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

Cloudy, rainy days filled with chrome

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by Jason Bowers

After a long stormy day on the water a pod of chrome coho finally showed up at the Gnarlies – just as the dinner bell rang.  The cold, wet afternoon was redeemed by a few hot coho at the 11th hour.  We headed back to the lodge with our heads held high – no longer minding that we were being pounded by marble sized raindrops.  Back at the dock as my fishing partners headed in for supper I couldn’t bring myself to take my gear off and head for shelter.  I needed more!

 
After a quick turn around I headed back out solo.  Dropping the anchor in the exact spot we had just left, the surface of the water in all directions came alive with fast and fierce swirling coho.  They were aggressive – tossing water in all directions with each swirl.  If you looked closely enough you could catch flashes of chrome as the coho devoured juvenile herring on the surface and quickly disappeared into the darkness of the depths below.  Tossing a gurgler from the bow, the coho were so aggressive that you could see their white mouths open as they rocketed toward the surface devouring the fly.  Cast after cast the increasingly tattered fly would disappear inside the mouth of a bright 8-11 pound coho as the fish turned, peeling off line well into my backing.
 
The current was unsettled and waffled from one direction to another.  With every change in direction the surface action would settle.  I would dash down to the stern where my wet line lay idle.  Casting in all directions with no hits I wondered, “where had they all gone?”.  Within minutes came an arm-pulling jerk from well below the surface and a frenzied coho cartwheeled into the raindrops trying to dislodge the hook.  It was time to run back to the bow and continue throwing the dry line, again hooking fish after fish.  After two hours of this routine and 20 plus coho to the boat, the tide swung and the current changed direction.  The pods of chrome bullets disappeared back into the depths.  Reeling up both fly lines I headed for home.  
 
The stomachs of the 2 fish I harvested were completely empty – they were new arrivals to Dundas, showing up with empty bellies and voracious appetites.  Back at the lodge taking off my gear I felt more than satisfied and almost in disbelief at what I had just experienced!  
 
These moments can happen to anglers frequently this time of the season and we all hope to be one of the lucky ones – in the right place at the right time.

Outlook for 2016

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Chinook

It is always interesting to read through the collected data from the past season’s sport and commercial fishery.  Comparing the data to previous years, biologists come up with an educated estimate of run sizes for the upcoming season.  It causes us to reflect on last season’s ups and downs and pushes us to think long and hard on how to characterize a whole season at the lodge in just a few paragraphs.
 
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) forecast for our region concerning Chinook salmon always seems to be about the same: average returns, all hinging on ocean survival of outgoing smolts.  When you really sort through the data you can see some downward trends and some definite trends looking upward. It appears that the early season Nass and Skeena fish, which make up a large portion of the fish we intercept on Dundas Island, seem to be fairly stable or slightly down from the historical average.  However, the percentages of fish swimming by Dundas to the central and lower parts of the Pacific Northwest seem to be on the rise. It is only a matter of time before we get a bumper year on the North Coast tributaries and when combined with the increasing numbers to Central and Southern rivers, we could be in for some incredible fishing.
 
Last year saw some of the largest returns of big fish to our local tributaries.  At one local hatchery, fish in the 70 pound range were being harvested for brood stock on almost a daily basis. The hatchery manager on this tributary anticipates this season to be even better! These big fish are still out there and swim past Dundas – who will be the lucky one to get their fish of a lifetime this season? Our regional biologist has noted some highlights from last year: in 2015 the average weight of the commercial troll fishery  Chinook on the north coast was only 11 pounds. In most fisheries when there is a large return of jacks or smaller fish, the next year tends to get a bump in the population of 4 and 5 year olds (big fish). With any luck we will see that bump in 2016.

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Coho

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.

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Bottom Fish
 
Possession limits for halibut will remain the same in 2016 (one halibut per day, 2 possession), however there will be changes in the size restrictions.  The large fish will remain at 133 cm and the second fish in possession will drop from 90 cm to 83 cm.  We are also anticipating a change in yellow-eye limits from 3 per day down to 2 per day, four in possession.  We look forward to more great fishing for halibut and all other bottom species.  Fishing may even get better as our guides and anglers are always trying new techniques and locations to further our knowledge of the area.

What to expect in August?

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As the summer winds gently blow warm air off the Pacific so comes with it one of our finest fisheries of the season.  It’s NORTHERN time:  when large, hooked nosed coho begin their journey past Dundas Island.  These large coho can grow in excess of 18 pounds and boy do they fight!  Cartwheeling through the air and making long screaming runs they are a true testament to what is still wild and pure.  Plentiful and very aggressive, they are significantly different in appearance to the early run fish.  Shiny blue backs are replaced by olive greens with noses hooked in preparation for their upcoming spawning battle.  After a long 3 or 4 year journey into the open Pacific these perfect specimens are destined to northern rivers like the Skeena, Nass, Kitwanga or the Kwinamass, just to name a few of the local watersheds.  This is exciting fishing which tests light tackle to the max!  Many guests prefer to put down the mooching rods and jig buzz bombs or Stingsildas with even lighter tackle while others enjoy bucktailing or casting a fly.  Whichever method you choose they can all be very successful and produce some heart-stopping excitement.  As table fare, coho salmon is one of the finest.  Lean, bright red meat lends itself nicely to the smoker or on the BBQ. 

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Combine this coho action with the fabulous bottom fishing and it makes August a great time of year to come enjoy Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge.  Remote by nature, Dundas Island has very few local anglers or charter boats making the long trek to our waters in August and early September.  It is remote, quiet and exciting, everything that you expect out of a fly-in fishing trip.  When the day is done you can look forward to our fabulous hostess preparing you a specialty cocktail and après-fishing treats on the back deck.  A great way to wind down after a long hard day on the water, after all catching big coho and halibut and be very stressful!  

2015 Year in Review – Coho Fishing

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Coho Fishing
 
What a fantastic year for coho!  Large numbers of coho arrived in early June holding strong through early August, and they were big!  Many of these bright, blue-sided early coho were tipping the scales at well over 10 pounds.  These fish were not likely returning to our northern rivers but rather were headed to the south or central coast – hence their early arrival.  The strong early presence of these fish was a great indication of what was about to come in August.
 
August fly-fishing was outstanding!  In the history of our fly-fishing program at HNNL it ranked among our top three seasons.  Double-digit days were normal and not the exception in 2015.  Some of our anglers were even lucky enough to tackle a Chinook on the cast fly!  Although rare, such events do happen and when they do, watch out!  Not nearly as abundant as previous years, our late season local coho seemed to follow a different pattern than usual.  These fish weren’t found offshore chasing deep schools of herring but instead we found them regularly driving jack herring in amongst the kelp forests into very shallow water.  While looking down you could often watch pods of coho cruising for feed.  These fish seemed to really focus on surface presented flies.  There were many days throughout August where anglers didn’t have to throw a wet line and could watch coho voraciously attack gurglers on the surface cast after cast.

Early August Fly Fishing – Top Water takes


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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!

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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!

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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!

 

Tight lines

Goodbye Chinook! Welcome 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! DSCN0455

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!

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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!DSCN0503

Bring on the fly fishing!

Tight Lines

Nugget

Tyee Tuesday!

Tyee Tuesday!

photo-8It has been a very eventful past 10 days here on Dundas! Kicking things off were the Matcon boys who have been regular guests at the lodge for the past 10+ years. Chinook salmon fishing was spotty with a few periods of heavy action mixed in. Some boats were lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time and got rewarded with multiple Chinook hook ups in a short period. The fish were a good size weighing 18-24lbs on average. There were plenty of Cohos around which kept everyone busy during the slower Chinook fishing. Some beauty Coho were caught weighing up to 12lbs. A great time was had by all and we are looking forward to seeing them again in 2016!

IMG_00001795The weather and fishing stayed much the same for the weekend trip. Herring continued to be tricky with the occasional large school swimming by while you were out mooching for salmon. A couple of boats, who went off shore halibut fishing, ran into some large schools and were able to jig enough fresh bait for the day. Sunday evening Chinook fishing started to pick up again. A few skiffs went out for the evening bite and returned with half a dozen nice Chinooks in the 12-20lb range. The following morning, herring returned thicker than ever and a new wave of aggressive chrome slabs came rolling in! Becky and Darryl were fortunate enough to wrestle with 4 hogs on Monday morning before the planes arrived, with the biggest being a 34lb Tyee caught by Becky. Her first ever Tyee! Becky celebrated her fish according to Haa-Nee-Naa tradition with a shot of Goldschalger and her first Tyee pin.

The new group of guests arrived at 3pm and everyone was itching to get out! They were not disappointed as multiple Chinooks were hooked that evening and every boat was in on the action! Music to my ears! I’m sure everyone at the lodge, including us guides, had a poor sleep that night, as we were anxious to get out and see what the morning had in store!

Tuesday morning:

FISH ON!!!!!!! The bite was on all morning and steady Chinook fishing continued right up until lunch. BUT… something special happened Tuesday morning

Drum roll…..
IMG_2756A whopping 58lb Chinook was caught by Dan! A true fish of a lifetime and memories that will last forever. A big congrats goes out to Dan, his son, Jason, and guide, JT, who were on the boat for this beast! Dan was not the only one enjoying a sip of the traditional Goldschalger that evening, as 3 other Tyees were brought back to the dock. Everyone was able to shake hands with at least a couple Chinook salmon.

DSCN0361Another personal best was achieved this week with Steve’s 39lber – best of all it was an experience he got to share with his son. A very memorable day on the water for everyone! Wednesday and Thursday morning consisted of much the same.

IMG_1110Chef, Paul Williams, even got in on the action with a pair of 37s during an early morning solo fish. You know fishing is hot when even the Chef can get a couple big boys….

A new group of anglers is now out on the water hoping that the great fishing will continue – we are looking forward to seeing what comes back at coffee time!

Tight lines,
Nugget

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!