Monday, July 7, 2014

Fishing at Kyuquot

Everyone who visits our house on Deering Island is intrigued by all the fish on the kitchen walls. While I like fish, I’ve never been that keen on fishing, perhaps as the result of a fishing experience as a young boy outside of Toronto. As soon as I caught my first fish, I dropped the rod and tackle in the water. It was many years before I went fishing again.
As a result, when my friend Gary asked if I wanted to join him and two friends on their annual fishing trip I hesitated at first. But I was tempted by the prospect of a year’s supply of smoked salmon and the company of some interesting guys. So last month I set off early one Thursday morning for Kyuquot near the north-west tip of Vancouver Island.
Following a ferry ride to Nanaimo, our first stop was to fill up 4 large coolers with ice to keep our catch fresh before taking it to the processors. We bought a lot of ice since we were planning on catching a lot of fish….salmon, halibut, and ling cod.
At Fair Harbour we met Tyler, our guide and loaded his boat for the short trip to our home base. We then set off for an afternoon’s fishing, but the salmon weren’t biting and only Gary was successful.
The first night’s dinner was very rare lamb chops, prepared by Chris, a cardiologist who had started these fishing trips many years ago. He’s obviously not put off by the sight of blood.
That evening, I looked across at the native village and wondered just how different life was for the families who lived there.
Over the next three days we set off at dawn and caught a good number of halibut and ling cod. The halibut were a nice size to eat, but nothing to show off….the ling cod were large and ugly….very ugly.
Unfortunately, the salmon where much more elusive, and while we caught a few, I was told it was far less than in previous years.
We also brought up some very colourful fish, most of which were released back into the water.
After each day’s fishing, Tyler would filet the catch, following which Gary and Chris would perform autopsies on the carcasses to select the best bits to make their annual fish stock. 
While they were doing that, Craig and I relaxed on the dock and explored the territory. At the local cafe we met the owner who first come to Kyuquot many years ago with his father, a marine biologist. He told us he returned each summer to operate the café and nearby motel. In a previous life he had been a distributor of glass beads and now spends the rest of the year as a Kosher caterer in Seattle. (You can’t make this stuff up!)
One evening we received visitors from the nearby reserve who brought various smoked fish for us to try. While Craig and I wanted to visit the reserve, and were invited to do so, we never made it over.
It is often said what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The same might be said for male conversation on a fishing boat. What I can say is that it was the highlight of the trip for me.
So if you are looking for an interesting adventure, I recommend a few days fishing in Kyuquot. Stay at the motel and eat the pie at the nearby cafe.  Ask for Tyler to take you out in his boat. He’s an excellent guide.
And try to figure out why an American who runs a Kosher catering operation in Seattle is spending his summers running a tiny cafe in beautiful but extremely remote part of British Columbia.

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