On down the Copper Bay road to the south where, after about two miles, the pavement ends. At Copper Bay there are quite a large number of small wooden houses all of which appeared vacant today. We understood why when we read in the guide book that they are only used when the Sockeye are running. Then, members of the Copper River band of Haidas fill the village while the fishing lasts; a modern version of the old time fishing camps. At Copper Bay the road turns west and follows the Copper River for several miles. While following it we took one of our side trips on another forest road to Grey Bay, which has a long, curving sand beach and is evidently a favorite camping spot maintained by the timber industry of the area. There were tents and campers at most of the sites along the beach. They are spaced far apart though, and the beach was not what you'd call crowded. We walked along the hard sand, enjoying the sunshine and poking at rocks and shells.
Back on the "main" road, which at times seems like a tunnel though the dense growth of spruce and cedar, we drove along the shore of Skidegate lake for several miles before taking a second side trip down a rougher road to Moresby Camp where we were on our first day in the islands. What a change a couple of weeks and good weather makes. At the landing and camp site where there had been four or five vehicles parked when we anchored in Glen Cove there were now forty or fifty cars, trucks, and RV's, either lined up in the camp area or parked near the boat launch. Busy place. We talked with a group of farmers from Williams Lake and California who had dug a mess of clams and didn't know what to do about them. They had a mixture of butter clams and littlenecks boiling in a big pot. Sure looked and smelled good. I demonstrated how to eat one for them. Neat bunch, but they knew nothing about the seashore. In the water just to the north of the floats the bow of the HAIDA LEGACY was just showing. Cabin and aft deck completely submerged, it was tied to a couple of logs. That is the boat which we saw high on the rocks as we left Cumshwa Inlet two weeks ago. We heard that someone had tried to salvage it. They evidently tied logs to it to float it and brought it here. Doesn't look in very good shape.
Got back to the ferry landing just in time to miss the 5:30 ferry. No problem, we were just early for the 7:00 o'clock sailing. Home about 7:30, drinks on the boat, dinner at the Sea Raven Inn again. Had halibut chips this time. Great! Tomorrow we'll look over Graham Island.
|Off on another circular tour, Graham Island this time. Didn't get far before disaster struck. We stopped to take a few pictures at the Sidegate Haida Quaii headquarters and museum and again at the big longhouse and totem on the old Skidegate beach, then were headed north along the beach on highway 16 when out of the brush on the right side of the road leaped a deer. I didn't have time to do anything. There was a "Crunch!" as the deer bounced off into the oncoming lane and we came to a stop with our left headlights and grill smashed and our hood bent so much that the spring latch wouldn't hold. Fortunately, our radiator and fan were still intact. Chuck dragged the still kicking deer off the highway, we picked up the big pieces of glass, then tied a safety string on the hood in case the backup latch should come free. A few miles up the road we found a piece of barbed wire and made a stronger latch. That's about all we could do on a Sunday morning so we went on with our trip. On the way north to Massett we counted 34 deer along the road and on the way back another 7, including one that somebody else had hit and on which the eagles were feasting. This is surely deer country.||
|On the return trip we took another route. Stopped at Port Clements to poke through the logging museum and talk to the old gentleman who runs it. He has some very interesting displays, including a rebuilt Fordson log railroad engine with big convex wheels which run on the log rails. Of course we also had to go to the "Golden Spruce" and the "Haida Canoe", two things featured by the tour books. To a biologist the Golden spruce may be special but a tamarack in fall is prettier; and the big Haida Canoe log is so far from the water that the guy who started hacking on it must have been out of his mind.||
Spent the rest of a beautiful afternoon on the boat. Cleaned up our fishing gear and talked to the skipper of the Fisheries and Oceans boat moored across from us about our passage through the Skidegate Channel. He said our plan had been just right. My only mistake was moving off to the side trying to avoid the wake of the jet boat. He says they go through about an hour before the high at Prince Rupert and never on less than a 16 foot tide. Nice guys on the fisheries boat; one of them gave me a sample of a "killer" lure, an R-32 Cuttlefish hoochie with a 7/0 hook and 60# leader. I went up to the hardware to buy a package of them but all they had were SC-1032's, almost the same but grey on the belly instead of green. We'll try them anyway. He said to try outside of the shallows off Skidegate fishing at 20 fathoms.
Bob and Kris didn't make it this evening as planned; Canadian Airline pilots are striking so they are only running one flight a day into Sandspit. They should be on the morning flight tomorrow.
14:45 Off the dock and running. High tide wasn't until 18:30 so we dawdled along enjoying the warm afternoon and scenery.
16:15 Tied to the buoy at the east end of the narrows. All my advisors seem to agree that you should start at 1.5 before low tide so we waited a few minutes while I went over the chart with Bob. Going west the range markers are behind you so he planned to help by looking out the rear door.
16:45 A troller comes through from the west as we drop the line and head for the east narrows. No sweat this time. We've got the current with us and I keep just enough power on to maintain steerage as we follow the flow. Only the last range gave us any problem; there the current set us so far to port that we lost sight of one of the markers. Got back in line soon enough to avoid shallow water though. At MacLellan Point we were really rolling as the current carried us through.
17:30 Through the East narrows and on to the West where we touched bottom the other day. Managed to avoid doing that today, although there was one spot where we came pretty close. We were pretty close to slack water today and the kelp was floating over the surface almost the whole way. That's spooky.
17:45 Terrors past, we're home free. Short run to Armentieres Channel where we tide to the buoy. I approached too fast and put a black mark down SEA RAVEN's shiny white side. Oh well, it was bound to happen. It was a pretty evening so we got out the barbecue and Bob showed me how to barbecue salmon steaks from the big guy we had in the freezer. I didn't tell him it was the fish that John Frey gave us when we were in Pacofi Bay.
09:15 Trolling off Tcenakun Point in a low swell. No luck there. Bob caught one small rockfish. A couple of skiffs fishing in close to the rocks. Couldn't see if they caught anything.
10:00 Gave up on salmon and decided to run out to Marble Island and try for halibut where SEA RAVEN Ron said he caught his 108 pounder.
|10:45 Found the 15 fathom hump and dropped our lunch hook on it. Dragged the first try and soon were in 400 feet of water. Hauled up and tried again. This time got a bite and hung on in 150 feet of water. No halibut but we got two nice Yellow Eye and a Ling, about ten pounds of fillets while watching two humpback whales feeding near us. That was neat.||
15:15 Into the Givenchi Anchorage, a landlocked pocket in the far southeast corner of the inlet. As we came around the point we were surprised to see a ship anchored in the anchorage. Turned out to be the SALMON SEEKER, a floating fishing resort run by the Oak Bay Marine Group of Victoria. As we came in we swung by and talked to a guy on the deck who turned out to be the Captain. He invited us to come over and see his ship after we got settled, which we did.
Captain Mark Kennedy met us as we tied to the floats along side the ship. SALMON SEEKER is a former survey ship that has been converted to a fishing resort. They run forteen skiffs, each with two guests and a guide, out to the mouth of the inlet and a few miles north and south depending on the fish and the weather. Inside he ship is beautifully appointed with nice staterooms, a dining room for 28 people, a big lounge with windows that look out over the fish cleaning deck. It has a huge cold storage room kept at 20 below where they can quick freeze the fish. Mark took us for a tour of the entire ship, from the bridge to the engine room. She has a single screw driven by one main engine, a 1000 horse Catapiller, but also a 450 horsepower GMC driving a thruster which can push the ship any direction and which he says will drive the boat at 4 knots if directed aft. There's a helicopter pad on the forward deck but most of their people are brought in by Harbor Air in Twin Otters. He said they charge about $2000 for a week which works out to about $200 per day U.S. That includes everything. Not bad for such a neat layout. He told us that they are having a bit of a dry spell on salmon right now but that the Cohos are starting to show up. Gave us a bunch of brochures and videos on the operation. Neat guy. We invited him to come over to the SEA RAVEN for a visit and I think he did, but it was at 10:30 and we were all in bed after a tough day and a big dinner of Ling Cod.
10:30 Back from the beach and hook up. As we passed the SALMON SEEKER there was a guy in a bathing suit sitting on the edge of the hot tub in the rain.
11:30 Anchored in Carew Bay and off to the beach again. This is a very pretty place with a large stream coming in at the head and a small island protecting the anchorage from the sea to the west. We landed the ding on a smooth sand beach and walked along a rock and sand shore, poking through the edge of the forest looking for interesting things. No real finds here. Lots of deer tracks and a few bear scat. Lois and Kris found several Moon snails in the water's edge.
13:20 Hook up again. Visibility down to less than a mile as we ran out of the bay and inlet looking for new adventures.
14:10 As we rounded Kwadakun Point I started picking up radar returns of other boats along the shore. Turned out that there were two commercial fishermen and several of the SALMON SEEKER's skiffs fishing there so we gave it a try. Had a couple of hits but nothing stayed on our lines
15:20 Gave up fishing and went looking for a home in Rennell Sound. Found it at the far end in a beautiful little bay where we anchored under the watchful eyes of two eagles. Their nest is in the top of a tree on a tiny island next to us. There's a logging camp at the entrance to our bay but no activity on this Saturday evening. In the morning we'll go exploring again.
10:30 Back on the boat and a very muddy hook up, we ran around the Clapp Islands to the spot where we'd seen a couple of guys fishing yesterday. We'd fished for about ten minutes, Bob with a herring and I with my Norwegian jig, when he got a hookup. Wow! It was something big. It ran several times before he got it to the surface where we could get a look at it. It was a big halibut, too big for our net. I got out my homemade "harpoon", a shark hook with 400 pound line taped to a piece of aluminum tubing; and, when he was able to work the fish close to the boat, jerked it through the fish's jaw. That didn't work. When it hit the end of the line which was attached to a cleat it just tore the jaw out. Bob still had the fish hooked though; it had swallowed the herring with two hooks in it. After another battle he got it up again, this time seemingly subdued. It just lay on the surface while I jabbed the shark hook in again, this time deep in the gills. It hardly struggled. We thought we had him. We tied the shark line short so that he was half out of the water and were already congratulating ourselves on a freezer full of halibut when the fish came to life again, thrashing and pounding itself on the side of the hull. I tried to get my jig hooks into it as a backup to the shark hook but it was too late. Before I could get to it the fish was gone. It had torn the big hook right out of its side. What disappointment! We fished for another half hour or so with no action, then decided to move on to another spot. Fished again for an hour on a 10 fathom bank to the west of Gospel Island, nothing but rockfish and a dogfish shark there.
14:00 Wind starting to rise from the southwest so we cranked up and headed for Seal Inlet where I had hoped to spend the evening. Didn't get far before the big rollers on our beam convinced me to modify that plan and turn into Tartu Inlet instead.
15:15 Tied to a mooring buoy in Tartu. The inlet is open to the south but has a dogleg which cuts the swell before it can get to the head. There's a logging camp here and a pretty stream coming into the head of the inlet. The wind was blowing and rain coming down so we stayed on the boat. Maybe we can do some exploring in the morning.
10:30 Dropped our mooring line and headed out to find a fish for dinner.
Started near the small island about halfway from the entrance and trolled from there to the point without a strike. Out at the entrance the swells seemed to be longer and gentler than yesterday so decided to run on to Seal Inlet about five miles away. The entrance to Seal is kind of spooky. There are several sunken rocks in it and today the big swells were breaking over some of them. The seas looked mountainous as we threaded our way between the rocks. Once inside we trolled for salmon again. No luck here either, so stopped and drifted on a spot that the chart shows has a sand bottom. All we managed to hook there was a dogfish shark which wound all three of our lines together in a massive tangle. Took most of an hour to get the mess sorted out.
|15:00 Anchored in a very pretty spot at the far end of the crooked inlet tucked between several islands and rocks. Deer grazing on the flat to the southwest of us, eagles in the trees. Bob and Kris fished for bottom fish off the boat, Lois took a nap, and I changed Gimmy's oil and filter. Raining again, sort of a constant mist that must be common in these parts. I guess it's what keeps the moss growing.||
10:00 Anchor up. Ran back to Lauder Island just inside the entrance and fished for a while in the bay which the Pilot says has a sand botton. It's probably right because Bob brought up two Sand Dabs. No real fish action though.
12:00 Out through the rocky entrance and on to new adventures. Swell seems a little lower and longer today and there's no wind so we have a nice ride for the six miles to Hippa Island. More rocks and islands here in Hippa Passage but they are well marked by breakers. As we approached we saw several small boats fishing around the rocks but didn't stop to fish ourselves. Inside behind Hippa Island we stopped and drift fished while having lunch. No action there either but several more skiffs went by and out the south passage while we were lunching.
14:45 On in to Nesto Inlet. About half way in on the south shore we found the home of all the small boats we'd seen. What look like a converted minesweeper is anchored; the CHARLOTTE EXPLORER. Talking to a guy working on an attached float we learned that it is a competitor to the SALMON SEEKER in Rennell Sound.
15:20 Poking our way into the far head of the inlet behind some rocky islets we dragged our flopper-stoppers on the bottom getting to the two mooring buoys which Fisheries keeps there. After we got tied up Bob and I went back in the ding and looked at the passage where we'd bumped. I should have favored the shore side rather than staying center. Chart isn't very easy to read on this scale.
While we were poking around in Stormy the Johnson started running on only one cylinder. Plugs? I have some new ones. I'll put them in in the morning and hope that fixes the problem.
As we were getting ready for dinner one of the CHARLOTTE EXPLORER skiffs came by. In it were Derrick, one of the owners of the ship, and Paula, one of the hostesses. They had been out along the entrance rocks halibut fishing and Paula had caught two, one about the size that Bob hooked the other day. We talked for quite a while and they ended up giving us Paula's small fish, a ten or twelve pounder, and several hook setups as well as some good fishing advice. We'll try it out tomorrow.
Sitting looking out the window through the mist this evening Kristy saw her first bear of the trip. It was grazing in the little flat near the mooring. She's been waiting for that.
10:30 Ding back on the deck as we cast off and head out on what promises to be a much nicer day than we've been having. Sun breaking through high clouds and great visibility. No dragging at the entrance this time; I stuck close to the shore side. We started trolling as soon as we got into deep water and trolled all the way out to Hippa Island, sometimes fighting masses of floating kelp but seeing no sign of salmon. At one point we got into pretty shallow water and a small rockfish grabbed my lure. That was our only action.
12:30 Well, if we can't find a salmon, how about a halibut. It Paula can do it we ought to be able. So we baited up with herring and went out to the far side of the wash rocks just like Derrick had told us to do. There was still a pretty big swell out there but by my staying at the helm and jockeying the wheel I could pretty well keep the boat in position. Bob and Kris dropped the lines in and we were elated when almost immediately they each had a fish on. Elated that is until both fish turned out to be sharks. We moved three times but each time the sharks found us.
14:00 Gave it up and decided to run back to the only place where we know there is at least one fish ... at the Clapp Islands in Rennell Sound where Bob hooked it and lost it.
17:20 We're there, parked this time on the north side of the bay at the head. Sun out full now and temperature up in the seventies. The last of the clouds clearing from the sky. Had big chunks of Paula's halibut baked Lois' special way for dinner. Tomorrow we'll try again to catch our own.
10:00 Okay, let's move farther. We headed out for Gospel Island where the chart shows a nice big sand bottom about 200 feet deep. Stopped and trolled a while on the way without success. As we approached Gospel Island the SALMON SEEKER passed us inbound. I called her and found that she was going to the end of the road to pick up a load of fuel. Mark said that she'd be back in Kano tonight.
11:15 This is pretty nice. We found our spot and seemed to be able to stay on it easily without drifting. Gentle breeze out of the northwest and a low swell to jig the hooks for us. Only problem is no fish.
12:00 Hey, Kristy's got a fish on. Another dogfish? No, it's a HALIBUT! A little guy, just right for eating. We take great care in netting it. Maybe our luck has changed.
12:15 I'm helping Bob fight with another shark when my pole starts jumping. Kristy holds it until I can get there, complaining that it's too heavy for her. At first I thought I might have the bottom, but no, there's something moving down there. I pulled, and pulled. I'd get a couple of turns on the reel and the fish would take them back. This went on for about twenty minutes before I started to make any progess. Then slowly, a turn at a time, I started bringing the line in. Not wanting to make the same mistake we made on Bob's big fish, I had Lois get out the rig I had made as a harpoon substitute: a big double hook with fifteen feet of halibut line taped to a yardstick and tied to a float. The idea was to get the fish close enough to jam the hooks in its mouth and then let it fight the float. We never got a chance to try it. As I got it near the surface the fish started circling, in the process managing to encircle and foul Kristy's line even though she was fishing off the aft deck and I the front. Bob took her pole and worked it forward around the flopper-stopper poles and rigging until we had both lines together. About then we started to see the outline of the fish. It was the right size and color for a big halibut but something was strange; it just didn't have the right shape. The first thing that I noticed as odd was that its edges seemed to ripple. Not until I got it up to about ten feet could I see it well enough to know for sure what it was ... a Skate. with wings about four feet across! What a disappointment! It was quite a job getting it off the hooks, Bob holding it up with the gaff while I cut them out of its mouth. Looking it up in the fish book later we learned that it was a Longnose Skate, evidently not too uncommon in BC waters. Well, it was fun fighting with it anyway.
13:10 Wind starting to rise a little, so decided to get around the point before it got too bad. We were a little late. Pretty splashy hour's ride out to the point where I could turn and run with it.
15:00 Into Kano Inlet surfing down the swells. Not far inside we found the whole SALMON SEEKER fleet of skiffs fishing along the north wall, so we joined them, trolling in 135 feet of water for several miles. I pulled in a nice Ling Cod.
16:20 Just about to give up and run for home. Bob says, "Let me finish my beer first." Okay, five more minutes. As he picked up his pole and jerked the line to release the diver he said, "I've got a fish on here!" Sure enough, and this time it was a real one, a nice Coho. I think our luck has changed.
17:30 Home in the Givenchie Anchorage. No SALMON SEEKER here yet. If it doesn't get back tonight there'll be about 35 people wanting to bunk with us. It did and they didn't. Cleaned the fish, had the Ling for dinner, and celebrated our successes of the day. We'll be ready for another big one tomorrow.
08:45 Started trolling where Bob hooked the Coho yesterday and trolled all the way to the point without getting a strike so decided to go for halibut instead of salmon. Better luck there. After about a half hour of sitting in the sun bouncing a chunk of rockfish off the bottom I had something on my line. Nice little "chicken" halibut, maybe eight or ten pounds. That was it though, Bob and Kris didn't get a bite.
10:45 Wind, starting earlier today, out of the northwest blowing the boat around and kicking up whitecaps even down here behind the mountain. Better get going. Hauled in and ran west out as far on the reef as we could before getting badly splashed then turned and ran for the south point with the swell on our quarter. Rolled a bit but much easier ride than yesterday.
12:00 Stopped hoping to try for halibut again behind Hunter Point. No luck. Hunter is a low point and the wind, now gusting to thirty knots, wouldn't let us get our lines in the water, much less fish. So we decided to sightsee instead. Poked our nose into Van Inlet and Gudal Bay then rode the swell past Tana Bay where, with the swell square on our stern, we started trolling again. Trolled all the way to Mercer Point and into Dawson Inlet, again without a strike. Inside Dawson were several small boats fishing. I talked to a guy on one of them who said they'd caught "the odd small Red Snapper." Guess fishing just isn't that good.
15:00 Gave up and ran into Dawson Harbour where the Pilot says there's a mooring buoy. Nope, not there now, and I couldn't find a spot shallow enough for anchoring. At one point behind a tiny islet where I tried we dragged a F/S foil on the bottom and picked up so much kelp that we had to pull it in and unload it.
17:10 Back on our buoy in Armentieres Channel, the only place near the narrows we've found to park. No problem, it's a pretty place. Fresh halibut for dinner fixed with Kris' lime/honey/jalapino butter sauce. Super!
12:00 Back at the entrance to Armentieres, out of the wind which was now blowing a stiff fifteen to twenty, sitting on the deck in the sun eating monstrous sandwiches which the ladies had fixed. Bob still fishing. At one time he had two sharks on the line at once.
13:15 Time to go. High tide in Prince Rupert is at 15:00 and we want to hit the entrance to the narrows an hour and a half before that. It went well this time. We were fighting a little more current in the east narrows but had no keel scraping and no real heartstoppers. I think we've got the narrows figured out.
15:45 Tied to our same old spot on the dock in QC City. Very warm here, into the low eighties. We changed our grubby clothes, walked to town, and replentished our beer and wine supply. Bob hooked up to the washed down the outside of the boat and filled our water tank and in the process traded three cans of beer to a fisherman for four nice halibut steaks. I dug out the barbecue and grilled them and Kristy made a lemon-caper sauce (butter/lemon/dejon/capers)to go on it. Another superb meal to end off a great voyage.
18:35 Off the dock. Kind of late to be heading out but it's a beautiful evening with a gentle west breeze and the same forcast for tomorrow. We're ready to go so why stay on the dock and listen to the roar of the city all night.
17:15 Anchored in Rooney Bay just off the Skidegate Mission longhouse and totem pole. Pretty here. No place to be in a storm but quiet and nice tonight. We'll head for the mainland in the morning if things still look good.
More of the BC Log?