July and August:
Perception and reality clashed during the heart of the 2008 season. Specifically, the king fishing through much of July and the first half of August was often spectacular. The fish were abundant, large, and close to the surface. That was the reality. The perception of the fishing, after July 15, was altered by a 48 inch minimum size limit imposed for conservation reasons. One king, a beautiful 60 pounder landed by Ron Hardy at Icy Queen on July 17, made the 48 inch grade.
Silvers came late in 2008, but they were large. The Gary Smith group got into a white hot bite at Georgiana during the last hour of their last day and landed the first boat limit of silvers. The Rick Lawrence group had two great days fishing Biorka landing near limits on July 21 and quick limits on July 22. This group has fished with Captain Chuck for over 10 years and claimed these were the biggest silvers they’d ever seen. Volatility was the defining characteristic of the silver run. The great days at Biorka and Georgiana were followed by challenging days. All the while the kings kept on at a furious pace.
Despite terrible weather, from July 24-26 the Zuther party fished Biorka and, on their last day, Sea lion rocks. Zip Zuther and his brother Don agreed that in 2008 they had more fun than any other trip and they’ve been fishing with AU for over 10 years. They released many big Kings and landed some large silvers. Which gets us back to reality and perception. If the goal was boxes of fish to bring home, long stretches of the summer of 2008 were difficult. If the goal was great sport fishing, the king numbers and the quality for both kings and silvers made for a great time.
On July 30, a relatively rare flat calm sunny day in 2008, the waters of “the Parking Lot” came alive with massive quantities of needlefish that were quickly followed by feeding whales. For hours the humpbacks fed right next to the boats. I’ve been on the waters of the Northeast and Northwest for over 30 years and never seen anything like it. During late July, Captain Chris Weiland located a pocket of halibut in 130 feet of water that provided great action on salmon gear for a couple of days before the fish moved on. Halibut fishing at the Money Hole was fast and furious for chickens during the first few weeks of August. The offshore halibut was more hit or miss. In mid-August, after boating a quick limit of silvers, the Kooyker party landed a limit of halibut to 120 pounds. They also landed an AU first – an Atlantic salmon which was likely a refugee of the net pens in British Columbia.
The silver fishing, at an undisclosed location (if I told you I’d have to kill you), was excellent in mid-August and lit up again toward the end of the month with the Hedges party landing a quick limit, plus releasing dozens of silvers. We had an outstanding stretch of silver and king fishing at Icy Queen during the third week of August. The Dave Young party spent most of their three days in the dead calm waters landing near limits of silvers and releasing a good number of kings. The fish at Icy Queen were temperamental, but when the bite was on the action was great.
In mid-August, the Hayes party enjoyed two white hot coho bites at Cape Edgecumbe four anglers landed 15 silvers in 30 minutes. The next day, four of the Hayes party landed 17 silvers in about 40 minutes at Sea Lion Rocks. These fast and furious bites often held up for very short periods of time and the coho were large averaging 12 pounds or more. Late August delivered big silvers for the Tuschoff party with Tom Tate landing a 17.5 pounder in the Shark Hole. Jeremy Ivie fishing with the Melaleuca party landed an 18, 18.5 and a 20 pound silver during the late two days of August.
Ling cod fishing was good during the opener from August 16 through the end of the season. There was an abundance of bait fish on and off with some great whale shows. The season for AU came to a close with good fishing at the Parking Lot and Cape Edgecumbe.
Was 2008 challenging at times? Definitely. Was the weather colder, wetter and windier than normal? Without a doubt. But when you consider all the beautiful fish landed, all the great sights on the water, the dramatic seascapes, and all the fun we had day in day out with what we felt was our best Angling Unlimited crew ever, it’s hard for us to think of it as anything other than a fantastic year.