Aug 31, 2011 by Lee Hart

Field research is no fishing expedition



 

Today in my relentless “going to the ends of the earth”
search for knowledge on how to grow better crops and improve beef production
profitability, I am in Campbell River, B.C. salmon fishing.

I think I was fishing, although at times Wednesday morning
it was much more like doing research on how other

Dean Moody-0936.jpg people catch fish. I am at
Painter’s Lodge which is just outside Campbell River about 45 minutes north of
the Comox airport.

Okay, to be honest, I am on a fishing trip but I did look at
a wide range of different crops and a few beef cattle on the drive here from
the airport, so it is work related. And yes, we did see some whales rising on
the drive here, as well. They were on the ocean side of the highway.

This is the first time I have tried this, and my assumption
was, when you salmon fish, you climb on some ocean-worthy craft, travel miles
off shore to a point where you can no longer see land, and some how cast bait
into the ocean to catch salmon. And that’s not what you do at all.

We left the dock at about 6:30 a.m. in a 17- foot boat
called a whaler, traveled about five minutes across Johnston

Thumbnail image for Plumper Point-0848.jpg Straight and began
trolling with plugs. Dean Moody, (top photo) who was born and raised on Vancouver Island
was the guide and my fishing partner in the boat was John Weinmaster, who was
born and raised on the family farm near Yorkton, Saskatchewan, who now lives in
Oakville, Ontario.

There wasn’t much happening at the first stop, although we
did see a salmon roll. That’s when they rise to the surface and actually do a
roll just above the water surface and then dive again. Not sure what they are
doing that for, but it was neat to see and little did I know it was probably as
close as I was going to get to a salmon today.

From there we traveled about a half hour by boat up the
straight to Plumper Point (bottom photo) where obviously all the action was this morning.
There were about 30 whalers trolling back and forth in the bay at Plumper
Point. I wouldn’t say the rods were a blur as people hauled in fish, but there
was some activity.  We had about
five good strikes in our boat. I managed to lose three probably because I was
reeling in too fast and hard. You know how excited I can get.  And John, who says he hasn’t been
fishing in 20 years landed two pink salmon.

Others we talked to had caught mostly pinks, some sockeye
and some Chinook. Guide Dean Moody explained about tide changes and how that
affects fish behaviour, but obviously tide or no tide the fish were quite
comfortable in ignoring my hook.

Really from a fishing standpoint, there isn’t much skill
involved. I had to watch the tip of the rod to see if it dipped when there was
a strike, and then the guide set the hook, and gave me back the rod to reel it
in. It wasn’t a lot different than fishing for mudpout on the St. Lawrence
River when I was a kid. I would watch the bobber. When it bobbed, Dad would set
the hook, and then I would run back on shore with the bamboo pole until the
fish was out of the water. There were a lot of similarities. If this whaler had
been bigger I probably could have run to the back end of the boat with the rod
and had the fish, but they really prefer you to use the reel.

So I don’t have anything to bring home today, but I have
another shot at it Thursday morning. The pressure is on because I know several
people who have cleaned out their freezers in anticipation of all the salmon I
will bring home and give them.

As a last resort on the drive home from the Calgary airport
I can always stop at Costco to see if any seafood is on sale. I may just have
to convince people that the salt water off Campbell River is teaming with
rainbow trout and talapia. 

Lee
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]



Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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