A Trip to Rivers Inlet – Summer 2021

RISC boy and Tyee

You know it is a big one when it is the same size as you! Bring the grandkids for and make life lasting memories.

After our recent trip into the lodge to do repairs & maintenance, we are more excited than ever for getting the lodge back up & running in summer 2022. My wife Stephanie & I left our home in Pemberton & booked a ferry to Vancouver Island. The first stop was lodge owner (my Mother) Barbara’s house in Victoria for a long overdue visit. We left with some real treasures in the form of a couple of boxes of old photo albums from some of our 38 years of operation. Look for some of those flashback images coming soon!

We drove 300 miles NW from Victoria up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy. There we grocery shopped for the incoming work crew, stayed overnight, and first thing in the AM we boarded the amphibious Goose for the flight into our fishing lodge in Rivers Inlet. Our direct 90-minute seaplane flights to the fishing lodge from Vancouver when we are operating are preferable, but we always love flying in the Goose. Not just for the nostalgia but from an operations point of view it is safe, reliable, goes fast & carries lots of weight. This “flying boat” really is the work horse of the coast. Just being in a float plane flying into Rivers Inlet always makes my skin tingle. I have so many memories of almost 40 years of spectacular fishing and countless adventures at our BC salmon fishing lodge.

Because the severe winter storms make their way into our summer moorage in Sportsman’s Bay, we have to disassemble the fishing lodge each year and tow it 7 miles across the inlet, float by float, to more protected Sunshine Bay. This is a HUGE production that we will detail at another time. The work crew arrived at the fishing lodge the next day & it was “go time” to get the dining room roof off & the new one on. Luckily the weather was on our side and with clear skies and lots of enthusiasm we got it done! Despite the heavy workload, we did manage to get out fishing twice during the week when we were there with the work crew.

Unfortunately, one of the crew caught a big fish at the Head of Rivers Inlet a few years back so that was our first outing. You hear about the legendary fishing at the Head of Rivers Inlet, and on occasion it is good there. However, it is so hit or miss that it is not my “cup of tea”. I guess I burned myself out when I was a full-time fishing guide back in the day trying to catch the “big one”. I prefer the fishing that we are famous for at our fishing lodge. We are mostly self-guided, minutes to the fishing grounds in calm waters. The fishing is a mix of coho & Chinook salmon, and there are halibut and lingcod nearby. But the magic of Rivers Inlet is that there is always the expectation and anticipation of catching a giant Chinook salmon of a lifetime at any moment. The best part of our fishing lodge experience is that you don’t have to be out all day on the water (unless you want to). You come back in after the morning fishing for a hot lunch, take a break from the fishing action, reprovision, & then head back out on your schedule when you are ready as you don’t need a guide. We really are like a fishing country club. Most important is getting your fish cleaned & flash frozen right away so they don’t sit out in the boat all day. This produces a much higher quality product of fish for you to take home, firmer and fresher. The work crew we had in were determined to give salmon fishing at the Head of Rivers Inlet a try. It is a bait only fishery, so I tied up a board of my double secret herring leaders with 2 red 4/0 hooks and a single 1/0 stinger hook. We brined some herring and we set off at first light for the 1 hour run up the Inlet to the Head. It was the usual story, should have been here yesterday. We pounded the corner all day with diligent bait changing until we were dizzy with not a single bite. We saw a couple of nice Chinook salmon caught by the few boats that were there and that was it. We did the 1 hour run back empty handed but in good spirits from the boating adventure. The next morning it was my call, and we went to the world-famous Rivers Inlet “Wall” which is only 5 minutes from the fishing lodge in the summer. We thought about mooching with herring but after no bites at the Head the day before, we needed production. We got the secret weapon out, the downriggers. Not all lodges have them so that gives our guests a huge advantage to get down deeper to where the salmon are when the top-water bight is off. Our terminal tackle of choice was the tried and true Sportsman’s Club classic that is the “go to” set up for our guests. This is the green flasher and white hoochie or “burger & fries” as it is known as everyone loves it! The successful formula that I instill on our guests during our daily seminars is to follow the contour of the 100 ft edge at 3 knots with one line at 69 ft & the other at 99 ft. The minute we got our lines in the water at the Wall it was ON. After a couple of hours and many bites, we ended the morning with a few nice coho & a chrome bright, classic Rivers inlet 34 lb. Chinook salmon. It was like a dream come true! We got the job done and we got to bring a few fish home, so it was a successful mission to the fishing lodge. After a taste of amazing salmon fishing, we just can’t wait to get back there next spring. As there will be more repairs and maintenance due to not operating again in summer 2021. The rig-up crew will go in a few weeks early to do the extra things that need to be done. That way we will be ready to host our eager anglers to a fabulous fishing adventure in July and August 2022. Make your fishing dreams come true and book your summer 2022 fishing vacation with us today. If you are used to booking your summer BC salmon fishing vacation in the spring, post pandemic will not be the same. So many of our customers missed out on fishing again this past summer that they are booking now and we are already full on many of our trips. We will likely be sold out well in advance of the season. Don’t delay and book your trip today. We look forward hearing from you soon to book your fishing adventure of a lifetime.

Your Hosts, Simon & Stephanie

Summer Fishing Report 2021

Camp cook Lisa can barely hang on to the classic chrome bright Rivers Inlet 34 lb. “Tyee” Chinook salmon we caught at the Wall.

What an incredible salmon fishing season it was in British Columbia! Reports are coming in from all parts of the BC coast that this was the summer to be salmon fishing in BC almost anywhere. From BC’s North to the Alaska border right down to the waters off Vancouver & the Island, the salmon were biting fast & furiously! Unfortunately, with the US border closed until recent weeks, our American friends were not able to get to us and we did not operate our salmon fishing lodge for another summer. I did speak to some of the lucky few to wet a line in Rivers Inlet and apparently by all reports, the salmon fishing was simply spectacular all summer long. The big Chinook/King salmon showed up right on time in mid-June & there were many “Tyees” (Chinook salmon over 30 lbs.) that were kept, lost & released, even before the first of July. By then, the coho/silver salmon had moved in thick and just got bigger in size & thicker in numbers as the season progressed. Despite there being an early June run of big Chinook salmon in Rivers Inlet, we only operate our BC fishing lodge for July & August because that is when the school of coho move in. The non-stop action that the coho salmon provide is the perfect complement to the diligence involved in trying to catch a wily giant Rivers Inlet Chinook salmon. It is easier to be patient & wait for the big one to bight when you have a couple of BBQ fish in the box! Fishing for big Chinook salmon is all about expectation, anticipation but mostly preparation and discipline. The combination of giant Chinook salmon, lots of coho salmon, nearby halibut and lingcod fishing make for the perfect BC salmon fishing vacation. The salmon fishing was steady all summer until our arrival with the work crew in mid-August. Despite our busy work schedule, we were able to enjoy one perfect morning of fishing at the Wall with the crew. I had friends in Rivers Inlet just last week and the Chinook salmon fishing was great right until the end of August. There were a couple of giant Chinook in the 50’s & a monster that was over 60 lbs. caught on August 30th. This brings us back to the most asked question, “when is the best time to salmon fish in Rivers Inlet BC?” The answer is: Our BC salmon fishing lodge is only open in July and August when the salmon runs in our area are at their peak. This ensures our guests consistent fishing for the famous trophy sized Rivers Inlet Chinook and coho salmon as well as halibut and lingcod. If you want a combination of big fish & numbers of salmon, then come earlier in the season in July. If big Chinook salmon are not your primary focus and you are looking non-stop action come later in the summer. By mid-August, the Chinook salmon are still around, but the coho get so big and voracious that it is hard to keep them off your line! That is a good problem to have, and late summer is my favourite time as I love the coho action on my 9-weight fly rod. This is truly world class light tackle salmon fishing at it’s finest. The phone has been ringing off the hook lately with so many people wanting to make their BC salmon fishing trip plans for summer 2022. Don’t delay in making your booking as we are filling up fast. The other inspiration the past few weeks has been speaking to so many of our past customers who did get out fishing in various locals and fishing lodges. They had a good time, but the theme has been that they like our BC salmon fishing experience at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club the best. Sometimes it is good for our guests to fish at other BC fishing lodges as when they come back and fish with us, they appreciate our little piece of fishing paradise more than ever. Calm waters, minutes to the world class fishing and you don’t have to stay out all day! Not to mention the first class service, excellent equipment and attention to detail that you can only get in an owner operated, family run business. Think “country club fishing” at its finest. Contact us today to book the ultimate BC salmon fishing trip and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Winner of this month’s give-away a RISC micro fleece hoodie for the best family fishing story is long-time guest Jim Vanderhook!

From the archives, family fishing story & micro fleece winner Jim Vanderhook & wife Magdalena feeding a thirsty hook nose Northern coho.

I remember being at RISC on one of my many trips during a rare summer windstorm. The wind was blowing so hard that Simon wouldn’t let any of us out right away at first light. My wife Magda & I were able to go out a little later in the morning when the wind died down. For some reason, I was sure I would catch a big fish that day. We stuck close to the lodge and fished one of my favourite calm water fishing spots that nobody ever fishes, Major Brown Rock. After a couple of hours on the water and a few bites, it was getting time to go back to the lodge for lunch. Then all of a sudden as we were about to pull up our lines, a salmon hit my rod hard so hard it buried the tip deep in the water. I grabbed the rod and calmly set the hook and then started reeling like a madman. I lost my balance once or twice, almost went over the back of the boat, but I wasn’t going to let my fish go! The fish just wouldn’t give and every time I got some line back and the fish got near the surface, it just screamed out again and again, going deep dives down and then coming right back to the surface. Luckily my wife is skilled at driving the boat and we patiently followed the fish as we slowly drifted over to nearby Kevin’s Corner. After over two hours of hard fighting, we finally saw the size of it next to the boat. We waited for the perfect moment and when it rolled over Magda was able to get the fish in the net and with both of us heaving, we finally got it over the gunwale and into the boat – nice CHINOOKIE!!! My wife was physically and emotionally exhausted from the excitement and the boat manoeuvring, so I moved to the engine, and we started for the quick trip back to the lodge. The wind had come up again and changed direction, so we had to slowly putter our way back to the lodge with this giant “silver sea treasure” still in the net on the floor of the boat. This only added to the experience, it was like ”Old Man and the Sea! We arrived about an hour late for lunch just as the other guests were preparing to head back out fishing and we were greeted like heroes. I was the only one to catch a really BIG chinook that morning and therefore I was salmon king for the day which is a Sportsman’s Club tradition.  Jim V.

Guest Testimonial – Incredible Fishing Experience

Back in the day you got thrown in the water if you caught 2 Tyees in one day. Simon looking pretty wet with his buddy Hobart from Dravo.

“My trip to the Sportsman’s Club far exceeded my expectations. Barbara, Simon, Stephanie, Cathy, and the entire lodge staff and guiding staff work extremely hard to make sure that your stay at the lodge is enjoyed. The food was exceptional and the fishing was great. Thank you all for memories that will last a lifetime!”
Trave1991 – Via Trip Advisor

Pan Seared Halibut with Charred Tomato Salsa

Pan Seared Halibut with Charred Tomato Salsa

The minute summer tomatoes ripen on the vine we’re ready to pop them into quick and easy recipes like this pan seared halibut topped with garlicky salsa. Halibut’s flaky white flesh practically begs for citrusy salsa to spark it’s neutral flavor. Think of it as a blank canvas for summer’s favorite homegrown and farmers’ market crops.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 2 cups halved heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons capers
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1T olive oil.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and sear the fish for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Add the thyme, juice of 1/2 a lemon and 1T of olive oil and baste the fish with the sauce. Remove the halibut from the pan to a platter.
For the salsa:
Sauté the red onion till translucent. Increase the heat to high and add 1T olive oil to the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, the garlic and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Cook for 2 minutes and then toss in the capers, basil and parsley. Stir to combine and serve on top of the fish.

Consider this salsa as a go-to basic bruschetta recipe, too. SImply grill or toast very good artisanal bread, drizzle with EVOO and top with this salsa.

Mountain Life – Fish On at Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club

A big part of the Sportsman’s Club experience is fishing un-guided and doing it on your own. You will learn about boating and navigation, safety, conservation as well as the specifics of fishing salmon, halibut and lingcod.

We do an intensive orientation on arrival, daily seminars, constant mentoring, a real-time radio fishing update when you are out on the water and a meal time information exchange that puts everyone on the fish for the next tide. It is pretty easy these days as well with GPS, sounders, radios & the secret weapon the downrigger! With all these tools and the fishing being so close to the lodge in cal waters, it is easy to learn ocean salmon fishing with great success. The really cool thing about our lodge is when past guests bring their fishing buddies and show them the ropes by being their “guide” on their first trip. Here is a great story about my longtime friend Feet Banks and his experience teaching his friends BC salmon fishing ….