Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fabulous Sockeye Salmon Fishing Trip

The title paints a  clear picture on my recent fishing trip.  It was such a thrill.
Lucky arrived at our home by 5:40 am - Thursday, July 2nd.
We had planned to board the 7:45 am BC ferries 'Coastal Inspiration' ship from Tsawwassen to Duke Point on Vancouver Island.  It is a two hour sailing.  We planned to meet our hosts, Hector and Diane at their home, leave our motorcycles there before driving out to China Creek - an RV and boat mooring facility - located about 15 minutes east from the island city of Port Alberni.
Our BC Ferries ship, the Coastal Inspiration
At Hector and Diane's home in Nanaimo, BC
Lucky and I enjoyed a first class breakfast while plying the waters between the lower mainland and Vancouver Island.  Our two hour ferries ride was under beautiful blue skies and calm seas.   It is always such a pleasure to cruise the inside passage.
Their awesome double hulled ocean going fishing vessel
Some 40 minutes off the Coastal Inspiration had us arrive at Hector and Diane's home.  Their RV fishing trailer had been set up in China Creek the day before and once we had parked our motorcycles, I joined Hector in his truck with the boat in tow while Lucky joined Diane in their sport ute for the one hour drive to our destination.
Waiting for the traffic to clear at China Creek boat launch
With the boat moored, the down riggers installed and the fishing rods readied, we settled into a nice, relaxing afternoon in this most beautiful area near Barkley Sound. Our Sockeye fishing adventure would begin at 4:00 am Friday morning.  And we were excited about that.
Hector's boat moored and provisioned for our daily fishing outings.
Diane had prepared a first class meal that we enjoyed outdoors as we looked south along the Alberni Channel toward the Pacific Ocean some 25 miles further south.  And a picturesque site it is.
Our view from Diane and Hector's RV site at China Creek
With dinner consumed, we took a long walk around the RV park with Chico (their Portuguese Water Dog) along before we called it a night.  Our wake up call would be early.
Captain Hector at the helm of his boat
The Friday, 4:00 am wake up call was quickly followed with some good coffee before we walked to the boat and headed out for those Sockeye.
Hector decided which lures would attract the Sockeye and it was not long before we were rewarded.
We set the rods with the plugs attached to the down riggers and dropped our lines to depths of 90 feet.

Two rods per down rigger with tight lines. 
We were not the only fishers out there in the salt chuck.  We estimated well over 200 boats were vying for the sporty salmon.
We also learned that Sockeye are the only salmon without teeth.  They feed exclusively on plankton.  Other salmon species, with teeth, feed on other fish species.  Sockeye can be more difficult to land when using the legal barb-less hooks.  The soft jaws can make it difficult to hook them well.  But we did well.
Lucky is looking proud with his first couple of Sockeye
I managed to catch my fair share of Sockeye too.  What fun!
And learning the secrets to catching and netting the elusive Sockeye from Hector was the reason our excursion was so successful.
Hector caught his fair share too.
Talk about fun on the chuck.   We caught several Sockeye our first day out and netted four before calling it a day; some five hours after leaving the dock.  Saturday delivered our limit of four Sockeye each.  With three licenses on board, we could only land 12 salmon.  We were busy.
With our limit caught on Saturday, we headed back for our moorage spot at China Creek.
Diane again spoiled us with a five star outdoor dinner.  And Hector showed us how to filet Sockeye salmon.  There is a fair bit of skill to that.
The view looking north towards Port Alberni
Following a good late morning lunch, we all managed a nice break in the sun while checking our eye balls for cracks.
Hector, like me, is not a regular napper but he did manage to catch a nap with his buddy, Chico on board the lounge chair.
With so many fish to clean, Lucky and I opted for filets.  Hector was the master at that.  While he fileted the salmon, we worked the vacuum packing machine.  Diane made sure the fresh Sockeye were placed in one of two freezers.
The master craftsman at work.
And Hector is very quick with a sharp knife.
The result:  nice filets!
Manning the vacuum unit.
Quick with a knife....
Bright and early on Sunday morning - Our last few hours of fishing.
We were back on the salt chuck by 5:00 am on Sunday morning.  We caught several salmon and netted nine before calling it a day.  That was the close of our three days of fishing.  And we had our legal limit.
Lucky is checking out the menacing, smokey cloud cover forming over us.
With the better than 180 forest fires raging in British Columbia, Sunday morning winds brought the smoke in over the Barkley Sound area.  The sun never did penetrate the smoke.
Tight lines returned some quick action.  It was a fun morning.
The tour boat, the MV Lady Rose was off with a full compliment of tourists as it headed south towards the Pacific Ocean and Bamfield.
MV Lady Rose.  With our fishing trip complete, we packaged the remaining Sockeye before Diane drove Lucky and I back to their home in Nanaimo.  Once there, we changed out into riding clothes before loading our fish and heading off to catch our mid-afternoon ferry ride back for home.
At the BC Ferries, Duke Point terminal, south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  Curious tourists gave Lucky's ride a good looking over.
Many, many motorcyclists were on board for the ferry boat crossing to the mainland.
Our thoughts, while ferrying back for the Lower Mainland, had us right back out fishing with Hector.
Lucky and I sure felt privileged to have been Hector and Diane's guests.  We were royally treated, guided professionally and housed in top class fish camp accommodations.  It was a magical three days catching that prized Sockeye salmon.  

Lucky and I could not express enough thanks to Hector and Diane for going out of their way to make our three day fishing trip so enjoyably outstanding.  And we learned a lot too!

Canada Day:
Although Lucky and I left early the morning following Canada Day (July 1st), Jeanette and I did enjoy that special 148th national birthday with special friends.  Lorne and Mariette invited us to join another couple for a Canada Day dinner at their Delta, BC home.
Lorne in the white T-shirt and Mariette on the right.
They prepared a lovely outdoor barbecue dinner that we enjoyed sitting in the privacy of their back yard.
Lovely setting
A great feast on a great day!

Happy 148th birthday, CANADA!!!


  1. What a wonderful fishing trip and some great looking sockeye as well.
    Thanks for taking us along.

  2. Great trip, I love salmon but the cowboy does not! Mike wants to know if you tie the motorcycles down on the ferry?

    1. It was a great trip. To answer Mike's question, the motorcycles are parked at an approximate 45 degrees to the bow, left in gear and resting on the left side stand. Step type blocks are provided to block the right side underframe of the motorcycle. The bike doesn't move. It is a good system. No tie downs are required.

  3. A perfect trip. I had no idea that sockeye had no teeth, most interesting. The tough part is the filleting. You were fortunate to have a pro with you. I know you are going to enjoy that salmon more that any other you have eaten in the past. Bon appetit!

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  5. That was a great trip. It's nice to see the Salmon so plentiful again.

  6. What a great trip! You will have some nice meals from that haul of Sockeye.