Sunday, 7 May 2017

Saanich Inlet Angling with Jack Seedhouse

My father who passed away when I was quite young loved fishing Saanich Inlet and Saturday was when he would journey to Brentwood Bay. Dad had three regular fishing partners although I only recall the names of two: there was Bill Webb, a house painter and Canon Jull the Anglican Minister at Saint Marks Church. Upon arriving in Brentwood at Creed’s Landing their choice of rental boat whenever available was the Faye. This was a sixteen-foot clinker built vessel named after one of the Hugh Creed’s daughters. The boat was powered by an air-cooled engine probably a Briggs and Stratton and back then these boats were called putt putts. They took a lot longer to get from Point A to Point B than the craft seen on the water today.

Hugh Creed was also a guide using his launch the Tern for charter purposes. I well remember my early days fishing the Inlet with my father and his friends as I was allowed to run a hand line over the stern of the Faye which as a general rule produced not much more than great expectations.  On one day, however, I was thrilled out of my mind catching a steelhead kelt on a Gibbs double spinner. This was perhaps some seventy-five years ago.

The VSIAA, Victoria Saanich Inlet Anglers Association, attracted a significant membership and the goal of many was to catch a button fish that being a Chinook salmon tipping the scales at 20 pounds or better. My first was a bronze button, twenty-six pounds landed at McKenzie Bay on a fifty-fifty #6 Wonder Spoon. McKenzie Bay and surrounding area was a consistent producer of quality salmon fishing. Anglers would often commence trolling at Whitaker’s Point travelling in a westerly direction past the Boulder through Mac Bay and perhaps down as far as Elbow Point known to many as the White Lady. By venturing further, fishing at the Goldstream end of the Inlet offered the productive areas of Chesterfield Rock and Misery Bay.

Stacey’s Boat House was in this area near the mouth of Goldstream and later this boat house became Halls. There has and continues to be a significant escapement of salmon into the Goldstream with chum being the predominant species. Continuing along the westerly shoreline below the highway over the Malahat, it is in this area where the war time movie Commandos Strike at Dawn was filmed starring the late Paul Munie. Further along the shoreline was the location of the Stone House a favourite and at times productive area. Prior to reaching McCurdy Point the Deep Hole was a favourite of early day anglers as a number of trophy size chinooks were landed here. So with respect to the foregoing this journey commencing at Whitakers Point all the way around to McCurdy Point was within the confines of Squally Reach.

Generally speaking Saanich Inlet has a been a deep water score as depths exceed two hundred metres. It is I believe the only glaciated fjord on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Heavy duty rods equipped with roller guides, Peetz reels loaded with wire line and planers designed for fishing very deep were widely used by anglers. Terminal gear consisted mainly of plugs and spoons as these lures predated the emergence and popularity of bait the likes of herring strip and minnows. Rhys Davis, Jim Gilbert and Tom Moss all provided tackle that was both popular and indeed productive.
For Rhys, the Strip Teaser was synonymous with his name whereas Tomic Plugs were the creation of Tom Moss. And as for the multi-talented Jim Gilbert he was a long-time Saanich Inlet guide and at times ran as many as four charter trips a day. Jimmy was a personal friend of mine and I enjoyed many a good time fishing the Inlet with Jim in his charter boat the Kaleeta. Sadly all three individuals have passed away.

Jim Gilbert as a young lad, with Mr. Fish, his trophy-winning fishing buddy, Solarium Derby, 1947:

I have many fond memories of fishing Saanich Inlet. During the decade of the forties a great whale made the Inlet its home for some very considerable period of time. It could often be seen in and around the water adjacent to Senanus Island. I also recall the row boat derbies held during World War 11 at the time of gas rationing. What would happen was somebody like Hugh Creed would pick a destination and tow a number of contestants in their row boats out there and leave them to fish away for the allotted time, after which they were towed back to Brentwood Bay. Derbies were popular events in the Inlet. There was the Solarium Derby – Jimmy Gilbert was the junior champ back in 1947 winning with a 15 lb 4 oz chinook caught on a Martin Plug. A little later on Ladder Derbies were held annually in which I participated a number of times but never made it to the top of the ladder. 

One final story which took place some considerable time ago: I was cleaning a salmon at Gilbert’s Boat House at a time during the run-up to a federal election. While eviscerating the fish, what should pop out but a piece of paper with the inscription “VOTE PEARKES.” Now at the time General Pearkes was running for re-election. Jim and I chuckled about this many a time afterwards but concluded that Harry Gilbert, Jim’s father, may have been responsible and planted the note in the salmon’s gullet! 

And here is a photo of Jimmy Gilbert’s father, Harry, on the right, with a very respectable daily catch of bluebacks, as coho grilse, often from the Cowichan River, were known:

Now a Bit About Jack Seedhouse:

I grew up at 3456 Saanich Road, phone # Empire 8497. Back then, if you were to drive up Oak Street to the T type intersection and chose to continue straight ahead rather then turning left or right you would have collided with our house. Then, our home was situated on five acres of land which now happens to be the location of the Uptown Shopping Centre. I attended Tolmie School still standing on Boleskine Road, Mount View High School on Carey Road and then onto Victoria College where you could complete first and second years as there was not a university here on the Island until a number of years later.

Jack and his share of those Nahmint Chinook, 1957:

Finally, one of those row boats, with Cedric Jones (the one in the hat) and his best friend, 1935:  

[As before, I have left the text as is, and made changes only for clarity.]

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