Saanich Inlet e-book: Several times in the past year, readers have mentioned interesting stories about fishing Saanich Inlet over the years. I would like to see these stories collected as they form part of the fishing history of our area. Some who were central have already passed, such as Jimmy Gilbert and Charlie White.
I cut my saltwater fishing teeth in Saanich Inlet in the ‘70s and got to know some of the best anglers at the time, including John Rose and Bob Redgrave, among many others who taught me the Inlet’s fishing. Remember the laconic Harold, with the huge, floppy-hind-legged German Shepherd. He told me when asked: “Fish what you are best with.” Rather than a specific lure.
It was good advice. Large strip in a green teaser was the ticket, but making it work was the trick, until it became one of your best. Remember Angel Wing squirts, blue backs in January, 225 and 418 Tomic Plugs when Siwash barbs were legal. Tod Inlet on Boxing Day. Halls Boathouse, Chesterfield Rock, the Pink Lady, Glass House and Stone Steps.
I learned wire line and planer fishing, and that Saanich Inlet was, and still is, absolutely precise in where you caught and will still catch fish today, when they are there. While the Inlet is very calm, a great benefit to fishing, even in its relatively slow moving waters, you could predict accurately where the fish would be based on tidal flow.
For example, in the Bamberton run that anglers committed to memory, the reefs and pockets held fish based on the tide. Where the slag ‘slide’ at the south end of the docks is, marked a ‘V’ shaped cranny under water, that on the flood, most fish would be to the south of the slide hanging over that reef and on an ebb, the fish would be closer to the docks, hanging over the reef that formed the other side of the ‘V’. Then Jimmy’s Hole and…
It was so precise that on several occasions I said to someone I had along, “If we are going to get a fish it will be… right now.” And actually had the planer trip and the rod pop up and the fish was on. One of the benefits of the old Peetz roller-guided rods was that when the planer tripped, the rod jumped almost four feet. You would have to be in a coma to miss a strike. And the bells we put on rods tinkled over the water, and we could hear others also having good fishing, particularly in the dark with the only lights being the cement factory ones.
I first fished from a canoe at the marker off Coles Bay, drift-fishing Stingsildas. My wife at the time managed to catch a 12 pound spring on a summer evening with the new herring sparkling around us. She leaned into the fish, and the gunwhale slid to the water. I leaned out the opposite way and so we did not go under. And landed the chinook.
This is the luck of being young and foolish. She was eight months pregnant with our first child, and we were half a mile off shore. Either you swam to the marker and held on until someone spotted you, or swum a half mile to the Dyer Rocks. Or so I thought. That was the confidence and sheer luck of underprepared youth. Looking back, I see how foolish we had been. And, of course, we did not realize how cold the water was and we would have been in a very serious, life threatening situation if we had gone in.
Here is the point: I’d like everyone who has some Saanich Inlet memories to write them down and send them in. We will put together an e-book from the stories, so the history is preserved. My several lists to which I send this column do not have all the people on them who made the history, from the heyday ‘50s and ‘60s. So would you please let other anglers you know who fished Saanich Inlet that I would appreciate their taking the time to write your and their good stories down and send them in.
I have asked Mike Rose to be the collector of the stories, putting together a digital file which we will then shape into an e-book or PDF for distribution. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send him your stories. Mike mentioned he had access to some of the old Saanich Inlet Anglers Association scrapbooks and etc. Period photos would be good, too, if you can send them digitally. I have ISBNs and will handle the reporting requirements for the National Library in Ottawa. There is also the possibility of putting out a tangible, printed book, but let’s just get the stories in and take it from there.
Tom Cole also sent me a CD of memorabilia, and I will look into that, too.
Hot Lures: Tom Vaida does the Island Outfitters weekly fishing report. The hot tackle from a week ago that you might want to try are: bait: anchovy; teasers: green, UV Green, Bloody Nose, UV Chartreuse; spoons: G-Force, in Irish Cream, No Bananas, also Cop Car, Glow/Green Coyotes; plastics: Yellow, Purple Haze, Gray Ghost, Cloverleaf, Glow Below, Electric Chair; squirts: Pickle Green, J-79, Jellyfish; flashers: Gibbs Madi, Purple Onion, Green/Silver, Green Jellyfish, Silver Betsy.