| Fishing is the
most common sport in Haida Gwaii,
formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands, and fishing is exceptional
year round. Anglers are drawn by the world-class salmon fishing, as
the island archipelago is the first land mass encountered on the migratory
path of the Pacific chinook, coho, and chum salmon as they journey
from the Arctic feeding grounds to their spawning grounds in the Pacific
The fishing potential in Haida Gwaii requires very little introduction,
there being ready access to superb freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Salmon fishing is seasonal. Fishing for just about everything else
is a year-round sport. Catch cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, or dolly
varden inland, or get out onto the ocean to jig for lingcod, red snapper,
or halibut. Anglers fishing for halibut have been known to swamp their
small boats while trying to land these potentially huge fish, so be
careful if you snag a big one!
On many streams,
high tide can easily push inland a mile (1.6 km) or more. As catch
limits vary for tidal and non-tidal waters, tidal boundaries are
posted on streams where regulations are subject to change.
At the head of Virago Sound, off Dixon Entrance on the northern
coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands, is pristine Naden
Harbour, the remote location favoured by fishing lodges that
attract sports anglers to the world-class salmon fishing offered
by the islands. This location on the northeast coast of Haida Gwaii
is ideal to intercept all runs of Pacific Salmon southbound for
the rivers of British Columbia to the south. Besides the five species
of salmon, halibut and other bottom fish are also in abundance throughout
the fishing season (June through mid-September), as well as crabs
and prawns. In addition to some of the finest fishing in the world,
visitors to this remote wilderness, anglers and non-anglers alike,
enjoy an unparalleled sense of peace and tranquility, and develop
a strong appreciation for the beautiful surroundings.
Island is one of the three premier fly-in saltwater fishing
locations in British Columbia. The logging camps, fishing camps
and settlements on Langara Island are serviced by scheduled or charter
flights out of Alliford Bay on Moresby Island.
lodges are located at Port
Louis, offering excellent fishing for salmon and halibut, or
fishing for tuna 15 miles offshore. Amidst unparalleled scenic beauty,
and some of the most rugged shoreline on the west coast of Haida
Gwaii, Port Louis serves as a comfortable home base for adventurers
seeking world-class sports fishing. There are no communities in
this part of the remote coastline, only remote fishing lodges and
sport fishing motherships catering to the avid sport fisherman.
Fishing in Rennell Sound
and Kano Inlet, and the
west coast of the islands, is very productive, with springs caught
from May through September, and halibut and other bottom fish generally
present throughout the year. Sport fishing is the main attraction,
and chinook salmon are the main target species for most anglers,
although catches of halibut, lingcod, and rockfish are also great.
Anglers in Rennell Sound will find a boat launch located in Shields
Bay, at the head of the sound, a much-favoured shelter for fishing
boats. Those seeking comfort and expert fishing guides are accommodated
on a luxurious vessel anchored in Kano Inlet, the neighbouring inlet
immediately to the south of Rennell Sound.
In Masset, fishermen should
try their skills at Hiellen River, Sangan River or
Chown River. If you don't have a fishing rod, you can try
your hand - and shovel - at digging for razor clams (check
limits and licence requirements, if any) at low tide at North
Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park. The clams are found between
the high and low tide lines. Quarter-sized depressions in the sand
show where clams most likely are. If the sand moves when tapped,
there's a clam below. The trick is to dig fast enough to catch up
with the clam, which is burrowing for safety. It takes a few tries
to get the hang of it, and you have to be quick; these puppies are
There's a rustic car-top boat launch ramp at Mayer Lake in
Naikoon Provincial Park, and wilderness
camping along the lakeshore for people making extended fishing voyages.
Mayer Lake and Tlell River are the most accessible freshwater
fishing spots in Naikoon, near Tlell.
The Tlell River is famous for excellent steelhead fishing, huge
fall runs of coho salmon, and good cutthroat trout fishing during
July and August. Cutthroat fishing from 1 September to 30 June below
the Highway 16 bridge is restricted to catch and release
only. Yakoun Lake, about 15 miles (25 km) northwest of Queen
Charlotte City, is another popular freshwater fishing destination.
Famous for its steelhead, the Yakoun River south of Port
Clements is the largest river on Graham Island, and sees a good
coho salmon run in the fall, good year-round fishing for rainbow,
dolly varden and cutthroat trout, and a steelhead run from October
to March. Check for regulations on closure, possession limits and
catch and release restrictions. The Yakoun River is the only stream
system in Haida Gwaii that naturally supports a chinook salmon stock.
This wild stock is enhanced by the efforts of the Yakoun River (Marie
Lake) Fish Hatchery.
West of Port Clements, the Mamin River, which flows into
Juskatla Inlet, supports a good run of coho salmon from mid September
to mid October, and a good steelhead run from January to March.
The Port Clements Salmon Enhancement Club works on the Mamin River
and provides Yakoun River chinook to the Port Clements school feeding
and release program.
Fishing in Skidegate Inlet is very productive, between Graham
and Moresby Islands, and between Queen Charlotte City and Skidegate.
Try your luck for
springs and halibut off the small island near the museum
at Second Beach.
Fishing is excellent in the Sandspit
area, with bluejacks, springs and halibut caught off Sandspit
Bar and Sachs Creek, which flows to Kwuna Point just
before the ferry landing. Pinks and coho are caught in South
Bay and Haans Creek. The Deena River supports
a good steelhead run during early spring, and good coho salmon fishing
in October and November.
The Coho Salmon Derby runs for consecutive weekends at the
end of September, to coincide with the return of the bright silver
coho salmon from the deep Pacific Ocean. The coho derby is open
to anglers of all ages, and is one of the largest on Moresby Island.
Competitors launch at boat ramps at Alliford Bay, Sandspit, Copper
Bay, and Cumshewa Inlet, and fishing is restricted to the region
between Gray Bay and the Deena River, west of Alliford Bay. The
popular event closes with the equally popular Coho Derby Dance.
The best lake fishing on Moresby Island is found in Mosquito
Lake and Skidegate Lake, both of which are near Moresby
Camp. Mosquito Lake is closer, about 3 miles (5 km) to the northwest,
and anglers fishing for cutthroat and dolly varden will be relieved
to know that Mosquito Lake was named after the Second World War
bomber, and not the wretched bug. The Pallant River flows
out of Mosquito Lake and has a good steelhead run in the winter
and spring months. Skidegate Lake is about 6 miles (10 km)
beyond Mosquito Lake, and offers good cutthroat fishing during the
spring, early summer and fall months.
Accessible by car from Sandspit, the Copper River offers
a run of sea-run cutthroat and good dolly varden fishing between
May and July. Coho salmon run the Copper River from mid-September
Service and Facilities
Fishing guides abound, and luxurious fishing lodges, floating lodges
and sportfishing motherships provide the ultimate fishing experience
in this last frontier. Most of the fishing spots described are only
accessible through private logging roads. Sportsmen and visitors
using these roads should contact the forestry companies in Juskatla
and Sandspit for access information. Both saltwater and freshwater
fishing licenses are mandatory. Supplementary licenses are required
for steelhead. All fishing licences are available on the islands.
For regulations, restrictions and further information, please contact
the Visitor Centre.
A fish canning
and freezing plant located on the east shore of Masset Sound is
a significant source of employment in the community, and a hive
of activity during the fishing season. With the downturn in salmon
fisheries, the fish plant in Masset was facing hundreds of lay-offs
until they switched to processing the lowly Dogfish, locally abundant
and a source of high value by products. The processing plant offers
custom processing, vacuum packing, smoking, freezing and shipping
for locally-caught sport fish. Fresh or frozen fish and crabs are