The outlook for coho on the North Coast has been described as abundant for 2016. This is good news given that late run Skeena coho numbers were down last season. These low numbers didn’t seem to impact our experience – we continued to have incredible coho action on both cut plugs and on the fly throughout August and into early September. We are excited by this forecast for next season and hope to see large numbers of coho passing through the waters on the north end of Dundas.
Fishing for the bottom dwellers around Dundas Island seems to keep getting better and better. Several new halibut and lingcod spots were discovered and explored last season. Some of these new holes consistently held large halibut and massive lingcod. Often the moment your bait hit bottom and was within eyesight of these behemoths, it would be engulfed. We are very interested to see if fishing in these areas will remain as good in 2016 – the true test of a secret fishing hole.
2015 HALL OF FAME
|Dan Nordstrom||58 lbs|
|Kate Leeuwenburg||55 lbs|
|Stephanie Kramer||41 lbs|
|Gary Lewis||41 lbs|
|Kevin Formes||40 lbs|
|Mel Grant||40 lbs|
WOW! What an amazing 2015 season it was at Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge. Thank you to everyone who joined us this summer. You made it a very memorable season for everyone!!
The staff is now transitioning from the “lodge life” back to the real world. This consists of driving vehicles instead of boats, walking on solid ground, and learning how to interact with the general public again. You would be surprised how long it takes to make that difficult transition! I still find myself saying, “ya roger that” when I’m asked to do something, or when I answer my phone …“go ahead”. Perhaps the worst part of being back in civilization is no hot breakfast snack at 9:30am.
Where to start? Looking back at the season here are some of the highlights that come to mind:
-We saw one of the longest stretches of sunny skies ever from May-July and then paid for it in the last couple weeks of July and most of August.
-Early June we saw some of the best Chinook fishing of the whole summer. These fish pulled extremely hard and it was not uncommon to hook 10-15 a day. I remember one morning at Arniston point during the 2nd week of June when the bite was on from 6:30-noon and every 10-20 minutes a HNNL boat was into a Chinook. Good times!
-The record number of halibut over 100cm caught this season. Some new spots, along with an overall increase in time spent targeting the species due to guests having limits of salmon aided in many whoppers being pulled in.
-August fly-fishing! It sure was a 180 degree turn this August from last season for Coho on the cast fly. All the fly guys who came this August got rewarded with exceptional fishing. The large amount of juvenile herring in shallow water and tight to the kelp made for some exciting top water actionNothing beats stripping in poppers and gurglers waiting for that silver ghost to shoot up hammer it!
-Bobblehead doing a cartwheel off the boat while checking the prawn traps. I would be lying if I said she did it on purpose. Classic Bobble!
Thinking about these awesome memories have me missing Dundas Island already… It’s going to be a long offseason! I can’t wait to see what the 2016 season has in store. In the mean time fall salmon and steelhead will have to suffice.
It has been a very memorable past 10 days here on Paradise Island! We have experienced all sorts of weather, from sunny flat calm days to thick fog, rain and high winds. It seems the weather Gods are still making us pay this August for the tropical weather we had throughout all of May and June. As long as there are fish around though, that’s all that matters!
The guests on the past 3 trips have had excellent Coho fishing. The fly guys have done exceptionally well fishing top water patterns tight to the kelp and often times inside the kelp. The jack herring seemed to be holding right inside the kelp at most locations, thus the Coho were also inside the kelp feeding. Most anglers had the best success casting into the kelp and stripping back. Watching a big Coho come shooting out from underneath the kelp and smash your gurgler is the most exhilarating feeling any saltwater fly-fishing angler could possibly experience – if you ask me! It is very difficult to hold back on setting the hook when you see a big swirl on your fly, however if you wait that extra second or two, your hookup ratio will be much better when fishing a dry fly.
Some guests spent the majority of their time buck tailing and did very well too. Trolling at speeds of 3-4mph worked best for enticing these silver missiles to come racing up and slam your presentation right below the surface. Buck tailing is also a great method for finding where the fish are and choosing a spot to anchor and cast. When you troll 3-4mph you can cover lots of water and observe all the surface activity, if you are getting strikes every pass in front of a certain kelp bed or off a point, that usually is an area you can have success anchoring and casting.
This past weekend trip, the majority of guests mooched with herring and hammered them! Along with the large numbers of Cohos, 9 Chinook salmon were caught which – was a very nice surprise. The largest was a beautifulchrome 27lber caught by Gary. This was also Gary’s largest salmon ever and he plans on getting a replica made. Congrats Gary, a very memorable fish!
Guests wishing for a change of pace from salmon have also targeted Black Rockfish a.k.a “Black Bombers” with great success. There are certain kelp beds which hold large populations of these aggressive rockfish and are a blast to catch. Once you have locked on to the school, you can expect to have a customer every cast, and get ready because the takes are extremely aggressive! Whether you are fly-fishing or vertical jigging, they are a real treat to catch and tasty to eat.
One of my favourite memories from the past 10 days was watching first time fly-fisher, Grace, hook her first Coho on a gurgler! The fish made such a loud splash when it grabbed the fly, that I heard it when I was facing the opposite direction proceeded by “holy @#$#@”!!! The Coho was a large 12-13lb fish and unfortunately broke off later in the battle however it was a very spirited tussle and she was more than happy to hook her first salmon on a dry fly. While she was walking up the ramp to board the floatplane she said the first thing she is going to buy when she gets home is a fly rod! Another angler hooked.
The Coho are ranging from 8-14lbs with the occasional 14+. I’m sure in the next few trips we will see some larger hogs brought in!
The fly fishing season is now in full swing! How can we characterize the fishing so far? When the guys come back at the end of a day fishing, they are almost speechless. They shake their heads and smile like they have just had a day that no one would possibly believe. They scarf down their dinners, tie fresh foam on their gurglers, and then get right back out there – enjoying every moment on the water – rain or shine.
Large schools of Juvenile herring have invaded the inshore waters surrounding Dundas and can be seen flashing around tight to the kelp throughout the water column at most of our hot spots. This is driving the Coho Salmon in shallow and on the prowl for food. These two ingredients make for an excellent day casting a fly for these silver bullets!
Double-digit fish days are a regular occurrence right now for anglers casting a fly. Coho bites are being enticed by both the wet and floating line. One of the highlights of August came on the weekday trip where 3 Chinook salmon were caught on the cast fly! Dwight. Chris and Les, were fortunate all enough to experience the fight of a Chinook on a 8wt fly rod! Congratulations guys! To put how good the fishing was into perspective, many guests only fished a dry fly later on in the day because they were getting to many fish on the full sink! Is that even possible, too many Coho on the cast fly?! Seeing a large wake appear behind your dry fly as your frantically striping in really gets the heart thumping! Or nearly having your rod ripped out of your hands mid-strip on the wet line sure gives you a good shot of adrenaline!
This past group of 14 had 6 first time fly fishers, some of whom had never caught a salmon before. As Clay likes to say, they were fresh off the Turnip Truck. The first night out all of them got into fish on the cast fly and after that they were hooked. The progress they made from the first evening out to the last morning was amazing. Fly fishing continued to be very productive throughout the weekend with a couple slower periods mixed in. During the slower periods trolling around buck-tails 3-4mph a few inches below the surface worked great! If you have not done this before I highly recommend trying it, as the hits you get are savage! Often times resulting in the Coho going airborne as soon as it is hooked! It also produced a 25lb Chinook yesterday afternoon caught by long-time guest Kirk!
The Coho have been averaging 7-12lbs and are getting fatter every day! Most fish you see on your line are puking up lots of juvenile herring attracting wolf packs of aggressive coho looking for an easy meal.
Things are setting up great for the next group of eager anglers! Looking forward to more Coho on the fly!
Well, we have been paying for the amazing stretch of weather we had the past 2 and a half months! The creek behind the lodge looks more like a small river dumping into the bay. The long term forecast looks like much of the same, scattered showers.
The weekday trip starting July 20th had excellent fishing for both Chinook and Coho salmon. A couple personal bests were achieved as Kevin and Stephanie, both hailing from Oklahoma, reeled in a 40 and 41lb Chinook salmon! Congratulations guys! One of the many highlights of the trip was when first time guest Leon caught a 30lb Tyee on a small trout rod using a buzz bomb with 12lb test line! A new Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge record! The battle lasted about an hour until it was tired out and Leon was able to net the fish all by himself. His smile could be seen for miles! It will be a memory he will have for the rest of his life. Way to go Leon!
The weekend warriors experienced much of the same with slightly fewer Chinook caught. That being said, some very nice fish were brought in and Cohos were around in big numbers! Hot rod Dana caught a 45lb pig the first evening, followed by a 32 and 28 the next morning! His 45lber the first night stood as the largest fish of the trip. Congratulations Dana! I hope you bought a lottery ticket when you got home. Those who were not able to get their 4 springs filled out the rest of their limit with some real nice Coho salmon ranging from 7-13lbs.
The ladies of Haa-Nee-Naa have been cleaning up lately – this past trip another “fish of a lifetime” hit the dock! In fact it was the 2nd biggest Chinook caught this year and the 4th 50+lber! Kate made her very first visit to the lodge this summer, with Dad and Grandpa, and was a natural! Many anglers will fish their whole life and never have the chance to reel in a fish like this, but Kate was a natural on the salmon rod and wrangled this beauty on her first day salmon fishing! She fought this 55lb Chinook like a seasoned vet guided by big fish slayer D-30. Way to go Kate!
Not to be outdone, Kate’s Dad, Jay, landed a trophy Coho on the last morning of the trip. This beautiful 16lb Coho was a very large fish for this time of year. Last year Jay also landed the biggest Coho of the season weighing 18lbs! He must know something about catching trophy Coho’s that I don’t. It was an excellent finale to a very memorable Chinook season!
Typically July 31st marks the end of our Chinook season and the beginning of Coho salmon on the fly! The large majority of migratory Chinooks have passed through and are headed to their home river, while the Coho continue to move through and heavily feed throughout the month of August and into September. Some fish will gain up to 1lb a week in size – the perfect specimen to target on the fly! There is no better feeling than watching a 10lb Coho chase your chartreuse Clouser minnow right to the boat and at the last second – hammer it!
At the beginning of August the lodge boats undergo a minor transformation and turn into fly-fishing machines! Anchors and casting carpets are added, while the troll plates come off so you can troll faster while you buck-tail the shallows.
Stay tuned for our first fly fishing report….. it is going to be a good one!
Bring on the fly fishing!