The walk from my house at the top of Fourth Street to the marina at the Shore Building where I keep my boat is only a scant 900 metres and, according to Google Maps, should take roughly eleven minutes to complete. It’s nearly a straight downhill shot, with one left-hand turn required off of Fourth street and onto Main, then a slight deviation to the right, down the ramp and onto the docks where my vessel is slipped. Theoretically, it’s pretty straightforward. But as any Tofino local will tell you - in reality it’s rarely that simple.
Thankfully the steelhead fishing seems to be firing on all cylinders this season, so there’s a lot of motivation to get out there. Solid numbers of steelhead hit the rivers this fall and the action has been borderline fantastic this year. There’s been some very big fish around this season too, which is a tidbit of information that should not be taken lightly.
It’s a rare year indeed when both quantity and quality are in the same sentence, but this year seems to be the exception. If you don’t mind the cold slog into the January elements I’d strongly suggest making a few trips to one of our local rivers. It’s an excellent way to get away from the in-laws and defeat cabin fever. And if you’re not a local who’s well-versed in the infinite nuances of chasing steelhead in Clayoquot Sound then hire a guide, trust me you’ll thank me later.
The strange calls began a few weeks ago.
I was puttering around the house one day, trying to look busy as a storm raged outside, when all of a sudden my pants started playing Christmas carols. Searching for the source of the sudden burst of holiday music I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone. Sure enough, a classic version of “Deck the Halls” was playing from the speaker and “No Caller ID” blinked across the screen, signalling an incoming call.
“Hello?” I said suspiciously, cautious of potential telemarketers.
A faint, childlike voice with a thick Nordic accent answered back on the other end.
“Ah yes guud, is dees da Keptain Jarsh Temple?”
“Ah yes guud, my name is Alabaster und ve haf been lukeing fer yew. Vell it seems like yew are da keptain wiff da feeshing out uff da tewn uff Tofino. Und ve wood like ta book un feeshing trip wiff yew in Decemburr.”
November does hold promise for outdoor adventure, though it doesn’t come easy. Freshwater fishing for steelhead and trout on the heels of the salmon run often offers fantastic action to those anglers willing to brave the lacklustre weather. Wool, Goretex and rubber are the mainstays of winter fashion here in Tofino and any angler venturing out to the rivers in search of steelhead at this time of year should have a full wardrobe of weatherproof layers.
The nuances of winter steelheading in Clayoquot Sound are best learned from a local and experienced guide. Local knowledge is a key factor to success in the rivers at this time of year and hiring a guide will ensure you enjoy a productive day on the water and not a fruitless, frustrating excursion. Fly or light tackle fishing for steelhead in the Tofino area can offer exceptional fun if you know where to go, and what to do when you get there.
In the grand scheme of things, Jackie’s Tofino vacation was going pretty well. As a wife, mother of two, and full time family bread-winner the simple fact that she had successfully managed to plan, pack for, travel to, and ultimately arrive safely in Tofino for a family vacation was no small miracle. Navigating the modern family through the planning and travel stages of a summer vacation isn’t easy. Jackie didn’t so much as herd cats all the way from Boise, Idaho to Tofino, it’s more like she juggled them.
Four days into their holiday, Jackie’s family had exhausted themselves with a string of adventures, mostly tailored to keep their two pre-teen kids occupied, challenged, and happy. They’d wiggled into wetsuits and braved the cool, foreign waves of the Pacific to the squealing delight of the kids. They’d wandered through the forest, hugged giant trees, and searched for shells and treasures along the beaches...