Big City Boating At It’s Finest
September 1st was always going to be a zany day of boating and fishing off Vancouver.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans set the stage with Springtime Chinook closures off the North and South Arm of the Fraser River and Howe Sound that would last through August. While most other DFO areas still allowed catch-and-release angling, Vancouver was closed for fishing Chinook. Period.
We could dive deep into these Chinook measures, but that’s not where we’re headed with this tale. Suffice to say, the closures created massive pent-up trolling demand in the Lower Mainland. With two-a-day retention of Chinook starting September 1 everybody with a boat was gearing up for the late opener!
I hit the water at Vancouver Marina early on September 1 and was off the docks by 6am. The morning was calm, sunny and summertime. My wife Jenn accompanied me for the day and we got the boat up on step after a 20-minute run out North Arm of the Fraser.
Now I like fishing North Arm ‘cause it’s our newly adopted home tack, but the 20-minute run South to Sandheads and the Fraser South Arm (off Steveston) was on the chart. As we rolled in, I knocked it off step and was immediately bewildered by the 150 or so of our closest friends out for a troll. There were boats everywhere and in no time that number grew to around 200.
There were KingFishers of all sizes, models and vintages among the fleet, from a new 3425 Offshore to a 1625 Falcon XL to some original Harbercraft nostalgic vessels. My 3025 again proved the perfect multi-purpose rig…fishing great and providing a great suntan and leisure deck space!
If you could troll through the chaos of a fish frenzy flotilla, there were some great fish. My wife landed a couple beauties and we had a fantastic morning. Now I’ve talked to a number of people, but general estimates say there were 300 boats fishing Sandheads at the peak that day. All trolling in different directions. At depths from 80 feet to 600. Negotiating a tack was a matter of mental agility and acute route planning. And luck.
Now I’m pretty fortunate to boat some of British Columbia’s remote locales and fish some of the coolest and quietest tacks. And with all the Covid-19 closures this summer, there wasn’t a lot of boats on the water up North. So nothing had really prepared me for Sandheads on September 1.
The sheer number of boats on water was almost boggling but it was an amazing day. The backdrop of Vancouver and the Southern Coast, with Mount Baker looming large is stunning marine cityscape. With a couple more fish in the box we boated back way off North Arm with University of British Columbia looking down, and trolled it out till sunset. Virtually alone.
Sometimes we crave remote locales and frontier, but should never overlook a monumental boating day in our own backyard!