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

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.

2015 Year in Review – Bottom Fishing

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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.

 
All of our regular spots produced well again last season.  Most anglers that put the time in pursuing these tasty creatures were rewarded.  Our staple “chicken” halibut (<25lbs) fishing was great throughout the season.  Several flats are within mere minutes of the lodge – these local hot spots can be fished under almost any weather conditions and always seem to produce well.
 
One technique that has been very productive over the last several years has been the ‘drop mooch’ or ‘dangle’ as it is known.  While anchored halibut fishing we fish a deep running salmon rod rigged with a cut plugged herring.  Depths range from 40-90 pulls down.  While you wait patiently for the flatties to grab your hali-sticks you have a great opportunity to hook chinook and coho on the salmon pole. Chaos often ensues when you “double up” on both a salmon and halibut. If you are up for a new challenge then give it a try!  Ask any of our knowledgeable, friendly guides and they will set you up and direct you to a deep-water combo flat.

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!  

The 2014 Fishing Report

Chinook Fishing

The Chinook fishing this season seemed to be a little slower than usual. It could also be characterized as inconsistent – with the large numbers of Chinooks only sticking around for a couple tide changes. This is unusual – we wait for the day they show up and then expect them to at least stick around for a few days, before waiting for the next wave.  This season the fish would show up in good numbers, we’d have a fantastic day of fishing, then the next day would come and we would again have to work to scrape up our limits.  That being said, if you decided to stick and stay, putting your time in at one of our many Chinook beats, it did pay off and it was only a matter of time before your mooching reel was screaming with a hot Chinook on the other end.  There seemed to be a greater number of Skeena bound tyees this year, so when you did get a spring on, the chances of it being a tyee or bigger were good.  You just never knew when it was going to happen next.

Struggling on Dundas our efforts began to shift to targeting off shore Chinooks, spending more and more time on the North end flats.  There were many days in July where the fishing could not have gotten any better – we were consistently getting into schools of feeding Chinook on the flats.  It was not uncommon to see aggressive Chinook chasing your bait right to the boat!

Bottom Fishing

Years of observation, exploration, and trial and error have gotten us to where we are now – we have the bottom fishing pretty dialled in.  Our early season spots remained productive with limits of halibut caught only moments from the Lodge.  As the season progressed our efforts moved.  The North end flats were absolutely on fire with good numbers of halibut and ling cod being caught on salmon gear in the shallows while combo fishing for Coho and Springs – a hot spot in late July.  The weather cooperated for most of August, allowing us to spend more time at some of our farther off-shore spots with great results.  We saw some super sized halibut caught and released, and a good number of turkeys.  At times the Halibut fishing was absolutely exhausting with bottom dwellers hopping on the moment the bait hit the bottom – this action would last for entire tide, leaving arms burning but still wanting more.

Herring Fishing

Herring or – Freshie – fishing this year was great! Most days it took only moments to load up with a cooler of Primeaus (#25) before heading to the Chinook grounds.  This year showed some amazing spectacles of nature – one morning millions of herring had large schools of krill trapped inches from the surface.  You could look over the gunnels of the boat and see the herring voraciously devouring these small creatures! It was incredible to watch – you could also just hold your jig outside the boat and watch it load up, seeing the herring climbing onto your empty hooks.