How many times have you seen friends and family boasting about their fishing excursions and thought to yourself “how on earth are they catching these slimy buggers?” Whether you’ve never fished a day in your life, or you find yourself admiring local catches on social media, Wilson’s Sporting Camp provides amazing learning opportunities for people of all skill levels; accommodating everyone’s needs.
When the gang and I arrived on site it was 8AM. You’d expect us to be tired and sluggish. But much on the contrary, I had never seen us all so excited to learn the tricks of the trade! especially considering this was a completely new experience for Nathan and Sarah. This was my first time specifically Fly Fishing.
Welcomed inside by their cook, Dianne, we were offered a warm cup of joe while we waited for Wilson’s 6th generation angler, Karl (Keith, the owner is the 5th). The feel for the interior was like a modern cabin that gave you ease of mind and body comparable to sitting in front of a fireplace. Warm lighting. Beautiful views of Cains River from every back window. A clean, quiet atmosphere. Not to mention a fully stocked bar, pool table, as well as a hot tub outside on the deck (big enough for 6 adults)! It’s hard to sit down with so much to see and do.
MEETING THE PROS
10 minutes after finishing a rather competitive game of pool, Karl made an enterance and we all introduced ourselves. Step one of our angling adventure began with fishing licences. This is a crucial step that everyone has to take in order to cast your line, no exceptions! It’s important to understand why there are catch limitations as well as the general fishing techniques to limit human stress on each species. The tender meat can be rewarding, but all anglers have to work together to make sure there will still be healthy populations available to the new and upcoming generations. Important to note is that while we would be fly fishing Salmon with salt water rods, the camp also offers Stripper fishing with spinning reels and lures for whatever your preference.
EQUIPMENT AND ATTIRE
Now being a hop skip and jump away from Salmon territory, the excitement was beginning to show. We were directed to their selection of waders, which is a high privilege to the average angler. Karl helped us find the right size and ensured that we were comfortable and ready for action. He then picked out two of the fly rods matched with colourful flies to bring down with us. We would have to take turns with them in the water. This was a foreign setup to me as I’d previously only used live bait, spinners and soft plastics. I couldn’t complain though, because each bait takes it’s own level of expertise to understand and properly use. After all, this was a learning experience. We all gained skills and knowledge that couldn’t of been taught by a better instructor. With our checklist nearly complete, the last steps before getting on the awaiting boat was sunscreen, bug spray and a pinch of confidence.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Nathan and I were first to use the rods. Our initial casts were far from admirable. Figuring out how to get our bait into the fast flowing current was especially difficult with the direction of the wind. Staying evenly spread out was another essential to avoid getting hooked. We wanted to eat the fish, not each other! All of these basic tips were taught within the first 10 minutes of the outing, there was plenty of information to grasp and little time to adjust. Sure enough, with concentration and determination we all improved. Things like the tightness of the drag, how much line to let out, how to gently swing line back then whip it forward, where the suspected Salmon hideouts are etc, were achieved by trial and error.
The initial hideout we decided on just so happened to be under the Priceville Footbridge. A large tree had fallen into the water where the root structure provides a safe space for adolescent Salmon and many other species. This is also where I felt my first bite! I watched my fly drift in-between the current and the still water when out of nowhere I felt a small tug on the other end. Caught off guard, I reacted too slowly and missed the catch. This was still comforting because now we knew there was life.
Karl eventually decided that we needed a new location to search. It was a blazing hot day and even the fish were out hiding in deeper, cooler water. Over an hour of practice later, we were confident with our developing skills and eager to hold a fish.
We moved along to a spot with faster rapids where more dissolved oxygen is absorbed into the river, making it the ideal habitat. This time Nathan and Sarah did most of the fishing. The one of a kind coaching had really done a number on them and they became professional fishermen, casting as far out as the eye could see! Thanks to them, we returned to the lodge with a big haul: the two fishing rods and bait box we had left with.
Although we returned empty handed, the knowledge we had gained was priceless and would stick with us for years. Fish or no fish, it’s safe to say we loved every minute of the day.