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

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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.

Bring on July!

This past week has been a roller coaster for weather. The 23rd-25th featured 25-30 knot winds coming from the south, which in turn brought periods of heavy rainfall. We have had very little precipitation so far in the month of June and the creek, which we draw our fresh water from for the lodge from, was a mere trickle. So in this case the rain turned out to be not so bad!

DSCN0076The last 4 days on Dundas have felt like fishing in Mexico! The 5-15 knot variable winds and blazing heat made for some scorching hot days on the water.  I can’t remember the last time I was in just a shirt at 7:15 am on the water! Yesterday it was so hot on the back dock the guests went for a swim off the front dock before dinner to cool off.

Now to the fishing…DSCN0109

The weekday trip anglers toughed it out in some snotty weather and got rewarded with great salmon fishing. Hats-off to first time guest, Biyue, who reeled in the 36lb derby winner – his personal best! Chinook fishing tapered off slightly towards the end of the trip, however guests went home with heavy fish boxes and big smiles.

ThDSC02968e weekend trip started out with a decent evening bite and 8 Chinooks ranging from 12-20lbs hit the dock. Group leader, Jeff, had a beauty on in the 30s which did some crazy acrobatics and managed to free itself. Turned out to be another “big one that got away story”…. The average Chinook fishing we are experiencing at the moment can be attributed to the clear water and the tropical weather we’ve been having. The herring have been tough to find in these conditions as well, but the weather is changing and things are turning around. For the first time this year we had to break out the “TV Dinners”!

More and more Coho continue to enter our waters they are a blast to catch in-between Chinook bites. The average size continues to increase as they are heavily feeding on the juvenile herring which have arrived early this year. 6-9lbers are frequently being caught with the occasional chunky one over 10lbs. The fish are hard fighting and aggressive.

Just heard the float plane flying overhead, got to go! Looking forward to a great week of fishing with the Matcon boys!