words :: Feet Banks // photography :: Todd Lawson.
It isn’t fishing if you don’t get up early, and when that bugle calls at 5:30 am at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club, I’ve never leaped from bed faster. Time to hook into some beauties. But first, hot coffee, a gourmet breakfast, some weather and conditions insight from Simon and the guides, and we’re on the water just as the sky lightens enough to see Calvert Island off in the distance.
We’ll be there in time for the morning feed and another day of the most exciting salmon fishing of my life. As the only born-and-raised B.C. angler in my boat it’s up to me to show Todd (Alberta) and Jonny (Ontario) the magic of going for Pacific salmon in one of the most remote and beautiful stretches of coastline any of us has ever seen.
Certainly, we don’t get our lines down quite as efficiently as the Sportsman’s guides, but by the time the sun hits we’re trolling one rod at 69 feet and the other at 30 and we’ve already got a nice northern coho in the boat…with lots more to come.
The old saying is, “they call it fishing, not catching” but we all know that as incredible as a day on the water always is, it’s nice to roll back to the docks with fish in your boat to show the rest of the guests, preferably something impressive. My 17.5-pound coho wasn’t quite big enough to get my name on the summer leaderboard, but it was still the best fish of my life, so far. (Extra stoked to haul this one in on a Sandlance spoon handmade by my buddy Andy at AP Tackleworks in Victoria. Good looking out, Andy!)
Of course, time on the water is integral when you’re fishing and that’s the other great thing about the Sportsman’s Club: You’re living, eating, sleeping, and partying on the water in a floating village tucked into a picturesque west coast bay. That connection, to the ocean and the coast, is an integral part of the overall experience. The five-star meals and post-dinner drinks and fishing stories aren’t too shabby either.
And while I was able to teach Jon and Todd a few tricks for ocean fishing it’s imperative to let the record show that we hooked into way more fish and had much better “luck” out on the water with Jacob, a Sportsman’s veteran (at 17 years old). That’s the value of a proper guide—someone who fishes and lives on the water all summer, or all year long.
You learn something new every time you get out onto the water. Sometimes it’s a trick to better land a lunker and sometimes it’s just learning to appreciate the magic of being outside, slowing life down, and partaking in an activity that’s as old as civilization itself. Fish on!