Flexibility is the key to any outdoor activities taking place during the shoulder seasons; weather becomes unpredictable, which necessitates last-minute tweaking of plans to make the best of the situation. On the last ocean trip of this year, September storms were looming in the forecast and a gale warning had presumptively sealed the fate of the trip. Nonetheless, launching in Prince Rupert affords some of the necessary flexibility when it comes to finding sheltered areas to fish in, so off to the coast we went.
The days were dreary and bleak, with heavy fog coming and going throughout the course of the weekend. Knowing the limits of the boat and heeding the advice of the marine forecast, we stayed in close around the harbour. We were in good company, as we set crab and prawn traps amongst dozens of other buoys and joined several other boats in trolling for those elusive resident salmon tucked in the safety of the harbour.
Salmon fishing was a bit of a hail Mary – we knew that the odds of tying into our originally targeted coho and pinks were slim, even less than the resident chinook we managed to bring in the boat. Over the course of two days, close to 16 solid hours of trolling were logged for only three bites – two of which resulted in fish to bring home.
Day one was cut short as even the harbour began to gain chop as wind picked up. East winds, winds that on lakes are usually the nastiest, proved to be equally as nasty on saltwater, even within the shelter of the harbour. In a hurry, we pulled up our traps and bounty (several beautiful Dungeness and a pot full of shrimp) and zipped back to the launch.
We were within site of the dock as the forecasted 70-kilometre wind gusts picked up – mist off the top of waves was swirling in violent flurries, and large boats making their way in from out front were leaning heavily to one side as they battled the wind. With the boat safely back on the trailer, we joined the throngs of storm watchers that came down to the waterfront to watch the weather rage on.
The following morning brought with it glassy waters in the harbour all day long, but we didn’t dare peek our nose out around the outside – instead, we went to throw down the traps, and do some more trolling. We came up with more crab and shrimp, the latter of which was the highlight of the trip as it was completely unexpected. Of course, 100 shrimp looks almost pitiful compared to 100 spring spot prawns, but for only being several minutes away from the boat launch, we couldn’t have been happier.
At the end of the trip, heeding the weatherman’s advice and sticking in the harbour paid off well – we were able to still bring home some salmon, crab and shrimp, all while staying safe on the water. The perfect compromise between being responsible boaters and having fun, and a good way to close out the saltwater season.