Prior to 1981, my only experience with salmon fishing was being taken out in the Douglas Channel in Kitimat, BC. The locals were quite open to taking you out and spending a day salmon fishing and crabbing or prawning.
In a small working community, you got to meet some of the locals who owned a boat and it was possible to get a few anglers together and spend the day out on the saltchuck and try your hand at jigging for cod and snapper. With the Kitimat and Skeena rivers close at hand, I purchased my first spinning rod and fished both rivers for coho salmon. There was no retention of pinks at that time. Fly fishing was not on my radar screen for something to do, but that would change and I never looked back.
I was living in Calgary and the first thing I adjusted to was fly fishing. The local rivers and lakes close to mountains were an angler’s dream and many trips were made on days off to fish for trout and whitefish on the Bow and Elbow rivers. In addition to my broadcast duties at CHQR radio, when the Calgary Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary, I took the opportunity to work with the out-of-town broadcasters from the other teams. Fishing came up many times during discussions at the old hockey rink.
Back in the day, there was no social media or Internet and a mobile telephone was very bulky and heavy to lug around. I met Blair McLean, who was in town for a fishing trade show, and I did an interview with him to put on the fishing report on my show.
Blair went back to Campbell River and called me a few weeks later. There was an opening for a few days at his lodge at Knight Inlet and he said bring two guests. The Flames’ office had arranged a promo man to join us and broadcaster Doug Barkley would join us. Doug was a NHL player and coach with the Detroit Red Wings and he had never caught a salmon.
Upon arrival at the lodge we were introduced to our guide Rick Raps. We had a few boats and fishing would start dawn ‘til dusk then we would head back to the lodge for food and drinks. The salmon fishing was outstanding and Doug had landed a 37-pound Tyee salmon. Rick Raps still remembers that Doug was a big guy and when he held up his catch, which came in at 37 pounds, it was no sweat for the angler.
Rick was all of 20 years old and he spent countless hours on the water salmon fishing. I had a chance to sit down with Rick few weeks ago and he recalls the trip quite vividly. There were no downriggers or electronics being used; it was experience that got salmon to the boat.
The Pasiechnik relatives from Manitoba came to Campbell River about four years ago and Rick had an opening for fishing and took them out for the afternoon. Throughout the years, fishing guides have gone through various changes in recreational sport fishing and the Campbell River area has the most guides trained over the years and many are working at lodges around the province but a handful still remain in Campbell River.