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Fishing the Tyee Pool in Campbell River
One of the fishing experiences that I have always wanted to try was the Tyee Club row in Campbell River. This past spring I attended the outdoorsman show in Abbotsford BC where I met Dwayne Mustard from the Oak Bay Marine group. Dwayne runs the fishing operations at Painters Lodge in Campbell River. We spoke for over an hour about the Tyee fishing up there and all the tradition that goes along with it.

Here is some information taken directly off the Tyee Club Website:

The Tyee Club of British Columbia began in 1924 with a group of anglers who returned to Campbell River each year in pursuit of the elusive "Tyee" - a coastal Indian word meaning, "the chief", a Chinook salmon, 30 pounds or larger.

Tyee fishing here is different. You'll fish quietly in small, classic row boats. No motors are allowed in the Tyee pool. The rower will slip the boat into the currents and eddies of the pool, keeping a basic plug or spoon beating in the current. The angler must stay focused on the action of the lure as it is felt in the hand as much as being seen by the beating of the rod tip. With the slightest change in the beat, the hook must be set, fast and hard. The battle with a Pacific Chinook Salmon is on - anything can happen! If the fish is boated, and weighs 30 pounds or more, the catch is recorded and the angler becomes a member of the Tyee Club!


After speaking with Dwayne I decided I had to head up there this year and experience this fishing first hand. I booked an evening and morning fish with the Oak Bay Marine group and headed up last week to try my luck in catching a Tyee from a row boat.
I arrived at the Marine Center at 5:00pm, registered with the Tyee Club and hooked up with Dwayne. He spent a good half hour going over how we would be fishing and the techniques we would be using in our attempt to land a Tyee. All rods must be 9 feet in length or less (no shorter than 6 feet) and no more than 20 pound test line can be used. We would use a plug or a spoon with a single barbless hook. The plug of choice was the vintage Lucky Louie shovelnose. The row boats used were the fiberglass copies of the traditional wooden row boats used in years past.
We powered our way to the Tyee pool and made a quick visit to the Tyee Club clubhouse which is on the beach overlooking the Tyee pool. We went inside and had a look at all the historical pictures on the wall and met some great folks who have fished the pool for years. Many people come out to the Tyee club in the evenings to watch the row boats fishing and see if some lucky angler can become a member of the Tyee club by landing a fish over 30 pounds.
We headed back down to the boat and rowed our way to the middle of the pool and began our quest for a big Tyee. We started fishing around 6:15pm and by about 7pm there were over 50 row boats fishing the pool. One thing I realized very quickly that this is a social fishery. Seems everyone knew everyone else and everyone was very friendly. There were husbands and wives, fathers and sons and families, many a big part of Tyee Club history, all out that evening trying their luck. Some who have been rowing for Tyees for over 50 years.

Catching a big Tyee in a row boat is a challenge for sure. The fishery is only open for two months (July 15 – Sept 15). As of August 19th there had been 24 Tyees registered this year, and this has been a great year. On this night there were 7 boats who hooked into a fish out of the 50 plus on the water. When someone hooked a fish they would row their boat out of the pool and into the middle of the channel well away from everyone else. This ensured no one got tangled up and give the angler a better chance to land the fish and also gives everyone a clear view of who actually has hooked into a fish. Once the fish was landed the anglers rowed their boat to the beach and ran their fish up to the Tyee Club and weighed in. If the fish was over 30lbs and a Tyee, the lucky angler got to ring the Tyee Club bell once for every 10 pounds. This night produced 3 tyees. The bell rang 4 times for the 47 pounder and 3 times each for the 37 pounder and the 31 pounder. It was a great night on the water and even though I did not hook a fish, I had a blast. I was really eager to try my luck the next morning.

I arrived at the Dock at 4:45am at met up with Rick, one of the other experienced guides at Painters Lodge. We headed out to the Tyee Pool and had our lines in the water by 5:15. We were out this morning with about 25 other row boats all searching for the elusive Tyee. We were rowing for about 20 minutes and trading fishing stories with Rick when he mentioned how he had recently hooked a nice fish on the plug I had on my line, a few minutes later I felt a huge smack and the rod tip bent all the way to the water, I just had a big fish hit my plug but unfortunately it did not hook up. We rowed for another 2 hours and witnessed only 1 fish landed that morning. The Bell rang 3 times and there was another new member of the Tyee club (36.5lbs). Although a little disappointed I missed what could have been a Tyee I couldn’t have enjoyed the fishing experience any more. It was fantastic. It’s a fishery heaped with tradition and an annual fishing trip for me from now on.

The employees at Painter Lodge and at the Marine Center were fantastic. Dwayne and Rick were top notch guides and it was a pleasure spending the both days fishing with them. Painters Lodge is a world class resort and I would recommend it to everyone.


You have got to try your luck up at the Tyee Pool in Campbell River.

I can’t wait till next year.

by Bob Waldhaus


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