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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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