Rookie anglers hooked on remote adventure: While not everyone is devoted to fishing, families strengthen bonds while on trip to pristine northern coast
“I reeled in this 14-pound Coho salmon by myself and it almost pulled me off the boat,” says eight-year-old Zev Kaufman, proudly holding his catch on the dock of the King Pacific Lodge.
Not surprisingly, when his guide is cleaning the fish, Zev asks him to keep the head and tail intact. When he’s back home in Mill Valley, Calif., and his friends come over to visit, he says, “I’ll show them my fish in the freezer because I can’t really take it to show and tell.”
Zev has definitely earned bragging rights. But the real prize from his trip to the lodge, on B.C.’s pristine northern coast near Prince Rupert, may be the opportunity he got to bond with his dad, Steve, who is a divorced parent and sees his sons every second week. “My boys, Zev and Ari, don’t want to leave the lodge – they are hoping for bad weather,” he says. Although fishing isn’t Steve’s favourite thing, they are already planning a return trip. “The King Pacific Lodge is so warm and friendly and we are so relaxed and joyful, it’s an experience none of us will forget. I love seeing Zev’s passion for fishing and I’m just happy to be here with them.”
For beginning anglers, a good day’s fishing can be a crapshoot, but not with these guides and in these waters. Zev’s experience is more the rule than the exception and no need to mention the one that got away – the creeks are churning with chum and the King Pacific Lodge guides know exactly where ocean fish are biting. Chances are slim that you won’t have a bite within, say, 15 minutes.
Zev prefers ocean trolling on the saltwater fiords over fly fishing on freshwater rivers – some so remote they remain nameless – as does Carl Loacker, age 14.
“Ocean trolling is a great time to talk, as long as you don’t have a fish on the line,” says Carl, laughing. “Some-times I want to be alone at home, but here I’m so happy being with my Aunt Lynn and my sister and it’s so easy to express my feelings.” Sister Johanna, age 17, concurs. “Fishing gets us to reminisce and laugh about our past trips here – this is our third visit,” she says, “and we are already talking about coming back.”
Whoever said you can’t plan a bonding experience with your kids hasn’t tried fishing a few days here. “A bond between kids and parents can be built on a basic sense of wonder that is all around us here, whether walking in the woods or fishing on the ocean,” says King Pacific Lodge nature guide Liam Ogle.
“To immerse yourself into nature is to look inside yourself,” he says. “It opens our hearts and makes us realize that we are a part of nature, no matter how lost we find ourselves in our daily lives.”
Lynn Loacker knows first-hand about bonding through fishing, even with a fish on the line. “Reeling in a fighting coho is hard work so Carl or Johanna will help me,” says Lynn. “We help each other out without having to ask.”
Like the Loackers, the Tabas family travels to fish. “Fishing and bonding with your kids is all about us,” says Leslee Silverman Tabas. “We bond best up here because we are surrounded by natural beauty and removed from people, the office, the world. And as a parent, being away from technology is so important – there isn’t even a TV at the lodge and I don’t think anyone misses it.”
Charlie Tabas, 16, plays golf and other sports, but fly fishing is No. 1 because it gives him an “inner calm.”
“It doesn’t matter if I catch a fish – being here is so peaceful,” says Char-lie. He doesn’t miss the techno trap-pings because there is so much else to do at King Pacific Lodge besides fishing, such as kayaking, hiking, whale watching (a sighting is 99 per cent guaranteed) or visiting Sea Lion Rock and the whale research station, both a short boat ride from the lodge.
“One day we went kayaking over to Cameron Cove and a spirit bear stopped us in our tracks,” says Johanna. (The Kermode or “spirit bear” is a black bear with white fur and is found almost exclusively in this area – the Great Bear Rainforest.) “Then we went heli-fishing to Green River, about 20 minutes away, and saw a grizzly and wolves – so amazing.”
Like Charlie, Carl is also hooked on fishing, but he’s in it for the adrenalin rush. When Johanna and Lynn went kayaking and hiking, Carl went fishing with his very own guide.
But the Loacker family never missed a meal together. In fact, Carl caught so many fish that he “gifted” a coho to the chef. That night, one course on the menu read “Carl’s salmon” and the next night, “Carl’s sashimi”. Needless to say, Carl was bursting with pride. How often do you hunt and provide dinner for 25 people? (There are never more than 34 guests at the lodge, pampered by 30 staff and 12 guides.) On their first trip to the lodge six years ago, Lynn says the chef made hotdogs for the kids, but Carl and Johanna preferred seared salmon and sablefish, or bison tartare with raw quail eggs and roast elk. Dinner-time was another bonding opportunity, not only with family but with guests from all over the world.
“We enjoyed the community as much as the food,” says Lynn. The kids were always included in the conversation, which typically got around to fish tales and wildlife sightings.
From the time you check in, the King Pacific Lodge exudes tranquillity (there’s also a top-notch spa). There are no room keys – although you can lock your room from the inside.
The stellar service and attention to detail is on par with the quality of fishing. After dinner, a list of personalized activities for the next day is delivered to your room. If fly fishing is scheduled, you’ll find flies made by crew the night before in your fly book. The kids get their own amenities, from kiddie robes to little tackle boxes – everything adults require but in miniature.
“The King Pacific Lodge is so great, I could live here forever, I could even live without technology,” says Carl. “Well, maybe a radio and cellphone .”
IF YOU GO
King Pacific Lodge is only accessible by float plane or helicopter.
A 17-room floating wilderness resort located in Git Ga’at First Nations territory on B.C.’s central coast. This luxury Rosewood Resort features a stellar spa and exceptional cuisine that can accommodate anyone’s diet, including picky kids. There’s an on-call helicopter.
The “Kids Club”, offers activities for children that gives parents a break during cock-tail hour. Games, casting les-sons, fly tying, etc .
Check out the Family Expeditions package – it is a great value for families of four – at www.kingpacifi-clodge.com
King Pacific Lodge is offering a savings to any guest donating to Guarding The Gifts, a Gitga’at community initiative.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
BY JANE MUNDY, VANCOUVER SUN FEBRUARY 11, 2012