Cloudy, rainy days filled with chrome

Haa Nee Naa-670

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.

2015 Year in Review – Coho Fishing

Haa Nee Naa-1488
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

Robyn's Coho.jpg
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!


Tight lines