum bridge. With some nice whirlpools and whitewater, I was ready to try to push through it. fortunately It appears a lot worse than it is and though I lost a little speed, I was on the other side in no time. I paddled down the gorge and ran into a whole fleet of students flocking the upper harbour.


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I pulled through all crowd of people and a few rowboats and swiftly got down to the blue bridge, the giant boats' masts already clearly visible. There was a whole lot of traffic arriving when I decided to cross. Mini ferries, sports fishing boats and sea planes all just doing their thing. I pulled up alongside the huge sailboat and the name struck me pretty quick: Perini Navi - maker of one of the most ridiculous luxury sailing vessels I've seen - the Maltese Falcon (yours for a measly $100 million euros BTW).


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This boat was named the Tamsen, a 170ft ketch (with a 160ft mast). It's got quite the sailplan - I don't even want to know the square footage. The lucky owners were out on deck with a can of polish cleaning up all the brightwork. this is a pretty unusual sight in the Inner Harbour. After picking up the slack in my jaw, I paddled back up to VCKC hut for take out. A fantastic sunset awaited me as I put the kayak on the roof.








Trip Distance: 8km




YTD: 248km




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Thursday, October 15, 2009 Leave a Comment 1 comment

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Suddenly it's fall.. time to catch up my logs. I'll keep these guys brief as my memory of them is fleeting at best. :) On a balmy Day in July, I set out with Paula for a short paddle out to Cadboro point, one of our common spins. With no weather is sight for miles, we had a great day on glassy water and headed out to Baynes.


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Baynes Channel was flowing a little bit, but nothign to fierce. We padled out to the point and really only saw a few birds.. I'll chalk this one up as exercise more than anything transcendent. Take away point: short paddle, beautiful day.


Trip Distance: 5km



YTD: 240km



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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Back in mid June, I was able to get out for an entire weekend during my busy summer schedule. The weather had been fantastic for most of the week and it definitely didn't disappoint for the journey. I was paddling solo out to Portland Island to meet up with some friends from West Coast Paddler. The plan was to get to Portland Island and find out where some of the other people wanted to go once we got there.



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I put in at Roberts Bay right after work and paddled briskly to Swartz Bay with a couple of daylight hours left to spare. It ws when I got to the point of Goudge Island when the winds began to pick up. The wind rose sharply from the lazy 5 knots in Sidney to gusty 15 knot winds in the bay. The water was a lot more disturbed too. I waited for the Tsawwassen to Victoria ferry to pass and worked hard to get to Pym Island. The wind and waves along with a nice stiff current were making the going pretty slow.



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Things got a little hairy in between Pym and The south shore of Portland Island. whitecaps and fairly confused water was pushing me all over the place and the wave size was amplifying pretty heavily at Hood Island, just off Portland island's southeast tip. I made it into the protected area of princess bay and paddled up to the arbutus campground, where the wind remained well offshore. After that nice challenging paddle, I was met by Greg and Willi on the beach and set up camp under a beautiful sunset.



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The next morning dawned bright and warm with a low tide. Willi and I wasted no time having breakfast and getting out on the water. Greg hung back and relaxed on Portland. We made up our mind to go out to Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island to enjoy the Saturday market and then out to Prevost and back to camp. The water was flat calm all day and the clouds would come and go giving us some nice relief from the sun.



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Saltspring's coast is fairly rugged offering very few places to take out and a lot more boat traffic than I was expecting. We crossed from Portland to near Ruckle Park and then headed north along the coast while chatting back and forth. Wildlife was plentiful out here - we saw a few huge bald eagles, some porpoises and seals. Fish fry were also everywhere in the water.



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We got to Ganges Harbour around 1pm and had to pull our boats out at the boat launch and place them up on shore. After securing the boats, we headed into town to get some food and see what everyone was up to. The market was busy as usual and kids were having a great time running around and being kids. I found some sugary fudge and a hotdog - I didn't way Kayaking had to be healthy :) Willi and I found a great place to rest on the cool grass just behind the market.



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We bid goodbye to Saltspring and retrieved our kayaks from the rocks. The tide had come up quite a bit, so I ended up wading to them I go mine back to the boat launch ramp to get in and turned around to find WIlli soaked with water - Darn! missed him falling in :) We finally got our act together and put in, heading up the northeast side and into the Goat and Sister Islands.



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These tree lined little islands are just teeming with high end real estate. Beautiful houses with their own private docks and power just chiseled into the wilderness. As we left these little islands, the Long Harbour ferry passed by and we saw the west side of Prevost island.



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Will and I split up at this point. I continued down the west side, and he went up and around the tip of the island. The paddle back to Portland Island was stunning. There are so many inlets and islands surrounding Prevost that make it a great paddling spot. The property lines on the island extends down to the tide line with most every beach prominently displaying a private property sign.



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I paddled back along the same route to camp, where I met Greg. Just as I got the last layer of paddling gear packed away , Will paddled into shore and we both sat down to a bowl of soup that Greg had prepared after his hike around the island. What a great guy! The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on he beach and enjoying the warm weather.



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I headed to bed pretty early and woke up the next morning to the sun being slowly blotted out by clouds with some distant squalls to the north. The weird weather had come back, so I left the tent up and escaped the rain storm when it worked its way overhead. I packed up the kayak, made breakfast and left just shortly after Willi and Greg had set off on their own adventure out to Fulford Harbour. THey still had a day left to enjoy. :)



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The rain cleared out just minutes later leaving a nice hot day to enjoy. Today the current was opposing me fairly strongly and the wind was pushing me a bit off course. It was a bit of a treadmill, but the paddle home was really beautiful and mostly calm. Roberts bay was still at a nice high tide, so I packed up and left Sidney for another time.


Trip Distance: 62km



YTD: 235km



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Wednesday, July 29, 2009 Leave a Comment 1 comment

Kevin with a plus 20 chinook - lots of other fish on this day on Twitpic


Sometimes, the best adventures are the ones you've never even thought to try. One of my coworkers asked me if I'd like to go do some boat fishing up in Ucluelet. Uh, yeah! We scheduled a good time to get up there and try our luck with Wild Pacific Charters, a fishing charter run by Alan Boyd, my coworker's dad. All I'd ever fished for was trout and bass, so this was going to be interesting. After a fun drive into Ukee, we arrived at the boat to immediately go out and harvest some dungeness crab.



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I mean.. for real, we just walked on the boat and headed out to the traps. The boat was a fine specimen of a its kind, complete with a nice roomy deck and a jovial, laid back skipper at the helm cussing out the stupid harbour speed limits. Marine fog had pulled over Ucluelet as it always does after about 30 minutes of sun on the ocean. The sleepy town was so quiet at this time of day, we watched on as the boat headed straight for the crab traps. A few pieces of gear and slicker overalls came out of the hold and Alan was hauling out some nice full traps from the bay.



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That was just a taste of the adventure, we headed back to dock to cook up the haul. You should see the hollywood style parallel parking he has to do to get the boat to dock. Powerboats can really maneuver with the right dude on the wheel. We stepped off the boat and I went to set up camp as quickly as I could. The campsite was right next to the marina at a spendy $30/night for a tent spot :P. The campsite was pretty nice - a word that's fitting here - and a few deer were in the road on our way out. After that we headed back into town to enjoy some fresh dungeness crab.



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It was fascinating seeing the method Alan uses to prepare crab. Last time we were treated to a huge crab dinner, these dudes cut the thing right in half, so you'd have to clean them pretty thoroughly. this way was quick and left perfect crab legs. mmmm.. It's always nice to get crab so fresh it doesn't even need butter. We shot the shit and watched a little TV before calling it a night - had to rest up for tomorrow's big trip.



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Morning dawned and I swear I heard someone snoring terribly in one of the RVs, but it turns out it was just a whistle buoy out in the bay. I packed up the tent around 0530 and met up with my friend to get down to the boat. We dropped off some of our gear, met up with another excited angler and went to the only thing open in town, a small deli/convenience store right near the docks. We loaded up on some snacks and lunch and when we returned, the boat was ready to leave.



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Today was still fairly overcast with a 5-10knot wind from the northwest The fog was pooling around the foothills and lazily hanging over the bay. Clear of the low wash areas, Alan poured on the throttle and we were quickly planing out west at about 25 knots on nice calm seas. It was hard to take photos, but looking back east, you could see the fog was being left back on shore. The first spot was about 10miles offshore - once we arrived, the rods were setup and we watched carefully as the action began. Birds in the air, seals poking their heads out of the water and a couple humpback whales humming around indicated this was probably a pretty good spot to find some fish.



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The first nibbles resulted in some beautiful marked coho. It's pretty thrilling going from tiny freshwater fish up to nice big salmon on the end of your line. Our first bit of fishing was using a downrigger. We'd drop the line down to about 100ft and watch for nibbles. you don't need no stinking bobbers for these fish, they fight all the way back to the boat. Alan would totally help us out in landing the fish and bonking them. I have this weird thing with fish, they're both super delicious and actually kind of fun to harvest, especially when in the hands of someone experienced. Of course the biggest ones always get away, so it's a fair fight :)



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I got drive the boat a little bit, immediately failing wind 101 when inside the enclosed cockpit. I actually looked for a Windex and realized I'm a total idiot. I got to try steering with a wheel and I was a pretty big fan none of that trying to convince your brain that the boat's not a car. I more or less just kept us head to wind to make the ride a bit smoother. The action died down a bit as we drifted away from the first underwater feature, we headed about 5 miles to the north and found a bunch more coho and some of their bigger chinook brethren.



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Once the second wave stopped biting as quickly, my friend suddenly brought in a nice big spring salmon and we decided we had plenty of salmon, let's give halibut a try. There were a number of reports of some sizable halibut catches from the radio, so out came the deep water rods and we hung back for a moment as the smaller outboard churned away. We baited with the hooks with fish bits, but all it resulted in was these little dogfish eating the bait. A pretty big school of them floating through was going to make it hard to catch halibut, so we headed back toward shore to try jigging for rock fish / ling cod.



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We caught a bunch of fish with an anatomy only a mother could love, but we were getting bites from lots of fish. It was probably just the wrong timing for rock fish, so with a hold full of spring and silver salmon, we watched as Alan filetted the catch and and bagged them for us. He even asked us what cut we like.. what a guy! Again, he has a fantastic technique for cleaning the fish, it was so fast and with such a sharp knife that if you blinked, you'd miss it.



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On our way back in the skipper pulled in another nice big crab pot and we now had more seafood than we could ever imagine. Docking up, we transferred the bags of salmon to some ice chests and had another mind blowing crab supper. Alan handed us so many bags of perfectly prepared crab and we divided it all up and put it on ice before heading home. Alan Boyd at Wild Pacific Charters showed us a fantastic time out on the ocean, even us newbies could bring in enough fish to fill our entire freezer and enough crab to share with the entire family and still have 3lbs left over. What a great experience! So far I've made grilled chinook and teryaki coho, and just like trout fishing, the fish you catch always tastes so much better than the supermarket.


Go Fishing with Wild Pacific Charters




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Sunday, June 7, 2009 Leave a Comment 0 comments
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