Call of the Wild Beyond Fishing
By Chris McBeath
By six am, our group of 12 was lined up at the wharf, clad in orange slickers and all-weather jackets, armed with a cooler filled with bait and brimming with vivid, chatty enthusiasm.
"Let's get a move on, they'll be biting soon," shouted our host as he waved a parade of three-man skiffs to the wharf. Loading each one with a pair of passengers, the guide cranked the 55 horsepower engine and sped off into the sunrise. After all, the early bird gets the best catch and at Sonora Resort, fishing is what life is all about.
Located on the island of Sonora amidst some of British Columbia's finest fishing waters, Sonora is a spectacular place.
Created 20 years ago to be one of the best, most exclusive destinations in the world for sport fishing, today, it is arguably just that. And not only because of the salmon. This luxurious wilderness retreat offers deluxe accommodations, first class service and a range of amenities from several hot tubs on semi-private decks, relaxing spa services, swimming, tennis and eco-adventures. There's even a Native Longhouse Convention facility that's ideal for business seminars, group retreats and as a quieter spot for yoga and meditation.
Strange as it may seem, however, I didn't visit Sonora for the fishing. I wanted to explore the surrounding area in a different way, discovering the hidden inlets, craggy shorelines and secluded islands such as the one owned by Dennis Washington. It is crowned with its very own golf course and has been a favourite haunt of Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Anniston, Wayne Gretzky and other celebrities.
Consequently, I boarded a zippy Zodiac for a nature tour that was to rival the best of any National Geographic adventure. A colony of almost thirty harbour seals bobbed in and out of the water as we left the resort's harbour. Later, we came across a mother bear flipping through beachside pebbles for crab and other delicacies.
Her weeks-old cub scampered in between her feet. As we motored on, a solitary Orca whale joined our trail for a while before losing interest in our curious pack the waters called him elsewhere and, as we headed towards a swirling eddy, we came across nine bald-headed eagles perched like solemn sentinels in the branches of a petrified tree which clung defiantly to the rocks. Suddenly, one of the eagles stretched out its wings, lifted its body up into the air and dove headlong towards the water. Within a hair's breadth of the waves, its wings arched out, its feet unfurled and talons sunk into its prey which rose from the sea in a spray of struggle. The salmon writhed for freedom, screaming voicelessly and in vain.
We watched, spellbound and barely breathing. Gradually the bird lifted, but its enormous wings moved slower and slower as the tips of every feather strained to catch every breath of wind. The eagle, so proud and gallant only minutes before, began to falter, scarcely strong enough to keep the two in flight. It would rise a few feet only to be brought down again with the weight and thrashing of its prize. Twice the fish brushed the water, renewing its vigour to survive. And twice, the water threatened to engulf them both.
It was an intimate battle of survival - the eagle unable to release its talons from its prey; the fish fighting for life with desperate tenacity.
But in flight, the eagle had the advantage and after labouring across the surf, it reached a rocky promontory. Now on terra firm, the fish lay still and vanquished, and the eagle became a wary sentinel once more.
It had been a mesmerizing sight - the stuff of legends - and the type of natural wonder that has made Sonora such a sought-after destination to experience.
Later, when we joined the fishing folk around Sonora's open air bar and Teppanyaki grill, the morning's enthusiasm had turned to an exhilarated contentment. In between pre-dinner servings of fresh oysters, crab, sushi and margaritas, the stories of fish grew taller. By the time dinner was served, a gourmet feast of goat's cheese salad, rack of lamb and creme brule, my eagle's fish had become larger than a porpoise. And by the close of day, as we counted shooting stars against the blackened sky, we realized the true nature of our catch. Sonora awakens you to experience the soul of the wild at its very best.
If You Go:
in the US and Canada (888) 576-6672
Web site: www.sonoraresort.com
Sonora Resort provides all-inclusive packages which cover return transportation between Vancouver and Sonora by a Harbour Air floatplane, deluxe accommodation, gourmet meals, fully guided fishing and use of all the amenities at the resort. Guide gratuities are discretionary.
Sonora Island is within the Inside Passage of British Columbia
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