Wade and Shannon Dayley, northern Vancouver Island tourism entrepreneurs, have a lot to celebrate.
This year marks the 15th year the couple has owned and operated Bear Cove Cottages, a luxury cabin resort in Port Hardy.
They offer more than just a great place to stay as their eco tourism and fishing company Wicked Salmon continually draws visitors from around the world to the North Island.
“People get here and they are in awe of the whole area but it took a few years after building the place before we decided to add fishing tours and eco tourism as a whole,” said Wade.
In the early years of starting their business, they didn’t offer fishing, but the phone kept ringing with calls from people asking for fishing charters in the area.
“We realized there was a high demand for it and so that’s when we bought our first boat,” said Shannon.
Since then the business has evolved into Wicked Salmon, which is the fishing component of their business that offers clients all inclusive packages that allow people to explore the North Island and to get on the water.
“The more reasons for people to come to Port Hardy will bring more people to Port Hardy,” said Wade, explaining “that’s why we bought fishing boats and partnered up with Stubbs Island Whale Watching, bear watching and kayaking companies, and put packages together so people could come here to go kayaking, golfing, whale watching, and day fishing.”
Wicked Salmon has also brought Port Hardy and the unique natural landscape of the North Island into the living rooms of people from across North America, as they are featured on a few popular television shows.
They are annually featured on West Coast Sporting Journal with host Mark Pendlington which airs on the World Fishing Network.
“He does a half hour program on Bear Cove Cottages and we heavily promote Port Hardy because that’s where we are,” said Wade, adding “it might sound silly but when the program airs the phone rings within ten minutes of that program being on T.V.”
Shannon added that “we have guests here right now that came from Los Angeles and they came because they saw our program.”
Wicked Salmon at Bear Cove Cottages is also featured on History Channel’s reality show Alone, which follows ten people who live alone in the wilderness and try to survive on only what they can forage.
For multiple seasons Wade and Shannon provided a home base for the production crew as well as a rescue crew who remained on call 24/7 in the case of an emergency.
However, that doesn’t seem to be enough excitement for the adventurous couple, as they have also begun to expand their business southward.
This year Wade and Shannon have launched Wicked Marlin, which provides all inclusive fishing charters in Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.
The couple has been wintering there in their off season for nearly 12 years and decided to offer the warm water fishing packages when they noticed an interest from their clients in Port Hardy.
“I chatted about it on my boats with clients and we finally decided to put packages together to bring people down there,” said Wade. “I mean the area up here is amazing but there is something to be said for fishing in shorts and flip flops rather than rain gear,” he laughed.
Although Wade has caught some impressive fish over the years, including a 700 lb sturgeon in the Fraser River, and a 300 lbs swordfish in Mexico, fishing is not the only thing that keeps him motivated.
“I just get enjoyment out of bringing people out and doing it. There are people who have never done it before and people who come out with their fathers, sons, and grandfathers,” said Wade, adding “when people have an experience of a lifetime by coming up and fishing with us that to me is what makes it fun – It’s what keeps me going out every day and doing it.”