Will it be chaos or order when Chinook retention returns July 15?

By Neil Cameron

It will be interesting to see what kind of flotilla appears in front of Campbell River July 15.

No it won’t be because of something like the popular Royal Lepage fishing derby that was cancelled earlier this year. And no, it isn’t a holiday. It’s actually a Monday. And there’s supposed to be light rain. And the tide starts ebbing from around 3 a.m. to about 11 or so.

My guess is I could play Jesus and walk across the Strait to Quadra on the boats.

My guess, too, is that the boat ramps are going to be packed.

My guess is that employees will be telling employers that a family emergency has come up and won’t be in Monday.

My guess is that employers will be telling employees that they have important business to attend to and won’t be in Monday.

Why?

Because that’s the day Chinook retention opens.

After what might seem to some a lifetime, the non-retention of Chinook will be lifted. At least we hope it will be lifted.

Which brings us to that question.

What is going to happen July 15?

I know one thing. All those boats. That close concentration of anglers. It could be a nightmare. It could be a zoo.

I love it.

No, I don’t like crowds when I’m fishing. That would mean you and me on a 10-mile stretch of river.

When the bite is on, however, and the fish are here, it is the essence of Campbell River.

When I first emigrated from Canada to Campbell River about 30 years ago, I was wide-eyed like a newly-bonked rock cod. The sheer number and variety of boats out on the water was hard to comprehend. There were punts of 12 feet to yachts of 40 feet or more and everything in between.

I can’t dock a boat or drive a trailer with a boat on it down a ramp. I admit that. I also admit a queer pleasure in seeing how both those seemingly easy tasks turn into mayhem. There will, I think, be a bit of that on Monday July 15.

There will be unintentional line entanglements. There will also be those instances when simple common sense is as fleeting as a seagull’s fart.

Like when you have been playing a really good fish for 10 minutes and you notice another vessel closing in on you stern-starboard.

“Fish on!” you and your fishing partners will call out. (For the sixth time.)

The skipper of the other boat will come out onto the rear deck, maybe or maybe not leaving someone at the wheel.

“Looks like a nice fish,” he will yell.

“Fish on!” you will cry as the fish of the year tries to melt your monofilament.

The other skipper will then yell, “How deep? What colour?”

“Fish on!” will be the reply.

The Chinook senses its dire straights. It hasn’t the power to run away again. You have played it half way through. If it can’t swim away, it will swim to the area of least resistance. That means either left or, unfortunately to stern-starboard.

The other skipper will notice the quiver on his rod. “Fish on!” he will cry out. And grin like a ling cod as he bounds to the rod holder and grabs the rod. Unable to break the line from the downrigger clip, he will press the button and bring it up.

That’s when you feel a different kind of weight on your line. It’s a sickening feeling, knowing what could be a 30-pound plus Chinook is dragging your line against the cable of the other guy’s downrigger.

His rod starts to buck and he hoots at what he doesn’t realize is your fish.

It is around his downrigger and his fishing line. The inevitable happens. Your line breaks. You’ve lost your terminal tackle. The other guy is reeling like mad trying to catch up to a fish that is long gone.

When he realizes it is indeed gone, he’ll yell something like, “Too bad about your fish. I lost one just now too.”

To which someone on your boat will offer another long-standing salutation.

Both words start with an F and an O, but it most certainly won’t be “Fish on!”

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