This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gone Fishin'

For the past 2 years I have had the opportunity to go with a buddy of mine up to Canada for a few days of Salmon and Halibut fishing. If you have been following my blog then you might remember last year's trip was a rousing success. I brought back my limit in Chinook, Coho and Halibut filling my freezer with fish that lasted through most of the winter. I caught my very first salmon, a 25 plus pound Chinook.

Well, the tradition, if 2 years in row counts as a tradition, continued this year. This trip was especially important since at least part of the catch is to be the main course for our daughter Kate and her fiance Nick's Engagement Party to be held at our home in September. Those paying attention to my blog would remember I have mentioned "The Party" many times this summer when referring to the goals and objectives of my garden projects.

Rick, my fishing guide, and I plus a friend of his, headed off for the west coast of Vancouver Island and the small, isolated village of Ucluelet, British Columbia. This year Rick bought a brand new boat, a Campion Explorer model 682, complete with galley and head.

The trip to Ucluelet (you-clue-let) takes several hours and includes a border crossing, no easy task these days, a ferry ride and a hairy drive with lots of curves over the mountains of Vancouver Island.

We left about 5:30 am on Friday, August 15th heading for the Canadian border at the Peace Arch truck crossing. We took the ferry from Tsawwassen, having breakfast on board after finally getting the truck and boat aboard the ferry, then I sat back and napped for the hour and a half ride to Naniamo, B.C.
The drive across the middle of the island is full of stunning scenery, pristine lakes, cascading rivers and gorgeous mountain vistas. The only stop we made was to purchase our fishing license. We ignored the scenic spots because the fish were waiting!
The Canadian Princess is permanently moored in the inner harbor at Ucluelet. It is a 230 foot, 1930's vintage ship refurbished and moored here as a resort mostly for fishing groups, many of which fly or bus in for a few days. The weekend warriors are taken out on a fleet of fishing "puke" boats into the deeper waters off Ucluelet. Most return happy with their few Coho salmon and then fly off back to their desk jobs in the big city.

The inner harbor at Ucluelet, British Columbia. This is where we moored the boat for the night. It is always full of commercial and private fishing boats and some sailing vessels as well, so we sometimes had to tie up to another vessel and walk across it to get at the dock.

This Bald Eagle is often seen sitting in this tree on a small island just outside the Ucluelet government marina. We would sit just off this island after returning from fishing while Rick cleaned our catch, throwing the heads and entrails overboard. This provided plenty of food for the local bird, crab and sea lion population.

Sunset off a point in Ucluelet.

The Amphitrite Point Lighthouse, a federal heritage protection site, at the end of Coast Guard Road in Ucluelet, was built in 1915. It sits overlooking the entrance to Barkley Sound. Remarkable for the rugged, rocky coastline and dramatic crashing sea waves, it is easily accessible and offers gorgeous sunset views.
Our catch this year was not as plenitful as last year's though we did return with plenty of fish. The first couple of days of fishing were noteworthy for their rough seas, 6-8 foot swells and thick fog. The fishing was not particularly good though we did manage to land a few Coho and Chinook.
Day 3 turned out to be the best of the 3 days of fishing. The fog had pretty much lifted, the sun made an appearance and the sea was nearly flat calm. This made fishing much easier and enjoyable. We also had much more luck. The highlights of the day were catching a 15 pound Coho on a plug lure that did not have all the drag of a spinner attached to it. This gave the fish a chance to fight longer since it didn;t tire out quickly dragging the spinner around. The fish jumped and danced on the water and was a blast and a challenge to land. The other highlight of the day was watching Rick catch and land a 41 pound Halibut. It was enormous, or do I thought. Turns out that the world's record is 480 pounds, but our little guy was still amazing to me.
We spent a lot of our off hours sitting at the Eagle's Nest Marine Pub dining on hamburgers. I tried their fish and chips the first night and they were so heavily battered and overcooked that it was like eating a piece of styrofoam. Even the hamburgers were overcooked but they were loaded with veggies and condiments plus a platter of good fries so I stuck the the burgers. The only other place we ate at was Romans Pizza and Grill, a friendly, rockin' place popular with locals and visitors alike. The food is adaquate, the service friendly, the music LOUD, but it took us well over and hour to get our food and then it was cold. The night was chilly and I had my heart set on some steaming clam chowder, but it arrived luke warm and and with a thick milk skin on top.
We arrived home on Tuesday afternoon, divied up the fish and headed our seperate ways. I brought mine home and spent Wednesday morning fileting about 8 Chinook and Coho salmon in the kitchen. What a mess! But by the end of the morning we had everything bagged up in Seal-A-Meal bags and in the freezer.
The bottom line, my freezer is full of beautiful salmon and halibut filets and I'll be able to easily feed the 70-80 folks we are expecting for The Party in September and have enough left over for quite a few meals well into the fall season. Mission accomplished!

Garden Border

One of the final touches to this season's garden projects is the addition of some long needed concrete curbing around the borders to the flower beds. We had some of this curbing installed by a company specializing in it about 4-5 years ago when we came upon their booth at the county fair out in Lynden. We managed to edge the entire border of the then existing garden except for right around the deck area. Since then much new bedding has been added, the Secret Garden and the remade south berm this summer alone. We found our original company had gone out of business and weren't sure how we were going to get the job done. Recently we came across Capstone Hardscape and Curbed Edges in the phone book and had them come by. They gave us a great bid for the job and

The line of the new curb is laid out with a flexible pipe, then a spray painted line is applied.

Mike Ellis and his team from Capstone Hardscape and Curbed Edges, LLC came by and added the final touches to the edging of the garden. His team arrived at 9:00 am, were very professional, cleaned up after themselves and were done by 5.
All that remains is for me to shovel in some cedar mulch and our garden projects will be about done for the year.

A sod cutter is run along the spray painted line to create the trough the concrete edging will run along.

The concrete is shoveled into the top of the machine which extrudes the concrete in the desired shape. In this case they created a mower edge which allows me to place the inside tires of my riding mower on the curb that makes a clean cut as I mow.

The finished product is a smooth elegant curve which gives the beds a professional looking finish, makes weeding, edging and mowing a snap cutting down immensely on the time it takes to manage the garden. In a space as big as mine this is a real advantage. In a couple of days I will be able to backfill the beds with soil or mulch or both and resume watering.

On a different note, we have been looking for a decorative concrete bench to go in the Secret Garden; a place to sit and watch the garden grow, to sit with a friend, eat or chat away from the rest of the garden. Our search had taken us to shops specializing in fountains and statuary. Everywhere we've looked the benches were well over a hundred dollars. That seemed a bit steep considering it is just concrete poured into a mold. I found Bode's Precast out in the county near Lynden. We were headed to the fair in Lynden anyway so we stopped by and to our surprise they had exactly what we were looking for and it was only $60. So on the way home from the fair we stopped back by and bought one. It weighs a ton! But it is now in place and adds a lot to that space.