March 26, 2014 – Spring Is For Spring Salmon

Springs x 3!

Spring means so many different things to different people but some of the main themes are to do with a new life and a new beginning. Spring cleaning, out with the old in with the new. For salmon fishermen in BC, anticipation is always running high as with spring comes the first wave of salmon. Many rivers in BC have an early season chinook/king salmon run hence their nick name "spring" salmon. Often this first wave of fish are some of the biggest of the season so that has anglers excited about what they might encounter when they first wet a line in the spring. Rivers Inlet is typical of this phenomenon with strong early season runs that contain fish often in the 40 lbs. plus range. Fishing is good right from opening day at the Sportsman’s Club and typically every day through our July/August season so book anytime for great fishing.
The really positive news is the recent update on predicted salmon returns by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO). They are predicting some of the best returns in modern history so we are even more excited than ever about the coming summer season.

Simon Seminar.   Seair
Many Fishing Lodges have come and gone over the years and as in any business survival is all about keeping up with the times. At the Sportsman’s Club, we have been continuously evolving, always putting money back into the operation to make constant improvements to enhance our guests’ experience and stay competitive. What are some of the changes that we’ve seen at Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club in the past 30 years?

Here is a summary of what we have been up to and why we are simply
the best place for a fishing adventure.

SEAPLANES: One of the most substantial changes occurred last year when we moved to the direct seaplane flights from Vancouver to the lodge. It was a crippling blow that the Pacific Coastal Grumman Goose we used from Port Hardy to the lodge were grounded for lack of parts. Flying direct is a lot more expensive and approximately 30% of the trip costs are now for the seaplanes. However, our guests are delighted by the new direct two hour flights on Seair Seaplanes. No more plane changes in Port Hardy and no more fog delays makes for more fishing time.

MEALS: Throughout our 30 years of operation, our main meals have been of the hearty type so that no one goes hungry after a hard day fishing. Before the first guests arrived in 1984, Barbara had learned to bake fresh bread from scratch & it was an immediate hit with her home-made soups & chowders. Yes, she was the head cook & bottle-washer. One change over the years has been guests’ desire for salads & vegetables. Our guests have always raved over the good old fashioned meals like mother used to make – with a contemporary touch. Our chefs have experience in some of the best restaurants, including the award winning Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler. You won’t go to bed hungry either as after the evening fishing our girls serve a chef-prepared tasty hot snack at the end of the day with special cookie treats as a goodnight “kiss”.

ACCOMMODATIONS & SERVICES BUILDINGS: In 1984, we started out with two accommodation buildings & a dining-room/guest lounge. You will see from the recent aerial view of the lodge that the Sportsman’s Club is far more widespread today in our cosy cove known as Sportsman’s Bay. Over the years, we have added floats & buildings starting with seven bedroom cabins in 1985 & 1986. These were followed by the guest lounge in 1988. Other service buildings, floats & docks have followed. To everyone’s delight, the new float for the guest lounge, which was built in 2013 to extend further out, has given guests a wonderful area to relax close to the fish scale, cleaning table & everyone else having fun after a day of fishing. Being right in the action is a treat. In the old days, bathrooms were shared & it was not until 2005 & 2006 that we build the new floats & accommodation buildings to provide guests with en-suite bathrooms & double beds. Where there used to be two guest accommodation cabins, we now have four. The old 1985 & 1986 buildings now serve as staff accommodation & the office. The old office is Simon’s house for his family. The biggest improvement is our fully enclosed boat house where we can pull a boat right out of the water and away from the weather with our 2,000 lbs. hoist.

STAFF: We always strive to keep our staff for multiple seasons as it is easier to keep up our high level of “Sportsman’s Club” service with staff who know their job. We have always endeavoured to hire students so that they have the wherewithal to continue & complete their studies. Almost all of our staff are returning in 2014, so look forward to seeing lots of familiar faces at the lodge this summer.

CARETAKERS: As many of you know the Lodge is towed into our summer moorage in Sportsman’s Bay each spring from our winter moorage in Sunshine Bay across the inlet and then back again in the fall. The Cooper family have been looking after our Lodge and a few others for many many years now. Being right on the fishing grounds is a huge plus to our guests as some of the best fishing in Rivers Inlet is only minutes away from the lodge.

BOATS: Our 17 foot “Stinger” boats were custom designed for the type of fishing that we do. The boats are extremely stable and their open style allows our guests to easily move around when fighting & netting a fish thus minimizing the possibility of fouling he line on boat accessories.

MOTORS: In 1984 we started out with 25 HP Mariner motors purchased from Port Boat House in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island (where Simon grew up). After a while, we moved up to 30 HP Yamahas. Today we use 40 HP 4-stroke Yamahas which have the range and reliability to get you anywhere you need to go in the Rivers Inlet area. The Port Boat House has been our loyal and valued supplier for 30 years & we appreciate their support.

TACKLE: It was simple in the old days, just a rod, reel, 6 oz weight, a 2 hook leader and a cut-plug herring. Now, our salmon tackle includes downriggers with a variety of lures to get you down to the fish when the top water bite is off. We also have a fleet of heavy bottom fishing gear for chasing halibut and lingcod. For those who prefer lighter tackle we have a fleet of bass style spinning rods as well as fly rods.

Another major sign of spring on the west coast of BC is the herring fishery. Herring are obviously important to us anglers as they are one of the salmon’s major sources of food. However, long before European settlement of the west coast of BC, herring was important to the indigenous peoples. Not just the herring itself, but the eggs of the herring. Herring roe is a huge delicacy in Japan and the industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the BC economy.

The traditional way to harvest the eggs was for the natives to place hemlock bows in known spawning areas and as the herring attempted to lay their sticky eggs on the kelp and seaweed in the shallows the eggs would also attach to the tree branches. These bows of glistening eggs were a valuable resource that tribes traded amongst each other. There is still roe on kelp fishery where the roe that is attached to the seaweed is harvested but mostly the herring are simply netted and milked for their eggs.
More info on herring from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.



Most of our guest last year brought home their limit of 8 salmon which no doubt made for lots of yummy salmon dinners.
Do you still have some salmon left in the freezer and are maybe a bit bored of your regular recipes and preparations?

Here is a great recipe that is guaranteed to please.

There has been some confusion as of late about what credentials you need to operate a powered watercraft in BC. Technically you need to carry a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card, (sometimes referred to as a boating license). The Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is actually a federal certificate issued by Transport Canada and valid in all Canadian provinces and territories. You can obtain your PCOC by completing the Transport Canada-approved online course – However, this was obviously going to prove to be problematic for resort and lodge guests. So, we were given another option whereby if our guests demonstrate proof of competency by attending a boating orientation seminar on arrival and completing a “Rental Boat Safety Checklist” then they get a
temporary permit valid for their stay.


"Thank you so much for the fantastic trip the boys and I had up at the lodge. It was superb in every way. The staff was impeccable, the food absolutely brilliant, fishing …FABULOUS, accommodation better then ever, and on top of that we had perfect weather. Nothing could have made it better-NOTHING. The boys loved it and we will be back. Thank you so much for the great times and wonderful hospitality."
K. Smith – Dominican Republic