This section is from the book "American Game Fishes", by W. A. Perry. Also available from Amazon: American Game Fishes: Their Habits, Habitat, and Peculiarities; How, When, and Where to Angle for Them.
For half an hour the "Stone Age" war rolled on. All that time the living horde in its blue and crimson dress swept on its upward way to the mountain lake; and all that time had the nude men beaten and thumped the fish as they swept past.
At last the voice of Skool rang out, "Hy-yu! hy-yu!" (enough, enough). We turned and saw a wall of Salmon piled on the bank. Dropping our clubs and dressing ourselves, we returned to civilization, and Skool had plenty of Salmon for his potlatch, and yet none to spare.
It was nearly sunset when the steamer Premier left her wharf at Vancouver, steamed out into the inlet, and thence into the gulf. A smoky haze wrapped the distant mountains, and the waters of the Gulf of Georgia were unruffled by even the slightest breeze. The August sun beat fiercely down on the deck, and most of the passengers kept in the shade of the 5 saloon, for even in the far north the August sun is too warm for comfort.
Steadily to the south the steamer swiftly forced her way, leaving a long trail of smoke behind her that hung low over the water. Then there came a ripple on the water-a faint breath from the snow-clad mountains in the north-and the air grew strangely chill. The passengers sought their wraps, and soon the bow of the steamer was crowded, all intently admiring the beautiful scenery about them. And a fairer scene was never witnessed on the earth. On either side of the gulf rose a rugged line of snow-capped mountains. These seen in the light of the setting sun seemed to be vast piles of silver. In front rose from the water, like shadowy banks of clouds, San Juan Archipelago, and high above the land, with the Alpen glow shining on its bald top, rose Mount Constitution. As the steamer drew nearer, the islands assumed form, and the rough, craggy ledges of the shore could be distinctly seen, crowned with scattering trees of scraggy fir. The old tourist at the angler's side viewed them with astonishment, and said: "Nothing so grand on the coasts of Scotland or Norway!"
It cannot be that Captain De Wolf is going to ground his steamer? He is heading directly for a point on one of the islands. Then comes a jingle on the slow bell-the steamer moves slower; then a clang on the gong, and her wheels cease to move. Such is the depth of water among these islands that the prow of the great steamer almost touches the rocky shore. A boat is launched, and a lady and a little boy, accompanied by a miscellaneous assortment of camp dunnage, is set ashore. A moment later a splendid Hyda canoe is thrust out of the gang-way. The angler enters it, and with one stroke of his paddle is ashore. But he has forgotten something. "Throw the dogs overboard, Captain!" he shouts; but the captain evidently has ideas of his own, for he sends ihem on shore in the boat. As soon as the boat returns it is hoisted in the gangway; there comes a clang on the gong; the angler shouts his thanks to the kind-hearted, white-haired old captain on the bridge, and with a waving of handkerchiefs on the bow that is answered from the shore, the steamer glides swiftly away from the island.
The angler is evidently an old camper. Almost instantly the tent is raised; the camp-bed is set up, the various bundles are unpacked, and the tent assumes a home-like aspect. Soon a fire leaps into view at the tent door, and soon after the aroma of coffee is spread like balm on the atmosphere. The table is spread, a great can-like torch is lighted and hung on the branch of a tree some distance away, from whence it sends a bright, flickering light, making the surrounding objects look weird in its uncanny light, beyond the circle of its blaze. A pair of shining eyes are seen, and soon the hoot of the barred owl rises, tremulous in its sad cadence.
But the angler and his wife are used to such sounds; so the quivering, jarring voice of the owl has no unpleasant effect on their nerves. As soon as supper is ended, the angler lights a lantern, takes a spade, and walks along the rocky shore until he reaches a sandy cove. Here he sets his lantern down and begins to dig in the sand. At every spadeful he stops and throws a dark-looking object to one side. When he has secured a dozen of these objects he returns to the tent, first placing the objects in the canoe. Then from a box he takes his tackle and views it closely. It is common tackle, too- a long, thick cod-line, on one end of which is a broad copper spoon. This is of rude construction. At a glance an angler would see that it was home-made, being nothing but a piece of copper cut out of a sheet with a tinner's shears. This is attached to the line by a swivel. At the other end a hole is punched in the spoon. To this end, through the hole, a strong cod-hook is attached by a piece of cod-line an inch long. Two feet from the spoon, in a loop, a sinker weighing ten ounces is fastened.
As soon as his tackle is inspected, the angler makes preparations to retire. The dogs are chained up at the door of the tent; he takes his rifle out of its case and fills the magazine with cartridges, for sometimes the Indians of this locality are inclined to be thievish, and even murderous. Then the light is extinguished at the door, a bucket of water thrown on the camp-fire, and all is still, save that the dogs occasionally utter a low growl at some prowling raccoons.
At 3:30 o'clock in the morning a strange jarring, jingling noise is heard. It is the sound of the alarm-clock set to waken the angler at that hour. Before its wrhirring ceases he is up and dressed, and, with his tackle in hand and paddle under his arm, he seeks his canoe. But when he reaches the shore there arises a subdued sound of muttered disappointment, but so low that it cannot reach distant ears, for the Salmon will not take the spoon when the tide is low. Tossing his paddle and tackle into the canoe, he returns to the tent, unchains his dogs, and then, taking his axe, wanders down the beach to where there are some great logs of fir lying. Then he engages in some of the exercise that the great English liberator of Ireland loves-not that he admired, or even loved, the exercise-but wood must be procured for camp use. Then, after chopping a sufficient quantity, he began, Caliban-like, to carry great pieces of the log to camp. When this was done he again chained up his dogs and returned to the canoe. The tide had turned; but looking over the smooth channel, he could not see the splash of a fin or a silver body leaping in the air. He sat down on his canoe and waited.