This past January I was lucky enough to visit Copper Bay Lodge in Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). For me it was like a homecoming, as I was with two great fishing buddies, I knew all of the guides from past trips to the Bulkley, Morice and Dean and they are some of the best in the business. This was yet another Derek Botchford operation to compliment the renowned Frontier Farwest Lodge, his Bulkley canyon jet boat camp, and his remarkable wilderness king fishing programs on some of the most remote waters in coastal BC. I knew this would be another great program but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much this unique rainforest program resonated with me. We fished four different rivers, we experienced and adapted to a wide range of conditions, we caught really strong fish and we never saw another angler!
Haida Gwaii is the northernmost of the BC islands and is located 70 miles offshore. It is home to the Haida people, originally the most fierce and feared of all the PNW natives. They paddled massive cedar dugout war canoes as far south as California and often took slaves back home with them. Their population was decimated by disease, especially smallpox. Between 1860 and 1863 their numbers dropped from 20,000 to 600. Despite this tragedy they are again vibrant and remain proud of their reputation as the Vikings of North America.
We were greeted with an unexpected 18 inches of fresh heavy snow which downed countless trees and made getting to the the river challenging.
When we got to the river it was one of the most beautiful and peaceful experiences in my fishing career. Not a footprint nor a sign of other anglers. Just us and the steelhead!
Here is angler Bruce Moore with one of his many fish. These are fisheries where you hope for a fish a day. For some of us the numbers were lower and for some of us the numbers were higher. Franco from Italy hooked 17 fish, many of which were bright white and often too hot to handle.
Here is a bright one. These fish are considered some of the strongest winter steelhead in the word. I had a seven pound fish jump seven times, take three long runs and beat me up worse than many steelhead twice its size.
A typical Haida Gwaii scene. This is the lodge’s home river and it is remarkably consistent. Due to low hanging branches, the region offers some of the most technical and rewarding spey/switch fishing I have experienced.
This is the lodge. It overlooks a totally pristine beach and caters to groups of 3-5 anglers. You won’t see the place often in the daylight but it is a great base with comfortable rooms and super food.
My last and largest fish held by one of my very favorite guides, Steve Morrow. While colored, this fish pulled really hard and made me look rather foolish during portions of the landing process.
Happy campers enjoying another great meal at Copper Bay Lodge.
Email Ken with questions or interest in our open dates for next season.