We enjoyed our days at Shearwater and tried to learn from all the experienced fishermen and women. A fellow boater and fisherman approached me as I was looking at the lures. He whispered some tips on where to fish and that a particular lure seemed to be working well for everyone. It was silver and green with a small black stripe. The first mate was interested in another lure that had similar colors but also looked like live bait and had a little space to put in a slice of hearing so that it also had the smell of a live bait fish. John, the quiet gentleman who ran the Shearwater Marine store said the first mate’s lure was a good lure to try, so we bought that one. He has lived in Shearwater with his wife full time for over 20 years.
Using our new lure, we actually hooked a pretty big fish the next day, but while bringing it into the boat, the tip of the fishing pole broke off and the line tangled. The Captain did his best to pull the big fish in by hand, but it got away. Now we have another project for our stay at the Shearwater Marina near Bella Bella: fix our fishing pole.
The Shearwater area has limited cell and internet service, and it also has difficulty picking up the VHF radio weather reports. Luckily, we have a weather module on the Garmin GPS and our barometer. Interestingly, Jim and I have just finished reading the Harbinger fantasy series in which the main character “invents” a kind of barometer in their world.
It became clear watching the barometer and the data from the offshore weather buoys that a big storm was approaching, so we decided to stay at the Shearwater Marina to ride it out. Luckily, we made a reservation in advance, because it got very busy at Shearwater as many other boaters got the same idea and salmon season has officially started. As the barometer continued to drop it became clear that our decision to enjoy the safety of the dock was a good idea. We were snug, safe and able to sleep well. It also gave us the time to learn more from everyone else at the dock.
We asked John at the marine store to recommend a new pole and better line. John also fixed the tip of our old pole. We are using a better line now on both. It’s thinner and more pliable than the traditional clear plastic fishing line. Combined with our new lure, we are more confident.
Last night was our final night in Shearwater, we had dinner with a couple who had just brought their boat up from Sausalito (near San Francisco). They were pausing here before continuing north to Alaska. They had been at sea for 3 weeks to get to Shearwater. That’s a lot of long days!
Leaving the dock this morning we were ready to try out our new knowledge and equipment. And it worked! We immediately snagged a small salmon that we released followed by a respectable 21″ chinook. Woohoo!
I think we are beginning to figure it out. I was better playing the fish on the line to bring it in and the Captain did a great job scooping it up with the net. We can check off another big accomplishment! We tried again, but unbelievably the “strong” wire snapped on our fishing down rigger (the machine that drops the fishing line & lure to the desired depth, usually 50-100 feet below the surface). We lost our down rigger’s big 10# weight and connector. So no more fishing with a down rigger until we get it fixed. The equipment issues continue on a smaller scale.
The next step for the First Mate in our fishing experience is to clean our salmon following the directions in our salmon book. I really wasn’t worried about cleaning the fish and with the 4 easy steps, it was a breeze. It’s a white salmon too, which I look for in my fish store back home.
Today, we cruised and anchored at Pruth Harbour because a number of people told us it was so beautiful. There is a research center here and huge sandy beach. After we anchored and cleaned our fish, we put the head in our crab pot and set it in a nearby cove before heading into shore to explore.
The Hakai Research Center is lovely, with simple but beautiful grounds. A 1/2 mile walk to the ocean brings you to the first of a series of white sandy beaches.
The sun came out, we took off our shoes and had a wonderful walk. A few hardy souls were actually surfing too.
We were hungry when we came back to the True Love and cooked up some of our salmon. It was delicious!
After dinner we took out all the reference texts and our charts for the next part of our journey. We needed to plot out the tides, currents, and timing heading south past Rivers Inlet and Cape Caution and to the entrance of Belize Inlet through the very strong Nakwakto Rapids. These rapids are almost as big and strong as the Skookumchuk Rapids near Egmont and we must only go through them at or near slack tide. Finally we needed to use the West Sea Otter Buoy just Northwest of us in Queen Charlotte Sound to report waves of under 2 meters with a dominant wave interval of more than 8 seconds for a comfortable transit. We didn’t use the right buoy coming north, but we found it finally on our satellite weather program. It doesn’t always load right away. This morning it reports a wave height of 5.2 ft and dominant wave period of 10 seconds with calm winds, so we are good to go.
We knew we were leaving early this morning so before we went to bed we went out and checked our trap. Our bounty from the sea continued and we had many crabs. We kept one big one for today.
This area has really grown on us. The Captain just said, “That’s what is great about the BC Coast, if you get tired of one area there is so much more.” And even we can catch fish up here. When we first got up here, I wasn’t sure it was worth the time and the fuel. But now I’ve changed my mind. It’s so vast and diverse, it just takes time and slowing down. Maybe not every year, but we will be back!.