PRIME TIME NORTE--Capt. Josh Temple of Puerto Vallarta's charter boat Prime Time, with some summer halibut caught at his northern headquarters, Prince Rupert, B.C. Photo courtesy Josh Temple.
CHARTER BOAT PRIME TIME IS FISHING NORTH IN CANADA
July 6, 2005, Josh Temple, Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, Fishing Report:
Well it's raining today, pouring actually, and after the last 3 days of winds topping 40 kts, I'm definitely glad I'm not fishing, which is hard to believe.
Overall I feel exceptionally good, and although it may just be due to the caffeine I can't help but think a couple of hours of extra sleep does do a body good, and at least helps to clear the mind. Which certainly needed clearing.
Man oh man, where to start, this is going to be a long one, just so you know, and I only have a few short hours to tell it, so I apologize in advance for any omissions.
It's no secret that we've learned a heck of a lot about this area in the last 9 years, what's interesting, is that we're just now discovering the most important secrets this place has to offer, and they were so basic in their existence, that somehow, as it turns out, they were the hardest to find.
By some stroke of luck, realized only now in hindsight, our bait order for this summer season never arrived. Apparently, every freezer truck in British Columbia is now working around the clock running processed Arrowtooth Flounder (Turbot) southbound to the states, where it's bon appetite at the local penitentiary, and "sorry we just don't have any trucks available at this time", for us.
For obvious reasons this response ticked me off, we'd already been limping by for a month and a half on what was left of last year's bait after Jim inadvertently shut the freezer breakers down when he left in October, and as the start of our peak big-fish season drew near I was looking at a delivery time of another month, at best.
Prince Rupert's not that far from Vancouver in a global sense, but sometimes it feels like a world quite removed when it comes to Arrowtooth Flounder and 40 cases of bait.
Anyhow, we had a situation, "necessity is the mother of invention", right? Or in our case "we ain't got bait and we need to catch fish" or vise versa.
While it's true we have been jigging some of our own herring over the last few seasons we had not yet had a situation where we absolutely needed to make bait each and every day, before it was like "oh man, I hope there's some freshies around, " but if not we'd still have a half dozen packs of frozen stuff, no big deal, plan B.
Well lately it's been "oh man, we better darn well find the bait or we're pulling plastics," and although plastics do work, it's just not the same.
So we set off this year with a new challenge, on top of the old standby's, and I'm happy to report we took it to a new level, and absolutely tore the mystery of finding fresh bait to shreds.
One thing I've found when it comes to fishing is that a lot of times we're trying waaaay to goddamn hard to outsmart a fish, I mean, come on, they're fish, right? Well so it goes and for the first few weeks we were analyzing charts, consulting with commercial herring fishermen, checking tides, and currents, and catching bait, yes, that's true, but we were just nicking the surface and deep down we knew it, we were just trying too hard.
So it wasn't until late one evening, long after the fish had been cleaned and vacuum packed, that we sat around chewing the fat and trying to solve the bait issue, we hadn't yet sprayed down the cleaning station so the usual assortment of eagles, ravens, s--thawks, and crows fought and tussled over whatever scraps remained, and as fate would have it Shrek chose to walk out of our freezer and vacuum packer container next to the cleaning tables, spooking the flock of motley birds in the process, and was promptly shat upon by various culprits.
We didn't understand it yet, nor could we, we were gutting ourselves waaaaay too hard, but later on the ride back to the lodge an idea sprung into my head.
For many years now I've been running past a flock of s--thawks that take up permanent residence just outside the northern entrance to Prince Rupert harbour, 99% of the days we fish out here we make the same run past the same birds twice a day, using very loose math that equates to something approaching 1,000 times I've run by those goddamn birds and have never given them a second thought, s--thawks, and I keep going.
Well lo and behold, after Shrek's shat attack the very next morning I decided I was going to stop on the way out and see just what in the hell those birds were congregated for, out come the bait jigs and not 5 feet under the boat we're bit by the very same bait we've been pulling our hair out trying to find consistently over a 200 square mile area. Funny how that works, after all these years.
So now it's a daily ritual to take a 15 minute stop right outside the harbour to make bait, virtually guaranteeing that no matter where we head off to we have the secret to success already in the bag, and believe me I'm the first one to shake my head and wonder just how many other secrets I've been driving over for the last decade.
Well with the bait issue finally resolved we set our sights on giant kings and the ultimate goal of the 100 pounder, and as great as May and early June were we all knew that the real big fish season was yet to come, and it wasn't until Hawkair flight 122 bounced once, skidded to a crawl and taxied down runway #2 that we knew behemoth season was officially underway.
Larry Ryken of Yankton, SD, is the angler by which all other giant king hunters are measured, and when he arrived in mid-june with his small carryon bag containing his logbook, within which he notes each and every king he's ever caught, the level of excitement around here went from high-alert to DEF CON-5.
I'm not sure what they put in the water in Yankton, but let me tell you, whatever got into Larry Ryken to make him this way is dangerous stuff, there is no other angler like him, at least not on this coast, and it's hard to believe he gets off that plane for one month of solid fishing, sorry, I mean one month of strictly big king fishing, no halibut, no lingcod, no rockfish, no coho, just big kings all day ever day, and come hell or high water, he's not getting back on that plane until the big kings are gone, win, lose, or draw.
In the 9 years I've been fishing with Larry he's missed 2 days of fishing, and it took a mild heart attack to keep him off the water, so it's no surprise he's so successful at what he does, with several fish over 60 pounds and countless 50 pounders to his credit he's still not satisfied and that's precisely the way it should be, for someone like me, who has hunted that 100 pounder for over 14 years, Larry is the dream partner, and out there on the water together, with over 250 days of shared fishing time together, we are a well oiled machine.
It's hard to describe the kind of connection Larry and I share together, we're two opposite personalities, living in two completely different worlds, but for one month out of the year we come together, transforming our differences and molding ourselves into a two-piece giant king killing machine. It's a thing of beauty, and when we roar out to the fishing grounds at o-dark thirty I don't have to look over at him to see the twinkle in his eye, I know it's there, and he knows that I know, and I know that he knows that I know, and I'm pretty sure he knows that I know that he knows that I know that he knows, and let me tell you, you can't manufacture that kind of mojo.
Well this year Larry and I have been taking a s--tkicking. First off the weather has turned to s--t soup over the last week, blowing every day, and forcing us to stick close to the barn where the best big fish fishing is NOT happening.
Oh, the fishing is good closer in for smaller fish, don't get me wrong, with fish up to 40 pounds, but this is not what Larry and I are looking for, so we go out, and catch 15 20 smaller kings, and we're happy, but not satisfied.
He's taking it well, but we suffer from the same illness so I know he's itching for the weather to break so we can run to the Bay Of Pigs again, which obviously we cannot do in 30 40 knt winds, and like I said before, today we had to cancel, which will probably be the only day of fishing Larry misses this year, and right about now we're both wondering if we should have gone anyway.
The other guys have been doing great, even with the weather of the past week, and Lora has been absolutely on fire, he's beaten Shrek and Jim soundly the past 3 days and that's saying something, he's already earned some serious respect around town, and in a small coastal community where locals have plied these fertile waters for generations, you know it's gotta sting when they ask the Mexadian where he's been nailing the kings. Hahahaha, good for Lora. He's eating it up.
In other news the big halibut are moving in now, I had a day last week where the boys got their shoulders wore out on the kings so they begged for mercy and managed to tear me away from the epic bite on kings for some hali's, something I'm not always eager to do when 25-40 pounders are detonating on the baits, but it paid off, and after sitting for two fruitless hours in shallow water listening to the radio play-by-play on the salmon action one of my new Rogue halibut rods twitched twice and then jackhammered into the water as a giant halibut tried to make-off with a 6 pound bait.
Greg and Alex Stewart, who have been fishing up here with us for years, were with me that day and when Greg wrenched the rod from the holder and slammed the hooks into his first halibut we knew our persistence had paid off.
I hear a lot of people talk about wrestling a big halibut to the boat, for some reason the consensus seems to be that it's more like winching up a sheet of plywood than fighting an actual big game fish, well I'm not exactly sure where these people have been fishing, or if they've in fact ever caught a big hali, but in my experience jamming a set of 10/0 trebles into a 100 plus pound fish elicits anything but a nonchalant reaction.
Greg found out in a hurry, that's for sure, and as he struggled to get the rod into the fighting belt while his big hali bucked and jackhammered line off the reef and into the deep I'll bet he had a few words of wisdom for those people out there who think this stuff is easy.
After 45 minutes of tedious work Greg sweated his fish to colour and I sank the harpoon through it's head, pissing it off further, and giving it all the reason it needed to summersault out of the water, shower us with an avalanche of spray, and race off again at full speed, the slack in the harpoon line giving the fish just enough time to reach terminal velocity before it came taught against the cleat, THUNK, went the line and LURCH went the port side as the beast beat against the restraint, it's pretty exciting stuff and not altogether unlike sticking the flier in a big cow.
After dealing with the aftermath that comes with hooking and harpooning a big hali, out go the lines again and almost immediately we're scrambling over each other and the behemoth on the deck to get the hooks in a double header of monsters, pure pandemonium at it's finest, Alex grabs the starboard rod and manages to hold onto his for a few brief moments before it comes unbuttoned so I hand him my rod and it's off to the races with another monster.
This time the fish does a complete figure eight around the boat and the anchor line making for a tense few moments while I scramble to get the rod away from Alex and in and around the anchor line, twice, but we get lucky and the fish is still on and galloping away when Alex takes back the rod and it's give and take again all the way up.
This time we get off easy and when the harpoon goes in the fish twitches a few times and that's it, heave-ho and it takes all 3 of us to drag the bugger in.
TWINS. It's no question we've got a couple of nice fish and we figure they're within 10 pounds of each other, lines back in and Greg gets a huge lingcod, it had to be 60 pounds, maybe bigger, and thank god it's just lip hooked with the trebles so we manage a clean release on the beast after a few in-the-water photos.
Snappers on the menu next and the boys get 3 nice yellow-eye in a row, that's it, time to get back to the fuel dock where we weigh the fish and Greg's got a 115#er and Alex's is 120 on the nose, not bad for the boy's first halibut.
Somewhere around this week we start fishing kings off a tiny little rock I found last year just south of the Bay of Pigs. It's a textbook big fish spot with 100 feet of water all around the rock and a nice kelp bed, we started tickling it last year with good results so what the hell.
Well Scott, Steve, and George were game to try the rock out as we'd had great action on the salmon that morning and were just getting through a frustrating few hours of halibut fishing with the wind against the tide, so we decided to head back for salmon with only two small chickens to show for the effort and several sets of hali rigs imbedded in the anchor line, hey, it's not always easy.
Anyway, hooking that damn anchor line was a blessing in disguise because our first pass past the rock produces a nice tyee in the high 30's which I think Scot lands, then it's George's turn and we spin around and put the baits back down, it didn't take long.
We use downriggers up here almost exclusively and we run our mainline through a Scotty Power Grip release clip about 6' above the downrigger ball and flasher, we like to set our clips tight to prevent a piece of seaweed from knocking our line out and to help on setting the hook when a fish decides to hit the bait on a dead run.
Most of our bites necessitate a good whack on our end to release the line from the clip before we reel tight to the fish and give them the final hookset, well when ol' George's line started to buck and he jumped the rod and gave it a bump to get it out of the clip but the rod just sat there, twice more he whacked away at it before I jumped from the helm and grabbed the rod with him and twice more I jackhammered the rod in effort to get it out of the clip, just as we were about to set up on it a third time the fish took off and it was only then I realized that we weren't in the clip, we'd been whacking away at the fish and Jiminy Christmas did that ever piss him off.
Straight up the sonofabitch ran and catapulted himself 4 feet out of the water, George, being the great angler that he is, kept his eyes glued to the tip of the rod the whole time and missed the fish, thank god, because the rest of us got a good look at it and if George would have seen what we saw there's no doubt he would have eased up a bit on the fish, which is of course what you do not want to do.
Anyway, George had himself a giant, and as the fish did it's best impression of a greyhounding marlin tearing across the water torpedo style with it's back half out and a roostertail trailing behind I lost count of how many times I checked my breath and hoped for the best.
To his credit George did a phenomenal job, never once loosing focus, and when that behemoth finally steered towards the net we let out a collective roar as our first real big-one hit the deck.
Most people fish their whole life for salmon and never get close to a 50 pounder, George bested a 56#er on his first trip, not a bad start.
The ol' Lora, that fish catchin' sonofabitch, tried to even the score and nearly did with a 50#er just two days later, and then two fish in the high 40's the very next day, so he's coming for me, and coming quick.
Shrek and Jim are still stuck in the 40's, which Lora and I remind them of every chance we get, although we're cautious about that sort of thing, it being bad luck to gloat and all, so we do it in Spanish, and hope the salmon god's can't understand.
The killer whale shows this past week have been anything but mundane, the other day over 100 orcas converged on the Bay of Pigs and although the fishing went to the s--tter the opportunity to see that kind of phenomenon leaves even the most hard-core angler awestruck, they were backflipping, spyhopping, and terrorizing those poor salmon out of their wits, we got footage for the show of 3 separate salmon savagely ripped of angler's lines, leaving only the head to show for it, and a lifetime of memories in their wake.
All in all it's just a spectacular season so far up here, granted, these last few days are trying hard to convince us otherwise, but overall there's no way in hell we can complain, numbers of fish have been outstanding, the big ones are starting to show in numbers, and the giant halibut fishing is turning on, the boats and engines are running great, all the new gear from Rogue Rods, Berkley, Braid, etc, etc, etc, is awesome and by far we've got the most unique crew of guides on the water, 2 Canexicans, 1 Mexadian, and I'm not sure what to classify Jim as of yet, but he's certainly not NORMAL.
The other boats are watching us, and we do tend to freak a lot of people out with our antics, but that's OK, we're used to that, and I'm sure the Spanish over the VHF throws more than a few people for a loop, but that's a good thing, because certainly it'll take them a few years to catch on to that one.
I'm trying not to count down the days until I head to Vegas for the ICAST show, but it's happening anyway, and by the time I get back I'll basically have to get on the road to Mexico, life happens pretty darn fast around here, so it's good to take notes.
There's more, of course, there's a lot more.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from Puerto Vallarta and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Puerto Vallarta may be found at Mexfish.com's main Puerto Vallarta page.