Grandpa Roger Higdem watches son Dane school grandson Finn on landing a Hippa Island flat-water slab.
By Terry W. Sheely
On the first morning we mooch herring along the inside rocks then tight to Ship Wreck, Red Rock, and Flat Top.
Jim and I are boating close enough to the pounding surf to hear it boom against massive rocks on the island and blow up into turquoise towers. We stay here and fish not because this water is packed with salmon and halibut but because beyond here the Pacific is dark with 8-foot seas, snotty and tough. An unseasonal summer blow has left it that way for a week, we’re told. Our group scratches hard for few opening morning hookups and no one boats a salmon worth putting on the catch board. Not the opener I was expecting, certainly not what I’m used to here on the wild west side of Haida Gwaii.
By the second morning the front has blown out and the white-capped towers of yesterday’s waves have settled into rhythmic swells, high but rounded. The ocean is fishable again and if we want we can run and gun. But we don’t. We hang here in yesterday’s water, because the salmon have moved in and it’s just too productive to leave.
Eight keeper slabs--two kings, five silvers and one big chum--are sliding around in our fish box, along with a tasty mix of black rockfish, yelloweyes and ling cod. Herring balls are dimpling the kelp line, sea birds are working, puffins pop to the surface with fish tails sticking out of their parrot beaks, all day the boat radios crackle with upbeat fish news and the air just smells fishy.
Yesterday’s frustrations are forgotten—today is why we came
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