Don Daniels gears up for a trip to Big Bay.

It’s time to open up camp for fishing and outdoor recreation in Campbell River

By Don Daniels

At any given moment you can see the activity around Campbell River start to increase for recreation on the water meaning things are gearing up for another season of fishing and whale watching. A few of the fishing guides who work the winter months at other jobs are returning to Campbell River to guide at fishing lodges and others who work in the guiding business are in the process of leaving for fulltime work and returning home in late September.

This is the time of year that camps will be opening up for fishing, whale watching, and bear watching. Water taxis and floatplanes will move supplies around the islands and a host of tourists will be arriving to join the locals to enjoy activities that this area has to offer.

Each year I get a chance to take a boat ride and scout out area 13 and I totally enjoy talking with the guides and boat operators that know where to go fishing on the outside areas. Go Wild boat operators Andrew and Peter took their third trip of the year and I was excited to get on the whale watching boat and spend the afternoon on the water. We had a group of seven that met at the dock and we geared up with a life preserver suit, goggles and toque to keep warm.

We took our seat and off we went. It would be an hour’s ride to Big Bay and so we headed north. The soft bottomed boat sailed along like nobody’s business travelling at 50 kms per hour. The first stop was Seymour Narrows and the tide was slack. We were informed that the tides can be strong. This would be my first time on a whale watching boat and I noticed that with the low volume of fishing boats around, the boat operators rely on visual signs of wildlife and we saw many.

Edith Point was the place where whales were spotted and that was the bonus part of the trip. The trip was a great way to see activity around the area and Big Bay was just getting set up for another busy summer ahead. The male sea lions are holding down the rock ledges and eagles and seals were also spotted. I had a chance to view the dock areas at Big Bay and the people from Edmonton who were on this trip are thinking of moving to Campbell River after seeing the area. The round trip was over four hours and it encompassed over 150 kilometers round trip. We all know the tidal water license renewals have been in place for the year since April 1 and many are waiting for the announcement for any changes that can come out for any retention limits for Chinook salmon in our area. Until the announcement is made, go online and fish with the regulations posted. The announcement by DFO to any changes should be coming out shortly. Lots of undersize Chinooks are being caught with the larger size salmon reaching 17 pounds. River levels around the North Island will be higher with the current rain but rivers have been good for steelhead around Tahsis. Some of the locals will make their way to the Nimpkish River for catch and release trout. This time of year, fly fishers should be concentrating on fry patterns. The ant hatch is not far away but remember, air temperatures around lakes are colder than your backyard. Last year the ant hatch was unbelievable May 9 and it lasted only a few days.

The last session for fly tying for beginners is Sunday, April 28 at the library starting at 1 p.m. and it will be a fun way to wrap up the year and get out fishing. It’s free and we get to meet many new people moving to Campbell River and learn what flies are being used and learn how to build a basic fly and advance from there.

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