Somebody mentioned to me once that in order to fully appreciate the West Coast you had to endure at least a few real winters here. Something about only getting a narrow view of the potential during the summer months. You haven’t met this place until it shakes you out of bed in the depths of winter man.
By real winter I’m sure they weren’t talking about the one we enjoyed in 2014/15 when we all had base tans by late January.
No, I’m sure they meant having to endure a winter like we’re in the midst of right now. Complete with it’s parade of freak storms, mud slides, blizzards and, in case you were getting complacent, a tsunami warning thrown in every now and then for good measure. If you’ve been fooled by the benevolent facade of more benign months not too worry, the West Coast has puffed up her chest and seems intent on showing us all what she’s really made of this year.
Jenny Mustard and I were going through the motions on our morning beach romp the other day when this point really hit home. A particularly nasty sou’easter was blowing but despite the weather the beach was alive with tourists. Hearty, storm-seeking travelers looking to test their mettle in the throes of the gale.
As I threw balls downwind for Jenny I noticed an elderly couple come onto the beach. They were easy to spot in their bright yellow loaner rain gear from one of the resorts, big smiles stretched across their faces as the rain pelted their rosy cheeks. They marched with determination, obviously satisfied that they had indeed encountered a bonafide storm.
But not everyone in their entourage shared their enthusiasm. Jenny was the first to notice the small, impeccably groomed Pomeranian dragging behind the couple on it’s jewel studded leash. The dog, certainly out of it’s element, protested the beach walk in the only manner it knew how by digging it’s four manicured paws into the sand with everything it had.
Enter the West Coast.
Just a few steps into their walk a sudden gust of wind threw the couples unbuttoned rain coats up and over their heads, blinding them instantly. The loose ends of their jackets whipped their faces so violently that I could hear the sound of plastic slapping skin over the howl of the wind.
The couple’s arms flailed frantically, trying to gain control of the coattails but the wind negated their efforts. The dog, now completely unhinged, descended into a state of panic and began running frantic circles around the elderly man who then tripped on the leash and crashed to the sand, nearly crushing the dog.
Jenny and I ran over to help just as the Pomeranian broke free and made a desperate dash back in the direction of the resort. It streaked by me in a blur of sand and fur, wild eyed and yelping as though every touch of the wet sand shot electric shocks up it’s dainty little paws.
I helped the man gather himself up and fished out his glasses from the muck. I did my best to clean them off and gave them back to him. He blinked the grit out of his eyes and we watched his wife set off in the direction of the dog.
“Some storm” he said after a few moments. “You don’t really appreciate how wild it is until you get here!”
Needless to say you have to pick your fishing, and your beach walking, opportunities with careful consideration this winter. February is no laughing matter on this wild West Coast and if you’re brave enough to venture out in search of adventure please, do your homework and be safe out there.
There’s some great fishing to be had this month for salmon in inshore waters, and steelhead and trout in the rivers and streams. But unless you’re adept at dealing with oftentimes harsh, winter weather conditions don’t attempt it alone. Hire a guide, if there’s any left in town that haven’t already booked tickets to Mexico.
Fear not, things will start to look up in March!
Oh, and keep your eyes open for a wild-eyed Pomeranian last seen churning sand in the direction of the Wick Inn on North Chestermans.
- Captain Josh Temple