Rain Rain Go Away!
Rain, rain, rain & more rain is what has been on the “menu” for the past month here in British Columbia. In fact, we have broken the record books for the most consecutive days of rain since they started documenting the weather in the 1930’s!
Added to this gloomy weather are the shorter days & daylight savings & you have a formula for lots of “weather whining”. Many visitors to B.C. this time of year are left with a bad first impression. However, in a world short of fresh water we are grateful for this deluge. And everyone is loving the record precipitation where we live in the mountains in Whistler as snow means skiers & tourist dollars. This rain is also is really good news for the salmon that are right now reaching their final spawning grounds. With all this cold fresh water, river conditions are excellent!
Speaking of first impressions, there is nothing better than having good fishing on the arrival day at the lodge that includes BIG trophy salmon. We all had a chuckle the day a guest arrived from the east coast & asked what was hanging on the scale at the fishing lodge. It happened to be a very large Chinook/king salmon that tipped the scales at around 60 lbs. This was an ideal time for Simon to gather the guests around him & proceed with his fishing & safety clinic. This clinic is for all incoming guests, it’s when he explains about safety & fishing techniques. Also important is species identification so that you can tell differences between the types of sport fish caught in the Rivers Inlet area. You really get the new guest’s attention when they see that there are fish to be caught that break records!
Time is marching on, & with the US election now over & Thanksgiving in the near future, we wish all our American guests the best for the upcoming holiday season. As you gather with friends & family it is a great time to start planning a trip to our lodge. If you are thinking of joining us for a fabulous fishing adventure, & you have not yet booked your trip, please do so very soon to ensure that the preferred dates are available. It’s always good to have something exciting to look forward to!
Why Is Rivers Inlet The Best Place To Come Fishing?
The 4 main species of Pacific salmon that we catch at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club are Chinook/king, coho/silver, chum & pink. There are differences within each of these species depending on their gene pool & the rivers where they originate. For example, the Chinook might have bright red, pink, marbled or pure white flesh depending on its genes. One river at the head of Rivers Inlet has fat & short Chinook, whereas another has long & thin salmon.
In Rivers Inlet, salmon from all areas of the Pacific coast come to feed & rest as they make their way back to the river of their birth. Annually, the Canadian Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) send us back information from the hatchery fish heads that are recovered in our area. We learn from the information garnered from this head recovery program, that many of our salmon come from the rivers of Washington & Oregon & some from as far away as California.
What makes the Sportsman’s Club the best place in the world to come on a fishing trip for trophy salmon, halibut, lingcod & other bottom fish? To find out the 3 main factors that combine to make Rivers Inlet the foremost destination in the world for catching giant trophy salmon.
1st – The salmon that return to our waters each summer to spawn are from a unique gene pool that results in the salmon growing bigger & fatter than those in any other watershed in the world. These 70 + lbs. Chinook/king & 20 + lbs. coho/silvers that are consistently caught in Rivers Inlet, are not typically caught in other areas so they make the news. This is why most people who fish for salmon have heard of Rivers Inlet.
2nd. – Rivers Inlet is a destination for 10’s of thousands of salmon specifically returning every summer to the 9 major rivers systems in our huge watershed. We are also a funnel for salmon migrating down the west coast of North America to the hundreds of rivers systems as far away as California. This fact is evidenced by the DFO hatchery head recovery program. When the heads of marked hatchery fish are returned for analysis, the results show that salmon from the most variety of rivers systems are intercepted in Rivers Inlet. This combination of returning & migrating runs makes for the most consistent salmon fishing anywhere on the planet.
3rd. – No roads … no crowds. Seems like anywhere you can drive to these days has been “discovered”, no matter how isolated the local. You can travel hundreds of miles further up our B.C. coastline as far as Alaska & find yourself in a crowd because there is a road & access is easy. Rivers Inlet is unique because access is by floatplane only & that pretty much eliminates everyone, except a few locals, the odd boater & you at our lodge fishing in un-crowded waters.
Here is a summary of some of the other main features about our fishing experience that make us stand out as one of the best trophy fishing destinations in the world.
– Close to Fishing – The Sportsman’s Club is only minutes away from some of the most productive fishing grounds in Rivers Inlet. World famous spots like the Wall, the Dome & Kevin’s Corner where the largest Rivers Inlet Chinook/king & coho/silver salmon are caught. And there are many other un-crowded fishing spots nearby that you can always find one to call your own. Catch a “big one” there & they might even name it after you! At other lodges, you are often travelling 1 or 2 hours to the fishing grounds. Once on the water you are typically out for the day returning around dinner time & then you are done fishing. At our lodge you can come & go throughout the day for hot meals, re-provisioning, re-grouping etc. & get then you can fish after dinner until dark, (except on your 1st day when dinner is later). There is often a “night bite” for the big ones at sundown that you will miss at other lodges. At the very least, you might enjoy a breathtaking Rivers Inlet sunset!
– Well Equipped Boats – Our standard boats are 17 ft. with new 40 HP Yamaha motors, radios, GPS/sounders, electric bilge pumps & downriggers. Our fleet has good speed & range. This allows you to fish anywhere in our 35 mile inlet. This area includes Calvert Island off-shore from the mouth of Rivers Inlet, all the way up to the head of the Inlet where the rivers dump into the inlet. The school of fish are typically right on our doorstep only minutes from the lodge, but if they are not we can travel to find the fish which are rarely far away.
– Tackle Options – We have many different types of tackle option & combinations. You can do everything from “old school” top-water drift mooching with light tackle & bait (herring), or downriggers & hardware when the fish go deeper. We also have all the gear for bottom fishing for halibut & lingcod (& a variety of tasty bottom dwellers) as well as spin-casters & fly-rods for that ultra-light tackle experience. All bait & tackle is included in your trip package. We have everything, you bring nothing.
– Guides Available – Our basic package is self-guided. On arrival & multiple times/day we offer informative complimentary fishing & safety clinics. However if you prefer, we also have Transport Canada qualified guides available at extra cost (guides are pre-booked). The 2 of you can fish with a guide in our regular fleet of 17 ft. boats or for an additional cost you can upgrade to one of our larger Boston Whalers that holds 2 to 4 guests. Guiding is usually booked for every day of your trip (except the last day), but sometimes a day’s guiding is available. It is important to note that guides must be pre-booked in order to avoid disappointment as the guiding typically sells out.
– Custom Fish Processing – Our professional guides personally process your catch while you watch from the nearby lounge. You instruct them as to filleting & portioning etc. We then vacuum package & flash freeze your fish in our brand new state of the art blast freezer. At any time during your trip you can inspect your fish box to help keep track of your catch limits. We also offer the services of St Jean’s Cannery. For an additional cost, you can for have all or part of your catch custom processed in a variety of ways.
Family Fishing Trip of a Lifetime
I had the good fortune in the past to be able to take both of my children up on individual fishing trips up to Sportsman’s Club in Beautiful Rivers Inlet British Columbia. My step daughter Sam loves to fish with her dad but has never had the opportunity to fish the tidal waters of B.C. What a perfect gift to acknowledge all her hard work & dedication these past 4 years after graduating from University with her Nursing degree, a salmon fishing trip to one of my favorite spots in the whole world … Rivers Inlet.
From the moment we boarded the turbo prop seaplane at Seair Seaplanes in Vancouver, Sam had her phone out taking pictures from the Air of the rugged beauty of the B.C. Coast. As we made our final descent, I pointed out the lodge tucked into the sheltered Bay that would be our destination,she turned to me with the biggest smile on her face & proceeded to “trash talk” me on how she was going to catch more & bigger fish … Game On!
Upon arrival at the dock we were greeted by the staff. After a light meal we were assigned our rooms, given a quick but informative fishing tutorial on the different fishing techniques we would be utilizing over our stay & a thorough personalized hands on presentation on the safe operation of our watercraft . As the boats scattered out of the Bay I set our course for "Open Bight " for some halibut fishing. Within a half hour after mistakenly thinking that we were snagged on the bottom we had our first hali in the boat, a nice 30 pounder. What a start!
Upon our return to the dock several hours later we were again eagerly greeted by the dock staff. They looked after our catch & we were off to get ready for dinner. Before dinner the guests gathered on the dock near the lounge, we admired each other’s catch as the guides prepared to clean the fish, all the while sharing our favorite beverages & stories of the ones that got away. This scenario played itself out every day. The meals were presented with perfection. Hearty breakfasts to prepare you for the morning fishing, lunches for those that choose to come back to the lodge or packaged lunches for those that choose to stay out on the water & dinners that rival 5 star meals. All in all it was a post card setting. Meeting guests from around the world that share your passion for salmon fishing, the attention to detail that the staff provides, warm cookies before turning in for the night & the hot water bottles placed in your comfy bed to name a few!
The fishing is a bonus. There is nothing to compare to old-style top-water mooching off "The Wall" during slack tide. Having a Chinook/king Salmon strip off 200 ft. of line like a torpedo is something every fisherman should experience once in a lifetime. On top of that, "The Wall" is a mere 10 minute boat ride from the lodge. When trolling with down-riggers off nearby Calvert Island it is pretty much guaranteed that you will land several 10-15 lb. coho/silver salmon. Halibut fishing, while a much slower pace, is worthwhile with the possible “pay-out” of a 50 lb. + fish, (several were caught by various guests during our stay).
To sum it all up it was a trip both of us will remember for a lifetime. Sam still talks about the abundance of wildlife. Eagles scooping fish off the water top, whales breaching less than a feet hundred ft. from our boat, & in one instance a pod of 5 orcas in the distance.
There is also a lot to be said for having a captive audience on a boat. Although Sam has been in my life for over 10 years, we got to know each other so much better in those 5 days. For that reason this trip will always hold a special place in my heart. I would recommend a trip to the Sportsman’s Club to anyone who has someone special in their life that they would want to share a memorable trip of a lifetime with.
Steve H. Calgary AB
Recipe – Pumpkin Spiced Salmon
- 4 wild caught salmon fillets (about 4 oz each)
- 1/3 cup pumpkin
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar + extra for sprinkling (I used coconut sugar)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 -1/3 cup roasted and salted pepitas, crushed a little
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a rack in the center.
- Make the glaze: In a small sauce pan on low, stir together pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, apple cider vinegar and sea salt until sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened just a bit.
- Arrange salmon fillets, skin side down, in a single layer in a baking dish. Spread pumpkin glaze over the fish, coating evenly. Sprinkle a quarter of the pepitas over each fillet.
- Bake until fish is opaque but still bright pink inside, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve with a an extra sprinkle of brown sugar on top.
The Spawning Salmon
The return of salmon each fall to the river of their birth is a significant natural, cultural, economic & recreational event. Not just relied on by eagles, bears & anglers but for thousands of years this has been an integral part of the First Nations society. These indigenous people are considered to be among the oldest known fishing cultures in the world. The salmon have been a major source of food for these people. During the run they would catch vast amounts of fish & preserve them for winter use. The return of the salmon is deeply rooted in their folklore & feature prominently in their legends, art & ceremonies. Some believe that the salmon are the spirits of returning relatives that have passed that are bearing “gifts” or even take on human forms. Prior to the arrival of Europeans the salmon were also a trade item with other indigenous tribes.
Some communities have fished specific salmon runs at certain spots at the same time of the year for generations, literally thousands of years. Traditional fishing techniques were a combination of capture & release methods. On the fast flowing rivers, anglers stood on wooden platforms that jutted out over the river & from there they gaffed or dip netted the fish. In slower moving currents weirs were most common method of harvest. A weir is a fence like structure where several large stakes are driven into the river or shore bed & a wood lattice is woven between them. The water flows through but stops the fish & then they are then netted, speared or funneled into a trap. The natives were all about conservation making sure that enough salmon continued on their migration upriver to sustain the run. So when enough fish had been caught for the coming winter, the weirs were removed so that the rest of fish could swim on to the spawning grounds & also to allow upstream communities to fish. The arrival of the first salmon was a cause for celebration. Historically, these first-salmon ceremonies varied from tribe to tribe. However, they all had a few things in common. The salmon chief of the tribe would select a community member to catch the first salmon. This was an honor, & before entering the river they would undergo a blessing or a “purification”. Once a fish was caught, it would be brought to shore & carefully prepared, cooked & distributed to the people in a manner unique to the location & tribe. The head of the fish would be kept pointed upriver to show the salmon’s spirit the way home. The bones would be carefully cleaned & returned to the river. It was believed the salmon would reconstitute itself & continue its journey. There was an underlying theme of respect for the salmon as a gift, & the hope that by properly respecting the fish the “salmon king” would continue his benevolence through the coming months of salmon returns & again the following year & in perpetuity.
Sam R (pictured) & stepdad Steve H. had the father/daughter fishing adventure of a lifetime!