2015 Season SummarySeptember 29, 2015 | 2655 Views
Legendary Returns Of Chinook Salmon, Great Weather & Whale Shows All Season Long!
“I’m not going to even try to find an adjective to describe what kind of a season it was; these things have to be seen, heard, felt, inhaled, tasted and sipped to be believed. So I’ll leave it at that.”
September 11, 2015
From opening day on May 31 to the last chopper’s departure on September 9, the 2015 fishing season was one of the most successful and memorable in the history of The West Coast Fishing Club.
With all three lodges operating at full capacity, our guests enjoyed consistently good fishing, record days of zero precipitation, and an abundance of marine wildlife to fill the moments between Salmon strikes.
According to long-time guests Bob McDonald and Peggy Zoro, opening day for The Clubhouse was unprecedented. Peggy made it clear to those in attendance that this was her “best afternoon of fishing ever at Langara Island” with all boats producing big numbers of Chinook Salmon ranging from mid-teens into the twenties. The Short Notice Club Salmon Derby, a season-opening tradition at The Clubhouse, was hotly contested, with the spoils of victory going to Dave Rishel, whose 29-pound fish secured him a return trip for two later in the year. By week two, Tyees had become a regular occurrence, including a nice his and hers set for Clubhouse guests Lad and Sandee Dawson, who celebrated their wedding anniversary with their first-ever Tyees, a 31 for Sandee and a 36 for her groom.
But it was North Island Lodge guest Ken Gardiner who rang the bell on the first Tyee of the season on June 4, an even 30 on a self-guided mission to Gunia Point. Ken was part of a feisty group of eager anglers who were the inaugural participants in The Ultimate Grill Showdown, a new tradition for the North Island Lodge that welcomed the ‘Godfather of the Grill’ Ted Reader, Park Heffelfinger from Memphis Blues Barbeque House, and celebrity chef Christian Pritchard to headline a trip that spoiled our guests with extraordinary BBQ fare each day. On the following trip the stellar fishing continued, as NIL guest Nathan Merkel moved the bar higher with a 42 pound fish, guided by Patrick Davies off McPherson Point.
On June 5 The Outpost welcomed its first group of excited anglers and the bite was on from the opening afternoon in all the usual spots outside the bay, and in particular at Three Rocks just a 10-minute run from the dock. The first trip saw lots of Chinooks in the mid-twenties and the first Tyee of the season on the final day to cap off a productive opening trip. Guests of The Outpost were also treated to the indescribable fare prepared by the husband and wife chef team of Paul Moran and Stephanie Noel. Earlier in the year Paul won the 2015 San Pellegrino Best Chef Under 30 in Canada competition, and then represented Canada in Milan, Italy for the title of World’s Best Young Chef, where he finished fifth among 20 of the world’s best and brightest.
After the June 7 to 11 trip, The Clubhouse’s veteran head guide Screamer (Mike Tonnesen) reported a wonderful stat – five Tyees all caught by women anglers in a single trip, which was a first for The West Coast Fishing Club – Lisa Stewart (37.5), Janis Gilchrist (34), Lisa Hudson (31), Clio De La Llave (30.5) and Merlyn Hough (30). And as an almost unprecedented length of sunny days continued through Canada Day, Screamer reported that there were Chinook Salmon all over the east side of Langara Island, with more fish in the twenties showing up out west and on the north side of Graham Island. Much of the action was at shallow depths, with most boats running mooching rods out back and being rewarded for their efforts, and more and more Coho in the seven to nine-pound range showing up too. While the Chinook action wasn’t as consistent as in June, the trend toward bigger fish continued through July, with even greater numbers of Tyees being logged by guests in sizes that seemed to steadily increase both at Langara Island and Port Louis. A bit of rain finally arrived in the middle of the month but went largely unnoticed as monster Chinook Salmon continued to move through Parry Pass, feeding on massive clusters of bait all along the top end of Graham Island.
North Island Lodge guide Brent Gallacher went on a roll in mid-July, guiding his guests to three fish topping 40 pounds over the course of just three days, including a new club-leading record for the season, a 47.5 pounder for Ed Fox. Brent also served as resident Halibut guru, guiding his guests to several sessions of memorable days of boating perfect turkey Halibut in the 40-60 pound range.
The following week saw David Hawksworth of Hawksworth Restaurant make his way up to The Clubhouse for the ninth annual David Hawksworth and Friends Culinary Adventure, which welcomed this year’s guest celebrity chef, Normand Laprise, of Montreal’s Toqué! Restaurant, by far the most celebrated of Montreal’s fine dining establishments. Other members of Canada’s culinary elite in attendance included Justin Leboe from Calgary restaurant, Model Milk, who gave the first culinary demo class of the trip, and Dino Renaerts, who found the time to undertake a self-guided mission with international sommelier Mark Davidson that yielded an impressive result. The principal of the Bon Vivant Group landed and promptly released a spectacular 55-pound Chinook Salmon, the largest of the season to date for The West Coast Fishing Club.
There were plenty of fish in the waters around Port Louis too, possibly even greater in number than at Langara Island, but with fewer in the upper range of Tyee-sized fish. Hippa Island began to produce well for guests of The Outpost, who caught countless fish from the mid-20’s to low 30’s down that way. Halibut lovers rejoiced on these waters all season long, with almost all guests taking home perfect fish in the 130-centimetre, 50-60 pound range.
With very consistent fishing towards the end of July, the Salmon continued to be larger with every passing week, including a 61.5 pound prize hog for Douglas Smith, which, remarkably, turned out to be the first Salmon he had ever caught and the best fish of the year for The West Coast Fishing Club. The Club salutes Douglas and veteran Clubhouse guide Bud Stafford for releasing this magnificent fish unharmed.
At The Clubhouse alone, a total of 14 Tyees hit the board for the trip period of July 30 to August 2, mostly caught along the north side of Graham Island, tight to the shore and in shallow water. Subsequently, a total of 29 Tyees between 30 and 41 pounds were recorded during a single week at The Clubhouse. The same kind of thing took place down at Port Louis too, with four Tyees caught in a single afternoon among just 14 guests
Once again, August produced one of the greatest concentrations of large fish typically found both at Langara Island and Port Louis. The Clubhouse guest Bob Nicholls found that to be true, as guide Korey Fletcher found him a 57 on August 18. Just days later, The Clubhouse hosted the 10th annual Fishing For Kids Tournament, which has evolved to become Canada’s most prestigious and benevolent sport-fishing tournament, benefiting the Canucks Autism Network (CAN). This year’s winner was Bob Wallis, who caught a 34.12 pound Tyee off Pop-off Point that earned him a $200,000 cheque that he donated to the cause in what has become a tournament tradition in support of BC families living with Autism. This year’s tournament raised an even one million dollars for CAN, and brings the total amount raised to date for BC Children’s charities to just under $7 million.
With The Outpost now closed for the season and North Island Lodge winding down, the focus was on The Clubhouse as it prepared to host the newest special-event trip for The West Coast Fishing Club. Dubbed End Of Season Party ~ Langara Rocks, the trip featured more legendary Chinook Salmon fishing along with appearances by special guest chefs Paul Moran and Stephanie Noel from The Outpost and an encore performance by long-time Club friend David Hawksworth. Together with The Clubhouse executive chef Shaun Snelling, the kitchen team served up three days and nights of culinary artistry set against a backdrop of stunning marine wilderness, and the unique brand of gracious living for which The West Coast Fishing Club is long famous. Live music was on the menu too courtesy of The Dock Rockers, a new house band for The Clubhouse comprised of veterans of Canada’s A-list roster of musicians who have played, sung and recorded with many big names, from Cher to Alice Cooper and from Bryan Adams to Shania Twain. For the next three days the lower lounge of The Clubhouse was transformed into the world’s coziest nightclub. The beat went on out on the water too, with all guests capitalizing on a continued run of energetic Chinook Salmon, capped off by the last Tyee of the season on the last day of the season, an even 30-pound fish for The Club’s resident scribe, Deepwater Don
And when it was over, the final guests of the season boarded choppers along with some weary guides and staff who had completed another marathon season to the delight of discerning guests from across North America and beyond.
Can next year hold more of the same?
We don’t see why not, but as already noted, these things have to be seen, heard, felt, inhaled, tasted and sipped to be believed.
Coming off another phenomenal season in Haida Gwaii, bookings are again at an all time high as we continue to put together the intricate puzzle that is the fishing season schedule.
We look are looking forward to an exciting 2016 season! If you haven’t confirmed your trip for next year be sure to call us TODAY at 1-888-432-6666 or click here to inquire online and secure your spots to give you something to look forward to until next season.
Hope to see you in 2016.
Before signing off, please enjoy a few photographs from world famous photographer George Fischer’s time at The Clubhouse during the End Of Season Party!