King Salmon Call
My research brought me to Hans Auer of Bavaria Fishing Charters. He not only carries the title of being one of the most successful salmon experts in Vancouver but also has one of the best locations for offering his salmon charter tours. Being located in West Vancouver makes it easy for Hans to get his clients out to the salmon hot spots in no time.
The boat slowly moves out of the harbour leaving behind the city and all hustle and bustle of modern life. Just one more stop and we are on our way to meet the kings of the seas. This last stop is meant to provide us with an additional crab meal, if we are lucky enough. We put out a crab trap that is hopefully full of legal crabs when we return.
Arriving at Bowen Island - our fishing destination for today - we set our fishing gear in place. I trust Hans’ experience in choosing the right combination of bait and lures. Hans points out that it is the little things that make the difference. Indeed, you can feel that it is Hans’ personal aim to have everything perfectly working together. He will not rest until he is satisfied and sure he has done everything possible to ensure your success.
The down-riggers* bring the lures to the desired depth, shortly above ground where the salmon are supposed to be. When all rods are in place, the Bavaria begins trolling. Hans manoeuvres the Bavaria through his secret fishing areas, following a course that he has carefully designed gathering all his fishing experience. Every so often Hans adjusts the depth of the lures by fine-tuning the down riggers accordingly. After 90 minutes on the water we enjoy our first bite. According to Hans, this is a big one and I start bringing it in. The fight however is short lived as after brining in the first meters of line, my first salmon escapes. Reading Hans’ face I read disappointment, I guess even more than a quite observer might have noticed in my face. However, since I know what fishing is all about, I realise that this is how it goes sometimes. Hans quickly reassures me that it was not my fault.
After all this excitement we bring all lines in again and wait for our next chance. It is a quarter to 12 when I get the next chance. The rod bends strongly while I attempt to bring in the first meters of line. Suddenly the fish decides to run and meter after meter of line reels down. "Let him go", says Hans, "just make sure you keep the line tight at all time". I follow Hans’ advise and keep fighting even though my arm becomes heavier with every minute. But all my thoughts are with the salmon that delivers a great fight. As soon as I reeled in some meters of line, the fish decides to run again. Finally, I can catch a first glimpse of the salmon. Wow, what a wonderful fish. It is one of the best moments when you can first see the salmon’s wonderful coloration shimmering on the surface. As if he just wanted to say hello, the salmon takes another run and takes some meters of line. "He’s not ready yet", I hear Hans next to me. Indeed, it takes some more runs before I finally have the salmon next to the boat where Hans is readily available with the fishing net. What a relief, seeing my first salmon safe in the boat. Wow, what a beautiful fish - a King Salmon or Chinook, weighing about 9 pounds. Hans is as happy as I am and congratulates me on my first catch.
When all lines are back in place, we are ready for lunch. While enjoying the breathtaking views of the Straight of Georgia and the surrounding mountains we eat our lunch and recapitulate the fight. The weather improves a little bit and once in a while the sun comes out for a bit. Then all of a sudden the next one. Once again the rod bends extremely and there is no way to get line in. The fish takes meter after meter leaving the reel buzzing. I can only keep the line tight and take every chance to get some line in. This one is fighting even more than the first and I imagine an even larger fish. I have to make him tired and fight for every meter of line. After reeling in quite some line the fish suddenly escapes again. He is just not ready yet. After several minutes of fighting back and forth I can finally see the fish’s wonderful colours shining on the surface. Some more escapes and the second king salmon is landed safely. The 11-ponder was truly a challenge and an exciting experience.
The weather changed again, bringing wind and rain. We are sitting in the heated cabin waiting for the next bite - if we are lucky enough. We had to wait quite a while and Hans adjusted lures and depth every so often until he was satisfied again, knowing he had done everything to make my adventure as enjoyable as possible. Then there was it again, the distinctive call of the bell, announcing the next bite. The very next second the rod in my hands bends again promising a wonderful catch. The winds blow raindrops into my face and Hans fastens my hood that I simply had not the time for to put it on myself. The fight with those numerous escapes that are so typical for king salmon demands my full attention. Again and again the fish challenges my rod and me. Finally we get a quick glimpse of the salmon and estimate it to be much bigger than all others before. Some more runs and I manage to bring it to one side of the boat where Hans is readily available to get it. Since we already had our quota of two king salmon we let him go. This 18-pounder was an excellent end for this exciting adventure.
We call it a day and head for the marina. The weather has become quite gusty and the sea is a little rough. We stop at our crab trap and bring it in with help of the electrical winch. Yes, we are lucky. A total of four legal crabs is waiting for us and will make a great dinner tonight.
Thanks to Hans’ tireless commitment and his great experience this was a truly successful day for me. I can truly recommend Hans from Bavaria Fishing Charters for everyone who is really interested in catching some beautiful salmon. Unlike many of his competitors Hans offers service year round. No matter what season, there is always some salmon to catch.
For more information visit the Bavaria Fishing Charters website.
* A downrigger is a spool of wire mounted on your boat. A heavy weight is hung on the end of the braided downrigger wire. A downrigger release is hooked to the wire and your fishing line is hooked into the release. The downrigger can then be lowered to precisely the fish depth. When a fish hits, your line is released and you fight the fish on your rod and reel free of heavy lines and weights.