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The ocean was calm and peaceful with a blanket of fog upon us.
The ocean was calm and peaceful with a blanket of fog upon us.

Part Two of My First, Best Fishing Story

As my son, Byron and our fishing guide busily attended to the task of catching halibut on a cool, foggy and very early morning, I sat for a moment and listened. The water around us was calm and peaceful, the sky was shrouded in a dense fog that the sun was fighting to get through and from just a short distance away came the most unusual sound. Like a deep groaning interspersed with whooooosh!, we were pretty sure that a group of humpback whales were creating bubble nets to catch fish. We occasionally caught a glimpse of a black triangular shape in the mist but never enough to be sure and certainly not enough to satisfy my eager camera.

Humpback whales are known to work together to create bubble nets which trap herring. After setting their nets, one whale emits a signal and  they all swim up through the net with their mouths open! Here is an amazing video which captures this behaviour.

There was lots of herring in the area; we knew that for sure! After dropping a line that had multiple hooks on it, we waited just a few moments before pulling it up, heavier with half a dozen herring! These slippery fellows were to be bait for the halibut fishing that was next.

I reminded myself that this was a fishing trip and, with camera stowed, concentrated on the fishing while listening to the whales in the background. The halibut were hungry for the herring and we soon reached our limit of one per person.

Considering our bounty of fish from the sea along with the sound of the humpbacks feeding in the background, I was struck with the sense of abundance we were given.  What a privilege to be part of this Creation with gifts all around us. And there was more to come.

Later that day, I had the privilege to meet Herbie. Herbie is a bald eagle that watches (like a hawk?) all boats that come near his nest. He’s used to fishermen coming by with a handout and, lucky for Herbie, we had some left over herring from the morning.

We waved a tasty morsel in the air and threw it out for him. Unfortunately, Herbie wasn’t fast enough to catch the herring that sank a little too quickly. Oh well, try again. Another stinker (oops, sinker). Third time lucky! Herbie had his snack and I had some pictures. Win-win!

Lift off!
Lift off!


Gathering speed!
Gathering speed!


Eye on the target!
Eye on the target!


I'll get you this time!
I’ll get you this time!



The ocean had more gifts for us this day. The evening was beautiful and rich with sunset colours. A great night for fly fishing and photography.  Fishing continued to be productive and then …


A Coho salmon waits quietly to be released back to freedom.
A Coho salmon waits quietly to be released back to freedom.

A visit from a Humpback whale! As if to say hi, this lone humpback came near enough for a quick greeting before disappearing into the depths.

"Hello! The herring was delicious this morning!"
“Hello! The herring was delicious this morning!”


"See ya later!"
“See ya later!”

As the day came to an end, I was thankful for the abundance of this world we live in. And for family members to share it with. May it always be so.

Byron's (almost) last cast.
Byron’s (almost) last cast.


For Photographers


Maintaining Focus in Action Photography:
It’s not easy to maintain focus on birds in flight (or any other moving target) but modern cameras offer many features that greatly increase your chance of success. You just need to know your settings. In the case of Herbie, I made sure the camera was on continuous autofocus with my 70-200 lens on, along with a 1.7 tele extender. For action photography, I choose 9 autofocus points. This means that if you don’t follow the subject perfectly, one of the surrounding focus points will take over and you will not lose your focus as the bird flies. This is the reason why our cameras come with multiple AF points. Another setting to consider is the amount of delay on focus tracking. No focus tracking means that the focus is immediately lost if the bird moves away from your AF points. However, you can delay this loss by a second. This means that your camera will not attempt to refocus for one second. That can be helpful if you are still tracking the bird, as it allows you to regain focus more quickly. Each camera works a little differently here and the only way to really understand it is to study your manual and then practice! You’ll be so glad you did when the real situation happens.

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