Looking back on 2016

Another summer at Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge has come and gone! We’d like to extend a big THANK YOU to everyone who joined us this year and made it a very memorable fishing season. It is always a pleasure for the staff to see your familiar faces getting off the plane and to create new relationships with first time guests! This is something we all look forward to every trip.

We have had a busy fall: With some well-deserved time off, Clay went on his annual fly-in moose hunt this September. He has been doing this two-week trip for many years now, which provides him with fresh caribou and moose meat throughout the year.

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Another trip many of us look forward to is the annual Bulkley river camping/fishing trip in October.   This year chef Paul Williams attended along with Jason, Clay, Tanis and family and friends. Enjoying his time away from the kitchen, Paul managed to catch his first-ever steelhead on the spey rod! A proud Aussie to say the least! This year’s Bulkley trip also marked a milestone birthday for Longhorn, pretty soon he will need a wading staff on the river!

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The team up here has now transitioned back into our winter lives – going to school, playing hockey, being new dads, and of course, working! Clay, Jason and Robyn are back at work, already preparing for the 2017 fishing season, doing all the required maintenance on the building, boats, engines and office work handled by Robyn. Before we get ahead of ourselves though we’d like to take a moment to look back on the last season.

Looking back here are a few highlights that stand out in our minds:

Early June we saw a good push of feisty Chinook salmon. Some guests had amazing salmon fishing hooking into double digits. I remember when the first large wave of fish came in on the 4th of June. Fishing Kelp Point during a flood tide we had two double headers in 30 minutes. Boy oh boy did that get the blood flowing!

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Halibut fishing was once again amazing throughout the whole season with our off shore spots producing numerous of large 100cm+ fish. Guide Clint and his guests, Randy and Dwight, released not just one, but two of the largest halibut the lodge has ever seen! No one will know the exact weights however according to the length chart the fish were estimated to be about 220 lbs and 150 lbs. True giants!

Veteran guide Nugget had an unfortunate hand injury during the 2nd week of June, which required surgery and put him out of commission for the season. Dan Bertrand stepped up to the plate and did an excellent job guiding. He worked very hard and guided his clients into many Tyee!

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Although it was a tough year overall on the Salmon front, it definitely had its memorable moments.  Sometimes it’s the fish you really have to work for that you remember the most fondly. I think guest Elizabeth Barnard would agree – Elizabeth landed her personal best Chinook, a beautiful 52 lber, in the final minutes before the radio call the last morning of her trip. Congratulations again on the fish of a lifetime!  Elizabeth’s fish held up as the largest Tyee landed in 2016.DSCN1671

As always the staff at Haa-Nee-Naa takes great pride in customer service and want to leave a positive impression on each and every guest. Thank you to those who joined us this year and we look forward to seeing you next year for another memorable adventure! Stay tuned for our annual newsletter coming out in the New Year.

If you have not yet heard from Robyn, she’ll be in touch soon to confirm the dates and details of your trip for next season.

See you next time!

“Modified Duties”



Hello folks! I have been away from the lodge for a few trips, nursing an injured thumb, but have been keeping close tabs on the action at Haa-Nee-Naa and have some great fish stories to report.

The fishing has continued to get better and better as the season continues –

DSCN1660Our seventh trip of the season favoured guests with good numbers of Chinook and Coho salmon continued to be caught. We have started to see an increase of Coho salmon both in size and numbers caught. Typically the June Coho are smaller 5-8lb fish as they have not yet had time to bulk up before their journey up river to spawn, however this year we are seeing an abundance of 10lbers and some larger ones! A very nice treat for any angler fishing Dundas Island at this time of year.

DSCN1666This trip marked the 20th Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge anniversary for long-time guest Greg Shimek. WOW! A remarkable milestone, I’m sure Greg could write a short novel with all his memories over the years from fishing Dundas Island. Adding to two decades worth of memories was a hard fighting 39lb Chinook salmon hooked in Haida Bay with his old friend and net-man, Longhorn. Greg’s 39 pounder held up as the biggest fish for most of the trip until changeover morning….

DSCN1671Like we said last time, we’re always one tide away from a great day. On the last morning of the trip, first time HNNL guest but long time saltwater angler Elizabeth hooked an absolute monster! Elizabeth and her mom have been fishing up and down the coast of BC together for 20 years, and this year Elizabeth finally topped her mom’s 50 pound record holder with a beautiful 53 pounder – A fish of a lifetime and one she will never forget! Many happy tears were shed over this beautiful specimen, congratulations Elizabeth!

A Shout-out to “Growler” who year after year brings up fresh oysters hand-picked from his beach in Puget Sound. A treat everyone looks forward to every June. Yum!

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Fathers’ Day Weekend the salmon continued to roll through the top end of Dundas Island in good numbers. Plenty of Coho around to keep everyone busy while waiting for the big Chinook salmon to strike! We saw a large increase of baitfish up top on the surface virtually everywhere you fished. This brought in plenty of Humpback whales and they could be seen aggressively feeding right on the surface. An amazing sight to see that never gets old! Father-Son team Morgan and Oliver cleaned up in the derby with the two biggest fish of the trip weighing 32 and 33lbs! Nice fish gentlemen!

DSCN1678A couple large halibut were caught mooching in 40ft of water at one of our “combo” flats in which lingcod, halibut, and salmon can all be caught. The halibut weighed 40lbs and 75lbs, makes for a fun battle on the lightweight salmon gear.

Perhaps the best fishing so far this season occurred just last week. Huge pushes of Chinook and Coho came by keeping everyone extremely busy on the water! Large tides stirred things up and with them brought plenty of new fish. The guests shared many double headers on Chinook salmon and if you were into a school of Coho sometimes all 4 rods would go off! The action was fast and furious – what every saltwater angler dreams of! The largest fish of the trip was a fat 40lber caught on changeover morning by Art! Nice fish Art, a great way to end the trip.

DSCN1685A mammoth halibut was also caught and released by long time guest Denis. This fish was estimated to be 5.6 feet long and weighing roughly 148 pounds according to the Pacific Halibut Commission’s length-weight tables! Denis got his daily workout in bringing this beast up from 200ft. A well-earned trophy halibut-release pin!

IMG_2070 (1024x683)The Jigger on the month award goes out to Longhorn who successfully jigged 76 herring in 6 minutes and 45 seconds. Last month’s winner was Jason Bowers who brought in 92 herring one morning while all other boats got skunked. Stay tuned for July’s jigger of the month award.

Fishing has continued to be consistent for the current group of guests and we are expecting to see some more whoppers hit the deck! Until then, happy fishing everyone!

Don’t forget to get your fishing licences on-line before your visit this year.  You can visit the licensing website here: Online Licensing  to set up a profile for yourselves, purchase your fishing license and refresh your memories on catch limits.

Tight Lines,

The Ghost of Nugget

One Tide Away from a Great Day!

thumb_mh7d0160jpg_27038611424_o_1024During periods of tough fishing it is important to keep a positive attitude and to be optimistic. That is why the motto for the trip #3 was: We are just one tide away from a great day! Everyday on Dundas Island is a great day if you ask me. Any angler knows you will go through some slow periods, which makes catching a beautiful Chinook salmon all that more rewarding!

Guests on trip #2 and #3 had to work hard for their fish and made sure they were ready when that Chinook salmon bit. We had a few good flurries of action where multiple hook ups occurred in a short period of time. The weather made it especially difficult to travel around and fish some of our offshore spots, which usually hold good numbers of feeder Chinook salmon.

DSCN1544After 5 days of tough fishing, perhaps the highlight from that week was when the floatplanes could not make it to the lodge due to the 40-45 knot winds all afternoon and evening. For the first time in Lodge history the outbound guests had to stay overnight and the inbound guests got stuck for a night in Prince Rupert. So what do you do when you are stranded at Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge? Go fishing of course! The boats were loaded back up with guests and out everyone went for a bonus evening of fishing.

Hats-off to Jake Snorsky who had not landed a Chinook salmon during the trip, fate was on his side and during the bonus evening of fishing, the fish gods smiled down upon him and he was rewarded with his first Chinook of the trip! Good job Jake, perseverance pays off!

Our “One tide away from a great day” mantra proved itself to be true on trip #4. It always amazes me how quickly things change when it comes to salt water fishing. After missing the evening fish, the inbound group was rewarded the next morning by a large wave of hungry Chinook salmon. Everyone was into multiple fish and throughout the whole day pushes of Chinook salmon kept coming. Both the ebb and flood tide produced large numbers of fish. Everyone salmon fishing had no problem getting their limit and could be selective on which fish they decided to retain. 17-23lbs seemed to be the average size of fish caught with some larger ones mixed in.

DSCN1564The atmosphere at the lodge was electric and everyone was eager to get back out on the water!

Fishing remained very consistent for the following groups of guests with plenty of feisty Chinook circling the waters around Dundas Island. Congratulations go out to Jeff Lewis who until a few days ago had the biggest fish of the season, a beautiful 39lb slab!  Dwayne took home 1st place in the derby this past weekend with a 31lb dandy! Good work Dwayne.

thumb_mh7d0225jpg_27615544736_o_1024Coho have started to show up in decent numbers and everyday seem to be getting more abundant. We have started to run into the odd larger pod of fish when a school of herring or needlefish is near. This often results in a flurry of Coho action with double and triple hook-ups. These silver bullets make for a great battle and usually end up tangling one or more of your lines if you are not quick to get things under control! Their acrobatic nature and agility make them a blast to target.

DSCN1551As always, bottom-fishing remains productive for those who wish to target cod and halibut. A few 50+ pound whoppers were caught this past week. Not exactly the easiest fish to bring up from 200+ feet…. Darn good eating though!

Don’t forget to get your fishing licences on-line before your visit this year.  You can visit the licensing website here: Online Licencing  to set up a profile for yourselves, purchase your fishing license and refresh your memories on catch limits.

Tight Lines,

Nugget

Chinook Salmon Fever!

The 2016 Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge fishing season has officially begun!  Staff were hard at work during the three weeks of start up: painting, repairing, cleaning, and just about everything you can think of in-between in preparation for opening day on May 20th.

I love this time of year!  After so many months of anticipation in the off-season, it feels great to finally throw down some cut-plug herring.  Nothing beats rolling into any one of our Dundas Island hot spots and having it all to ourselves.

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The season got off to a great start on May 20th.  We welcomed back past guests and new faces to kick off the season.  It is always a treat for us guides to witness someone’s first Dundas Island Chinook – a truly memorable experience.

Patsy Cline faithfully woke us up on the first morning, getting everyone up out of bed and excited for the first full day on the water.  Along with all the other guides I had trouble sleeping the night before, dreaming of Freshie’s and hungry Chinook salmon had us all jacked up for the 4:15am wake up call.

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The first couple days of the trip yielded low Chinook salmon hook-ups for everyone.  The herring were very scattered and tough to locate during our morning hunt.  Thoselucky enough to find a bait ball of mature herring that were willing to bite their sabiki rigs had a definite leg up for the day.

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By the third day of the trip the herring were showing up in big numbers and the salmon fishing got steadily stronger.  Fishing stayed consistent through the latter part of the trip and everyone got to shake hands with at least a few Chinook.  The first Tyee of the season was brought in by Robert, weighting exactly 30lbs.  First time guest and first time salmon fisherman, John, also topped off his salmon card with a beautiful, well-earned 32 pounder.  Congratulations guys!!

The average salmon weight for the trip was 16 pounds, with a couple of Tyee and a handful of fish in the 25-27 pound range.

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Bottom fishing was excellent for all species.  Lingcod and Halibut were plentiful along with the various types of rockfish.  It is exciting to be the first rod to fish many of these humps, ledges and pinnacles that haven’t been fished since last season.  The aggressive lingcod were hiding in their caves just waiting for a freshie to be sent down!  Four halibut over 100 cms hit the dock with the largest being 127 cms.

All in all a great start to the 2016 season.  Fishing continues to get better and better everyday, shaping up nicely for great early June Chinook fishing.  Stay tuned for more updates throughout the season.  We are looking forward to seeing all of you up here this summer and can’t wait to hit the water with you.

Don’t forget to get your fishing licences on-line before your visit this year.  You can visit the licensing website here: Online Licencing  to set up a profile for yourselves, purchase your fishing license and refresh your memories on catch limits.

Tight lines,

Nugget

Year in Review – 2015 Chinook Fishing

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 Chinook Fishing

Overall, chinook fishing in 2015 was great!  Lodge guests experienced consistent catches all season long, hooking limits of bright fish daily.  The arrival of our first guests in late May kicked off our season with larger numbers of fish than previous years.  While the average fish weight was smaller than in previous seasons, the numbers definitely made up for it.  As we often see when targeting migratory fish, there were ‘bumps’ of salmon throughout the season: last season the end of June was a bit of a slump as fishing tapered off a little. This only lasted for a short time frame then the fishing came back strong as we moved into July.  Mid-tide bites seemed to be the ticket last season, more often than not the bite would come on right smack in the middle of the tide change – a refreshing transformation from 2014 when the bites were very unpredictable and fleeting.
 
Weather seemed to play a large part in the good fishing.  May had only a few hours of rain throughout the entire month.  Normal average rainfall in Prince Rupert in May is approximately 132cm (52 inches), less than 3 cm (1inch) of precipitation fell in 2015.  June, which can sometimes be a rainy month, was equally nice.  These warm conditions paired with the long hours of sunlight had a noticeable effect on the marine conditions.  The ocean was teeming with algae and plankton, conditions perfect for herring to actively feed in the shallows and close to the surface.  Where there is bait salmon are never far behind!
 
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With little wind and few storms lodge guides were free to roam wherever the bite would take us.  The average weight of chinook salmon in May/June was below our 25 year lodge average, though many fish in the 20-25 pound range were boated by our first eager guests.  These early season fish pull line very hard – there is something that makes them a little different.  Maybe it is the long, cold winter without our rods bent, or just that these anadromous fish are genetically perfect in every way.  After an amazing journey where they spend 3-8 years at seas, less than 2% of theses fish beat the odds and return.  They swim past our island to feed on the abundant bait fish in preparation for yet another amazing journey up our wild, remote northern rivers to spawn; continuing an age-old cycle.
 
The first Tyee of the season was caught by none other than Anita Irwin Bowers, Jason’s lovely bride.  Anita’s 34 pound buck at the end of May set the stage for many other Tyee that would arrive later.  As June crept along the average fish size stayed about the same, though fishing continued to be very strong and most guests were able to take home their limits.  For a few days in late June salmon fishing was slower than normal.  There are a few factors which may have contributed to this.  Though they are only guesses at best, the most plausible theory is that the north coast drought, while it brought great early season action may have also been a factor to the clearing of water surrounding Dundas Island.  Clear means no plankton – which is the foundation of life in the ocean.  Krill and other euphausiids feed off plankton and in turn the herring feed on them.  This may have pushed the salmon runs a little offshore and made them travel deeper in search of food their favourite food: herring.
The late June slump didn’t last for long, the rain eventually showed up and with it the return of some real Dundas Island hogs – there were four fish landed at the lodge weighing in at over 50 pounds!! Congratulations to 15 year old Kate Leeuwenburg who on her first ever salmon fishing trip landed a beautiful 55 pound chinook, out-fishing not just her Dad, but Uncle Chris and Grandpa too – all seasoned salmon fishermen.  Overall the 2015 season saw over 50 Tyee landed – that means you have a 1 in 4 chance of being the next member of the Tyee club.  These are some of the best odds Chinook fishing on the coast of BC.  The strong Chinook fishing continued un-characteristically late into August. One noteworthy slab was a 35 pounder brought to the boat in the third week of August!
 
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2015 HALL OF FAME

Dan Nordstrom 58 lbs
Kate Leeuwenburg 55 lbs
Jon Heisler
54 lbs
Joerg Nixdorf
52 lbs
Gunn Robison
47 lbs
Dana Burchart
45 lbs
Chris Davis
43 lbs
Stephanie Kramer 41 lbs
Gary Lewis 41 lbs
Kevin Formes 40 lbs
Mel Grant 40 lbs
Another of the many highlights of the season was watching Leon Loucheur set a new lodge record – one that may never be broken! Leon caught a 30lb Tyee on a small trout rod using a buzz bomb with 12lb test line! The battle lasted about an hour and the Chinook tired out before Leon did, giving him the chance to net the fish all by himself. This was an extraordinary feat for any angler and is an experience that Leon will never forget!
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First time Lodge guest Joerg had the trip of a lifetime too – arriving late on Friday night – not on the same schedule the rest of the group and departing at lunch time Sunday, Joerg still managed to clean house.  Joerg’s first ever Dundas Island salmon was a 52 pounder, followed by an even 30 pounder and a couple in the high teens. Add to that 2 nice halibut and a boatload of ling, Joerg went home with full fish boxes thinking “That was easy!”, though he did miss collecting his derby winnings for the weekend!

Nugget’s Fishing Report, June 1 – 8

The good weather streak was broken this past Sunday!  25-35 knot southeast winds pounded Dundas, and so did the rain!  Fortunately the foul weather was short lived and we are now back to enjoying sunny skies and calm seas.

The Fishing has remained very consistent throughout May and into the start of June.  Last week saw many occasions where the “bite was on” and rods were bent over in multiple boats at the same time.  Some Lodge boats were even fortunate enough to have a double header of Chinook salmon.  High fives and smiles were shared by all!  Fishing stayed much the same for the following 4-day group, who nearly all left with their limit of Chinook Salmon.  The majority of fish seem to be in the 15-23lb range with the occasional Tyee mixed in.

AIMG_3698.JPGnita Irwin has the largest fish so far – weighing in at 34lbs. Anita has reeled in 4 Chinook at the lodge and all of them have been over 30lbs!  Not too shabby.

Herring have been plentiful each morning.  Reeling up six packs consistently and loading up fast, we have not had to spend much time on the jigging grounds.

We are looking forward to the next group of guests and some more chrome slabs hitting the dock.

Tight lines!