This guest post comes from Carlos Koo, who is married to the lovely Vera Koo, a formidable competition shooter. When Vera is off competing, Carlos can often be found on an adventure trip. For this trip, he went salmon fishing with his daughter, Christina. We love the story of this father/daughter getaway! ~The editors
Sponsored by Vera Koo
My salmon fishing friends call Nootka Sound, British Columbia, Heaven on earth.
I have been going salmon fishing there at the Moutcha Bay Resort for several years. I enjoy the thrill of hooking a salmon and winning the struggle that ensues to get the fish into the boat. You are almost guaranteed a big catch every time you go there during peak salmon season.
The serene setting of the Nootka Sound, which is tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island, is a bonus.
You are surrounded by trees and valleys. You can spot eagles and ospreys diving for fish and sea otters swimming or moving about on the ground. Once in a while, you will see a black bear.
It’s beautiful. It’s tranquil. It’s quiet.
Heaven on earth? Yes, I’ll buy that.
This past summer, I enjoyed a special treat.
A couple weeks before I traveled to Moutcha Bay Resort for my annual trip with my friends – 2 ladies who are fishing buffs – I went on a separate trip there with my oldest daughter, Christina.
Christina and I are active in the outdoors and enjoy adventure. But she’s also a businesswoman and a busy mother of 3 children, and this was my first time getting her to accompany me to Moutcha Bay Resort.
We flew to Vancouver, shopped for supplies and then took a charter boat plane to our destination before spending three days fishing.
The resort is so remote that you cannot even receive cell service on the resort and must use the satellite phone at the resort office if you need to make a phone call. It was good to spend some quality time with my daughter, free of distractions.
At the resort, we stayed in a yurt that combined a rustic appearance with modern comforts. This is perfect for me. My days of camping in a tent and sleeping on the ground are behind me.
Christina enjoyed the trip, and we are planning to go again next summer.
Although it was Christina’s first time there, it was not her first experience salmon fishing. When Christina was a child, we would travel as a family to Campbell River on the east side of Vancouver Island. We camped as we traveled north through Oregon and Washington until we reached Campbell River. We would spend about 2 weeks camping and fishing. There were plenty of fish to be caught at the river.
But in more recent years, I’ve found I have more success at Nootka Sound.
My annual salmon excursions occur between July 15 and Aug. 15, when the salmon are especially active.
I enjoy other types of fishing back home in California, such as fishing in the streams for striped bass or for sturgeon in the California River. And Christina and I like to hunt for abalone. But none of it compares to the excitement of salmon fishing. It is not unusual to reel in a chinook salmon at Nootka Sound that weighs 20 to 25 pounds.
It is satisfying to catch a fish that big, but it comes with a struggle.
We chartered a boat with a skipper to take us to various locations.
Catching a salmon requires a bit of finesse, because you are required to use a straight hook rather than a hook with barbs. This gives the fish a fighting chance.
When a salmon bites, it pulls the downrigger. You grab the line and make sure the hook is properly set. The salmon’s mouth is fairly soft. You cannot pull too hard or the fish’s mouth will rip, the hook will dislodge and the salmon will swim free. But if you do not reel in hard enough and give the line too much slack, the salmon can take advantage and wriggle loose.
It is a constant game of cat-and-mouse as you try to get to the fish to the boat while it tries to swim free.
If you feel slack, that means the salmon is moving toward you, and you must crank the reel fast to keep the line tight. But if you feel him pulling away, ease up so his mouth does not tear.
Once in a while, you will feel a heavy tug, and you know that a sea lion has stolen your catch while you tried to reel it in.
With any luck, you will get the salmon near the boat, and it is time to net him. This is the big finish, and it is where most fish are lost. It can lead to a most disappointing moment – losing the fish after all that struggle – or the thrill of finally getting him into the boat.
The salmon we catch are good eating, too. I find that they taste better than farmed salmon. Their color is redder. Their oils and fat give them flavor and keep them from getting dry when cooked.
I hope to have the chance to spend time at Nootka Sound with each of my children and grandchildren next year. Vera and I enjoyed taking our 2 daughters and son camping when they were kids, and now, they are talking about trying to reproduce one of our old trips. They want to camp their way north through the Pacific Northwest until reaching British Columbia.
I told them I am too old to make such a camping trek these days. I need a good room and a bed.
If their plan comes together, though, I will meet them up at Moutcha Bay Resort in Nootka Sound, and we will all enjoy some time experiencing Heaven on earth.
Vera Koo is a first-generation Chinese American woman. She’s a wife and mother, author, entrepreneur and retired competition shooter. Along with Vera’s fantastic memoir and life story, "The Most Unlikely Champion," she writes her column, Vera Koo, at "Women’s Outdoor News." View all posts by Vera Koo