The rod shudders violently and the fight is on.
My 22-year-old son, Alex, has a 17-pound Chinook salmon on the line and it naturally doesn’t want to come in the boat.
“All right, all right, game on,” yells our guide Wade Dayley from Bear Cove Cottages Sport Fishing.
“This fish is a real reelscreamer. Play it out, Alex. But keep tension on the line.”
It’s a classic battle between man and salmon.
The initial hit on the line is dramatic and the fish takes off, squealing out 30-pound carbon test creating that distinctive screeching of the reel.
The fish tires, Alex cranks the reel, pulls the rod up into an impossible arc, the Chinook gets a second wind and is off again.
The scenario repeats itself several times until the salmon surfaces, gives a final fight and is scooped up in the net by Wade.
“Congratulations Alex, you are no longer a Chinook virgin,” says Wade with a laugh and a high-five.
Since this is a three-generation boys fishing trip, Alex, the youngest, gets the first fish of the day in these Pacific waters of the Goletas Channel off Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
I get the second fish a few minutes later, an 18-pounder, in another man-and-fish backand-forth.
And then my dad, Alex’s grandfather, nonchalantly lands the biggest fish of the day, a glistening 21-pounder.
We rib each other about salmon size and fishing technique and then do it all over again.
We catch our limit of two Chinook per person per day for a total haul of over 100 pounds of the most red, most tasty salmon there is.
We’re full of ourselves and talking trash.
But the reality is, Wade’s done all the work and we’ve reaped all the glory.
A veteran guide, who’s Port Hardy born-and-bred, Wade has his secret spots where the Chinook hang out.
Setting out at 6 a.m. because “the bite is on,” we speed to these elusive waters in Wade’s 27-foot Grady-White boat, which is called Double Header.
By the way, a fishing doubleheader is the phenomena of two big salmon being on separate lines at the same time putting two fishermen in the boat into a frenzy.
Alex and I capped the day with a doubleheader.
Wade sets two big rods off the back of the boat with down riggers and anchovy bait on a treble hook with big-ass lures. “This is my secret spot and these are my secret weapons,” he says pointing to the set ups.
The boat is also equipped with a fish finder, making it all seem like the odds are stacked in our favour.
But this is what fishing guides do to ensure success for their customers.
While Chinook (also called spring and king salmon) is definitely the marquee attraction, there’s also Sockeye and Coho salmon, halibut and cod fishing.
Bear Cove can also set up whale watching, bear watching and other North Island excursions for you.
While the business has a typical website at BearCove-Cottages.ca, it’s also branding its fishing with the Wicked-Salmon.com site.
Also check out PacificCoastal.com and VancouverIslandNorth.ca.