Hakai Pass, BC Saltwater Salmon & Sportfishing British Columbia

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Hakai Pass , BC
Saltwater Sportfishing Hotspots

with D.C. Reid

General Description
One of the three legendary Nirvanas of sport fishing fame - along with Langara Island and Rivers Inlet - Hakai Pass merits its accolade as 'the most beautiful remote wilderness fishing area in all of British Columbia'. Located 417 km north of Vancouver, Hakai Pass sits among a vast group of rocky islands facing the open Pacific Ocean. Arranged at time of booking, float planes fly clients from Vancouver's South Terminal to resort doorsteps. All hooked-on-fishing anglers owe it to themselves to ply these waters at least once in their current lifetimes.

BC Adventure Members serving this area:

Winter fishing is influenced by waves of feeder chinook that begin nosing into local bays in October. So thick are their numbers that Buzz Bombs elicit strikes nearly every cast. Alas, the fishery remains untapped; due to Hakai Pass' remote location, lodges presently close for business in the winter.

Summer fishing is influenced by first access to runs of salmon arriving fresh from the ocean bound for the Rivers Inlet basin and southern rivers. The IGFA World Record 85.5 lb chinook, taken on 20 lb test line, took the hook in August 1987. However, bigger monsters lurk the deep; commercial fishermen landed a 126 lb chinook off Cape Calvert in recent years.

Be prepared to wear out your arm with 20+ fish days. And fishing in this area can only keep on improving. In an innovative move, local resorts opened a hatchery at Shotbolt Creek in Rivers Inlet 10 years ago, beefing up an already impressive run of 50 - 60 lb chinook.

Annual Cycle of Runs
All five species of salmon may be found in the Hakai Pass area: chinook, coho , sockeye, chum and pink . As this is a summer-only fishery, all species appear as mature animals in summer and fall months making a bee-line to spawning beds. Chinook also appear as resident winter feeders, but angling pressure is slight.

October 15 - May 15, winter feeder chinook inhabit the shallow waters of local bays feeding on vast schools of herring. In June, feeder and white-fleshed chinook may top 38 pounds.

June also brings the first of the summer runs to Hakai Pass. En route to the Fraser River early in the month, southern sockeye intermingle with their Bella Coola River cousins as the month progresses.

Tyee chinook fishing (chinook exceeding 30 lbs) begins in July and peaks in the third week in August.

July coho average 9 - 15 lbs. During August and September, their size increases to a truly impressive 15 - 25 lbs. Various coho runs converge - from local Rivers Inlet rivers to as far south as the Columbia River in Oregon. In August, bright chrome chum vie with coho and pink for the angler's cutplug. Blistering is the only word that justly describes the run of a 20 lb chum in full flight.

Lures on an Annual Basis
Bait: Since all gear must be brought in by float plane, virtually all lodges supply and use bait. The typical setup is a large 6 - 7" cutplug herring rigged in a tandem hook arrangement with a 4 - 6 oz banana weight, 12 - 20 pulls behind the boat. Guides are strongly recommended as Hakai Pass is a vast area and motor mooching reaches a high level of finesse.

Bottom species prove sympathetic to offerings of herring fished 4' from a spreader bar and a 16 oz weight.

Hootchies: Not currently utilized, however, the Army Truck and white patterns suggest themselves as good first bets.

Plugs: Not currently utilized, however, any typical 5 - 6" Pacific plug, for example, the 602, 302 or 500 should produce.

Spoons: Not currently utilized, however, a Coyote spoon should produce early in the season and a red Krippled K later in the summer.

Bucktails: Not currently utilized, however, local schools of black bass in kelp beds on the west side of Calvert Island present the possibility of non-stop action for flyfishermen using green Clouser Minnows. Early in the season, Koeye River opportunities exist for steelhead, cutthroat and Dolly Varden.

Drift Fishing: If you can finagle a winter trip through a lodge owner, stand on the dock and resolutely fling the simplest drift fishing lure of them all: the white Buzz Bomb.

Overall Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
Hakai Pass has two types of fisheries: structure-related fishing for salmon; and, bottom fishing for halibut, lingcod and red snapper. The endless numbers of surf-breaking rocks, underwater shoals and wilderness islands make for more opportunities than can be summarized easily.

Salmon fishermen concentrate on Odlum Point, where salmon first touch Calvert Island at the entrance to Hakai Passage. While virtually all points and headlands on the Passage produce salmon, make sure not to miss The Gap and Barney Bay. Further afield, Spider Island, some 20 miles to the north west, provides exceptional action tight to the kelp bed on the wall.

All species of salmon press through high in the water column. Consequently, feed more than bottom structure influences the summer catch. Feed is pushed dramatically by tide curling around reefs and rocky points. At 12 - 20 pulls, a tug on the end of the line far more commonly indicates contact of the fishy kind than the rocky kind.

Bottom fishermen can literally catch 15 - 25 lb red snapper all day long. Intermingled with these googly-eyed creatures are toothy-mouthed lingcod to 40 lbs. Try the 40 - 200' shoals in West Bay, Airocobra and Dublin Point areas.

For the halibut inclined, 'butts' to 100 lbs lure themselves from right under the dock. More conventional locations would include West Bay and shoals off the broad mouth of Hakai Passage. Look for the unending surge of ocean swell and find the ridges where the territorial fatties reside.


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Seafood Recipes (Pt2)
Seafood Recipes (Pt3)
Seafood Recipes (Pt4)
Hot Spots
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Casting for Your Catch
Drift Fishing (Pt1)
Drift Fishing (Pt2)
Mooching for Salmon
Tough Knots for Big Fish
Trolling for Salmon (Pt1)
Trolling for Salmon (Pt2)
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Winter Fishing the Capital

Peter Caverhill
Brian Chan
Fred & Ann Curtis
Ian Forbes
Geoff Hobson
Gordon Honey
Steve Kaye
Fred's Custom Tackle
Ron Newman
D. C. Reid
Philip Rowley
Barry Thornton

Hakai Pass, BC Saltwater Salmon & Sportfishing British Columbia