Tony Capecchi

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Since age 18, Tony Capecchi has been chronicling his worldwide travel and outdoor adventures for national magazines, including In-Fisherman and North American Hunter. He has co-hosted “Live Outdoors” on CBS Radio, produced television for NBC and worked on The History Channel’s hit series “MonsterQuest.”

Best of the Best: Top 5 Destinations of 2014

Posted by: Tony Capecchi under Recreation, Fishing Updated: November 17, 2014 - 9:39 AM

The Bucket List is entrenched in American culture, but a Crib List is a newer notion––the idea of seeing and doing things before that first baby arrives in a crib and forever changes life as you know it. My wife and I had our first baby this July, so we hit the Crib List hard in 2014. 

The first half of the year found us traveling at a frenzied pace, from the East Coast (Boston) to the West (Vancouver), from big cities (Chicago and St. Louis) to the middle of nowhere (a puddle jumper to the north end of Vancouver Island, then a float plane to a cabin on a dock attached to the base of a mountain near Alaska).

The heli-hiking, biking, mountain climbing, sailing, paddle boarding, fishing, bear-watching and whale-watching provided incredible moments. And the lodges and resorts we visited were, truly, beyond belief. Five-star destinations with over-the-top amenities, impeccable service and delicious food fit for a king. 

Through it all, these five resorts emerged as the crème-de-la-crème. Here is the Best of the Best, top five destinations of 2014.
 

Hotel Del Coronado
Coronado Island, San Diego

 


As we discovered, it turns out picture-perfect moments are not all that uncommon at The Hotel Del Coronado. The National Historic Landmark, with its distinctive red roofs contrasting the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, has stood as an icon since 1888.

For more than 125 years, the Del has drawn people from all over the world, including every American president since Lyndon Johnson. It’s easy to see why. It is the largest oceanfront resort on the Pacific Ocean, and it sits on 26 acres of what has often been named the No. 1 beach in America: Coronado Beach.

The attraction is greater than beautiful buildings and breathtaking beaches, however; the Del, with its aged, wooden character and its smiling, devoted staff, exudes an authentic charm you can’t create or capture. Simply put, it’s one of a kind.

After reading about the hotel in the New York Times best-seller, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” my wife and I thought we’d add the hotel to our list of “1 Place to See Before You Have Kids.” And so, four months into our first pregnancy, we decided to pack our bags and leave behind a record-breaking cold Minnesota winter in favor of the sparkling beaches of Coronado Island. The Grand Lady by the Sea, as the Hotel Del Coronado is affectionately referred to, did not disappoint us.

Click here to read the full story of our trip to Hotel Del Coronado, which included decadent dining on America’s No. 1 beach, catching a leopard shark, and a picture-perfect ocean sunset.

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
British Columbia
 
 


Our helicopter mirrors the waterfall, descending down 300 feet parallel to the raging waters. At the base of the falls, we hover above the turbulent pool of blue and white. We are above the clouds, in a separate world of 10,000-year-old glaciers and pristine streams that salmon fill and grizzly bears hunt. In this other-world we have hiked and climbed and fished, but at the moment we simply hover. I feel weightless. 
...

Days before boarding the helicopter, we had seemingly already explored as far into the Great Bear Rainforest as one can push––taking a small plane from Vancouver to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, then crawling into a float plane for a 20-minute flight over fjords and bays until landing on a floating dock at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, which clings to the base of Mount Stephens.

The resort, recently featured in the New York Times best-seller, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” consists of nine chalets built on stilts on a tidal, fjord-like bay just south of Alaska’s Inside Passage, and is accessible only by helicopter and sea plane. From this pocket of luxury, guests have access to over 50,000 square miles of breathtaking beauty, including 10,000-year old glaciers, mountain tops, old-growth rainforests, remote islands, white sand beaches, hot springs, a 5,000-foot waterfall and over 50 pristine rivers and streams––the majority of which can only be reached by Nimmo Bay helicopters.

Click here to read to read the full story of my adventures at Nimmo Bay, which included stand-up paddle-boarding, hiking through old-growth forests, and the best bear-watching of my life. 

The Commons Hotel
Minneapolis

 

Five years ago I married my best friend. In the half decade since, we have travelled the world and explored the far-flung corners of the globe. But life changed this July. The birth of our first child changed our traveling pace, and reduced our desire to venture far from home.
 
So to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary we sought a memorable getaway close to home. We found it in The Commons Hotel, an award-winning destination in high-energy Minneapolis, in the heart of the University of Minnesota’s campus. The hotel, a member of the distinguished Noble House Hotels & Resorts family, embodies the inner geek in a very chic manner. 

“We want people to explore their inner geek, we want them to be explorers. Travelers today want to explore the area and we encourage them to do that,” said Kelly Commerford, director of marketing at The Commons.  The industrial schoolhouse property embraces diversity through the common desire to discover. My wife and I walked in the doors on a sunny autumn afternoon and immediately felt the hotel’s unique vibe. 

Click here to read the full story of our “staycation” at The Commons, which included fishing from the banks of the Mississippi, dinner at The Beacon Public House and some unusual s’mores.


The Grand Del Mar
Del Mar, California
 


In the days of the Wild West, there was only one trail into San Diego. Pioneers seeking new land and new lives traversed the desert through Los Peñasquitos Canyon on oxen-pulled wagons until they hit the Pacific Ocean and could go no further.

Today, San Diego is a booming tourist attraction––for good reason––and the old canyon trail is all but forgotten. My wife and I re-traced the journey during a day’s hike under the blazing sun and discovered the canyon’s rugged beauty has only intensified over the past century of obsolescence. And while it feels as though it’s in the middle of nowhere, the natural beauty of Los Peñasquitos Canyon is tucked away just a few miles from one of the most luxurious resorts in the world: The Grand Del Mar.

With opulent, Mediterranean-style architecture and design, The Grand Del Mar features an exotic mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan and Venetian design elements. The creation of this modern-day marvel is truly amazing. More than 800 craftspeople spent over a million man-hours in creating the current-day palace.

There were 120 carpenters who worked more than 150,000 hours designing and installing 16 different wood species––including fine walnut, mahogany, olive, alder, sycamore and maple accents––with 35 different finishes. There are more than 25,000 square feet of handcrafted wood floors. There are also more than 50 chandeliers, 500 fabrics and 1,700 pieces of custom-designed furniture and art.

Click here to read the full story of our visit to The Grand Del Mar, which included sailing, whale-watching and hiking San Diego, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the U.S.  
 

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel
Vancouver

 


In the 2004 Tom Hanks movie, “The Terminal,” Hanks’ character gets stuck living at an airport for months on end due to immigration details and a revolution in his native country of Krakozhia. Humor abounds as Hanks endures the misery of living in the confines of an airport, a drudgery only slightly offset by a lovely flight attendant played by Catherine Zeta Jones.

The movie works because viewers appreciate all the inconveniences and stereotypical stuffiness associated with staying at the airport. Sympathy for Hanks’ character would not be found, however, had Hanks been flying through Vancouver and found himself at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, as I did several weeks ago.

The soundproofed hotel, situated within Vancouver’s International Airport (YVR) above the U.S. departures terminal, is anything but your typical airport hotel. The luxury hotel offers 5-star caliber accommodations, breathtaking floor-to-ceiling views of the runway in front of Vancouver’s mountains, diverse dining choices, and an indoor pool, health club and spa. 

Click here to read the full story of my stay at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, which included mountain hiking, the scenic Sea-to-Sky Drive, and the best salmon fishing of my life. 
 

An Uncommon Adventure Near Home

Posted by: Tony Capecchi under Recreation Updated: October 22, 2014 - 12:07 PM

Five years ago I married my best friend. In the half decade since, we have travelled the world and explored the far-flung corners of the globe. But life changed this July. The birth of our first child changed our traveling pace, and reduced our desire to venture far from home. 

So to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary we sought a memorable getaway close to home. We found it in The Commons Hotel, an award-winning destination in high-energy Minneapolis, in the heart of the University of Minnesota’s campus. The hotel, a member of the distinguished Noble House Hotels & Resorts family, embodies the inner geek in a very chic manner. 


 

“We want people to explore their inner geek, we want them to be explorers. Travelers today want to explore the area and we encourage them to do that,” said Kelly Commerford, director of marketing at The Commons. “We’re on the edge of Minneapolis and St. Paul, so you can go directly into downtown Minneapolis to explore the nightlife and shopping on Nicollet Mall––a great location.”

The industrial schoolhouse property embraces diversity through the common desire to discover. My wife and I walked in the doors on a sunny autumn afternoon and immediately felt the hotel’s unique vibe. 

The hotel’s Watson filament light bulbs, tin-pressed ceilings, argyle patterns, and molecular design-chandeliers ooze energy, as does it too-cool-for-school library, with antique typewriters, leather loveseats and spectacular fireplace. 


 

“The Commons is the living room of the University of Minnesota,” Commerford said. “We are on campus, so the whole idea it so pay homage to the U of M. And it’s not your typical hotel – we really have fun here. There is no special request that we won’t handle at the hotel. Our staff is trained to ensure they engage with our customers and provide them a very unique experience.”

The hotel hosts weddings, football fans (you can walk to TCF Bank Stadium), weekend staycations like ours, and frequent business meetings

“We’re trying to create a relaxed environment that promotes the sharing of ideas,” says Sean Mullen, Noble House’s chief sales and marketing officer. “When we think of business, we think of shirts and ties, and big business suits. Those times are still here, but the formalities are going away.” 

That’s why when Noble House opened The Commons Hotel last fall, it didn’t just add Wi-Fi and call it a day. It took the best elements of its other properties and expanded on them, taking this new opportunity to spin the hotel’s “geek chic” theme into the meeting spaces. 

After all, curiosity begets creativity. Common areas, called “Think Tanks” are both educational spaces and places for conversation between meetings, where frequent business groups compose ideas on wheeled-in chalkboards or kick back alone in a deep armchair for some quiet time with one of the hundreds of heady titles lining the book shelf. 
 

Meeting attendees are encouraged to participate in spelling bees and games of Jenga; meanwhile, college students and guests of all sorts frequent the hotel’s own Starbucks. 

As for the typical cookie and coffee snack break room, forget about it. Instead, how about an interactive and educational “Mad Scientist Break” where lab-coat donning staff prepares dishes like spiced pumpkin ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen?

“By putting something in a fun atmosphere, something that is unique, it creates a new dynamic where conversation can start outside the meeting room,” said Duane Rohrbaugh, general manager at The Commons. 

There has certainly been plenty of conversation about The Commons during its short existence. The young hotel already boasts a long list of awards, including a 2014 TripAdvisor Award of Excellence and a claim as a 2013 Fodor’s 100 Hotel Award Winner. The pile of awards shows The Commons belongs as part of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts family. The exclusive hotel management company operates some of the top-rated hotels in the world.

In fact, my wife and I visited another Noble House property, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, roughly one year prior to our trip to The Commons. There, we vacationed in a private bungalow on a tropical island off the Florida Keys in what was hands-down the most spectacular stay we’ve ever had in the U.S. 

The Commons, naturally, was a completely different setting––it is, in fact, Noble House’s only Midwest hotel––but the service and hospitality was without question consistent with the excellent standard set by all Noble House hotels. 

My wife and I enjoyed walking The Commons’ grounds and loved hanging out in the hotel’s common areas. We even strolled down to the nearby Mississippi River and did a little fishing from the bank. But we also enjoyed simply hanging out in our room, which offered a great view of the city and had a vibe all of its own. 

“The whole idea behind the guest room concept is we want the guests to feel very comfortable. We have a great workstation in every one of our guestrooms,” Commerford said. “But it’s not your traditional business workspace, it’s more residential. We have a very contemporary design. Subway tile in the bathrooms, very modern, 57-inch TV screens that go beyond TV––you can order room service or you can order books from our book butler.”

Room service sounded good––when you’re out for your first night without the baby, lying in bed and watching TV is a luxury you never knew you missed so much––but we had to check out the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Beacon Public House. The farm-to-fresh, table style restaurant did not disappoint. 

For dinner, we sat outside on the deck sipping several specialty cocktails, such as “The Keys” (key lime, meyers lemon, reposado tequila, patron citronage) and “Age of Innocence” (cranberry shrub, organic vodka, lemon, patron citronage). We munched on popcorn shrimp and Wisconsin cheese curds, as well as delicious soups and salads. 

We paced ourselves, and slowly moved inside for the main course of fillet mignon and fish and chips, surrounded by thick cut fries, asparagus and baby carrots. For dessert, we topped things off with a fun dessert of make-your-own s’mores. 



 

The meal was so wonderful, and the service so good, we decided to return the next morning for brunch. It’s a lively atmosphere––the Minnesota Vikings were playing at home that afternoon, so we saw lots of Purple fans walking the streets as we again dined outside. 

After a long, lazy brunch we packed our bags and checked out feeling refreshed. Our staycation ––which was both our 5-year anniversary and our first getaway post-baby––could not have gone any better, thanks to an uncommon hotel in our own backyard.

The website for The Commons Hotel is www.commonshotel.com. For more information, call 612.379.8888 or email reservations@commonshotel.com.




 

 

In addition to 304 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of banquet rooms, The Commons also offers guests complimentary passes to the U of M athletic and aquatic center, which features an official NCAA swimming pool. 

The hotel also boasts fun perks and clubs for its members, such as Club Alchemy and various reward and  welcome programs, which includes updates and various amenities of the month (in our case, chocolate!). 

We received a trendy gift bag with various goodies, including a pair of chic, geek glasses we gave to our baby as a souvenir of Mom and Dad’s first night away of his life. As much fun as we had at The Commons, I’m sure Joseph will want to go there someday. 

 


 

Still Running for a Cure

Posted by: Tony Capecchi Updated: October 3, 2014 - 8:33 AM

A year ago, it didn’t look like Matt Zechmann would be around to see the 2nd Annual Desmoid Dash on October 11, 2014. For five years my old high school buddy had been battling an exceptionally rare and potentially deadly form of cancer, a desmoid tumor. He’s survived several close calls over the years, but catastrophe struck last November. 

Major complications followed a 13-hour operation at the Mayo Clinic to remove a football-sized desmoid tumor from Matt’s abdomen. On one horrific night, just weeks before Matt’s 30th birthday, he started hemorrhaging blood at an incredible pace and family members were warned this would likely be the end.

But a diverse team of Mayo’s finest doctors saved Matt that night and he beat the odds––despite losing a staggering 750 milliliters of blood––to earn an appropriate nickname among the Mayo staff: Superman.

And while the original Superman worked alone to save lives, Matt is working with people across the Twin Cities to try to save lives––his own, and others who suffer from the same incurable disease. 

He and his younger sister, Nicole, organized the inaugural Desmoid Dash 5K Run/Walk last year to raise money for researching a cure for desmoids, which affects two out of every one million people in the U.S. 

“I have come a long ways on this, but it’s still a very tough thing for me to ask people to donate their money or time to benefit me,” said Matt, who is funny, charming and gregarious, but never wants to be the center of attention. “I know there are a lot of great causes out there, and there are people who face worse outcomes and odds than I have faced. This community boosts my spirit because I think about my tumor constantly every day––when it will come back, how aggressive it might be growing, the side effects it could cause again.” 

“I also think about how the disease has already changed my life a great deal,” said Matt. “The scariest part is the realization that this is a part of the rest of my life. It’s really scary knowing that none of the current treatments for desmoids worked for me and that I can no longer undergo another surgery. But seeing people signing up for the race, or liking the Desmoid Dash Facebook page, or posting a photo, is a huge boost mentally.”

Because the disease is so rare, virtually no government or public funding exists for research. The only chance Matt and others with desmoids have is through fundraisers like the Desmoid Dash. 

The Run––How You Can Help 

This year’s 5K Run/Walk is on Saturday, October 11 at 9:00am at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, where Matt graduated high school. 

“Matt is one of our own,” said Mike Maxwell, Director of Alumni Relations at St. Thomas. “We want to do whatever we can to help Matt, and we’re honored that the Zechmanns want to host their event at our school.” 

You can register at the event for $40, or in advance online for $30 (children are $20). Tax deductible donations can also be made online

“Following the surgery last winter, Matt will no longer be able to tolerate any more surgeries, so finding new, more effective treatments is our only hope if he has a recurrence,” said Nicole, noting that 70% of desmoid patients who already had one recurrence will have future recurrences. Matt’s tumor has already re-occurred once within a year of being surgically removed the first time. “The work we are doing truly could be what helps saves Matt’s life, and the lives of other desmoid patients.” 

“As Matt’s mother, I’ve felt helpless,” says Sue Zechmann. “Conversely, it’s empowering to try to make a difference through this event, not just for Matt but for the thousands of others afflicted with this rare cancer.” 

Last year, Nicole led a group of Matt’s friends to organize the event and the results were astounding. More than 300 runners came out to the event, and some $50,000 was raised for desmoid tumor research.

“This event is a constant reminder that I have an army of great people supporting me,” said Matt. “Part of why Nicole and I started the Desmoid Dash was to take something negative and turn it into something positive.” 

This year, Matt, Nicole and their team of friends hope to raise $100,000 for research.

Touched by Superman

I know Matt doesn’t want to be a superhero, but he is one. The affect he has on others is profound. “The Desmoid Dash is going to be Matt’s legacy,” said Matt’s friend Ryan Naughton, an active member on the Desmoid Dash committee. “Since his diagnosis, he has raised almost half a million dollars for the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation.”

“But more than that, Matt has taught me to live every single day. Matt’s journey has been truly inspiring me and all of my friends. How can he go through all of his struggles, surgeries and complications with a smile?” Ryan asked in awe. “Even during Matt’s weakest moments, he was happy, positive and witty. Even when Matt could only stay awake for a few minutes at a time, he wanted to know how other people were doing. He truly cares about everybody he knows.”

The Zechmann family has countless stories of Matt’s incredible grace. “The day following Matt’s surgery (last winter), Matt could barely speak,” recalled Sue. “He struggled to whisper to me, ‘Mom, please thank the nurses for me because I can’t.’”

“While fighting for his life in the hospital, he managed to remain grateful, positive and maintain his sense of humor,” Nicole said. “When praying with hospital chaplains, he would always pray for others, but never for himself. It was remarkable.” 

Of course, there were lighter moments, too, thanks to Matt’s indomitable spirit and sense of humor. 

“I remember Matt coming out of his 13-hour surgery,” recalled Nicole. My parents and I walked into the room and the nurse asked Matt if we were his family. He kept a straight face and said, ‘I’ve never seen these people before in my life!’” 

 “He is an inspiration to me. I’ve always looked up to Matt, but the way he handles this situation has made me recognize even more so what an incredible person my brother is,” Nicole said. “Matt has truly made me a better person, and I feel really fortunate that he is my brother.”

I am certainly fortunate that Matt is my friend––and that I know someone with his extraordinary grace and strength. And so, while this story isn’t about traveling or the great outdoors, it’s a story that must be told. 

Because if a person like Matt doesn’t deserve our help, who does? 

For his part, Matt continues to be realistic yet optimistic. “Sometimes the reality of there not being a cure sets in,” Matt told me quietly. “But truthfully, I feel very lucky. I have many wonderful things going on in my life, including amazing family and friends.” 

To sign up for the race, click here

For more general info on the Desmoid Dash 5K Run/Walk, visit www.desmoiddash.com.

To "like" the Desmoid Dash Facebook page to show Matt your support, visit https://www.facebook.com/DesmoidDash5K

Above: Matt and his sister, Nicole, thanking the 300 people who participated in last year's Desmoid Dash. 

Below: The Zechmann family (from left to right: Jim, Sue, Nicole and Matt) at a recent fundraiser run in Philadelphia which also raises money for the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation. 

The shirts were a gift from Matt’s employer, Schneider National. While recovering from surgery, Matt missed eight straight months of work. His co-workers had a surprise waiting for Matt on the first day he was healthy enough to return to work. When he walked into the office for the first time in three-quarters of a year, all 150 office employees were wearing shirts they created. The shirts read: “It came, he fought, he conquered, Zechmann Strong.”  

Top 3 Fishing Moments of 2014

Posted by: Tony Capecchi under Fishing Updated: September 16, 2014 - 12:48 PM

The birth of my son––coupled with the arrival of autumn––signals the end of my fishing season for 2014. Sure, I may yet sneak onto the river for a half day here or there to catch a few walleyes for dinner or chase muskies, but by and large my season is over.

Hanging up my fishing pole for the year always makes me nostalgic, and I enjoy looking back at the past season and reflecting on my best moments on the water. This past year, I caught my first of several notable species, including bonefish and king salmon. I also had a single day in which I hooked seven muskies, ranging from 30 to 46 inches. It wasn’t just about me, either; I took my cousin fishing and helped him catch a 51-inch sturgeon––a fish three times bigger than anything he’d previously caught. 

During my fishing pursuits, I also got to witness wildlife and wild beauty in some of the most pristine places in North America. Through it all, three moments in incredible settings stand out as the best fishing experiences of my year. 

Here are my top three fishing adventures from 2014, each one incredibly unique in its own right:

1. Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
British Columbia 

Our helicopter mirrors the waterfall, descending down 300 feet parallel to the raging waters. At the base of the falls, we hover above the turbulent pool of blue and white. We are above the clouds, in a separate world of 10,000-year-old glaciers and pristine streams that salmon fill and grizzly bears hunt. In this other-world we have hiked and climbed and fished, but at the moment we simply hover. I feel weightless. 

...

Days before boarding the aircraft, we had seemingly already explored as far into the Great Bear Rainforest as one can push––taking a small plane from Vancouver to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, then crawling into a float plane for a 20-minute flight over fjords and bays until landing on a floating dock at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, which clings to the base of Mount Stephens.

After a sun-filled Day 1 of ocean kayaking, paddle boarding, bear-watching and hiking through old-growth forests, Day 2 finds us embarking on Nimmo Bay’s signature experience: a dreamlike day of heli-fishing and heli-hiking in the high mountains. 

You could say that heli-fishing put Nimmo Bay on the map, and that Nimmo Bay put heli-fishing in the dictionary. The concept is this: You board a helicopter and fly high above the clouds, into the mountains to fish untouched streams that otherwise can’t be reached. The Murray family has access to over 50,000 acres of breathtaking beauty, including 10,000-year-old glaciers, 5,000-foot waterfalls and 50 rivers and streams.

In all reality, even if you didn’t catch a single fish the trip would still qualify as one of the most incredible fishing experiences of your life. That said, daily catches during peak season routinely top 100 fish per person. 

Click here to read the full story about my adventure at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort. 

www.nimmobayresort.com  
1.800.837.4354
heli@nimmobay.com

2. Captain James Nelson
San Diego

I set the hook as hard as I could and seemingly ripped into a small car driving downhill in the opposite direction. “Wow,” I muttered, while holding on for dear life. “This thing is strong.” Little did I know it would take more than eight minutes before we’d even catch a glimpse of what we were up against: a monstrous bat ray, with a wingspan around 5-feet.

I’ve caught 30-pound muskies, 40-pound catfish and sturgeon over 5-feet long, but I must say that ray has an unfair advantage when it comes to fighting––the shape of its body gives it incredible leverage in the water. The sunny San Diego skyline watched silently as my guide, Capt. James Nelson, and I battled the fish. It went on long runs, effortlessly stripping out chunks of 30-pound braided line, before burying itself in the mud. We had to chase after it several times as it stripped the line down almost to the backing.

In total it took 33 minutes to land the beast, and during that time I was sorely reminded how badly I need to start lifting weights. I barely had any time to recover before hooking another ray, this one much smaller, and a sting ray as opposed to a bat ray.

A little later, as we neared the end of our morning together, I caught a beautiful leopard shark–– another coveted species for which the area is known.  The diversity of the fishery, in the shadow of downtown San Diego, is amazing. Earlier in the day we caught a bonefish––my first time ever seeing the elusive Grey Ghost in person––as well as countless spotted bass. 

Potential catches with Nelson also include halibut, corvina, croaker, yellowtail, dorado and mako sharks, depending on the season. 

Click here to read more about Capt. James Nelson. 

www.fishingguidesandiego.com
619.395.0799
 james@thefishicon.com


3. Bon Chovy Fishing Charters
Vancouver

My arm is throbbing, but I can’t quit reeling. A few minutes ago my guide Jason Assonitis and I landed a double––a pair of king salmon each topping the 10-pound mark––and now I’m battling another king that may be twice that size. Mercifully, the fish quits running at the boat and instead turns 90 degrees to the right and dives deep, giving me a temporary reprieve from winding as it peels out line.

“That’s a nice fish,” Assonitis says knowingly. He’s seen more than his fair share in his 30-odd years, the majority of which have been spent guiding. The past 9 years guiding have been the most meaningful, for it was almost a decade ago that he and friend Jeff Copeland decided they had spent enough time fishing for others and would start their own operation called Bon Chovy Fishing Charters. The gamble has paid off as their reputation as one of the elite fishing charters in British Columbia has grown––a fact exemplified by the 20-pound salmon I finally manage to coax into the net.

We’re an hour boat ride from Vancouver, fishing around the famed Gulf Islands, and we’re being richly rewarded for making the run across choppy water through the Strait of Georgia. The bite is on, and we’re catching both quantity and quality. Because of the fast action we're only running two lines, one for each of us. Good thing! If we had more lines out my arm would really be dead. 

In fact, I’ve fished salmon in Ireland, Alaska and on the Great Lakes, and I’ve never had action this good. And the scenery is right up there, too. I first read about the Gulf Islands in the New York Times best-seller “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” The archipelago, a string of about 100 partially submerged mountain peaks between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, is surprisingly un-crowded.

Click here to read the full story about my adventure with Bon Chovy Fishing Charters. 

www.bonchovy.com
604.763.5460
info@bonchovy.com

Note: I fished across North America in 2014, yet two of my three best moments occurred during my 1-week trip to British Columbia. For more information on British Columbia, visit HelloBC.com.

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