Forgive me for comparing apples and oranges, but while the Jays were sucking the black rod on the diamond over the past week my brother, frequent commenter Jay K., and myself all proved our athletic prowess by fishing the shit out of the Pacific Ocean out in B.C. Do we have any advice for the Jays? Hell yeah! It's not that hard really, you just have to want it more than the other guy (or marine creature).
We set off from my bro's downtown appartment Friday morning just before noon to get our fishing licenses from the Army Navy store on Hastings St., right in the heart of Vancouver's Junkietown. I have mixed feelings about the homeless, who are ubiquitous throughout the city centre. Functional bums who try to provide some sort of service in exchange for your pocket change (e.g. explaining how the steam clock in Gastown works, making you laugh by telling self-deprecating jokes about their alcoholism, etc.) are a-ok in my books. The other ones, the smelly, listless, mostly passed out bums who sometimes forget to wear pants or be sane, those I'm not so high on. I'd probably add a third category, the scavenger bum; while this type of hobo is usually as weird as the forlorn bums if not quite as smelly, I do accept that they are probably the most useful of their breed for their recycling efforts.
In any event, no one got stabbed and we made it back to the rental van with our paperwork and mass quantities of beef jerky, an essential staple for any man who will be temporarily free of female oversight and boozing heavily for a few days. We hit the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay around one, which would've been plenty of time to get the 3 p.m. ferry to Nanaimo on most days. Friday just wasn't one of them. We ended up stuck waiting for a boat for 4 hours, staring at concrete and trying not to get too bored. Good thing I'd stocked up on Dill Pickle Spitz, the Rolls Royce of sunflower seeds.
Because of the delay on the ferry we didn't end up getting to Ucluelet Bay, on the Pacific side of Vancouver Island just south of Tofino, until about 10:30 p.m., by which point we were all starving and gagging for beers. There wasn't much doing in Ucluelet at night being that it's a "town" of little more than a thousand people, but we did have the good fortune of finding a pizza place just before it closed.
Our waitress at Roman's Pizza and Subs was cute enough, probably in her early 20s, from Owen Sound, and had some sort of intriguing tattoo protruding upwards from her boob crack. No clue as to what it might have been. An octopus? Elvis? We'll never know. Each slug of Kokanee brought me one step closer to asking if she wouldn't mind popping the old top so we could get a better look at her skin art--for aesthetic reasons, we've all got tats as well--but alas, I'm just not the kind of guy who can do that sort of thing. I was hoping that Jay might help pick up the slack and risk taking that slap I'd have preferred to avoid, but he let the team team down worse than Alex Rios with the game on the line.
We got our food and headed down to the main boat launch to try and find the boat we'd be on the next morning. Well, more accurately, my old man walked around hopelessly in the dark looking for the boat we'd be on the next morning while we sat in the van and "crushed" a few beers as per local custom. We didn't make it back to our room until after midnight, did a few more beers before calling it a night. It was a short sleep before we headed out tired and hungover Saturdaymorning at 5:30.
The salmon were not biting just off Ucluelet Bay and our spirits were a bit down after a couple of fruitless hours, so we gave up and headed out to deeper waters in search of cod and halibut. Our guide, Steve, was swell enough and didn't seem to mind when we cracked into the beers early. He seemed about 30 and was an emigre from Ontario like so many British Columbians. He liked to talk, mostly about dames. He told us he'd broken up with his last lady friend because she complained that he used too much toilet paper. He explained to her that his hairy ass necessitated more tp than the average man required and made the gentlemanly offer of covering that particular household expense himself, but she just wouldn't let up. Women...
And then Jay laid what was quite possibly the most savage fart I've ever smelt in my entire life. He probably should've been kicked off the boat--he would've been had I been captaining--but Steve took it all in stride, outwardly at least.
We caught a great drift out in deeper waters and started to pull in about a fish every 10 minutes or so, mostly halibut, rock fish and red vermillion. It was at that point that my old man, who liked to boast that he "NEVER got motion sickness" proceeded to throw up like one of those SNL sketches where someone appears to projectile vomit through a tube hidden in the sleeve of their coat. Ironically he was the only member of our party not on the beers or pounding Sailor Jerry spiced rum like a champ, which is presumably nature's best defense against choppy waters. It was kind of disappointing seeing the guy who'd come up with the idea for this trip (and bankrolled it), slumped over in his chair passed out while we fished away, but it would've been a bigger disappointment for him had we come back empty-handed. So we pressed on.
The whole experience was kind of weird for me. The drinking and being on a boat bit sat just fine, but I was a vegetarian for 7 years and still have some residual guilt about the whole "murdering innocent creatures when we could all be eating brocolli" thing. After hooking a fish and reeling it up to the surface, Steve-o came over to the side of the boat to stick it with his gaff and help us haul it into the boat. We'd let the fish thrash a bit, then once it got tired out he'd bash it good and give it a long gash to let the blood out so the meat wouldn't spoil before we got back. He seemed to take some sick pleasure in wacking our fish right in the eye, causing a horror show explosion of eyeball juice. Ex-vegetarian or no, that just didn't seem right. Usually the last thing a fish did before it died was give the deck of the boat a nice Cleveland Steamer, thrashing vainly in a massive puddle of blood, shit, eyeball and assorted slime. I'll still eat my share of the catch, but I don't particularly feel like a hero for what we'd done.
It's not the size of your fish that counts, so I won't go into the details of who got the 60 lb and 50 lb halibuts and who got the other one that was about 1/3 that size, but suffice it to say that we had a very good haul. We came back into harbour with roughly 200 lbs of fish between us, prompting many a nod and "hrmmph" of approval from inquisitive locals and creepy German tourists. In successive retellings of our exploits, Jay's fish gains 5 lbs... by Christmas I'm sure I'll hear that he'd caught a Dodge Caravan with gills.
That's a wrap, folks. Jays just lost 7-0 to the Brewers in the first game I've watched in a week.
-- Johnny Was