I’m not a fisherman. But my son, Byron sure is. He fishes in lakes, rivers, oceans and even puddles if he thinks a fish might be there. He didn’t start fishing until his mid twenties but now he knows how to fish in every situation and usually, when everyone else is getting skunked, he comes in with a boatful of fish.

Last year he went to the Haa Nee Naa Lodge near Prince Rupert and came home with many stories and a big box of frozen fish. When he announced that he’d be going again, I asked, “Can I come?” I was not drawn to the place to go fishing, although much to my chagrin, I grew up on the West Coast and never caught a salmon. But the chance to hang out with my son for a weekend and share in this sport which is such a passion for him, was more than enough reason to go. Plus, when I heard about the beauty of the area, and that humpback whales were so common they were just ignored, the photographer in me insisted.

When we arrived at the Lodge, we were fed a delicious meal of, yes, salmon, and then off we went on our first fishing adventure together. Now it was definitely not about keeping score but I was kind of tickled to get the first salmon, then the second salmon, and then to reach my maximum of four on the first night before Byron had two!

Unbelievable but true: When Byron was reeling in his first fish, I pulled in my line and left the lure just below the surface of the water so that I could grab a net to help him land his fish. Next thing I know, he hollers, “Dad, you’ve got a fish on your line!” Two fish at once and I wasn’t even trying! The ocean was being generous to us.

That's me with my first two fish ever! And Mr. Experienced on the right showing me how to do it.
That’s me with my first two fish ever! And Mr. Experienced on the right showing me how to do it.

During the weekend, we were aroused by country music (!) filling the lodge at 5:30 am. After a quick breakfast we were in the boats by about 6 and motoring to one of the many good fishing spots nearby. In between catching fish, or after reaching my limit, I took the opportunity to grab my camera and photograph the scenery around us but especially, my son as he concentrated on his task. I learned a lot about fishing from him that weekend.

Always scanning the horizon, a good fisherman is fully attentive to action on the surface of the water. With the herring skimming the surface, the salmon were often close behind.
Always scanning the horizon, a good fisherman is fully attentive to action on the surface of the water. With the herring skimming the surface, the salmon were often close behind. Byron’s goal was to cast his rod and drop the fly right where the salmon was.

Our first full day on the water was unforgettable. After our early start, we were visited by the coffee boat at about 9:30 am. “Would you like Bailey’s in your coffee?” we were asked as warm breakfast sandwiches were handed over. “Sure,” I replied, ignoring the fact that it was just a little early but heck, this was a holiday! As the coffee boat left with our fish for cleaning, packaging and freezing at the lodge, we continued to fish until noon, when most of us returned for lunch (if you’re counting, that’s our third meal of the day!) and to swap stories from the morning.

After lunch, I was tempted to take a nap but instead determined to match my son’s energy on the water so off we went to a different location, this time for halibut. Bang! Within five minutes of dropping our line to the bottom and then pulling up five turns on the reel, we had a large halibut on the line. The limit for halibut is one per day and we both had ours within minutes.

We fished in a few locations that day and had so many strikes that we became quite picky. If it was a Pink salmon, we let it go, in favour of the better tasting Coho. If the Coho seemed a little small, we let it go, waiting for a larger fish.

Concentration before and after the cast.
Concentration before and during the cast.

 

At this time of year, herring our running through the area, bringing in schools of Coho salmon. With the salmon close to the surface, it's an ideal time for fly fishing.
My son, the master fly fisherman, concentrating on the task. Too bad for the fish!

After dinner, we were on the water again, and suddenly Byron announced that this was the best day of his fisherman life. Such great opportunities for fly fishing, so many fish biting the hook and such a beautiful place to be.

You'd smile too with a beautiful Coho like this one.
You’d smile too with a beautiful 25 lb Chinook like this one.

If it was his greatest day as a fisherman, it was definitely one of my best weekends as a Dad. I got to hang out with my son for days and I learned to understand why fishing is such a pull for him. I got to share in his knowledge, enthusiasm and joy. He taught me a lot and was very patient with my goofups. Even if I came home without a single fish, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Our fishing trip ended all too soon. We each came home with 65 pounds of cleaned, filleted salmon and halibut to add to our freezers. Come on over, the BBQ is hot.

This is what it looks like at the end of your best fishing day ever.
This is what it looks like at the end of your best fishing day ever.

 

Celebrating the end of an unforgettable weekend together.
Celebrating the end of an unforgettable weekend together.

The oceans were rich with more than fish that weekend. In my next blog post, I’ll share some stories and images of humpback whales and eagles.

For Photographers

Here’s a before and after explanation of the picture below.

Haa Nee Naa-407x2

As we fished into the evening, Byron was intent on fly casting from the bow of the boat. In a small boat, there are not a lot of options for changing your photographic vantage point so I did about the only thing I could. I crouched down in the bottom and looked up toward him, giving me a perspective that emphasized his height. If he noticed me at all, it didn’t show as he continued to cast his fly. With my camera set on continuous shooting, I had several images of the casting action and chose this one because of the diagonal visual flow from left to right. The sun was very low in the horizon, leaving strong, warm light on the side of his face and strong shadows on his front. In the computer, I lightened the dark shadows a bit, revealing the expression on his face. After levelling the horizon slightly, I simply adjusted the white balance in the clouds to a cooler colour, offsetting the warm light on his face and body. The combination of cool and warm colours in a scene generally work together very well.

Related Posts