Tuesday, July 31, 2012



The above describes my experience fishing off shore, on the Pacific Ocean, these past several days.
BC Ferries - from Tsawwassen, BC to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island
I left home early on Thursday, July 26, 2012, for the ferries terminal. I was leaving the BC Lower Mainland for Vancouver Island.  I rode off on my motorcycle.  Motorcycles are always guaranteed boarding.  The weather was great.
One of the many super ferries in the BC Ferries fleet.
Two hours later - and once docked at the Duke Point terminal on Vancouver Island - I rode north towards Lantzville.  It was there that I left the motorcycle at our friend's home and drove with them to the west coast of the island and to their wilderness camp that skirted the Pacific Ocean in Barkley Sound.

Protected waterways in Barkley Sound....and the Broken Islands.
Following a brief stop for boat fuel, ice and a groceries, we left for the 2.5 hour drive through the mountainous and curvy drive to the west coast, near coastal town of Ucluelet.

About half way into the drive we came upon this truck that had just caught fire.  Diane, a retired nurse (and my driver), was quick to stop to lend assistance.  Sure enough! The driver of this new Ford Ranger had suffered some burns.  I broke ice and Diane used it to cool the driver's burned arm.  She was able to tend to him when he went into shock.

He claimed that while driving from the coast to Port Alberni he smelled wires burning.  The dash caught on fire and he was forced to abandon the truck quickly.  There are very few pull outs on this narrow highway.
A volunteer firefighter came along and tried to extinguish the fire.  Not to be!
With the threat of the gas tank exploding, a few of us closed down the highway for about five minutes.  Within minutes the gas tank did blow.  The threat of shrapnel injuring motorists during the blast was our only purpose in stopping traffic.
Once the gas tank blew we let the traffic proceed.
A private water truck came along and the owner/operator also tried to quell the fire but that too proved futile.  The heat was intense.  We kept vigil on preventing a forest fire.  The water truck was handy for that.
Toquart Bay
Once the threat had passed, the injured driver was on his way to the Port Alberni hospital and the truck fire had dissipated, we continued our journey to Torquart Bay - our destination.  It's off the beaten path - an approximate 15 km drive from the main highway, on a dirt road.
Diane and Hector's fishing camp and my home during this fishing trip.
Hector and Diane's fishing camp is on the Pacific shoreline in Toquart Bay.  Several RV's, boats and folks endure the rustic setting (not hard to take), without services, to enjoy the view, catch the big salmon, dig for shellfish, kayak the Broken Islands in Pacific Rim National Park, or hike in the area.  It's a beautiful place.

Jeanette and I have traveled to the west coast of Vancouver Island many times in the past but neither of us had even heard of Toquart Bay.
Several other RV'ers and fishers had the same idea as us.
Most campers come here to fish for Coho and Spring salmon.  That was our objective too.

5:30 am Friday, July 27, 2012
Hector (friend and fishing guide extraordinaire) and I were up early and, once on board his awesome boat, we headed for those very secret fishing spots he so well knows.  An hour later - and well off shore - the lines were set, the down-riggers were activated and we enjoyed our coffee while bobbing around in the boat waiting for the salmon to bite. Bite they did!
Our first few hours delivered these two Coho.
We worked hard to catch some big Spring salmon but they were elusive on our first day out.
Captain Hector is scanning the Loren sonar/and chart for a better spot to fish.
This commercial fishing boat kept following us.  Hmmm....I wonder why?  Did they know about Hector's prowess and ability to find fish?
Seven hours later we returned to the dock to clean our fish.  End of Day 1.
6:00 am  Day two.
We were back on the salt chuck early on the 2nd day.  This day had us head through the Broken Islands group and to another spot Hector felt could be productive.  It was....but what we caught we released back into the sea.
Hector has a bite!
We headed further south to another area Hector felt could produce fish and he was right.  It did.  We landed a few more Coho and one Spring salmon.  By 1:00 pm, we headed for shore.
These commercial boats have up to 100 lines in the water.
Back on land, the fish cleaned, and back at camp, we feasted on a late breakfast.  Diane is quite the chef and we certainly ate well  I would rate the food as 5 Star.  What a treat!
Hmmm....mmmmm....good!   What a treat after a hard day on the salt chuck!
Diane has the gift for preparing awesome cuisine in all conditions.
While Hector and I were off shore fishing, Diane took shovel to task and dug hard to reap these awesome oysters.  Her touch with spices - then barbecued on half shell - delivered fantastic hors d'oeuvres .  We enjoyed those while staring out to sea.  It was unbelievable! 
Diane also dug for clams and she had great success with those also.
Hector and Diane's camp rests only a few feet above the high tide line.  It's a beautiful spot.
Hector is not only well skilled at cleaning fish, he's a master at shucking oysters too!
Only a few minutes on the barbecue...and man were these oysters tasty.
The marina at Toquart Bay.
Early morning - Day 3 - 5:30 am and soon to head back out for the BIG SPRING SALMON!
Hector was convinced that my last day out would be a productive one.  We headed out very early for another secret spot.  It was a one hour - 30 mph boat ride - off shore to a special place where Hector and I reaped the fishing lottery.
Once at our destination, the lines were set, the down-riggers were released and we were fishing.  The trolling motor was set at about 2.5 mph....the coffee was poured and we kept vigil on the rods.
After about 50 minutes of trolling, using the dept sounder to find some perfect undersea shelves, the action began in earnest.  We were actively fishing.  It was a busy and productive 45 minutes that landed our first of four big Spring salmon.  Check these out!
Hector reeled in this bad boy!  Nice!
While Hector was busy landing his fish, my line took a bite and we had to work cooperatively and fast to land his fish and ready to land mine too.
Yes....another big Spring.
With our limit caught, we were already heading back to shore at 10:30 am.  What an awesome find and what a fishing experience that was.  Every day was a good fishing experience but the one hour of incredible fishing on Day 3 was outstanding.
Back on shore, Chico - Hector and Diane's Portuguese Water Dog - was anxious to greet us.
Hector made quick work with the knife and our catch was gutted and prepped for the cooler.  He could have been a skillful surgeon. Experience does count!  He's been fishing the west coast for many years and it certainly shows.

I think my smile was wider than Hectors.  I was still in awe of our great fishing adventure.
Back at camp we tidied up, loaded the truck, packed the fish and headed back to Nanaimo.  Once there, Hector made quick work of fileting fish while I vacuum packed everything into a cooler that was tied well to the passenger seat of my motorcycle.  With about 80 lbs of salmon on board - and with hugs and thank yous galore - I rode away from Hector and Diane's home to catch the 8:15 pm ferry from Duke Point to Tsawwassen on the mainland.
On board the Coastal Renaissance ferry back to the mainland.
I bought a cup of coffee and settled in for the two hour ferry ride back to the mainland. I reminisced about my previous three day fishing adventure with awe.

Not only was I so well hosted by Hector and Diane, I got to spend time with one amazingly interesting friend (and fishing guide) during the many hours (at least 20 + hours) off shore on the majestic Pacific Ocean.  I also got to spend time relaxing with them both while enjoying the beauty and serenity that Toquart Bay has to offer.  What a treat!
To top it all off, I was wined and dined - in an amazingly beautiful and rustic environment - by two people who mean so much to Jeanette and I. What an amazing experience!  It's one I will never forget and one I will always cherish.
A cooler full for the freezer back home.
Now that I am back home, the reality of my fishing experience occupies my mind.  The evidence is clearly real when we open the freezer to find a bounty of salmon.

To Hector and Diane (Chico too), sincere thanks for a world class fishing experience.....and your continued friendship.  Jeanette and I look forward to our RV'ing adventures this winter too.
Well, it's back to the reality of life and living - chores and duties - as Jeanette and I prepare for another adventure when we head off to the Province of Alberta this Wednesday.

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gone Fishing!

It's true!

I'm off to Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, for a few days of off shore Pacific Ocean salmon fishing. The area I'm off too is remote (about 20 km) away from Ucluelet.  I'm told there is no cell phone service .  That also means there will be no opportunity to blog till I return.
The bald eagles are waiting.
I'll be motorcycling to the Island - taking the mid-island ferry from Tsawwassen terminal to Dukes Point south of Nanaimo.  I'll be joining my fishing partners there.  The motorcycle will stay behind while I jump in with friends for the drive to the west coast.
Stunningly beautiful west coast, Vancouver Island.
I'm joining Hector and Diane for some off shore fishing.  Their camp is all set up and I don't even need to take my fishing rod and tackle box.  That's why I can travel light on the motorcycle.
Can't wait to get there and get some action.  The big salmon are biting, so I am told.
The weather man has forecast some rather fantastic weather.  What's not to like about that!
The shoreline there is rugged.
 We'll be heading out to sea early in the mornings.  By 11:00 am we'll return before heading out again in late afternoon.  Hector claims the fish are biting well about 8 - 10 miles off shore.  I'm going to try to catch a halibut, if possible.
So, that about tells the story of where I will be for the next several days.  I'll catch up on blogs reading upon my return.

The environment of tranquil Ucluelet provides a stimulating and dramatic backdrop for working, living, and recreating. The town of Ucluelet offers beaches, multi-use sports fields, community parks, waterfront promenades, restaurants, unique shops and galleries, a mini aquarium and a range of accommodation choices. The motto of Ucluelet is “Living on the Edge” due in part to its location on a peninsula surrounded by water. This marine influence permeates Ucluelet from the climate, to events such as the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, to the design of buildings, which are uniquely West Coast.

Ucluelet is located 288 kilometres (km) northwest of the British Columbia provincial capital, Victoria, on the magnificent outer West Coast of Vancouver Island. The closest city is Port Alberni approximately 110 km to the east. The District of Tofino is 40 km northwest of Ucluelet. In between Tofino and Ucluelet is the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.  Ucluelet provides easy water access to Barkley Sound; a spectacular marine area that features the Broken Group Islands Unit of Pacific Rim National Reserve.
Awesome beaches in the area.
Although not my photographs, those in this blog are taken near or around Ucluelet, Vancouver Island.
I hope to share a photo like this when I next write a blog.
That's the short story of the week.  Thanks for dropping by.  Fish tales to come in the next blog chapter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A House Full of Fun.

The weekend came and went quickly.  It was fun!  We celebrated and then celebrated more.

The scoop:
Garry (and wife Aline) came for a weekend visit from Peachland, BC.
A special cupcake birthday cake tree.
Garry thought he was coming over to celebrate my birthday but we had a better plan.  His daughter Nicole, in cahoots with her mom Aline, ourselves, and many special friends, chose last Friday night to throw a huge surprise birthday for him.  Was he surprised?
L-R  Nicole with her dad  Garry - Mom Aline in the background with their son Jesse.  Daughter Tamara, husband John ,and their two kids were unable to attend.
Garry had been told that our kids, his kids, and us four older adults, would be enjoying a nice two family Friday evening barbecue dinner at our home.  Garry and Aline were spending the weekend with us. The primary purpose for their visit was to attend a close friend's retirement party on Saturday evening.
Joining us would also include our daughter's mother in law Sandi and her mom Cleo.
To add credibility to the surprise birthday caper, Jeanette presented me with a birthday card and a birthday gift that she held back from giving me on my real birthday - last mid-June.
A propane fireplace is perfect for the RV.  Can't wait to give it a try.
So...we had a nice dinner before the major eruption happened.

At 7:00 sharp - while Garry was sitting in our kitchen and unable to see our driveway out front - about 30 close friends were strutting party hats and stormed our home singing 'Happy Birthday'.
Talk about a surprise!
 Garry was beside himself!  Not only had his son (who is working a summer contract at the northern tip of Vancouver Island) Jesse surprised him at dinner, here were another 30 guests who came to celebrate his birthday.

Garry (r) with brother Mark (l).
Garry's brother in law, Terry (l)
Garry and Aline's son Jesse (l) with guest.
Lots of fun and banter.
I stepped outdoors to capture a few shots of our street which had become a staging area for the surprise guests.  The neighbours must have wondered why our home had been inundated.
There was some singing, some joke telling, some tales of old (some new ones too)....and a lot of laughs.
We had never entertained so many folks at one time but it worked out so well.
Cards and gifts were handed out before Garry was prompted to colour the story on how (when he was a young RCMP officer assigned to small town Saskatchewan) he met his wife Aline.
Awesome chocolate birthday cake with a photo imprint into the icing.  You guessed it, Garry loves to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors.
He managed to blow out the two candles....!
He read some really large cards...

Garry's daughter Nicole put a lot of effort into this card.
Garry's brother Mark presented him with some Premium Crackers (but we know Mark and he is a gag artist.)
 A photo taken once most of the guest had left.
L-R  Trevor and Nicole (husband and wife), Jesse ( Garry' and Aline's son), Deni (our son) Aline (Garry's wife), Courtney (our future daughter in law) Trevor and Ginette (our son in law and daughter).
Mid morning breakfast.
Garry and Aline did attend a Saturday evening retirement function for one of their good friends.  Sunday morning was reserved for some visiting.  Nicole dropped by for breakfast too before Garry and Aline prepared to leave for one more short visit with friends prior to driving back home to the Okanagan.

At that time, Jeanette was preparing to leave for a Sunday afternoon shower party to honour our future daughter in law, Courtney.
Courtney's mom Barb with daughter Courtney at Courtney's aunt's house.
It was a good gathering. 
Nice looking cake too.
Now you know just how busy our weekend was.  And it was fun too!
Shortly after Jeanette' s return home following the shower party, we chose to head out for a late afternoon motorcycle ride.  Here are a few photos from the ride.
Tug boat pulling a large log boom
A fast flowing Fraser River.
No fishing activities.....boats are tied up.
That was our weekend.  Thanks for dropping by.