A winter or spring steelheading trip to Haida Gwaii is unlike any other steelhead trip you may have done. Although in some respects visibly similar to the smaller rivers of the OP, or the Prince of Whales road system and mothership programs. However Haida Gwaii is completely unique to its own and represents one of the most interesting and challenging venues we have seen. The steeheading you will see reminds people of what is so special about winter fish. Dime bright, tidal pool pushes with enough shoulders to push all your gear to the limit. These rivers are known for their extremely bright hard fighting fish.
Over your seven day trip, there is the opportunity to fish five separate steelhead rivers, each with their own unique challenges and rewards. They certainly don't always have fish, and the windows can be very small however they are wonderful streams to cast a fly. The rivers are densely forested, and beautiful to the extreme.
Our main fishery is the Yakoun River which represents the ultimate in winter steelheading. Being the main river on the island chain, It has the best fly water and most productive fishing opportunities. It’s on the northern end of Graham Island and flows north from Yakoun Lake to enter the Masset Inlet and then the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest of the rivers on Haida Gwaii and has consistently good, reliable fishing conditions. Even after heavy rains, the Yakoun River can drop back into shape in a matter of hours.
Haida Gwaii steelhead are a winter-run fish, and are known for their strength and impressive size for such small waters. Fishing Haida Gwaii steelhead you will find only wild, strong fish that will compare to the strongest strains of steelhead in the world. We often catch these fish as they first enter fresh water and the neon glow of their bright silver scales seems to illuminate an entire pool. Most Haida Gwaii steelhead start life in the streams that feed lakes, which in turn feed other streams that outflow to the ocean.
One important factor to remember when fishing Haida Gwaii is that all these streams and rivers are very small, especially if you compare them to the other classified rivers of B.C. It is unique in the fact that the majority of the steelhead are main stem spawners. Unlike most larger systems, where many of the steelhead hold up at creek mouths for the right water flow to enter for spawning, the majority of these fish actually spawn in main rivers themselves.
The early run of steelhead will typically stay in the river for quite some time while they mature to spawn, whereas the fish that show up in April or later can spawn and leave the system all within a week's time. Once the Queen Charlottes steelhead start life in the gravel of the stream bed, they are subject to many stream-side predators before migration to the sea. Some steelhead migrate the next spring to the ocean and spend one to three years before returning. The majority remain in their natal streams for two years and then migrate downstream to the ocean to complete the sea-run phase.
Along the road to Moresby Camp that goes right by the lodge, there are a number of small streams, almost ditches, in which steelhead spawn. The best time for these small rivers is April/May. These fish can easily be spotted, paired-up holding or actively spawning, usually under some overgrowth of salmonberry bush or alder trees. These fish are extremely strong and truly at the top of the steelhead evolution.
Our fish average 8 to 12 pounds but tend to be a little thicker and stronger than fish from most summer runs. The Yakoun has the largest average size among the rivers we fish. The Yakoun is also by far the highest catch rate for all the systems on Haida Gwaii. The smaller rivers are very hit and miss, with most outings being a miss. However when you do tie into one the experience is very unique. On the Yakoun under good water conditions you can expect to have one bite each day. The smaller streams tend to be quite inconsistent and you can expect to hook into one or two fish for every three days of effort.
Available 'Add ons' to your Trip
Upper Mathers and Jalun: Heli fish stretches of water that are completely un-fished. Pristine wilderness settings where fish are hooked nearly every trip (landed 50% of the time)
Also Sangan, and Hiellen trips available to our guests as overnight trips to Masset. These rivers have smaller fish but tend to be much easier to catch if you know where and when to go. We make a real point of being very accessible to the person who wants to take there first winter steelhead, or even spey fishing trip. Our guides are all incredible instructors and knowledgeable about our fisheries. Our guides stay with you all day and weigh in as much as you would like them to throughout a day. Unlike many lodges our guides will never drop you off on a run and leave you to fend for yourself.
Our Rivers offer something for everyone
Our experience is also designed to be exceptionally diverse for the steelhead fisherman that has done it all. Our guests fish in a week what would take most anglers years to discover. Unlike Prince of Whales in Alaska each river on Haida Gwaii has a small window of peak run timing. On Prince of Whales any angler can go in April or May and explore the vast road system that covers many rivers and catch fish in every single one of them. On Haida Gwaii many of the streams are completely empty other than a mere 2 weeks a year. This translates to very slow fishing for most folks that take the trouble to go all the way up there. With our years of experience and local knowledge we know the small run timings of the steelhead that give us a slight advantage on where to be and when.
If you are an experienced steelhead angler you have either been reading about our programs, fishing with us or have us on your radar. Our brand focuses on offering the absolute best service in the industry from the moment you book until you are headed home with an enlightened smile.
We have pushed the boundaries of what your expectations should be for a steelhead trip and the rest of the lodges are trying to catch up. Our guests and staff come back year after year allowing us to fine tune all the small details that go into operating a first class lodge. This is why what we offer is so much more than a run of the mill fishing lodge. It is an experience that reaches far beyond the confines of what one single lodge could offer. Our diversity, passion for the fish, and desire to explore has elevated our operation to where we have always wanted to be - world class.
We push hard during our weeks of steelheading, that means waking up early and fishing late, and putting in the effort it takes to be where the fish are (not always easy). With carefully planned logistics, we maximize time spent on the water.
Very few people have had the opportunity to explore Haida Gwaii in the winter when the tourists are gone and the rivers are full of water. Normally it is a summer destination or bed and Breakfasts and saltwater salmon fishing. What we do is very unique to the area.
Beyond our normal program guests can tailor new opportunities as “add ons” to their week. Heli trips or overnighters are always available to guests new and old. Guests can come back year after year and never repeat the same trip twice.