Fishing With Bait

Winter is fast approaching in British Columbia with the first big snow falls in the mountain passes & the snowline creeping slowly down to the valleys. The lodge has long been towed across the inlet to our winter morage & put to bed. We are back in our offices in town & already making bookings & starting our planning for the summer 2020. For many readers of this newsletter, we already have fishing trip dates booked for your 2020 fishing adventure with us at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club.  If you haven’t yet booked your trip, please contact us today for best dates & rates.

Part of planning for the 2020 season is looking over our bait & tackle orders from the past summer. We certainly saw a resurgence in bait for mooching & downrigging at the lodge & for good reason. On any given day, at any given moment, the biggest fish on the dock that will be all the chatter could be caught on pretty much anything that was dangled in the water. It could be on a hoochie, a spoon, a plug, a jig, or a simple herring. As a result, our crew always has to be prepared for the “rush” on any particular type of tackle. Whatever caught the last trophy fish is what everyone is going to want to use on their next tide fishing.

Herring is the main food source for salmon, hence it is almost always an effective bait. At Rivers Inlet, there is rarely a time when I am fishing that I don’t have a herring down on one line in some sort of presentation. During my first salmon fishing experiences growing up on Vancouver Island herring bait was the #1 choice. It was pre-downriggers so to get to depth we used planers that would disengage when you set the hook on a bite. We had wooden single action Peetz reels, a flasher & a strip of herring (like a filet of 1 side) in a plastic mold that made it wiggle & flash. It was quite an ingenious invention really because it was streamlined & quite durable & definitely effective. These childhood memories of using herring successfully to catch salmon have always been the ‘mystique’ of fishing for me!

During the first 25 + years at the Sportsman’s Club all we used was herring for bait. Mainly, we motor mooched & trolled with a cut-plug herring, a 6 oz weight & 25 pulls of line out. It was always simple & very effective.  Recently, after a few years of primarily using the downriggers with hoochies & flashers, we have seen a resurgence of herring bait use.  Once again, guests are wanting to mooch with herring for at least part of the day when that top water bite is on. For the lower depths, herring can be used effectively on the downrigger. My favourite downrigger method is in the teaser-head. This is the plastic mold that that is mounted on the head of the herring with toothpicks. This method allows the herring to roll & flash perfectly. The downrigger may be used without the flasher, & this gives the angler even more of a feel of the fish when fighting it. The “rock star” move is to run a cut plug straight off the downrigger with no teaser head, flasher or weight. When the fish hits & releases from the downrigger there is nothing between your on the rod & the fish except two hooks. The good old days are still alive in Rivers Inlet so book your trip today & experience it first hand!

A Fish Story

For the discerning angler, there is arguably nothing better than catching a chrome-bright, ocean-going, hard-fighting salmon on light tackle using just a weight, hooks & bait. That pure feel of the bite & ever nuance of the fight of the fish is the stuff dreams are made of! Over the years, many of our guests have taken to running a 3rd rod out the back of the boat between their 2 downriggers. The obvious advantage is having 33 % more gear in the water. The other advantage is being able to have a bait right on the surface to target the fish feeding in the top water column. At our lodge a culture has developed over the years of using a much lighter set-up for this, even a small fly reel with 15 lb. test on a 9-weight rod. There were a few hiccups on the way to perfecting our light tackle, top water fishing technique. We now have high quality durable salt water fly reels, but for a while used fresh water fly reels that were not up for the task. On this particular day we had a big one on the 3rd rod. After some lively & spirited runs all of a sudden disaster struck & the reel seized. If you have ever had this happen, you know that feeling of complete & utter panic & helplessness. I was watching my guests diligently & saw what was happening in the moment. I yelled at the guests to hang on as I immediately gunned the boat towards the fish to get some slack line. At that point, we were able to start hand lining it in & we were gaining back line in a pile on the floor of the boat. As soon as the fish felt the tension back on, it went for another big deep dive. As I watched the line coiled on the floor quickly disappearing I realized that we had to do something fast. I quickly attached a life jacket to the rod & reel & just as the tension came back on the gear & I threw the whole set up over the side of the boat, life jacket rod & reel, all of it. We spent the next hour or so following the jacket bobbing around in the water. A few times we were able to bring it back on board, start hand lining again only to repeat the same maneuver of throwing it back in the water as the fish ran & we were out of slack line.  Eventually the fish started to tire & the runs became shorter & less intense. For the last time we got the jacket & rod back on board, gathered the line back & we finally got the fish alongside the boat & quickly scooped it up in the net. It was a beautiful chrome bright 25 lb. trophy Rivers Inlet Chinook/King salmon. Not the biggest fish that I have guided by any means but definitely one of the most memorable! Book your fishing trip with us today & trip & come & make your own memories at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club.

Guest Testimonial

I thought it was about time to drop you good folk at Rivers Inlet Sportsmans Club some reflections on my visits to your fabulous lodge.  This year I visited with my brother and two sons; my brother’s first visit, my sons second and my third.

My first visit was 15 years ago with a group of business associates; things seemed a little wilder back then.  Recognise this guy?  Anyhow, I had a sensational time then and promised my two sons that one day I would take them there.  Fast forward 15 years and last year I did just that.  Although the fishing was a little slow, we still caught plenty of fish.  My son even hooked a whale as it swam under our boat; quite an experience! 

This year was even more amazing, with my brother and sons agreeing that the minute we disembarked from the seaplane our bodies and minds relaxed as we headed to grab a beer and eat some sensational tacos.  As this was my brother’s first attempt at this style of fishing, I decided to head out with a guide, (Caylon), that first day and what a great decision that turned out to be. We headed down towards Rough’s Bluff, a well-known and often fished location, a couple of hours in, without any luck we decided to give it one more run before trying somewhere else; and blow me down a Salmon hit the bait like nothing I’ve seen before.  I grabbed the rod, set the hook and within seconds it was 60 or 70 meters away.   We fought the monster for 20 minutes plus, with my brother calmly videoing the event and Caylon even more calmly manoeuvring the boat and preparing the net. Eventually we netted this 44lb ‘hog’ and after appropriate celebrations sat there enjoying the moment.  This was our biggest fish of the trip, however we all managed to bag our limit catching several 15 to 20 pounders and throwing many smaller fish back for another day.

As always, the food was sensational at every meal, with the fresh end-of-evening chocolate chip cookies something to look forward to.  The accommodation was of course more than comfortable, the boats and gear impeccable and the staff extraordinary, every single one of them.  What a magic place!
Thanks, on behalf of Nige, Phil, Ryan and I for a sensational few days, the only downside was recovering from the very common disease, Post Rivers Inlet Letdown Syndrome, trust me, it wasn’t easy to recover from.

Steph’s Mediterranean Baked Fish with Artichokes and Olives

Your host Stephanie’s easy, fast, and incredibly healthy dinner perfect for any night of the week.
In this beautiful dish, you will discover tender baked white fish smothered in a light tomato sauce and topped with delicious artichoke hearts, capers, lemon, and feta cheese. THIS, my friends is an amazingly delicious and healthy dish.

-Olive oil
-Rivers Inlet Salmon
-Kalamata olives
-Artichoke hearts
-Feta cheese


You will need a baking dish.
Depending on how much you plan to make, you can use a square 9×9-inch baking dish or larger 13×9-inch baking dish (note- it’s better for your dish to be a little too large, rather than too small).

1. Prepare delicious tomato basil sauce in your skillet. Once warm and bubbly, remove skillet from heat.
2. Add half the tomato sauce to the bottom of your favorite baking dish. Add half the artichokes and sprinkle with capers.
3. Place fish directly on top of artichokes and capers (I had a lot of fish- if you don’t have this much fish, don’t worry). Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with feta cheese.
4. Top with olives, more artichokes, and chopped Roma tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil, capers, and lemon slices.
6. Add remaining tomato basil sauce and top with additional olives, if desired.
7. Sprinkle with feta cheese and fresh basil, if desired. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until fish is fully cooked.