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The Langara Experience, la partie deux :
Salmon University / Oak Bay Marine Group
Trip 2009

Photo courtesy of Salmon U Guest Mike Mayer

After last years Langara experience I could hardly wait for this years. But, could it be even better? Oh yeah! The 2009 Salmon University - Oak Bay Marine Group trip was in a word, spectacular.

Myself, fishing partner Ron Harrington, Salmon University Instructor Tom Pollack and his fishing partner for the trip Harold Scott, joined 26 other enthusiastic Salmon University guests to fill the 30 slots aboard the Charlotte Princess, July 19 - 22, 2009. A month later than last years trip, we were in hopes of a little better weather and hopefully lights out salmon fishing.

Well the weather wasn't very cooperative the first few days as downpours greeted us with a vengeance. But nonstop fishing action would distract us from how water logged we'd become, even through the Mustang Survival rain suits, until we'd come in from the long days of fishing.

 

Day 1

Ron "Rockfish" Harrington with a YelloweyeWhere to start? Ron and I decided we'd fish for bottom fish the first afternoon upon arriving to try and get some meat for the freezer. Having been to Langara before, the GPS Coordinates stored in my handheld paid instant dividends. A 20 minute boat ride from the Princess and we were on the spot. We dropped down and as soon as our whole herring hit the bottom we doubled up! My vision was a Yelloweye as during last years trip they eluded us. But not this trip as it was a double yelloweye score! With the limit of 3 yelloweye per day and 6 in possession, our first day's limits were obtained with as many drops.

Not wanting to leave "floaters" on the surface, we decided we'd better hit another spot so we moved only a few hundred yards. It was incredible, drop after drop produced fish after fish. A mixture of assorted rock fish came up and we were able to successfully depressurize most of them so they could swim back down.

Then the big boyz came. Instead of the normal head jerking but easy reeling, now it was on. There was some power telegraphing though the 80lb PowerPro line and it said halibut. Near the surface we could see the tell tale signs of the white underside so Ron slid the fish next to the boat, a quick gaff job and the 38lb flatty was in the box.

Having a good Hali spot would pay off for us later, but this spot also held some lings. Day one we released several "teener" lings and only kept one, a nice 32lb ling.

With the fish box full of bottomfish and the weather just downright turning nasty, we decided to hit the other side of the island for some salmon action. It just didn't happen. What normally would take us 15 minutes to get to Andrews Pointe, took us 1 1/2 hours because of the chop and poor visibility. Another bonus payoff for the GPS!

Should we keep fishing or go eat dinner was the biggest question. We decided to join the group for dinner... wise choice! Atticus, the gourmet chef aboard the Princess had prepared New York Strip Steak and Snow Crab.

After desert a quick shower and it was lights out.

 

Day 2

Cut Plug Herring

4:00AM wakeup call. We got dressed, went down for a made to order breakfast, then put on our rain gear for a full day of fishing. While we were enjoying our breakfast and moving lethargically around, Shawn "Cookie" Pennell, the ships FishMaster was circling the island to make sure it was safe to go out, but just as important was looking for bait. Cookie gave the call at 5:00AM to let us go and suggested Andrews Pointe as some huge bait balls were visible.

What seemed to be Ron and myself's daily dilemma was where and when to fish for what. So many choices and they're all good. We decided to take Cookies advice and head to Andrews Pointe. We still hadn't fished for salmon and we'd been there 1/2 a day. Tom and Harold had knocked the coho dead the day before and said action was nonstop. Lets hope it's the same for us.

Silver Horde Kingfisher SpoonSince it's legal to fish multiple rods in Canada, we decided to each fish a G. Loomis 1174 rod, one with a Daiwa Luna 300, the other with a Shimano Tekota 500LC, then have a "community" rod out the middle that we would take turns should a fish jump on that rod. It didn't take long to find out that this was going to be an incredible day. Before we could even get both rods in the rod holder we already had a double. Nice spunky coho, but these would be released, as we'd do over and over again throughout the trip.

Fishing three rods in this fishery took some teamwork and I was thankful I had a good fishing partner. While I controlled the boat and my rod, Ron took care of his and the community rod. He also cut many cut plugs at once since we were going though them in rapid succession, as the pace we were on was mind-boggling. This was like Sekiu in its heyday.

Cut plug herring was the bait of choice but I also decided to try a Silver Horde Kingfisher spoon with the new sickle hook. Man, I'm telling you these are hot, hot, hot! For one thing the Pinks left them alone so when there was a hookup it was a good fish, either coho or Chinook. And solid hookups at that. These new sickle hooks on the spoons are going to increase everyone's success ratio of fish brought to the boat without a doubt.

Extremely nice coho for this time of year, the ones we kept were between 9 and 12lbs. Only 1 Chinook kept on this day for us, which was a scrappy 12lb'r.

It was now 11:30AM and we decided to go hit the bottomfish again. A detour back to the mother ship, we stopped in for Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and headed to the east side of the island around the Lighthouse.MIke Mayer with a 70 and 60lb Halibut

Tom and Harold followed us as we had told them about our success the day before. Cookie was leading a bottomfishing trip for the group and it was about 2:30PM when we saw the flood of boats heading towards us. My spot was dead on where Cookie was headed and we welcomed the gang. Everywhere we looked someone was hooked up. And this would be a day for some nice fish as well.

Ron and I finished up our yelloweye quota in short fashion, then Ron hooked up to a bigger fish. Harpoon time! After a nice little battle a nice hali came to the surface and I stuck the 53lb fish. Beside us though, Mike Mayer (pictured) and fishing partner Mike Karbowski were doing battle with some even bigger fish, 70 and 60lb's respectively!

Wow, what a day. Drop after drop again we continued to bring up fish after fish not knowing what would be on the end until it was near the surface. You could not get a drop down without having a fish tugging on the other end. There were a few instances where we came up empty, but only after we had a fish toying with our bait.

By days end we had a 53 and 22lb halibut, ling cod of 29, 28, 26, 26, 22 and 19lbs, and six yelloweye up to 20lbs. We had also released several "chicken" halibut around 10lbs each and also several ling cod in the lower teens. The box was so full we couldn't close it and we had several fish on the floor.

The look on the crew members face was priceless upon our return. They after all get to fillet all our fish. Spoiled or what?

We arrived just at dinner time, 8:00PM, and again an incredible meal awaited us.

Day 3

4:00AM and we were up and at 'em again. Same routine as the previous day, but only one thing had changed... it was clear and the sun would shine all day. Note to self, bring sunblock IN THE BOAT.

Terry with some nice cohoAndrews Pointe again and bait was showing everywhere. 30 feet down and it was fish on! CHINOOK. Two nice chinook to start off the morning but both somehow cut the leader with their teeth. Leader was broke between the two hooks on both occasions. But, with such hot action and so many fish the first day of salmon fishing, I soon lost thought of what could have been. Looking over I could see Harold hooked up with what appeared to be a nice fish and Tom verified this with his maneuvering of the boat as he was in pursuit for a good 15 minutes. A superb net job and then you could hear Harold's yells of joy echoing across the bay. A 37lb Chinook, his largest ever.

As quickly as it came, the Chinook bite was over, but the coho continued as long as we fished for them. Again with three rods, we many times had 3 on at once. We no longer were worried about whose turn it was on the community rod, now it was who has a free hand. To keep the fish buttoned up, we loosed the drag so the fish on that rod wouldn't feel as much pressure and run towards the boat. Some times it worked, some times it didn't.

Where we have seals that try and steal our hooked fish in Washington, we now have to watch out for sea lions in the Charlottes, big 'ol Stellar sea lions! As I had a coho on the side of the boat preparing to take the hook out with my set of pliers, good thing for my polarized lens as all I could see was a mammoth head coming straight from the depths directly at me. I jumped up, flipped the fish 10 ft in the air and probably screamed like a little girl. I scared Ron so bad I think he joined in on the chorus. The sea lion barked at us but I was able to remove the hooks and let the fish go on the opposite side of the boat. Whew... disaster averted.

We again kept a few coho from 9 - 12lbs but released many, many fish as the action never slowed down.

This day Ron and I decided not to go in for lunch so we headed again to the Lighthouse to finish up our bottom fish quota. We didn't have much to go but we stayed out until 7:00PM releasing some very nice fish. Our plan was to punch out on all species except salmon and try and get some Chinook the next morning. 14 hours of fishing on this day. I'm sunburned, windburned and pooped. What a blast!

A quick shower to wash the salt off and soothe my sunburnt face, then a dinner of, get this, prime rib and scallops! Oh man, they just plain spoiled us.

Day 4

Ron with some nice fishYep, 4:00AM again and the same routine. Back to Andrews Pointe and this time it would be Ron to hook up with a large chinook. He hooked it at 30ft down on his first drop. The fish ran to 150ft at will straight down. This fish had some shoulders. But then, he realized he was hooked and it was off to the races. I followed in pursuit but as the linecouter read 230ft it was gone. Hmmmm... broken leader between the hooks? Yep.

Ron didn't dwell on it too long and we were back on the coho. The chinook for the most part eluded us this trip, the few we caught were on the small side. But with the enormous amount of coho we hooked, and good size at that, we had no right to complain, and we didn't. We LOVED it!

We released multiple fish until around 9:00AM when we had 1/2 hour left before it was time to return to the Charlotte Princess and head home. A pod of whales came through around 8:00AM and the bite died. For about 20 minutes that is and then it was on fire as usual. A nice 14lb coho would top off the mornings catch.

Incredible fishing, incredible scenery, incredible food, incredible accommodations, incredible crew. Man, I'm spoiled!

In a word... Spectacular!

Now it's back to reality.

Until next year….

Terry Wiest
Salmon/Steelhead University


If you're interested in fishing with Salmon University aboard the Charlotte Princess in 2010, give Laurie McPherson
a call at 1-800-663-7090 Ext. 6526.

2008 Trip Article

For 2008 photos click here

2009 photos coming soon!

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