Mya Deryan and the Ancient Art of Fish Rubbing

Eagle Nook Resort is one of few resorts on the west coast with an Artist-in-Residence, and probably the only one whose Artist specializes in fish rubbing, or Gyotaku as it’s traditionally called.

Mya Deryan has spent her last four summers at Eagle Nook creating custom artwork for guests and staff alike. Her unique art form involves covering a fish in specialized black ink, and carefully placing a cloth or parchment over it to take a precise impression of her subject. The resulting impression is extremely detailed, showing every inch of the fish, down to the eyes, individual scales and even teeth.

While some guests prefer to leave their rubbings in black and white, Mya can also bring pieces to life with colour and even create three dimensional reliefs of rubbings. Part of what makes fish rubbing souvenirs so popular among our guests is that the fish is still perfectly edible once the impression is done. Not only do you go home with a one-of-a-kind piece of art, but your fish can still be filleted, vacuum-packed and sent with you!

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Building Our Team

Hiring for a resort that’s only open three months of the year is no easy task, so every year we start early, posting ads and recruiting people that we think will be the perfect fit for our unique lifestyle.

This season we’ll have a few returning faces, James and Ben, who whip up the gourmet meals that guests and staff get to enjoy everyday; Dennis, who keeps the resort up and running smoothly 24/7; Nadia, who goes back and forth from trip coordination, to dock handing, to guiding adventure tours, and of course our fearless leader Bossman Dan.

At the end of last year we said goodbye to Martha, who was our amazing housekeeper and knower of all things. After 17 years with Eagle Nook Martha made the decision to start a new chapter and while we couldn’t be happier for her moving forward, we were definitely sad to see her go. She certainly left big shoes to fill but we’re confident the perfect person is out there!

We’re also excited to be welcoming some new faces to the roster for 2017, Alli, who has a season in Bamfield under her belt and is looking forward to completing her business practicum with Eagle Nook, and Alyssa, who’s bringing her skills as bartender and server extraordinaire all the way from Edmonton. Alli, Alyssa, Nadia and two more yet-to-be-announced team members will round out our guest services team for 2017, and they can’t wait to get the season started.

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The Legendary Tyee Salmon

The Meaning of ‘Tyee’ as it Pertains to Fish

Let’s start with the answers to “What is a Tyee fish?” and “What is the meaning of Tyee?

According to Wikipedia, it’s simply another of the many names for a Chinook salmon which include king salmon, spring salmon, Quinnat salmon in addition to Tyee salmon. But to west coast fishermen, it means a bit more than that.

The name Tyee carries a certain reverence about it; even if you’re not entirely sure what it means, you know it’s something significant. The word actually comes from the language of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, the original human inhabitants of coastal Vancouver Island. It means king, chief or champion. Makes sense.

When the term “Tyee” is applied to Chinook salmon then, it means a really big salmon. To fishermen on the west coast, Tyee refers to Chinook salmon weighing over 30 lbs. They’re considered a trophy fish and a pretty big deal to land.

Tyee are definitely the king of salmon so it makes sense to want to keep some sort of souvenir of your catch. Luckily for guests at Eagle Nook Resort, instead of just taking a couple photos, our artist-in-residence, Mya Deryan, can create a life-sized rubbing of their fish and it can still be filleted and taken home for dinner.

If you’ve fished on the West Coast of British Columbia chances are you’ve probably heard the term “Tyee” a couple of times, maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to catch one of these huge fish yourself. But really, it doesn’t matter what sized fish you catch, because time spent fishing is time spent well.

The Annual Lucky Sportfishing Salmon and Halibut Derby

At the beginning of each season before Eagle Nook is “officially” open you’ll find the Resort packed to the rafters with 45 fishermen eager to demonstrate their skills on the water and maybe go home with a little extra cash in their pockets. The annual Lucky Sportfishing Derby will be on its sixth year in 2017, and it gets bigger and better every year.

Traditionally the Derby takes place the last weekend of May when Chinook salmon are starting to move down the coast and into Barkley Sound. In 2016 the winning salmon was 21.5 lbs, not bad for an early season fish! With cash prizes for the three biggest salmon and the biggest halibut, entries get snapped up quickly – so quickly that for the last two years we’ve added a second derby the following weekend. Guided boats and dock space for moorage are in high demand so let us know early if you’re interested in trying your hand at some friendly competition – your trip might even end up paying for itself!

Lodge Life

“Lodge life” is unlike any other lifestyle there is. One of the first questions guests ask when they hit the dock is “Wow! Do you guys actually live here?” We sure do. From the end of May until mid-September Eagle Nook Resort is our summer home, where we live, work and play on the West Coast. It’s pretty neat.

Anyone who has visited Eagle Nook knows that our staff team is small. The person vacuum-packing your catch at the end of the day might also be your massage therapist. Or your server at dinner. Or all three. Having a small team means our days can be long, especially come July and August when the Resort is going full tilt, but we always find ways to have fun and take advantage of the amazing place we get to call home for the summer. Salmon and Halibut Fishing night bites are a definite staff favourite – two or three boats raft up in Vernon Bay, crank the tunes and watch the sun go down. The horseshoe pit was a popular spot last summer too; on any given night you’d find 5 or 6 Resort staff and fishing guides down there practicing their aim and making wagers on best-of-three tournaments. Inevitably, someone would miss their shot so badly the game would disintegrate into hysterical laughter and no one ever really knew who won.

Living and working with the same small group of people all summer means we become something like a family, and one of the best parts of this is how it translates to our guests. We hear comments all the time about how great we work together and how much fun we genuinely seem to have while doing our jobs – the truth is, we love what we do and we love that we get to share Barkley Sound and Eagle Nook Resort with guests from all over the world. Like we said, it’s pretty neat.

The Eagle has Landed!

It’s not unusual for our guides to encounter various wildlife while out on the water, but this one was a little out of the ordinary – guide Jeff had a Bald Eagle try steal the fish off the end of his line and end up getting tangled! The Eagle was successfully released (not before soaking Jeff) and swam back to shore to dry off.

Biggest Catch 2016

One of the biggest salmon that came back to the dock this summer was a 34.6lb Tyee, and came with a great story as well. Four generations of the Reid family joined us for a trip early in our season – father, son, grandfather and great grandfather. tyee

This monster of a salmon was reeled in by Charles Reid (second from the right), the great grandfather of the group, with his great grandson by his side. It was a moment the Reid family and Eagle Nook family will cherish forever.

They had some great days on the water, and we hope to bring their good luck back to the resort sometime soon!