West Coast Fishing Club – North Island Lodge, Langara Island, Review 2016

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Dawn breaking over the fishing grounds off Langara Island

Pam and I both enjoyed our annual Canadian fishing trip. This year, we stayed at the West Coast Fishing Club’s North Island Lodge, and we’d like to share our experience with you in the following review:

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Relaxing in the comfy lounge area after a day of fishing

Facilities: The North Island Lodge is located in a protected bay at the south end of Langara Island, just off the north end of Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Island). This is one of West Coast’s three facilities in this area. The North Island Lodge caters to people who want a more casual atmosphere, something we prefer. The facilities were quite comfortable for us featuring a standard two-person cabin room with two beds, a closet, dresser, and en suite bathroom complete with a shower.  There is a spacious lounge area you can retire to each day after fishing where soft drinks, beer, and wine are served at no extra cost, and tasty hors d’oeuvres are available to munch at your leisure before dinner. Hard liquor is also available at a nominal fee. Dinner is served at about 8:30 pm nightly in a comfortable dining area, and we found the meals to be quite good and nicely presented. Both areas feature a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and excellent views of the ocean. For lunch, you can opt to stay at sea or retu20160711_202744ern to the lodge. If you want to keep fishing through lunch, the staff will prepare sandwiches and snacks for you to take along in a cooler. They will also deliver soup and a hot sandwich to your boat at your request. Breakfast is standard continental fare with scrambled eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, cereals and yogurts, and plenty of fruit. During our trip, the staff and service was superb—everyone was cheerful and helpful at all times, both on the docks and inside the lodge. It was one of the best staff groups we’ve experienced.

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The dock is an extension off the floating lodge so your boat is ready when you are

Boats: We opted for a self-guided package and fished in a 19 ft. Eagle Craft center-console boat that was well equipped with downriggers, three salmon rods, two halibut rods, and all the other necessary gear and bait required for fishing. There was always a friendly crew member on the dock adjacent to the lodge to assist you when needed. Guided boats are slightly more spacious, but you will have to pay a bit more for that luxury. Still, if you aren’t familiar with fishing for salmon and halibut in the ocean it would be well worth the extra expense. Fishing with a knowledgeable guide makes it easier on you, too, but we’re too hard-headed (at least me) for that option.

Fishing: We have fished off Langara Island before so we were familiar with the area. One of the things we always liked here is the ability to fish either side of the island and get some protection from prevailing winds. Although we traveled in mid-summer, no one can control the weather, so it’s nice to have options for fishing grounds. We booked the longer trip (5 days/4 nights) which gave us three full fishing days with part days upon arrival and before departure. That maximizes your chances of success, especially if the weather turns nasty.

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One day’s take included a medium-sized Chinook (26 pounds)

We’ve always done well at Langara and this year was no exception. The “take” limit in this area is eight salmon per person per trip, four of which can be Chinooks, and we managed to get our limits. On our trip, Coho (silver salmon) were reasonably plentiful, but you had to work for the Chinooks, which is normal after the month of June. We released many fish, too, mostly Pink salmon. The one hazard we did encounter was the local population of voracious sea lions which ate three of our salmon before we could get them onboard. One big sea lion striped all of the line off of the reel when he grabbed our fish, but we managed to cut the line loose before he could take the rod and reel with him, too. Oh well—all part of the fishing experience on Langara Island.

You have three fish processing options. Take your vacuum-packed and frozen catch home with you in boxes, have your catch custom-processed and shipped to you (extra charge), or take your catch home fresh. Be sure to get your Canadian fishing license and salmon stamp on line before departing for the trip (available on line at Fisheries and Oceans Canada).

Travel: Living near the Los Angeles area, we always fly to Vancouver, British Columbia the day before our trip and stay overnight in a hotel. We booked the Pacific Gateway Hotel at Vancouver Airport and were pleased with our accommodations. The hotel is less than 10 minutes away from Vancouver Airport’s South Terminal via a courtesy shuttle, which runs every 20 minutes. We also stay the night on the day of our return to Vancouver, and then fly home the next day. The hotel will put your packaged fish in its freezer overnight at no extra charge. On the day you start your trip, you have to be at the Vancouver South Terminal desk before 7:30 am to log in with West Coast. From the South Terminal, you will fly to Masset on Haida Gwaii. From there, it’s a 10-minute helicopter ride to the lodge. All transportation between Vancouver and the lodge is included as part of your trip package.  Your flight to and from home to Vancouver is at your own expense.

We had a great time on this trip, and we’re happy to recommend West Coast Fishing Club as an excellent option for a Canadian ocean fishing experience. Overall the trip was excellent, and the staff one of the best we’ve had the pleasure of working with. Langara Island is a good place to fish, and if you’re thinking of ocean fishing for salmon or halibut it’s a great area to visit. Try it, and we think you’ll like it.  I know we did.

West Coast Fishing Club is on line at http://westcoastfishingclub.com/ or call 888-432-6666

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Salmon and Halibut Fishing at the Queen Charlotte Lodge: 2015

DSC_9499smeWe just returned from our annual Canadian salmon fishing trip for 2015.  This year we were at the Queen Charlotte Lodge for the second year in a row. We had good travel connections both ways. You fly to Vancouver, catch an early chartered jet the next morning to Masset on Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Island), and then take a 12 minute helicopter ride to the Lodge, (the reverse on the way home). We opted for the four day fishing package to maximize our chances. You arrive at the Lodge before 10:00 am on the first day, enjoy a quick brunch and orientation, and then you start fishing. This year we paid for a half-guided trip (last year we went off on our own). Both times we’ve stayed on the MV Driftwood, a nicely refitted tugboat operated by the Lodge that sleeps 14 passengers, and it’s anchored right on the fishing grounds. The Lodge ashore is more of a resort and it’s plush with a few extra amenities if that’s what you like, but it’s at least a 30 minute trip each way from the Lodge docks to the fishing grounds. The crew on the Driftwood were great, the food was excellent (but breakfast is pretty light), and you can fish as long as you like. That fits our style.

This year we fished with a guide for the first two days and we weren’t disappointed. Cole was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and worked hard to get us fish, and I understand the rest of the guides do the same. You’ll pay $400 a day extra for that guide service, but if you haven’t fished downrigger style before, or if you want to save most of your energy to fight the fish, it’s worth it. We opted for a guide because fishing is hard work, and two days on our own was enough individual effort for this trip. Guides are also limited to 11 hours of fishing daily, but you can stay out longer if you are on your own. Boats, fishing gear, bait, and advice are free no matter which way you go. Fish cleaning and freeze packaging is also free unless you opt for individual one-pound-cut portions. You pay extra for that service, but it’s worth it when you get home and find that you don’t have to cut or repackage your fillets.

DSC_4867smeThis year we choose a later date for our trip, the first week of September. That didn’t work as well for us because the usual late Coho run didn’t happen this year, and the King salmon bite had slowed down by the end of August. But we still returned home with almost 150 pounds of mixed fillets. I would recommend fishing in this area from late June through mid-August if possible; traditionally it’s a better time of the year for Kings. The fish limits per person this year were the same as last year.  There is a daily possession limit of four salmon, two of which can be Kings.  The total take limit for salmon is eight fish, four of which can be King salmon. Two fish is the take limit for halibut, but none can be over about 60 pounds and only one fish can be in possession per day. Rockfish limits varied. You can buy your Canadian fishing license and check the limits online before your trip.

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I got the head, but the sea lion got the rest of the fish

Last year we filled our cards on King salmon and halibut in late June, but Coho were scarce. Our biggest King last year was 33 pounds. This year we bagged four kings and the largest was 25 pounds. We also limited on halibut, averaging a little over 10 pounds each, and rockfish were plentiful. Pam scored a 15 pound yellow-eye as the biggest rockfish we caught. There were a few Coho around, and we caught some, but they weren’t as plentiful as we expected this late in the year. Maybe they will return again next year?  We also lost two nice Kings to sea lions this year for the first time —bummer, but that can happen wherever you go.

We always enjoy our Canada trips and this year was no exception. The food at the Queen Charlotte Lodge is excellent whether you are staying on the Driftwood or staying at the Lodge, the staff always treats you very well, and the fishing is good although it varies from year to year and depends a bit on the season. No one can predict the weather, and so far we’ve caught calm seas half of the time, but some wind and rainy days, too. All-in-all, the Queen Charlotte Lodge still runs an excellent operation and we recommend it if it fits your budget. The staff is top notch, and they work hard to keep you happy. The fishing grounds are generally productive and always scenic with plentiful humpbacks and occasional orcas, and bald eagles flying overhead. Try it if you get the chance; we think you won’t be disappointed.

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A Fishing Cabin on the Smith River

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A view of the Smith River at our rental cabin

We were looking for a cabin rental in or near Crescent City for a recent botany trip and Pam found us a lovely place about 10 miles inland from Crescent City off Highway 199, right alongside the Smith River. The main cabin had a large bedroom with a king sized bed; two smaller bunk beds were in a smaller side room. There was another smaller adjacent cabin on the same property fitted out with a double bed and three more bunks. DSC_9226smrThe living room of the main cabin also had two sofas so the rental will handle a crowd if necessary. There were two television sets in the main cabin, books and games in cabinet drawers, a well-appointed kitchen stocked with an oven, refrigerator, microwave, and every utensil you would ever need, and a washer and dryer enclosed on a small back porch.

 

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The main porch was open, faced the river, and included a large hot tub and comfortable lounging chairs. Across a small lawn there was a fire pit/barbecue patio set up so you could look directly down onto the river. Floating and fishing equipment and a canoe were also available for use if one desired. In short, this turned out to be a great place to spend a week, which we did.

The basic rental fee is $800/week for the first person, plus $30/night or ($150/ week) for each additional guest. You can contact the owners, Bill and Renee, thru their website at www.ourcabinontheriver.com/ for more information or to book a stay. During salmon and/or steelhead season, this would be an outstanding place to stay for a fishing trip with its two, short trails that lead directly from the property down to the river, both emptying out near large, deep fishing holes.

It wasn’t fishing season while we were there,  so our focus was more on botany and hiking many of the nearby trails, including those in nearby Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The Stout Grove of redwoods in Jedediah Smith State Park

The Stout Grove of redwoods in Jedediah Smith State Park

We enjoyed looking around the nearby botanical preserves in the Six Rivers National Forest for rare plants that only occur on serpentine soils, but we also liked hiking along other trails that featured huge redwood groves and clusters of other different plants such as the California pitcher plant (also called the Cobra Lily or Darlingtonia).

Cobra lilies and five-fingered ferns along the Stony Creek Trail

Cobra lilies and five-fingered ferns along the Stony Creek Trail

Nearby trails in the Toloway Dunes State Beach Park, just north of Crescent City, were flat and fun to explore, and ended in beautiful secluded beaches with stunning coastal views. Information on trailheads can be found on the web, or at nearby information centers, and we recommend that you do some homework before arriving to help with your itinerary.

A deserted beach looking toward the north at Tolowa Dunes State Park near Crescent City

A deserted beach looking toward the north at Tolowa Dunes State Park near Crescent City

This section of northern California lies just below the Oregon border and it’s a beautiful and scenic place with a lot of variety to offer visitors. We even took a day off from hiking and went fishing in the ocean, and you can find that post in our last blog under Crescent City Sportfishing (August 8, 2015). This rental proved to be comfortable and well-located for us, and it more than met our needs and expectations. If you’re passing thru this area, and looking for something more than an overnight lodging, we highly recommend this river cabin as a place to stay.

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