PEI Things to Do: Fishing & Clamming Charter

This fishing excursion wasn’t firmly on the itinerary at the start of the trip. We were all leery of being trapped on a boat for four hours with kids that might hate it, but we had a mostly empty day and ended up giving the family-oriented Paradise by the Seas Adventure Tour (facebook, tripadvisor) a shot. And we were very glad we did. It ended up being a great addition to our trip with a lot of fun memories for both kids and parents alike.

 

The Details

A couple key details to know if you consider booking. It’s an approximately half day charter (around 4 hours). It’s weather dependent and they sail on the tide schedule (to accommodate the bar clamming part) so there is not set departure time. It’s best to do this on a day when you don’t have any other firm plans. 

There are three distinct portions of the trip: the bar clamming and cookout on the boat, the mackerel fishing and fry up, and the lobster pot demonstration and seal watching.

The boat is new and modern and can accommodate up to 20 people or so, so it’s likely you will be going out with other people (on our trip it was our party of 8, plus two other parties of 3). Getting in the water and digging for clams is a big part of the trip, so if that doesn’t interest you, you might look for a fishing-only charter boat.

If you are prone to sea sickness, the boat is fairly large and you are never out of sight from land. The weather was fairly calm and no one on our boat had any issues.

It’s $89 (CAD) for kids and $99 dollars for adults. 

 

Bar Clamming

The boat leaves mid-morning (we were asked to be at the dock at 9:30 for our trip) from the Souris docks on the eastern side of PEI. Given the tides that day, we headed to the Fortune Bay flats first for the clamming.

It was sunny, but cooler the day we sailed. I think we would have stayed longer and I would have enjoyed this part more if it was a hot and sunny day. As it was, the water was the warmest place to be, but I could only last about 20 minutes before my lips were blue and I was shivering. They did offer and option to wear a wetsuit. Maybe that would have been smarter although the people that used them said the buoyancy made it hard to dig up the clams.

Captain Darren and his first mate were very helpful in explaining what to look for on the sea floor or bringing you over to an area and helping you rake up a clam. Earlier in the week, we had failed miserably trying to clam near the shallows of our rental house. Now, armed with this experience, I’ll be much better prepared.

The crew provided the clam rakes and bags. I think everyone in the water managed to get at least one clam. I dug up about a dozen large bar clams.

See also:   36 Hours in Rome with Kids

Back on the boat (bring your own towels), the crew cleaned and steamed the clams before cutting them up for everyone to sample. If you weren’t inclined to try the clams, they also had hot dogs, other snacks (granola bars, dummies), and water. 

For the girls, it wasn’t really a content between the snacks and the steamed clams. I, on the other hand, loved the salty, chewy clams.

 

Seals & Fishing

After the clam cookout, we motored over to a place where we could set up and fish off the boat  for mackerel. 

On the way, we went by the seal grounds and saw a number sunning and bathing in the shallows, while a few were cruising closer to the boat in the water. Maybe it was the time of the year (mid-August), but the seals that were out mostly kept their distance. So this part of the adventure felt more like a seal drive-by than seal watching.

Once we reached the fishing grounds, the crew took out the rods (no bait or casting required) and set everyone up along the boat’s rail to fish.

I should mention that Captain Darren, his young son (I think he was 11 or 12) and the first mate, were great throughout the trip. They were friendly, knowledgable and patient with the kids. 

Setting them up with the reels was no exception. And that is saying something when trying to teach a 5 year old the proper technique without hooking someone in the neck.

We moved a few times and I got the feeling the fish were biting quite as much as they usually do, but I believe everyone on board (even the 5 year old) managed to catch at least one. My other daughter (9 years old) was the big winner. She almost made it to double digits. 

The smaller ones we threw back in, but the larger ones we kept and the crew cleaned and grilled a few for everyone to taste as we motored back toward the docks.

 

Lobster Traps

We did have one final stop. It wasn’t lobster season, but the trap was allowed to remain in the water (disabled) for education purposes. Captain Darren gave us a rundown on the lobster industry, how lobster fishing works with the buoys, and how the trap works specifically.

 

Summary

Despite our initial reluctance (it’s not cheap) we were very happy that we decided to do the Paradise by the Sea Adventure charter. It squeezed a lot of fun and unique experiences into just a half a day. 

The kids were never bored. We got some great pictures and videos and ate more clams and mackerel than we could finish. It was money well spent and an experience we won’t forget any time soon. It’s a great way to see the PEI coast by water and get a little taste of the PEI life.

 

MIKE'S WINDOW