The Reel News: Fishing with Silver Blue Charters
by James A. Goerg
This is an excerpt taken from the Reel News December 1999 Edition which reports on a charter taken with Silver Blue
The marina docks were still rocking from the wake of our Pacific Spirit Air flight landing at Silva Bay when we picked up our baggage and hurried up the ramp. Tanned, smiling, and ready to go was our skipper Bob Meyer, waiting for us on the landing.
How could I have known that within two hours I’d be in a wrestling match with a seal, and I would WIN!
Laurie and I were in need of a getaway. Our exit had been blooming for weeks and even though our time was limited, this island retreat was more than sufficient.
Silva Bay and Page’s Resort Marina are located on the south end of British Columbia’s Gabriola Island the island sits off of Nanaimo, similar to how Vashon Island is just across the water from Seattle. Access from Nanaimo is just a short twenty minute ferry ride, or if you’re short for time like we were, a twenty minute skip by air from the mouth of the Fraser River over the Strait of Georgia on one of Pacific Spirit Air’s float planes.
We were nighting at one of the new cabins on the hill at Page’s Resort Marina. The cabin could sleep six, had a full electric kitchen short of a dishwasher, a great shower, corner wood burning stove, wrap around deck and NO PHONES! Nestled in the trees, we could have been miles from the nearest bit of humanity.
Bob delivered us with our baggage and then rushed us off for some groceries at the only shopping area on the island. An impressive strip mall at the north end. The short tour of Gabriola Island was great. No stop lights, little traffic, and loaded with deer in postcard scenery. In addition to great year-around fishing, this is a hugh artisan community and with Laurie not caring much for the rock-and-roll of saltwater, her time would be well spent touring the homes and galleries of several artists.
TIME TO FIGHT
Bob and his wife Barb have lived on Gabriola for nearly thirty years and he fishes the surrounding waters like he’s been there forever. He is the owner/operator of Silver Blue Charters and runs a 22’ SeaRay convertible hardtop with all the electronic bells and whistles. The boat will comfortably fish four for either half day or full day excursions.
Bob’s buddy, Steve Wohlleben loosened the ropes and shoved us off into the bay. As we slipped past the anchored yachts and sailboats, my stomach knotted as it always does in anticipation of fishing a new area. How long is the run, what techniques are successful here, how deep are the fish and when’s the tide change? I didn’t have to wait long for the answers.
Five minutes from the mouth of the harbor we were dropping a shrimp pot and in another five minutes Bob was backing off on the throttle near the sheared cliff walls to the north.
We set up the rods with a Hot Spot flasher and a spoon, swung the Scotty longarms around and dropped the downrigger balls to 99 feet (“NO JIM! Not 100 feet. It hasta be at 99’). And this is where we caught the fish.
The first response was small. Maybe 5-6 pounds and it went back in to grow-up. The next one was different.
The rod tip went up as the line broke loose from the release clip and then it pointed towards water, throbbing as line backed out of the reel I was on it immediately and moments later the first silver flash from the chinook ribs showed. The scrappy fish crossed the trolling motors wake and was immediately rejuvenate. The fish dove fast and hard, line peeled from the spool and the deeper the fish went the heavier it got. Then nothing. Nothing!
Embarrassed, I announced the fish was gone. What had I done wrong? Was the drag too tight? Where had I held the rod tip up Was I over anxious? And as I reeled the gear back to the surface we son learned the answer. The barb-less hook was still firmly set in the salmon’s upper lip and there was not way it would have worked loose. I had kept the line tight but the warrior on the other end had his own plans. The fish was tripped from the lower jaw back, gills and all. A seal had had his way with my first Canadian keeper of the year. The speed and weight I had fought were all his, as was my salmon.
We fished on and in a short time five fish were in the box. We were complementing ourselves for a good day on the water (aren’t they all?) when my rod tip danced. Again we went punch-for-punch and this fish was heavy from the start. It took three runs and I respooled each time with success met at the jaws of the net. As he laid on the deck the toothy perforations were evident. “Mr. Whiskers” had tried to wrestle this fish away from me for dessert. I won.
With our two fish each, we retired to the shrimp pot for a successful haul and headed in. Less than three hours from when Steve had cast us off, we were back at Page’s Marina cleaning our quarry.
Local artist, Dee Lauder from Fogo Folk Art was Laurie’s guide for the first day. They toured many of the artist’s home and galleries and had great success.
Gabriola Island is the home of many world famous artist. Most work directly out their home studios giving the enthusiast an opportunity to ask questions and see them at work.) The second day, Bob’s wife Barb took Laurie on a walk to see the very unusual petroglyphs and to teach about the history of the island. Then they took in the local Farmer’s Market which is usually every Saturday morning. There she was reacquainted with many of the people she had met the day before. They treated her like a long lost friend which is one of the wonderful things about the island. Well of course, Laurie had discovered some ‘finds’ that I just needed to see so the next day I went with her to meet some of her new friends. The other great draw to this island definitely has to be the friendly, artistic and colorful people.
It’s funny how the fresh air will stir up a fierce appetite and we found ourselves enjoying a linen table cloth with a view of the bay from an unexpected perch high above Silva Bay. Latitudes Restaurant can compare with the finest eatery in any large city on the west coast. (I suggest the tenderloin). A cold brew or a glass of vino helped wind down the day as we listened to a jazz quartet.
Our heads hit the pillows hard that night.
The next morning we slipped quietly through the bay trying not to disturb the yacht sleepers. Surprisingly we found some morning chop on the water as the wind had shifted. Bob explained how they fish the area in most weather and are fairly well protected even from a dreaded southeastern wind. This wind was from the north and we had little protection, but we had the water to ourselves.
We set the ‘riggers up again (at 99’) and soon were back into the catching. The morning bite is usually best but for the past two weeks, afternoon fishing had been a little more productive. The only way to know this is to be out there fishing, and that seems to be where Bob is nearly every day. If a customer has to cancel he will go out anyway, testing gear, learning, getting ready.
Most of the outside coastal waters in British Columbia can turn a little violent for year around fishing but the inside, where Gabriola Island sits in the shadow Vancouver Island, fishing can be quite spectacular for number of fish. May and June are the best months to troll for the larger chinook as the migration paths for two runs intersect here and catching is almost guaranteed. July, August and September is great for drift fishing with jigs in shallow water for both chinook and coho. Gabriola doesn’t usually offer huge fish and a thirty pounder here is rare but fishing is rock solid and it’s rare to go home with no fish. The surrounding reef structure can offer some great ling and rock cod for the bottom fisherman. the angling pressure is light and ten boats is considered a crown. The fish are bright, hard fighting and the scenery, like in most of B.C. is great.
Gabriola is considered the ‘jewel’ of the Gulf Islands and in addition to fishing offers golfing, kayaking, diving, horseback riding, great artisans, wonderful bays and marinas, walking and swimming beaches and Provincial Parks.
The Reel News, PMB – #A16
621 S.R. 9NE
Lake Stevens, WA 98258-9400
in the December, 1999 issue
Reprinted from The Reel News – https://thereelnews.com/