Fishing: British Columbia…Second Stop



By: J. Marlando

One of my very best friends is Mark Pierce who is the avid fisherman I’m making him the subject of these articles. I’ve enjoyed some great fishing in my life—The Green and other rivers in Wyoming, great streams in Utah, the ocean off Baja and off the Ventura, California coast with my wife but Mark has been and continues to go to “fishing hole” that I think are worth writing about. And, he has caught some real doozies with pictures to verify his fish stories.  II have some great fishing stories too. Like the time I caught the four foot trout out of the Great Salt Lake. The problem is I forgot my camera that day—just my luck!)

Anyway, Mark begins his British Columbia by taking a commercial jet out of southern California to Victoria (The capital of British Columbia). He says, “If you’re not on a tight schedule, spend a couple of days there as it is beautiful and a historic place to see!”

From Victoria, Mark boards a prop plane

Starting at far right:  Frank, John, Mark & Scott


and continues on to Campbell BC.FISHY(116988) Campbell is an ancient center of inhabitance dating back some 8,000 years—long before Babylon or even the Samarian civilization. Why it attracted early mankind is why it attracts so many people now—the entire Campbell River region is populated with salmon and a sea crowded with cod, clams, crabs and oysters. The scenery alone is worth the trip. And speaking of scenery: After arriving at Campbell Mark takes a 4 X 4 vehicle for a two hour drive on an old logging road; a kind of wonderland through tall pines and wilderness.

“Really,” Mark says, “that drive through the forest from Campbell is awesome; there’s such a stark beauty and feeling of timelessness about it. You know you can take a water plane directly from Campbell and land right at the lodge but I haven’t done that yet. The 4 X 4 and scenery is just so much fun; so enjoyable.”


Anyway, at last Mark reaches his destination. The place is called *Pacific Safari.

Mark says that I have to promote Pacific Safari if I want him to participate in this particular fishing story because, he says, the people who run the place, John and Donna Murray are two of the nicest people on the planet.

First of all their lodge is built on a barge FISHY(116990)yes, that’s right, it is a floating lodge with a convenient eight rooms. (They live upstairs). Guests are offered sports fishing—ocean and/or river—scuba diving, Kayaking, hiking whale, bird and wildlife watching. Plus cultural tours!  In fact Mark says his guide was a young Native American, (centered)FISHY(116991)who was not only friendly and helpful but knew the area, as Mark said, like the back of his hand. Actually he was the son of a local chief.

Okay, Mark has me convinced. I’d like to go!

The first trip Mark and the fishing buddy’s he was traveling with John, Scott and Frank caught a lot of salmon averaging between 20# and 30#fishy(116992)there is an abundance of all varieties there but didn’t have the best of luck catching the big halibut. In subsequent trips, however, Mark has become a successful halibut fisherman. Here’s why:

While back home Mark took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and was watching the halibut feed. They were unlike other fish that simply attack and swallow. We’ve all seen goldfish do that! Fly fishing is based on the fish’s compulsion to swallow down his prey. (I did a study of sharks in the Blue Ocean a few years back. Talk about eating frenzies. Sharks however have to bite into their food to swallow it. Most fish don’t, they simply suck it into their mouths and swallow. Halibut is a major exception to this rule.

As Mark stood before the glass watching the halibut feed he noticed that they didn’t just swallow what they put in their mouths. They tested it first. That is they would draw a piece of food into their mouths, give it a taste and then spit it out. They would do this “tasting & testing” three or four times before actually eating it. Mark had a Eureka moment.

The next time he went to Pacific Safari he caught a lot of big halibuts while his friends did not have a touch of “luck.” What would happen other fishermen feel a tug on their line and either snap the line to hook the fish or start reeling it in. The wise old halibut, however, would not have swallowed the bait, they would have only been “testing” it. In the meanwhile, Mark would be patiently waiting for the halibut at the end of his line to taste, test and spit the bait out three or four times before actually swallowing it. When Mark felt that stronger resistance, only then would he start reeling in.   

Mark with Halibut--Mark is weaering the hat


 “Catching halibut,”  Mark says “is all about patience. You have to kind of think like a halibut,” he grins.



This is truly one of Marks favorite fishing holes and he tells me that the “fishing is always good.” I know I’d like to go and maybe you would too. Mark says you can find out a lot more by calling the lodge itself at 877-488-0045

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