A morning of fishing and bald eagles at Port McNeill

In the early afternoon of Day 23, May 18th, we made the 28-km drive from Telegraph Cove to the Cedar Park Resort at Port McNeill. We had reserved a 5-night stay months ago, as my niece Bobbie lives in Port McNeill and had a list of amazing places that she wanted to show us.

Day 24 was a day of just visiting, and I helped Bobbie build the basic structure of a shed for her firewood. She’s able to “fill in the blanks” in it without assistance. That afternoon, she and I were talking to a neighbour about the project and I mentioned that I was looking for a boat charter to have a look at historic Haddington Island and maybe do some fishing, and he offered to take us in his boat first thing the next morning!

Port McNeill, BC
The view from our camp site at 07:00 on Day 25 was as perfect as it could possibly be to go fishing and exploring.

The view from the Cedar Park Resort at Port McNeill, BC
Bobbie, Cathy, and I were at Tom’s place just before 08:00, and a few minutes later, the boat he calls “The Garden” was being launched. Why that name? Well, when anyone asks if Tom is slacking off or getting any work done, he can honestly say that he was out in The Garden all day 🙂

Boat launching at Port McNeill, BC
At 08:20, way out in the channel but over an undersea ridge so the water was only 45 feet deep. Did I mention the perfect conditions? Wow! Salmon haven’t arrived, so the others were after bottom-dwellers – various cod species primarily. I’m not much into fishing, and am happy to watch and record the action of those who are.

Fishing at Port McNeill, BC
A few minutes later, Cathy got the first bite!

Fishing at Port McNeill, BC
Her fine rock cod (a.k.a Pacific rockfish) was the first one in the bucket, and it turned out to be the big one for the day.

Rock cod (a.k.a Pacific rockfish) at Port McNeill, BC
Even though I wasn’t fishing, this staged photo looks good 🙂

Fishing at Port McNeill, BC
A heavy fog bank remained on the far side of Malcome Island all day, and for a few minutes we heard the horn of a cruise ship that was traversing it.

Offshore fog bank at Port McNeill, BC
Boats have always fascinated me, and I’m taking a lot of photos of some of the more interesting ones. This one with a landing-barge bow was too far away to see the name.

Freight boat at Port McNeill, BC
After a while with no bites, Tom moved to another part of the ridge where the water was only 27-30 feet deep, and all 3 of the fisherpeople reeled in fish within seconds. I couldn’t keep track of all the species that the experts (Tom and Bobbie) were describing, but ling cod, greenling, and black cod all came into the boat to join us.

Fishing at Port McNeill, BC
By 10:15 or so, everybody had their limits of fish so we started a circumnavigation of Haddington Island. I saw a bald eagle above the only sandy beach on the island, and he suddenly swooped down towards the water.

Beld eagle at Port McNeill, BC
A split-second later, the eagle had a small fish for lunch and returned to his tree-top.

Bald eagle fishing at Port McNeill, BC
Haddington Island has been the source of building stone for many of BC’s significant buildings, including the Parliament Buildings. The dense andesite (similar to limestone but harder) was first quarried in 1895, and mining continued until 1966. In 2004, Haddington Island Stoneworks bought the island and re-opened the quarry, but locals say that quarrying is sporadic. It appeared to me that it had been quiet for quite some time. This photo shows the first of the barge-loading sites we came to.

Haddington Island, BC
The second site was the actual quarry, as well as a barge-loading site. Several portable buildings and equipment such as a steel ladder going into the water could be seen.

Haddington Island, BC
“Haddington Island is Private Property. No Trespassing>” 🙁

Haddington Island, BC

Haddington Island, BC
Some andesite blocks that appear to be ready for shipping. Apparently blasting used to be used, but because of the amount of waste, blocks are now cut.

Andesite blocks at Haddington Island, BC
Having seen all that can be seen from the water vantage point, we continued. The clearing to the right of the next photo is the Cedar Park Resort, and we could see the motorhome.

Cedar Park Resort at Port McNeill, BC
Two more bald eagles came to see what we were up to.

Bald eagle at Haddington Island, BC
We couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a repeat of the last eagle action, so the smallest of our fish was tossed out. One of the eagles immediately came for it.

Bald eagle at Haddington Island, BC
Another fine lunch! 🙂

Bald eagle fishing at Haddington Island, BC
Motoring back to Port McNeil at 10:20. The “Bowen Queen” is temporarily on the run between Port McNeill, Alert Bay, and Sointula, while the regular ferry is geting a “2-gallon overhaul” – a paint job.

Port McNeill, BC
Loading the boat back on the trailer right at 11:00. It was a real pleasure to be able to spend the morning with Tom. With his extensive knowledge and very comfortable boat added to perfect weather, it was quite a morning.

Loading a boat at Port McNeill, BC
I cold have spent quite a while looking at boats in the Port McNeill harbour. One of the ones that caught my eye and that I could get a clear photo of was the RCMP patrol boat “Sea Wolf”.

RCMP patrol boat Sea Wolf at Port McNeill, BC
We had all worked up a substantial hunger, so went up the hill a couple of blocks to The Rock’s Edge. The view is wonderful.

The view from The Rock's Edge cafe at Port McNeill, BC
My “Kick Ass Burger” was very odd. It’s basically a well-loaded bacon cheeseburger with jalapenos added.

Kick Ass Burger at The Rock's Edge in Port McNeill, BC
Just before 1:00, we headed back to the motorhome, to get changed for a hike to the historic Suquash coal mine.

Nearing the Cedar Park Resort at Port McNeill, BC
This would be a great place to just chill for the afternoon, but there were too many great places to see!

Cedar Park Resort at Port McNeill, BC


A morning of fishing and bald eagles at Port McNeill — 2 Comments

  1. Great, great pictures Murray and those eagles have easy meals don’t they ! It’s wonderful to follow you along and see all thoses places. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I could not agree more with Maureen’s comments above. Every time my inbox sees another new post from Murray’s The ExploreNorth Blog I get a cup of coffee and sit in my easy chair and pretend I am back on vacation out in Western Canada enjoying myself. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to put this quality of pictures and description together each day while being on vacation. Thanks Murray.