Isolation and Pounds of Prawns

Drury Inlet’s rolling hills and bountiful waters are so pristine because visitors can arrive only via boat or floatplane.

We timed our arrival at Stuart Narrows near high slack to avoid the 7-knot current that can flow through the narrow pinch point. Slack occurs 15 minutes after high and low slack at Alert Bay. We guided Easy Goin’ through the narrowest point, and swiftest portion, staying clear of Welde Rock, a large, flat, drying rock in the center of the narrows. It was covered during our passage, but kelp identified its location. The rock dries at about an 8-foot tide.

Richmond Bay’s Drury Inlet is a scenic inlet but in a different way. Most inlets along the B.C. coast are steep and fjordlike, but Drury is surrounded by low, rolling hills that run east and west and are covered with second-growth forest. As a result, portions of the inlet are susceptible to prevailing summer westerlies. Beyond the scenery, we are attracted to Drury Inlet because we find it lesser traveled than the neighboring Broughton Island area and its abundance of sea life. The only access to this coastal paradise is by boat or floatplane, which adds to the isolation and sense of adventure.

Our destination was Richmond Bay, just inside the inlet on the south side. Prior to entering the bay, we set the prawn traps at a location suggested by Chris Scheveers, Sullivan Bay’s marina manager (sullivanbaymarina.com), a few days prior. The inlet’s waters are known to be rich in these large, sweet crustaceans. We planned to retrieve the traps the next morning as we departed to continue our inlet exploration.

Once past the north side of Leche Islet, we turned into Richmond Bay and gave a wide berth to rocks and an islet in the center of the bay, which includes two anchorages. The first, in the extreme southwestern corner, was taken, so we set Easy Goin’s hook in the southeastern portion of the bay up against the western shoreline for some protection from the wind, if it kicked up.

A short time after the anchor was securely set, the sailboat Determination joined us in the bay. We had met Howard and Sue of Poulsbo, Wash., earlier in our summer cruise, and trading summer cruising stories made for a nice rendezvous.

After lunch I launched the tender for some lingcod fishing in another location back near the narrows Scheveers had suggested. Once the dinghy was loaded with a rod, tackle, a net, a depth sounder and safety equipment, I was off across the bay and though a narrow opening between a small island and the mainland. Upon arriving at Scheveers’ hotspot, I dropped a 2-ounce jig tipped with a large rubber worm over the side. As the offering approached the bottom, the rod doubled over and it was fish-on. In less than 30 minutes from when I departed, I was back to Easy Goin’ with an 18-pound lingcod. We took pictures and prepared a delicious dinner of prawns and fried fish.

Late in the afternoon a large school of salmon appeared in the anchorage as drizzle began to fall. Fish were rolling and jumping everywhere. With all the rings on the bay’s surface, it looked like it was raining much harder than it actually was. For a couple that likes to fish, we found it difficult not to don the foul-weather gear and go fishing, but we had all the fish the refrigerator and freezer could handle, so for the balance of the day we oohed and aahed as we watched Mother Nature’s show.

In the morning a few fish were still rolling and jumping, but boy did it rain overnight. There was a new creek roaring down the hillside and emptying into the bay off Easy Goin’s stern. We had set out a plastic container on the back deck the night before and it had caught three inches of water. It served as a reminder of how hard it can rain in this area, even during the summer.

After a warm breakfast we headed out of the bay to pull the traps and continue our exploration of the inlet. Arlene was at the helm controlling Easy Goin’, holding it in position, as I operated the pot puller on the stern. The two traps had a total of 180 succulent spot prawns. Given such success, we re-baited the traps and returned them to our little honey-hole. We revised our float plan, reset the anchor and enjoyed another day in beautiful Richmond Bay.

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