This past weekend (August 11-14), I took off Friday and Monday to head out to the outer edge of Vancouver Island to do some fishing with my friends Mike and Scott. So first off - Tahsis is a long way from Vancouver. While it may not seem that far, it ended up being over 9 hours, door to door. Of course, there's a ferry in there which takes a bit of time, and without reservations, can be a real pain.
So we drove up on Friday morning, catching the second ferry of the day. That was OK as we got there early enough to ensure we made it on the first boat. The trip over is pretty easy, and from there we headed straight up the highway to Campbell River. That new highway makes the trip up pretty quick. In Campbell River we did the bit of shopping we needed to do (food, gas, ice, beer etc.) and had lunch. Slowest...service...ever. After lunch we got back on the road and headed towards Tahsis. The first hour, hour and a half is pretty easy - blacktop roads, pretty reliable. Once you get to Gold River, things get way more fun. At that point it switches over to gravel, mixed with the odd bit of paved road. I guess it was all paved at one time, but after the mill was shut down in Tahsis, the funds to keep the road repaired disappeared. They call the road between Gold River and Tahsis the "Tree to Sea Drive" - a take off on the name of the highway between Vancouver and Whistler. There's a good PDF file that shows the road available here.
It's an amazing drive. It's essentially a logging road at this time, so it's a bit rough, dusty and requires care. There are huge elevation changes, and the scenery is just amazing.
We headed straight into town, and met up with Scott's dad, who was kind enough to be there with his boat. We got the boat in the water, set up Scott's massive 10-person tent (who needs a 10-person tent!), played a little bit of poker and got settled for an early morning start.
Up with the sun, we headed down to the marina, and got underway. Tahsis is located at the end of a fairly long inlet, so we had a bit of a boat ride to get to the fishing grounds. It ended up being close to two hours for us to get out to open waters where Scott and his dad had success the previous year. We spent the whole day on the water, without a lot of success. I ended up being the only one that caught (landed) anything, reeling in two cohos. They were big cohos, so that made it better. In the afternoon we gave up, and headed back. It still made for a long day, and we were in bed early given that we wanted to be up at 4:30 for an earlier start the next day.
Much to my surprise, the early start happened. We were out to the fishing grounds by about 6:30 or 7:00 a.m.. While the previous day was perfect, today was not quite so nice. It was fairly windy, which lead to it being pretty rough out on the open ocean. Now while I'm pretty much immune to getting seasick, Scott and Mike were not so fortunate. Both of them were in pretty rough shape. But, to their credit, they were able to suck it up when the fish were biting. And today was a much better day. We came within one fish of catching the boat's limit, and a couple of them were big fish. So we were happy to head in a little early.
The next day I was on my own, heading back to Vancouver. I got to sleep in while the rest of them headed out fishing again. The drive back was very nice. I took my time, and made a few stops along the way to do a couple of short hikes. One area that was very cool, that I didn't get to check out was the Upanna Caves. There's a whole series of caves that can be explored - but sadly I didn't have a decent light source. I stuck my head into a couple of them, and want to go back to check them out in more detail.
For the drive back from Campbell River, I decided to take the scenic route, and avoided the main highway. The nice thing about that route is that it winds its way down the coast, through a whole series of small towns. Each of the towns (in the summer anyway), seem to have some sort of festival going on. I didn't make any stops, as I was eager to get home.