The fish was THIS big.

The fish was THIS big.

If you’re a great fisherperson, then you and I have a lot in common. Mostly putting on boots. Otherwise, both times I’ve been fishing in my life, I’ve mostly caught weeds, slime and mosquito bites. 

So when we got an invite to go on a salmon fishing trip with our friends Dave and Kate and Kym and Brian, my first thought was, “How many more buckets of slime do we need?”

Lucky for us, Dave followed up with an email that said, “Are you in idiot? This is a Kym and Brian Golden Invitation to Haida Gwaii, one of the most beautiful places in Canada! SAY YES!!” 

Spenny, me, and Mr. Back Left.

And… that’s how I found myself on the ocean with the shores of Haida Gwaii on one side, Alaska on the other, on a quiet misty morning, with nothing but the sound of eagles in the trees, sea lions surfacing for air, sitting on a gently rocking boat on the ocean, with enough gravol coursing through my veins to slow down the rotation of the earth.  Suddenly our guide, Spenny, called out, “Dave – Front Right, Front Right, Front Right!!!” and I stumbled in the rocking boat to to the front while my brain desperately tried to remember which way right was. 

“The other side.” said Spenny helpfully.

I reached for the rod, which was jumping around like a caffeinated kid on a pogo stick, and tried to get it out of the thing. The “thing”  is the thing that holds the rod. It’s probably called something, but apparently I wasn’t paying attention when Spenny told me what it was called while demonstrating how to remove the rod. I heaved like a madman on the rod and thought, “Am I going to be the guy who didn’t catch a fish because I couldn’t even get the rod out of the thing?” (spoiler alert: yes) 

As I wrestled the thing, I tried to remember everything Spenny told me, “First set the hook, jerk the rod from six to eleven o-clock, watch the tip of the rod not the fish, if the fish runs let it run, keep your hand off the reel or it will take your knuckles off, reel in calmly, don’t crank the reel or you’ll break the line, keep tension the hook, keep your eye on the prize, don’t drink and drive, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, are you really going to wear that?”

What the hell does 11 o-clock have to do with fishing?

I thought I was going to tear the side of the boat off trying to get the rod out when it suddenly stopped jumping. Spenny said, “He’s gone.”

I turned around, humiliated. I didn’t even get the rod out of the thing.

Spenny said, “No problem – why don’t you practice that move while you reel in the hook for more bait?”

So I did. If there’s anything more embarrassing than not getting the rod off the thing, it’s practicing with a bare hook. 

But after a few tries, I got it figured out. 

Blythe did pretty well too.

And then, “Back left! Back left!” and I raced to the back, got the rod out of the thing and yanked to 11 o-clock.

“Great job,” said Spenny, and for the next 10 minutes he coached me through landing a fish. 

“Whizzzzzzzzzzzzzz” hands off.

Then reel in.

My heart was pounding, my knuckles were white and I may have been reeling like I was on fire when suddenly my fish jumped out of the water. There it was. White and grey and wild. Splash… and off he went. 


But I still had him. 

And slowly, I got him closer to the boat, Spenny grabbed the net, “Easy Dave – keep your tip up, keep the tension, easy… easy…” and then, “There you go… there you have it.”

He turned and gave me a high five. 

I caught a salmon. 

It was the biggest fish I’d ever caught in my life. As a matter of fact, if you took all the other fish I’d ever caught in my life and added them to a pile of slime, this one was still the biggest.

Two days later we were home and visited Gary and Corrine’s place and we cooked our salmon. It was the best fish I’d ever eaten in my life.

Somehow eating that salmon I could taste the wild and misty ocean, I could hear the voice of the phenomenal guides who lived to be outdoors and in the wild, I could hear the call of the eagles and the breathing of the sea lions, I could smell the moss on the trees, I could hear the sound of Blythe reeling in her own fish…

…and I could hear my friend Dave saying, “Am I right, you idiot?”

Yes Dave – you’re right.

And it wouldn’t be BC without a visit from Orcas. 

Thank you Kym and Brian.