It’s been some twenty years or more since I went sport fishing. Back then, you could still use barbed hooks. That’s right, when you hooked into a fish with your 15-20 pound test line, you stopped the boat and played the fish, sometimes for up to 45 minutes.
I recently went to Port Alberni (the real fishing capital) to try my hand at getting some sockeye. On the way out at 5 a.m. I watched the “commercial sportfishing fleet” head out. I made the comment to my buddy that he had forgotten his landing net. “We don’t use a net,” he says, “we don’t even take the boat out of gear when we get a fish on the line. We use 40 pound test line, wind like hell till it’s up to the boat, grab the flasher and flip it into the boat.”
“Whoa, wait a minute, am I missing something? Where’s the sport in that?”
“With a barbless hook you can’t give them any slack or they’ll fall off,” he continues. Then he proceeds to tell me he lost 13 the day before – “probably ripped the mouths off them,” he says.
That’s when I realized we weren’t sport fishing – we were meat hunting.
Well, we never caught any fish because the seiners and gillnetters were out the day before I got there. If this is what we call sportfishing you can have it.
Last year, I made a trip to Southern Ontario and had the opportunity to go fishing. We drove to the lake with boat in tow and I could not believe my eyes – a parking lot for your truck and trailer that we can only dream about. A boat launch where you can put in 4-5 boats at once. An L-shaped breakwater with a huge L-shaped dock to pull your boat to after you have launched it. If you happened to be the poor sucker who had to park at the far end of the lot, there is a man with a golf cart to pick you up and give you a ride to your boat. You can catch salmon, lake trout, pickerel and perch. The best part is that you can use a barbed hook! That’s right, when the fish are biting you only use half the fuel so your carbon footprint is cut in half because you can keep the fish on the line.
This little town doesn’t boast to be the fishing capital of anywhere but could show Campbell River a thing or two about fishing facilities.
I know the ramps are free but the parking lots are full of potholes, you need a four-wheel-drive if it’s low tide (including McIvor Lake) and, usually, there’s nowhere to park. I have had better skid roads and log dumps in my day. If you want to be the salmon capital of the world, at the very least supply a decent boat launch and parking area. You would think it would be embarrassing to show this to tourists. You wouldn’t go skiing at Mount Washington if they didn’t have a proper ski lift would you?