Sunday, August 5, 2012

Adventure Number 30- Salmon fishing

Successful Trip
I had an abrupt about turn a little over a week ago. Asking one of my co-workers and long time friends about weekend plans for the B.C. Day holiday. His plans included going fishing at the Eve River with our boss. Suddenly the wheels began turning. The original plan was to do a solo weekend tour on the Devinci north on Vancouver Island, close to Eve River. Quickly my plans changed to include fishing and Natalie. A plan was hatched and Natalie was free to join me for a few nights of camping and fishing on the North Island. We had not done a solo camping trip before, and she has never the chance to catch a salmon of any kind. A pink salmon was pretty much a sure bet with thousands of them milling about in this area. During the week previous I had heard reports of great fishing at Naka Creek, a half hours drive from Eve River, and better camping. Time to change plans again. Off to Naka we were headed.
Fishy looking beach
Thursday morning, after a couple appointments and getting our appropriate licenses purchases, we headed north on the Inland Island Highway. We buzzed through Campbell River and beyond, stopping only to pick up water at the year round freshwater spring just past Browns Bay. This spring always has ice cold water, even in the hottest days of summer. Before long we were past Sayward and turning onto Eve River main. We stopped and chatted up a few fisherman who were pulling out and heading home. They were super excited about the fishing and told us that Naka was empty of people! Excellent. I was charged up. Natalie was playing on her ipod. Eve River main is a nice wide forestry road with few potholes and opportunity to get lost. By passing Eve River all together we turned and climbed the hill towards Naka Creek. Thirteen kilometers and we pulled into the Forest Recreation Site. The site was empty and we got the best site. Ocean front free camping. You can't beat that.
Blackfish Sound?
Before we even unpacked, I saw fish jumping down the beach, so we had to wet a line. I had a fish on in minutes. Natalie got some practice casting. No fish for her as they were out a little to far. We played on the beach a bit, but the wind was picking up so we decided to set camp. I was talking to a couple that just showed up when Natalie asked me where her backpack was? It was forgotten at home. Big drag. A cool thing about Naka Creek is there is cell phone reception due to a clear shot down Johnston Strait to the cell tower in Alert Bay. I was able to call Natalie's mom and arrange for her to send up the backpack and shoes with her friends who were also coming to Naka. Lucky days! You can tell this was our first solo trip. We arranged camp so that Bill and Barb could set up in our site with us, ate dinner, and got back to fishing. I nailed four fish before dark and started loading the cooler. Natalie played a fish that I hooked and successfully landed her catch. First salmon! I had a first that night too. A seagull flew into my line as I made a long looping cast. It got all tangled up in the poor things wings and it made a huge mess. I brought it to shore and was able to cut the line away from the bird and it safely flew away, unharmed. I barely avoided being bitten by my patient. What a crazy evening.
Naka Falls
The next morning Bill let Natalie and I use his little dingy, an 8 foot fiberglass boat. It was a treat to be allowed to fish out of this vessel. I rowed us out towards the point and started casting. I looked south and saw the unmistakable black fin heading our way. Soon there were orcas all around us. A giant bull and cow swam by about 50 meters away. Absolutely breathtaking. Porpoises were also mixed in with the pod, chasing fish about. Natalie's first experience with whales that were not at an aquarium. It was so exciting. And we never felt worried about being in such a small boat. A brief slowdown in the fishing lead to a school swimming right by us and Natalie nailing one on her buzzbomb. She played that one right into my awaiting net and it went in the cooler. She didn't want to touch it, but she was so proud of the accomplishment of catching  another salmon.
A mornings work
Before high tide and an opportunity to launch the big boat, Bill and Barb guided us to the waterfall on the creek. What a sight. I had no idea that this waterfall existed. That afternoon Bill invited us to go trolling down the strait for chinook and coho. We hooked three undersized chinook, three wild coho and two pinks. Just the pinks went in the box. A little disappointing not bringing in groceries. I was thrilled because I got to reel in two beautiful wild coho, my first in many years. They are amazing fish. Natalie decided to not try to reel in a fish on the big rod, content to watch the adults have fun. Back in camp I decided to bring out the fly rod and a Gartley Poacher. I nailed four fish in no time and the other flycasters didn't touch a thing. I felt pretty awesome to do so well. That was my first time with a flyrod in a year, and it was just like riding a bike. That feeling of a salmon on a fly in exhilarating. A beautiful sunset capped of a fantastic day of fishing and great weather.
The fishing was slow in the morning out in the rowboat. Nothing wanted to bite the line so we decided to retire. I did get one on the fly later on that morning that was to be dinner that night. Natalie and I spent sometime at a cool gazebo on the grounds. I napped in the hammock as she whittled a fork for dinner. Previously we browsed the beach looking for natural plates so we could avoid dishes after supper. My new favorite way to eat while camping. Dishes go in the fire after eating. Back at camp we discovered a school of pinks had made their way close to the beach in easy casting distance. I saw a flash and tossed the lure in. Bang, fish on right away. Everyone else hit the beach and everyone was catching fish. Natalie hooked one that I ended up landing because it was leaving the country, in a bad way. We almost ran out of line on the reel. I hit a couple on the fly rod and the hot pink Croc before it was all over. Fast and furious.
Fishing in Pajama pants
We got the fire going early to cook a salmon over it for dinner. Salmon served on a driftwood bark platter. Beautiful presentation and delicious fish. The whole salmon was devoured in short order. A Payday bar warmed over the fire was desert. That was surprisingly tasty and it didn't fall apart on us. Back to the beach to get one more and after releasing one on the fly I got one with the spinning rod to fill our limit and end our excellent weekend of fishing.
Dinners served
I woke up that final morning to cold fog and hot coffee. Two tug boats with booms passed by. Nothing was out of the normal. While I was lighting the fire to warm things up for everyone when they got up, I saw Bills boat coming in towards the beach, only Bill wasn't driving. The driver yelled to me at the shore "Anyone lose a boat". At that moment I looked out and realized that his boat was gone. With a really unusual high tide and the steepness of the shelf where the anchor was set had caused the anchor to lift and allowed the boat to drift. Luckily that boat drifted close to the tugboat and the crew realized that no captain was in the vessel. It could have been a very stressful situation that unfolded with out anyone even realizing it! With boat safely on shore Natalie and I packed up and headed home, with tanned skin, wonderful memories, a cooler full of groceries and well rested. We will revisit this place again soon I am sure.


  1. Wow what a fabulous time you had! So wish we could have been there too! Sure glad you changed your plans. Great fishing and revisiting our long ago home. Naka Creek was probably my favourite place to live. We had a great community back in the day. So glad you got to see the Orcas too. I remember them well. Sometimes I'd be out hanging clothes on the line and I could hear their blow sounds that carried across the strait. Fishing fleets tying their seine nets to the trees right below our place. One night a whole flotilla was tied in front of us, lighted up looking like a dock, waiting for an opening. All gone in the morning. Always something to see. Yay Natalie..first salmon!

  2. Nice write-up! How and where is the trail to the falls located, I am looking at camping here soon and would like to get to them! TIA!

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