NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA
If you draw a line along the 54th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and then another one all the way up to and along the BC-Yukon border, you will have encircled 500,000 square kilometers of the most rugged wilderness and unspoiled fishing British Columbia has to offer. With only three major highways and a ferry to Haida Gwai serving a landmass twice that of the United Kingdom you might imagine that the wildlife, crystal clear waters, vast uncluttered natural plateaus and towering snow capped mountains would be enough to satisfy anybody’s thirst for adventure and excellent fishing. You would not be mistaken.
Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with about 60 national and provincial parks protect the lion's share of this huge region from development and help preserve it's unmatched natural beauty and diversity. Northern BC is also home to First Nations cultures that have lived here since long before Europeans started recording such things.
The gateway to the North starts 800 Kilometers from the city of Vancouver and that is just the beginning, you have a long way to go and it's not always easy to get there. Whether you travel by land, air or water, one lifetime is not enough to explore all of the unspoiled natural terrain, incredible fishing and wildlife diversity that you will find in the huge northern region of British Columbia.
The Stewart Cassiar highway (HWY 37) threads it's way between the Coast and Skeena Mountain ranges and connects the coastal rainforest of BC with the Jack-Pine forests of the Yukon. Tatlatui Park, the Stikine River Recreation Area, Mount Edziza Park, and the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park all more-or-less connect with each other to form one vast, ruggedly beautiful protected wilderness area.
Starting at the historic village of Kitwanga located between Smithers and Terrace on the Yellowhead Highway (HWY-16), and after you've taken a little time off from fishing to explore the Totem Poles and the ancient battlefield at the National Historic site there, cross the bridge over the Skeena River and you are on your way north towards the Yukon border. Be aware that parts of HWY 37 are designated landing strips although having a plane land on the highway in front of you probably isn't something you really need to worry about.
Lakes and streams are everywhere along this mostly paved route which has recently become popular with motorcyclists and bicycle trekkers and they absolutely team with Rocky Mountain whitefish, burbot, rainbow trout, lake char, Dolly Varden, northern pike, Arctic grayling and the odd-looking inconnu, or sheefish. In the big lakes such as Atlin, Tagish and Dease, you can catch monster lake char weighing up to 45 pounds. Dease Lake also marks that magic line where the rivers and streams stop flowing south and west and instead run north into the treeless Alaskan tundra.
You'll find excellent fly and spin fishing in the smaller lakes that are easily accessed from the highway with plenty of willing rainbow trout, bull trout, Arctic grayling and whitefish. Try Eddontenajon, Klucachon, Ealue, Gnat, Kinaskan and Wheeler lakes or throw a line into the Tanzilla and Cottonwood rivers. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten track and some fantastic sightseeing, charter a floatplane from Dease Lake to fish for Lake Char, rainbow and bull trout in Stalk, Tatlatui or Tatsamenie lakes.
Atlin is a small town on the shore of Atlin Lake, British Columbia’s largest natural lake. The people of the town take great pride in their complete lack of regional and municipal government and to this day are actively fighting any attempt to bring them into the “governed” fold. To quote a long-time Atlin resident; “We're here because we're not all there.” It's a gorgeous place with interesting people and well worth a visit.
While you are in Atlin, take advantage of the available floatplane service and fly in to King Salmon or Kuthai Lakes. Huge rainbow over 20 pounds swim those waters as do seven pound Dolly Varden. On the Taku-Inklin-Nakina Rivers, massive Chinook up to 66 pounds are yours for the catching. Have your pilot fly you over the unforgettable Llewellyn Glacier at the southern end of the lake.
On Atlin Lake itself, fly-fish around the creek estuary’s for the pretty little Arctic grayling with the hard to miss “sail” of their large dorsal fin and the sun shining off the scintillating colours of their sides. If bigger grayling are what you want, nearby Surprise Lake has trophy fish that will reach 4.5 pounds. McDonalds Lake contains char up to seven pounds and Palmer Lake is full of smallish northern pike. For bigger pike drive up the 4x4 road into Gladys Lake and tussle with the real gear busters. Don't forget your pike gag or you risk a long uncomfortable drive as you try to find a first aid post where somebody can sew your hand back together!
Spin-casters in the smaller lakes and streams will do well with small Gibbs, Delta Sil-vex. Mepps Aglia or Panther Martin spinners. If you prefer to fly-fish, use small patterns such as the Parachute Adams, Black Gnat, Tom Thumb or the Royal Coachman. Wet flies are useful as well, try a Mickey Finn, Doc Spratley or a Muddler Minnow.
To tempt the larger fish such as the big lake char, northern pike, inconnu or trophy sized rainbows, you are going to need more substantial terminal gear. Troll or spin-cast big Williams Whitefish, Eppinger Husky Dardevle or Len Thompson Five of Diamonds spoons. Mepps Magnum Musky Killer spinners, Rapala X-Rap or Creek Chub Pikie crankbaits and Worden's Flatfish are all worth a try for these northern monsters.
For Chinook, steelhead, rainbow and Dolly Varden in the larger rivers, cast heavy bottom bouncing spoons such as the Blue Fox Pixie, Luhr Jenson Crocodile and Gibbs Kit-A-Mat or Koho. Fly fishers should try Skunks, Popsicle, General Practitioners, Kelsey's Hope or Steelhead Bee flies. Drop in on one of the many tackle shops in the area for tips on what is working and what isn't. Remember, there is a lot of water up there so don't waste your time fishing in unproductive water, something somewhere is always providing great fishing in this corner of northern BC.
Omineca-Peace River is gold country. Since 1861 uncounted fortunes have been found and lost and the rugged individualistic people who came to claim those fortunes have lived and died here. Today the descendants of those people are more likely to be working in the forest or some other resource based industry but they are no less colorful and their stories are no less fascinating than those of their pioneer ancestors. They also stand steward over some really great fishing and are more than happy to share it with their southern cousins who come to visit, provided those visitors are prepared to respect the fish and the incredible variety of wildlife that call this largely unpopulated landscape home.
Situated in British Columbia’s far northeastern corner, the Rocky Mountain Trench lies between the northern Rockies to the East and the Omineca Mountains in the west. The colossal W.A.C. Bennet Dam on the Peace River backs up two main tributaries, the Parsnip and Finlay to form the 360 kilometer long Williston Lake. The Peace River is unique in that it is the only river in BC that flows east along the continental divide. The Liard (which runs alongside HWY 97) and other large rivers in this part of BC all run north into Alaska and contain fish more commonly found in northern Alberta and the Yukon.
Rivers and lakes in this region are likely to hold populations of northern pike, Arctic grayling, lake char, walleye, whitefish, bull trout and rainbow. Check with local outfitters to find out what is swimming where and when the best time to catch them is. Rivers especially are subject to unexpected run-off conditions and local knowledge is a must! Some of the wildlife found here need to be treated with tremendous respect due to their ability to really ruin the day of anybody foolish enough to fail to respect the “space” they require as part of their comfort-zone, particularly when their young are present. Practice your bear-aware and remember, bears aren't the only thing in the forest that can hurt you if you forget that this is their home and that they make the rules.
The Bucking Horse, Tetsa, Liard, Smith, Sikanni Chief, Racing, Halfway, Prophet, Muskwa, Trout and Toad rivers are all easily reached off of highways 97 or 29. They offer a smorgasbord of grayling, bull trout, whitefish and northern pike for the eager fisherman. Check local regulations for in-season closures and changes.
The resource towns of Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort St John, Hudson's Hope and Tumbler Ridge all have nearby lakes that offer great fishing for Arctic grayling, northern pike, lake char, Dolly Varden, perch, goldeye, stocked rainbow and eastern brook trout. Try Moose, Heart, Moberly, Foot Azouetta, Gwillim and Sundance to name but a few.
Fishing methods for this area are much the same as those used in the Stewart-Cassiar region detailed earlier. You can spin-cast small spinners and spoons or fly-fish for the smaller species of fish such as grayling, whitefish, rainbow and eastern brook trout, bull trout and small char. For larger fish such as the big pike, use long spoons, big crankbaits, or top-water lures such as the Creek Chub Super Knucklehead or the Rapala Skitter Pop. Fly-fisherman should use a heavy stout rod and long gaudy marabou streamers with plenty of yellow and red in the design.
The Omineca-Peace River region is one of the few places in BC along with the Columbia River further south where you can fish for walleye. If you have never eaten freshly breaded walleye fillets fried in bacon fat in a cast iron pan at the side of a lake then you have not lived. In the opinions of many there is simply no better shore lunch to be had and they are pretty good when you take them home and cook them there too.
The trick to fishing for walleye is to simply find where the fish are holding. Once you find them anything that catches their attention is going to entice them to bite. Think of walleye as underwater kittens and try to tease them. Slow drift fishing with small lead-head jigs tipped with nightcrawlers, shiners, Yum Walleye Grubs, or Mister Twisters works and if you would rather troll or cast, try diving crankbaits like the Frenzy Flicker Shad, Poe's Cruise Minnow, Rapalla Fat Rap or Wally Diver. You can find walleye at Charlie Lake, or in the Beatton, Peace and Fort Nelson rivers.
For some excellent rainbow trout fishing as well as Dolly Varden, whitefish, grayling and huge lake trout, stop at Muncho Lake (Mile-437 on the Alaskan Highway). You can charter a floatplane at Muncho lake or Fort Nelson that will take you into Tuchodi, Fern, Gataga, Netson, Redfern, Fishing, Long Mountain, Tetsa, Wokkpash, Dall or Fairy lakes which hold Dolly Varden, grayling, rainbow trout and trophy lake char. Bring your camera for the trip, the spectacular views are a real bonus to the great fishing.
Maxhamish Lake is no stranger to 12-pound walleye. Troll for these large fish-eaters with Apex Hotspot lures, Tomic plugs, big spoons or diving crankbaits such as the Rapala X-Rap or Rebel Holographic Minnow.
When you are done fishing, take a luxurious soak in the Liard River Hot Springs where you can relax and contemplate everything you have seen and caught in the Omeneca-Peace River region.
YELLOWHEAD HIGHWAY (HWY 16)
The Yellowhead Highway (Named after fur trader and explorer Pierre Bostonais who was known for the yellow streaks in his hair) crosses the province from the Rocky Mountains in the east to Prince Rupert in the west. Travel this road and you trace the footsteps of Alexander Mackenzie who walked through here in 1793. I have no idea if Mr Mackenzie fished but I think it's a safe bet that he did and I'm also sure he had no trouble finding fish.
Head west out of Prince George and drive to where the rivers run shallow and clear to fish for rainbow trout and whitefish. The Bowron, Chilako and Willow rivers all offer fine fishing as does Cluculz Creek. You don't have to travel far from the towns of Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Houston and Smithers to find dozens of lakes that fish well. The larger lakes in the area, Francois, Stuart, Fraser, Babine, Burns, Takla and Trembleur contain lake char, whitefish, kokanee and burbot in addition to rainbow trout. For smaller lakes more suited to pontoon boats or float tubes there is Tachik, Pinchi, Grizzly, Tatuk, Tezzeron, Finger, Nuiki and Little Bobtail to try your luck in. You will catch rainbows and kokanee and don't stop fishing just because the water is hard, ice fishing is very popular here.
The Fresh Water Fisheries Society of BC is very active in the northern regions. They have stocked trout in Shane, Ferguson, Carp, Opatcho and Eena lakes near Prince George; Hart Lake in Crooked River Park; Dunalter and Johnston lakes near Houston; Tyhee and Round lakes near Telkwa; and Ross Lake near New Hazelton. These lakes offer plenty of fast and furious fishing for kids, old-timers and people just getting into the sport. For fishermen with a hunger for larger fish, Hobson and Chief Grey (near Vanderhoof), Richmond Lake (east of Burns Lake) and Duckbill and Duckwing lakes (near Moricetown) will satisfy their trophy rainbow craving.
Close to Terrace, (better known for it's salmon and steelhead fishing than it's stillwater trout fishing) Kleanza and Onion lakes are popular for plentiful, always hungry rainbow trout. Larger, deeper lakes nearby; Treston, Redsand and Kitsum-kalum have cutthroat and Dolly Varden.
The mighty Skeena River and it's equally famous tributaries (The Kispiox, Babine, Morice, Zymoetz, Copper, Bulkley, Suswa and Sustut rivers) are justifiably world renowned for their fantastic year round fishing. Starting in July and August, the rivers are filled with huge Chinook salmon. In September and October you can fish for coho as well as the resident rainbow and Dolly Varden that are gobbling down eggs as fast as they can find them. The tributaries themselves are arguably better known for the trophy steelhead that make the trip from the ocean every year. Bright as a new bar of silver with a crimson stripe down their sides, these magnificent fish are found here up to 22-pounds and a trip to this area is the highlight of many fishermans lives. Steelhead in these rivers will eagerly slurp down a dry fly in the summer months but the great fishing continues through the winter and well into spring. Use heavy spoons such as the Luhr Jenson Crocodile, Williams Bully, Blue fox Pixie and the Gibbs Delta Kit-A-Mat or large spinners like the Mepps Aglia, Gibbs Delta Tee Spoon or Luhr Jenson Bang Tail. Bounce your lure along the bottom and if you aren't snagging occasionally, you aren't fishing deep enough.
Float-drift gravel bars with bait (roe or dew worms), Gooey Bobs or Super Spin&Glows. If you are fishing from a boat, back-troll wiggling lures like the Luhr Jenson Hot Shots or Kwikfish, Worden's Flatfish or Blue Fox's Foxee Fish. Place your lure right in front of the salmon's nose to entice it into striking.
Don't overlook fly-fishing for these huge migratory fish. In the summer use a large floating fly and skate it over the surface, leaving a large wake. You will often see the fish zero in on these top water disturbances and hit your fly like a cruise missile. Steelhead will sometimes follow a fly for a long time without striking so be sure to let your line swing all the way through and then pause a few seconds before re-casting. Try a Crystal Caddis, Bulkley Skater Orange, Death from Above or even the biggest rattiest Tom Thumb you have in your box. Later in the season switch to sunken flies with lots of marabou and rabbit fur such as a Steelhead Bee, Egg-Sucking Leech, Popsicles, Stellar's Jay and General Practitioners. There are at least as many steelhead flies as there are steelhead fly-fishers (probably far more!) so don't get too hung up on the pattern. Presentation and fishing where the fish are holding are the most important aspects of fly-fishing for steelhead.
In the smaller streams of this area use the same methods you have used elsewhere in the North. Small spinners and spoons for the rainbow, Dolly Varden and whitefish. From a boat in the lakes use trolling lures; Apex Hot Spots, Kokanee Killers and Wedding Band Spinners. Fly fishermen should tailor their offerings to the season and the available local food. Bead Head Chironomids, 52 Buicks, Tom Thumbs, Doc Spratley, Adams, Leeches, Whooley Buggers and terrestrials will all work at different times of the year.
As always, your local tackleshop is the place to go for advice, not only on patterns, lures and hot fishing tips, but where NOT to go due to the often unpredictable nature of the water levels in the rivers and creeks along Route-16. A good rain will sometimes result in flash floods that can quickly shut down the highway not to mention isolate whole communities!
PRINCE RUPERT AND THE NORTHERN COAST
Anybody who has ever watched a TV-show about fishing off the northern coast knows exactly why you don't want to try it in winter. Hurricane-force gales slam the coast in the cold months and limit saltwater sport-fishing to the spring and summer. Most fishing resorts and charter operators normally start their operations in May and are done by mid September. A few however will stay open from November until April to offer river-fishing for steelhead, salmon, cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden.
From Prince Rupert (near the mouth of the Skeena River) you have access to major salmon runs entering rivers like the Skeena, the Nass and the Kitamat as well as nearby offshore waters teeming with halibut, lingcod and rockfish. Prince Rupert's sheltered harbour is home to a large fleet of experienced fishing charter operators that offer single and multiple-day expeditions. Several remote saltwater resorts have full service lodges and offer guided or self guided fishing.
Dundas and Zayas islands, about 60-kilometers north of Prince Rupert have excellent fishing for huge Skeena and Nass Tyee as well as high-leaping coho. Vast kelp forests on the north side of Zayas Island provide the opportunity of remarkable ocean fly-fishing for Pacific salmon. Some of the fishing lodges in this area have to be seen to be believed and definitely cater to the fisherman who likes his post-fishing time comfortable and well supplied with gourmet food, comfortable chairs and spectacular surroundings.
Closer to the mouth of the Nass River on the northern mainland, Work Channel and Portland Canal are holding spots for salmon and bottom fish. There is excellent fishing to be found in Chatham sound and around the islands and islets of the Tree Knob Group to the west. Farther south a large back eddy forms off Gobble point near the mouth of the Skeena. This is a popular place to motor-mooch big cut-plug herring for coho, chum and Tyee-sized Chinook. Fish for bottom fish at nearby Warrior Rocks.
Leading into the town of Kitamat and Whale channel, Douglas Channel has excellent year-round fishing for Kitamat River Chinook. Mature Tyee can be real monsters weighing in at over 55 pounds! The two channels are very deep and have great bottom fishing for rockfish, halibut and abundant lingcod. Catch the huge salmon in this vast region by downrigger-trolling large spoons, (Tomic Road Runner, Gibbs Delta Wonder, Gator, Clendon Stewart, O'Ki Titan, Williams whitefish and Luhr Jenson Coyote or Diamond King for example), seven-inch Tomic Plugs, whole herring in Rhys Davis Teaser Heads or Hoochies (J200, Tiger Prawn, or Glow Green Splatterback), behind flashers (Hot spot, O'Ki, Luhr Jenson or Gibbs Delta). Power-mooching cut-plug herring along the edges of kelp beds at depths between eight and 20-metres is another proven tactic. Throughout the summer coho, pink, chum and the occasional sockeye will be caught along with the Chinook.
Sharp-fanged lingcod, tasty rockfish and halibut await you at depths of 60-100 metres. Use a spreader bar with one to two pounds of weight to bottom bounce jumbo herring, 12-inch Delta UV purple or white Hali Hawgs or Gulp Bait Swimmers. You can also opt to give yourself an aerobic lift-drop workout with heavy drift jigs like Doug Fields Halibut Spinnow, Gibbs Delta Mudraker or Floorwalker, Delta Giant Skirt Jig, Storm Giant Jigging Shad or a Norwegian Cod Jig.
The Haida First Nation has continuously occupied the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, or “Islands of the People” for thousands of years. In 1787, British explorer Captain George Dixon named the the Queen Charlotte Islands to honour the wife of England’s King George lll. More than 200 years later in 2010 after an historic agreement between the Haida and British Colombian governments, the name was officially changed to Haida Gwaii.
The two largest islands, Moresby and Graham have several small communities with a population of about 6000 permanent residents. There are small commercial airports located at Masset and Sandspit and Sandspit is also where you will find the ferry to the mainland. Reservations are a must for the seven hour trip between Prince Rupert and Skidegate and there are only an average of three sailings per week so be sure to get those reservations early.
The other aproximatly150 smaller islands are mostly uninhabited and many are protected. In fact, much of Haida Gwaii is protected area. The Gwaii Hannas National Park Reserve and Haida Herritage Site covers most of Moresby and surrounding islands and islets. Gwai Hannas means “Islands of Beauty” in the Haida language.
Positioned on the extreme western edge of the North American continental shelf, the isolation of Haida Gwaii contributes greatly to the outstanding sport fishing found here. The local temperatures are regulated as is most of the BC coast by the North Pacific Current which keeps the climate mild but also ensures that the islands are well watered, very well watered. Conditions tend toward wet and windy from October until April with July being the driest month. Wind can be a real problem in the open ocean and in fact, Cape Saint James at the southern tip of the archipelago has seen some of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in Canada. Always check for small craft warnings before heading out for a day of fishing.
The cold, nutrient rich North Pacific fosters prolific schools of herring, needle-fish, krill and squid. This bounty of feed attracts run after run of of mature salmon on their way to spawn in their home streams up and down the coast. The islands of Haida Gwai are the first relatively shallow water the fish encounter after spending their early lives growing fat in the Gulf of Alaska and the open Pacific.
Great fishing is to be had year-round here but some times are better than others for specific fish. The Chinook are fishing well from April until September while the sockeye make their main appearance from May through July. Catch hard fighting chum from July to September and fish for Halibut from March until September, provided of course that the Halibut fishery is open. In October of 2011 Federal Fisheries closed the recreational halibut fishing completely to preserve stocks. Check the fisheries web-site for in-season closures.
Slab-sided Chinook (averaging almost 22-pounds) are the rule and the odds of catching a Tyee (over 30-pounds) are excellent. Northern coho will really make you work with their acrobatic leaps and ability to change direction almost instantly. Pink and chum salmon tend to be more opportunistic and will attack just about any dangling bait, even if it's right beside the boat!
The large numbers of returning Pacific Salmon to the archipelago are partially due to the ongoing efforts of the Fish Council of the Haida Nation. The Haida have taken a leading role in the policies and management of local recreational fishing. Their hatchery at Pallant Creek produces upwards of 30 million chum fry and over a million coho smolts every year. They also do creel-surveys and boat-counts to asses the nature and impact of recreational fishing in the Haida Gwaii to better manage the resource for future generations.
The deep off-shore banks and rocky shoals of Haida Gwaii are a bottom-fisher's dream. Halibut over 110-pounds are caught consistently as well as good numbers of the “chicken halibut” that are better suited for the table. Sharp-toothed lingcod, redsnapper and Pacific yelloweye rockfish will eagerly snap at any deeply drifted lure or bait. The largest of these fish are all female so anglers are strongly encouraged to release any really big halibut and lingcod. A trip to the surface is most-often fatal for rockfish so if you catch a few of these willing biters in any of the deepwater holding areas, consider moving on to another location.
Hada Gwaii is well populated with guides and fishing lodges and your odds of a successful day on the water increase greatly with the hiring of one of these seasoned professionals. In addition to the dozens of guiding companies there are approximately 20 full service lodges scattered throughout the islands, some of them are quite remote and are fly-in or boat-in only. Reservations fill early and most prospective lodgers book their favorite location a long time in advance of their trip. Most lodges will assist guests in the shuttle between the airports and the lodge and some will even charter planes in from major centres.
The northern end of Graham Island has vast fish-holding kelp beds, coves and deep rocky crevices. Popular spots include the rocky, indented shoreline from Masset west to Cape Eddenshaw at the entrance to Naden Harbour in Virago Sound, and further west to the Bird Rocks. When weather and sea conditions permit, anglers will often find fantastic salmon and bottom-fishing along the western shores of Moresby and Graham islands. Take a day charter from the western end of the Skidegate Channel to Marble Island in the Cartwright Sound or book a longer stay in one of the floating or land-based lodges to be found in Port Lewis, Hippa Island, Rennel Sound, Kano Inlet, Cartwright Sound and Engle-field Bay to spoil yourself with some of the amazing sport-fishing to be had in those areas.
Lanfara Island, just off the north-western tip of Graham Island has several resorts that offer unguided, partially or fully guided fishing. Fish for salmon and bottom-fish off the kelp beds that line the eastern side of the island. McPherson, Andrews and Cohoe points are always a good bet. Drift-fish narrow Parry Passage between Langara and Graham islands for big halibut and if the southeast winds pick up, Guinia Point and Bruin Bay can offer you some protection. When the ocean is calm and reasonably fog-free, try around Lacy Island, the Langara Lighthouse, the area around the Langara Rocks and offshore (following the 100-metre bottom contour) for splendid salmon and bottom-fishing.
Power-mooching plug-cut herring at depths of seven to 15-metres around kelp beds and back eddies off of points take the most salmon. Offshore, dead-drift whole herring baits at 30-50metres behind your boat, letting the wind and the tidal currents do the work. If your boat has downriggers, fast-troll lures at depths down to 50-metres. Try big spoons (like the Tomic #500 or #602 “Honeycomb” Road Runner; Gibbs Delta 50/50, Clendon Stewart Wonder and Gator; Williams Whitefish; O'Ki Titan; and Luhr Jenson Chrome superior, Coyote and Diamond King), Apex hot spots, The True Roll Lure, seven inch Tomic Plugs (#500, #530UV, #602, #803 or #493), whole herring (or plastic Baitrix imitation herring, anchovy or strip) in Ryhs Davisteaser heads, hoochies (Glow-green Splatterback, Tiger Prawn or North Pacific j200) behind flashers (Hot Spot, Gibbs Delta, O'Ki, or Luhr Jenson) or cut-plug herring.
Ocean fly-fishing for salmon becomes more popular every year and some lodges cater specially to fly-fishers that want to try their hand in the salt. Take along an eight to ten weight rod, a stainless steel or anodized reel with a good disc drag and plenty of new backing. Don't forget to thoroughly wash all your gear in fresh water after you are done fishing for the day, watching a fisherman discover his new $500 reel has seized up because of the saltwater is not a pretty sight. Pick up a good supply of Clouser Minnows, floating bass “poppers” and big polar bear streamers in various sizes and colors. Target kelp beds and rocky points and look for salmon slashing through schools of baitfish. Hang on tight, salmon hit a fly hard!
Bottom-bounce a whole herring, salmon belly or head, Berkley PowerGrub, Gulp Bait Swimmer, 12-inch Gibbs Delta UV Hali Wag or Storm ThunderGrub from a spreader bar with a kilogram of lead weight, along the 70-100-metre bottom contour to entice large halibut, rockfish and lingcod. For a little exercise and strikes that will pull your arm into the water, drift-jig a Doug Field's Hallibut Spinnow, Gibbs Delta Floorwalker or Mudraker, Sumo 7X, Storm Giant Jigging shad, Norwiegian cod Jig or Gibbs Delta Giant Skirt Jig along the bottom. Again, be sure to check the regulations for closures and special conditions.
Although most fishermen come to Haida Gwaii for the satlwater fishing, it isn't the only game in town. Trophy steelhead battle their way up the islands creeks and rivers starting in fall and continuing through the winter and into spring. There is also sensational fishing for coho in the fall and searun Dolly Varden and cutthroat all year-round. The local rivers and streams are a fly-fisherman’s paradise . On Graham Island you can drive to rivers like the Yakoun, Tlell, and Kumdis while over on Moresby, try the Copper River. Island lakes and streams that are accessible only by boat or helicopter offer even more amazing fishing. Catch trophy freshwater fish on the fly using patterns like the Popsicle, Skunk, Mickey Finn or Steelhead Bee. Tie up some egg patterns, Whooley Buggers, nymphs and small drys for the resident rainbow. If you prefer to throw the gear, try spoons like the Gibbs Delta Koho or Kit-A-Mat, Luhr Jenson Crocodile, Williams Bully, Blue Fox Pixee or a Worden's Spin-N-Glow.
Lastly lest we forget, don't leave the islands without having a really good feed or two of delicious fresh crab or prawns. Drop a trap off the side of the boat while you fish or off the beach at North Beach on Graham Island. Let the tide cycle in and out and dinner is served!