written by Cody Simons
So, how did this city slicker from Kelowna, manage to transition from Guest to Dockhand at Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge? To be honest, I still have no idea… I wasn’t even remotely qualified. Neither my dad, nor I, thought there was any way I would be hired, but here we are.
I found myself on a plane mid-May to begin a summer that I will never forget. I had an idea of what I was in for as I was lucky enough to have visited HNN in 2020 with my brother and my dad, who has been fishing at this HNN for well over a decade. Dundas Island is incomparable to anything else I have ever fished. When you reel in your first Tyee, changeover night, with your family in the boat, it is easy to become a little biased.
I was thrust into the transition from guest to deckhand from day one. To start, let me tell you about pressure washing. It turns out that before the guests arrive, every inch of the docks are pressure washed…. and as the new guy, it became my responsibility. I also quickly learned the significance of doing every task the “Haa-Nee-Naa way”. Every day was a new crash course ie. How to be a Dockhand 101 with 198, or Carpentry for Dummies with Longhorn, or my favorite, and arguably most valuable, lesson… How to Keep Robyn Happy. Other notable lessons included How to Cut a Fish Like a Boss with Noelsy or Life with a Lodge Sister (looking at you Ash). Ultimately, May through June presented a huge culture shock, it was the first time I had left home, was on a remote island with a bunch of strangers and I was being asked and taught to do things I had never done before. By the end of the summer, I can say that those strangers became family, the remote island became home, and my confidence grew with every new task I learned.
The biggest thing I didn’t realize, as a guest, was how hard everyone works at the lodge while the guests are out on the water. Jason and Clay are constantly turning wrenches on something, Robyn is managing everything and everyone coming and going from the lodge, Morgan cooks ALL day, and Ash is constantly moving, making sure the coffee is on and the fire is lit on those rainy days. Leaving Trysten and I with all the fish. Trysten mainly on the cutting table –I mean it makes sense, he is a wizard with his cutting skills, and me on the vacpac sealing and freezing the fish. Along with extra daily duties, boat cleaning, coffee runs, lodge maintenance, and so much more. As the summer wound down the fishing ramped up with one of the best Coho seasons in history. The avid fly fishers arrived at the lodge and their ardor for fly-fishing was infectious and so remarkable to see.
Then the season was over, and I was headed home after such an amazing summer of hard work. Every trip was a memorable one and I am still thinking back to all of you guests from the 2021 season and what each one of you meant to me
I will forever be thankful that Clay, Jason, and Robyn took a chance on me and gave me such an amazing opportunity to be a part of the Haa-Nee-Naa crew. From a former guest turned dockhand to our guests, I can tell you that everyone on crew tries to make your experience at the lodge one to remember. I have been fortunate enough to receive this but also attempted to do this for you all and I can’t wait to do it again next year. I hope to see you all in 2022!
(The man that caught the first Chinook of the 2021 season… Rookie’s luck? I don’t think so)