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.


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.


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.


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.


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,


Dan’s Focus on the Fishing Hole – Fresh is Best


Haa-Nee-Naa Lodge has it’s own currency among guests and guides.  No it’s not the US dollar, the Loonie or even the Yen, it’s a freshie.  Walking around the dock and on any boat you will constantly hear the term “freshie”.  “Do you mind lending me a few freshies?”, ” How many freshies do you have?”, ” WOW! Look at all those freshies!”, “If there are any left-over freshies I will take them”.  These are a few of the many common phrases you will hear on the boat dock at the lodge.  
Now, while someone who has never been to Dundas Island and fished at HNNL may think freshie is another word for money, a freshie in fact, is something that money can’t buy.  Most important of all though, it is a treat no salmon can refuse! A morning-jigged Pacific Herring is what we call a freshie. There is a reason why we wake up at 4:30am to be the first boats on the water hunting for these little silver bullets: they are without question the best bait to use when mooching for Pacific Salmon.  Herring are exactly what a chinook salmon eats, so it is only fitting to use the exact bait.
Heading out to the herring grounds, gulls and diving birds are a dead give away for the location of bait, especially when the birds are literally diving into the water and slurping back these precious baitfish.  Orcas, sea-lions, porpoises and humpback whales are also often in the mix when a large school of herring is near. Many guests fall in love with herring jigging and we literally have to grab the rod from them in order to start salmon fishing.  “One more stringer, please”… Famous last words!
With a cooler full of fresh bait – it is time for the real fun to start.  After rigging up a cut plugged herring you must ALWAYS inspect the “roll”.  You want that fish to give off a certain movement that says “Eat Me!”.  It is important to handle the baitfish with care and leave all the scales intact.  The scales are what give them their deadly sparkle in the water – flash which we joke, can be seen from a mile away.
One morning last June we ran an experiment on one guide boat: We rigged two rods with freshly jigged cut plugged herring and the other two with brined bait, also known as “T.V. dinners”.  The freshies out-fished the brined herring 5-0!  The experiment ended quickly and all rods were switched over.  On several occasions last season boats using fresh herring vastly out-fished boats using T.V. dinners.
So trust me, it’s worth driving around like maniacs looking for fresh bait in the morning.  Some days it takes a little longer than others but the extra time spent is well worth the reward.  Plus, do you think we would reach our hands into the freezing cold ice water at 5am picking out perfect freshie if they did not work?  I think not!!

What to expect in August?

Haa Nee Naa-539 
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. 

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!  

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,