Fly-Fishing For Pacific Salmon On The West Coast Of British Columbia
Trip To Prince Rupert With Sunset Charters
When we traveled to British Columbia last year, we went fishing for Steelhead with François Blanchet. On the banks of the Skeena system, Franky told us about his most recent summer thrill: catching pacific salmon with a fly rod in the open sea. When the opportunity to visit BC once again came upon us this year. We jumped at the chance to reconnect with Frank. He was working with Dave, the owner of Sunset Charters. One quick phone call is all it took for us to arrange a trip the first week of august. The Coho would be in full force, meanwhile the opportunity to catch a Chinook in the salt still lingered.
As the plane came in for its final approach of Digby Island, we caught glimpse of what was awaiting us for the first time: a labyrinth of islands surrounded by crystal blue water and the stunning coastal mountain range. Frank was waiting for us at the ferry dock. It was good to see him. We quickly loaded up our gear on his boat and got on our way to the Prince Rupert docks.
We tanked up the boat and filled several additional jerry cans, which gave us our first indication of the scale of the trip to come. On that evening, Dave met us at the docks. As we’d discussed, the plan for the week was to head way out of Prince Rupert into Chatham Sound and travel between the Islands in search of feeding fish, bait balls or promising currents. The sun was barely touching the horizon when we left the docks the next day. We had two boats: Franky and us on one, Dave with his wife Sophie and her friend Jamie on the other. After cruising for a couple hours in the incredible sceneries of the North-West British-Columbia coast, we arrived in the inlet where we would set our basecamp for the week. We broke out the rods and reels, tested the gear and got ready for action. We had seen a couple bait balls on our way in which caught us off guard. We did our best to make the most of the opportunity and readied ourselves for the next ones.
We started fishing right out of the bay, protected from waves and wind by the island. It wasn’t long before Alexis got into his first pink salmon. Although it wasn’t a species we were targeting, it was reassuring to see the fly working in the vast depths of the Pacific Ocean.
As we moved from bay to bay, Franky explained us how he fished the ocean in a similar manner to how he fishes a river. Looking for currents, rocks and tidal effects that would bring the fish in specific areas. After seeing how efficient he was on a steelhead river, we knew we were in for a great week.
Over the next days, we tried to apply what Franky had taught us. Fishing between inlets and on kelp patches. We began to gain confidence in our newly discovered techniques. Soon after we started spotting schools of Coho, at first they were far beyond our casting capabilities. Thrashing on the surface feeding in schools. It seemed almost impossible until Franky drifted boat perfectly along the ocean currents, as we drifted into a school of bait a dozen fish rose around our fly at the surface. It was incredible to fish for salmon in such an environment. As we were mostly Atlantic Salmon fishermen, having the opportunity to throw a fly at a feeding school of wild salmon in the middle of the ocean with pods of orcas and seals splashing around was a ridiculously different experience.
Back at camp we ate like kings, feasting on the fresh crabs and shrimps Dave had caught in his cages earlier that day. If you thought the twelve garlic shrimps for $10.99 Thursday deal at your local seafood restaurant was the best you’d ever seen, you would surely have to reconsider.