Here we go!

After a busy tow and start-up, the 2017 fishing season is officially underway! Let’s cut to the chase: how’s the fishing? It is the question at the top of all of your minds.

Since opening day on May 19th, we have experienced some outstanding Chinook fishing – with 12 to 14 fish days during the third week in May, as well as some very tough Chinook fishing. The weather has been a mixed bag: sunny and calm one day, wet and windy the next. The winds have at times made it difficult to spread out and find the fish as much as we would like to, but it is always possible to tuck out of the wind in one of our regular spots and fish despite the weather.

The majority of the chinook we are seeing are on the smaller side, 10-15 pounds on average, with increasingly bigger fish mixed in as well. The leader on the board so far this season remains a 35.5 pound hog landed by first time Haa-Nee-Naa guest, Fred Albert, at the end of May.

Freshie fishing started off slow, but everyday it seems that more and more herring are arriving. It hasn’t been taking long to load up for the day. With increasing numbers of feed fish moving in we are confident that the salmon are close behind.

Lodge guests have also been experiencing very productive bottom fishing. The weather has been keeping us close to home and we’ve been rewarded with consistent halibut in both the under 83cm class and under 133cm class. There have even been a few noteworthy fish released that would have weighed in upwards of 100lbs.

Last year many of you may remember landing a hatchery fish. As you may or may not know, all of these hatchery fish are implanted with coded wire tags, which allow their origins to be tracked. Of the 17 hatchery fish logged at Haa-Nee-Naa last season, we have learned that 2 were Washington fish, 1 was visiting from Alaska, and the remaining 14 were from various hatcheries throughout British Columbia: Tofino, Robertson Creek, Quinsy, Toboggan Creek, and the majority from our local Deep Creek/Skeena Hatchery. It is always interesting to learn the origins of these fish we are intercepting on the way back to their home rivers.

Stay tuned for more updates on fishing, meet our new staff, and check out what we’re working on around the lodge!

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.