2019 Haida Gwaii Reports

Discussion in '2019 Saltwater Fishing Reports' started by SFBC, Jan 1, 2019.

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  1. SFBC

    SFBC Admin Staff Member

    Post your 2019 fishing reports here!
  2. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    only 77 more sleeps! This will be the earliest I have ever fished the Gwaii. I have 5 days of fishing planned with my own boat. Anyone fished last week of May before in the Gwaii?
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  3. littlechucky

    littlechucky Well-Known Member

    Fished Langara late May in 2014....first trip of the season (corporate event, before the “official” opening).

    It was really good.

    Lots of springs (many clipped fish...likely Columbia?). My boat released a number of high 20s fish.
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  4. Stizzla

    Stizzla Crew Member

    It had to be you to make the first post in this thread.
    Good luck, buddy!

    Good news @littlechucky
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  5. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    I leave Friday night to start the haul up to Haida Gwaii. I catch the Ferry in Rupert on Sunday night. Monday Afternoon I pick up a few buddies from the Sandspit Airport. I fortunate this year & will be doing 4 trips in total. I have a place to keep the boat & have banked up enough Air Miles to fly in & out for some 3 to 4 day trips. My 4th & final trip I will be for 2 weeks with my wife & kids. Its such a pain in the @ss to plan everything & extra cost always seem to surprise a guy, but its always worth it.

    This year I have a few goals for my trips. I have been dreaming of them all year & have some battle plans in place to execute.

    - I want to figure out spot prawns & finally catch some. Even shrimp I would be happy with.
    - I want to find some Tanner or King crabs. (I have a Big Crabman Trap that should work). I have some deep muddy holes I will drop in.
    - Continue to dial in my deep dropping for Sablefish & a few Shortrakers!
    - Jig for salmon
    - Have some quality times on the water with my friends & family. I would love to see my wife & kids hook into some nice sized salmon & lings
    - Make memories I will think about until my last days.

    The plan is for this trip is as follows. Its early in the season & I dont know what to expect for salmon. Ground fish should be there & hopefully plentiful. Of course weather will determine what we actually do. One thing is for sure we will be fishing HARD!

    Day #1 (May 21st): We are staying in Masset & will fish out of Masset. Hope to get our Halibut for everyone. Plan is to anchor up & soak some bait & some jigging. I typically fish shallow ~35-50' but this is earlier in the season, so I may need to go a bit deeper. I have some nice bumps in ~275' we can anchor up in if shallow is only chickens. I have never spent a full day on Halibut before, so we should be able to get it done as long as the weather permits.

    Day #2,#3 & #4: Travel through the Skidegate Narrows over to the westside of the island. High tide is needed to cross & its early. So we will have to leave the house by 4:30am. Salmon have started to show up & we will work Marble island & all of Cartwright sound. This time of year I dont know what to expect for salmon fishing.? Should have some fish going through, & if they are there we should be able to get them.. Jig hard & get some quality Lingcod (which are a favorite for me). When the weather allows use a pair of electric reels for some deep drop action to target Sablefish & Shortrakers. God willing pull up some prawns....

    Day#5: Spend the morning fishing out of Masset for anything left on the list & drop some crab traps.

    I will give updates during the trip & let you know what we find. Its going to be an adventure & I look forward to sharing it with you all.!
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  6. walleyes

    walleyes Crew Member

    Best of luck ILHG can’t wait for the reports. Above all be safe out there man.

    PS. How did you make out with your prop issue.
  7. SerengetiGuide

    SerengetiGuide Well-Known Member

    Deadly, best of luck. Jealous, exploring is my favourite thing to do out on the water!
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  8. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    Thanks man! Im lucky, my leg is good. Ended up rebuilding the damaged prop and picked up a replacement.
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  9. captmike

    captmike Active Member

  10. Sooo ... we are all waiting for an update ... hows the fishing?
  11. advTHXance

    advTHXance Well-Known Member

    Ill have a west-side update for you guys sometime during or after the first week of June.
    wishiniwasfishin1 likes this.
  12. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    Sorry Gents, got back late last night & ready to start giving updates. I couldn't send any updates while I was out because I was fishing hard. Honestly no time to send updates, when I was back in cell service I was driving the truck & boat. I didn't even call my wife the whole time I was there. Had a few days of up at 4:00am & in bed at 11:00pm. I am beat to shit, my hands are so soar I cant even close them, & love every bit of it.

    The wind was absolutely terrible.. It didn't not let up the entire time with the exception of one morning where we had about an 6hr window of calm before the storm. The best we seen was 17knts with an Average of 22-25 knts. Luckily I had back up plans in place in case the wind was blowing. It limited where we could fish, but provided a bit of shelter. We still had to travel through the open water to get to the sheltered spots, but as long as you took the time it was fine. I can definitely say that Hewescraft can handle the conditions. (Also so grateful for my Smooth Move Seats)

    Day#1: We had NW winds foretasted at ~17-22knts out of the Northwest. The winds always seem to pick up as the sun goes up, so we started the day early. Up at 5:00am & in the water by 6:00am. My plan was to fish locally out of Masset & get the boys their Halibut. Fishing close to home would also allow me to get my sea legs back & make sure every thing was dialed in with the boat. By 6:00am wind was already blowing at 20 knts & absolutely no shelter out of Masset. When you leave the Masset inlet there is a shallow stretch that must be at least 3-4km of 30' water. It is rough as hell & we took our time getting out there. Because of the conditions I headed for deeper water where it was not as rough & more swells than washing machine. My typical Halibut spots are much shallower, but way to rough to try to fish. It was a slow going trip out.

    We set up in about 300' of water & dropped the anchor. Baited up some jigs & sent them down. I had 2 people fishing out the back & one brave soul fishing out of the bow. With in about 30 min we had Halibut coming in & the fun started. You could not get your jig to bottom & had a hit. As time went on it got more intense with the amount of Halibut that were coming in. You would be 50' from the bottom & they were swimming up to hit it. No one even got to hit bottom. It was constant triple headers of Halibut. However it was nothing of any size.... Lots of 80-90 cm fish but no overs were caught. I have no idea how many fish where caught, but I do no everyone was having fun & happy to at least be catching fish.

    Im not going to lie, I puked my guts out as did one other guy in the boat. Dry heaving to the point I thought I might end up like a rock fish with its guts blown out of its mouth. This is normal for me on my first day & something I need to get out of my system before I get my sea legs. When its happening, you question yourself "why the hell do you do this shit"..... After a few hrs of fishing we decided its was time to start the slow trip back in. Wind was picking up even worse & it was time to leave while it was till safe to come off anchor. I went to go, & looked for my anchor buoy & didn't see it?...... I had seen the whole time we were fishing as it was right in front of the bow of the boat.... I have no clue how, but the anchor Buoy came off? I had the folks at Harbour Chandler help me make it up with the rope & clevis & have used it a few times before this trip? Regardless we had to use the prawn trap puller to get the anchor back up & I was puking the whole time... By this time we were ready to call it a day & head back in. On the way back in we looked for our crab traps & it was a no go. It was so rough out you could not see the small crab buoys. They were being pulled under the water in the swells & were out of sight.

    We dropped the Halibut off at the processors & kept one back for supper. Made up an amazing Halibut chowder that made the punishment worth it. That night i prepped the boat & prepped for us to pull the boat down to Skidigate to go through the narrows & fish the westside. The wind forecast for the next day was not much better, but at least we had a couple spots we could find some shelter. I had some spots picked & marked previously that are the plan "B" locations in case of bad weather. Not my top locations, but its better than staying at home & staring out the window all day.
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  13. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    Day#2: Any one who has traveled the Skidigate narrows before knows that travel is dictated by the tides. The high tide was at 4:30 am & was a 12' tide. I needed to be going through the narrows no later than 6:30 am for my comfort. I don’t like anything less than 6' of water when traveling through the narrows, because if you get off course even a bit it the consequences are huge. We were up at 4:00 am & the plan was to be on the road by 4:30 am. We had some delays & once we were finally off we were behind schedule. Its about 1.5hr drive to Skidigate, & ~110km. Lots of spots were the speed limit is 80 km/hr. I made up for time where I could & gained back 15 min. It was ~6:45am when we left the dock & I knew we should still have 5" of water by the time we made it to the narrows. Five feet of water is still enough to make it through, but I was keeping the boat upon plane. We had crab traps on board, but there was no time to stop & drop on the way out. We cruised through the Narrows around ~35-40 Mph & the shallowest I seen was 4.8'….. We were the only boat to be seen. I absolutely love the drive through the narrows & love the scenery. This trip I didn’t get to soak up the views as much as I was rippin hard & focused on the weaving between the markers. When we finally made it through & seen the entrance on the west side of the island I had goose bumps in anticipation of finally being back & fishing my favorite place.

    The plan was to go for bottom fish first. Wind was ~20-22 knts & the plan was to use marble island & a few other small islands as shelter & fish the shallow ledges. Fishing was good with a bunch of smaller 8-12 lb lingcod & an assortment of rockfish in 30-60' of water. I was using the kicker to back troll while folks jigged. It was fun & constant action, but definitely not what we came to Haida Gwaii to do. Traveling between locations was slow going because as soon as you hit the open water it got gross out. My plan was to make the run up towards Hunter point & troll tight to shore where it was more sheltered. I didn't want to drive head on from Marble island to the point & decided to go directly east & then troll North tight to the beach in more sheltered waters. When we finally made it to the shore line it was still rougher out than what I had hoped it would be, but still worth giving it a go. I pulled in behind a small sheltered bay/point that gave relief so we could rig up the salmon gear. It was about 100 yrds or so of nice & calm water behind the big rocks. Navionics showed not much for structure. We rigged up the salmon gear & got it down. I put a 4-5" herring in a army truck teaser head matched with a salty dawg flasher @ 25'. there other side rigged up a flasher & spoon at ~45’. With in 5 min we had a nice 17lb spring take a 4-5" herring. We bleed it out & got it into the box & set up again. Personally, I was relived to get the first spring of the season. This was the earliest I have ever fished up in Haida & had some stresses on finding salmon.

    We rigged back up & dropped the gear again. Repeat of the exact same gear & depths as before. We started the 100 yrd tach out the small bay & around the point. I was out back trolling with my tiller handle on the kicker. There was 4 people in the boat & I couldn't maintain a constant view of the depth finder while we were trolling. We were finally in calm waters & guys were taking a pee & getting some grub. It was the first time in a while they could comfortably walk around the boat. I had my phone in the back with navionics & it had nothing around I should be alarmed with. It was a new spot for me I had never fished before, but Navionics showed it being constant 75 - 80'the entire way out on my track, it looked absolutely vanilla. Suddenly someone from the front yells holy s#it it just jumped to 27'. Immediately engaged the downrigger beside me & by the time I got 1/2 way to the other rigger we lost a 18lb canon ball.... That pinnacle went dam near strait up & only gave a few seconds to respond. Absolutely no way to know it was
  14. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    there. No where on the maps did it show this small pinnacle...??? I could only blame myself for that one. I know better & should have ran both sides shallow at 20-25' during the first pass, especially when fishing tight to a shoreline. I shouldn't trust a map in a new area I haven't fished before, & lastly, I should had made sure no one was blocking my view of the depth finder.

    Anyways, loosing downrigger balls is all part of the game & we quickly rigged back up & went to fishing. As we came around the point we were greeted again by the relentless wind blowing at us. It was somewhat sheltered & much better than out in the open, definitely waters we could troll in. We continued to troll north along the inside of Cartwright sound. Because it was new territory for me & I was paranoid of losing a second canon ball I was staying further away from the shore line. Unfortunately, that meant we were not having anymore bites. After ~30 min of trolling into the wind I made a turn around & started my tack back making my way to where we had caught a fish. I moved closer to the shoreline & kept my eyes on the depth sounder the entire time. Shortly after making the turn & trolling with the wind at our backs we had the rod bouncing in the holder & we were back in action. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick & was lost only few seconds of someone grabbing the rod. Again, it was the small herring in the army truck teaser head @ 25'.

    We set both sides up with bait & removed the flashers. We set the tach to work 65-70' of water with the inside rod @25' & the outside rod @ 30'. As we approached the small bay I made a wide turn into it this time avoiding the 27' pinnacle that claimed my cannon ball earlier. As we came around it & back into the shore rock face the inside rod popped off the clip & the islander started screaming. My buddy was on that rod like a fat kid on smarties. Instantly we knew we had a big fish on... I kept the boat in gear & was trying to move the fight slowly out away into deeper water & away from the rocks & kelp. This fish was wild & all over the place. As quickly as it took off screaming. it would turn around & come at the boat. When i finally got a glimpse of the fish I knew we had a hog. This fish was in shallow water & was all over the place. It constantly tried to go under the boat. After 4-5 runs & ~20 min later we got a quick look at the fish’s head & it was noticed that it had the hooks inside its mouth & the line could be chewed through at any second. ********This is why I tie all my rigs with quality Fluorocarbon at 40lb test minimum. ********************

    The gentleman on the rod requested that I try to get the fish in the net as soon as possible.... I knew the risk of trying to net a hot fish & this fish was starting to slow down, but definitely not where I would want to try to net it.. After what seemed like forever, we finally got the fish with in range of the net if I reached out. This fish would always try to take a run under the boat after it got pulled in closer. As the guy on the rod tried to bring the fish close to the boat I waited as long as I could trying to gain every inch between us. The fish was swimming parallel with the boat & as soon as I seen it turn to make a run under the boat again I dove the net into the water & it ran hard into the net…… as soon as I looked into the net I realized how big this fish was…….. I pulled it over the side & dropped it on the floor. The boat suddenly erupted with cheers & high fives. After a bonk with my bonker we weighed it out at 44lbs.. My buddy had caught his first Tyee & I could not be happier for him. A beautiful White chinook.

    Once the excitement & celebration was done we dropped gear again & tried the same area for 30 min with no luck. The day was getting late & I wanted to be at the “wall” along the entrance to the narrows for slack tide. This is my absolute favorite place to fish on a flood & flood slack tide. We made the trek back & got the gear ready to drop. Unfortunately, we were exposed still to the wind & the incoming tide & wind made for some decent swells. It was extremely hard to troll the required speed & not have some random swells throw the ass end of your boat around. We quickly picked up another 3 springs about 17-20lbs with in 30 min. However, trying to maintain boat control was hard. As fate would have it a random large swell came in through my bow towards the port side…… I had just got my prop rebuilt for my main engine & the edges are very sharp. Even though my main engine was off my downrigger line made contact with the prop & sliced my line… This was my second 18lb cannon ball for the day & now I only had one left……. I quickly decided that was enough of that & decided to pack it in. We had a great day & no point of trying to fish in conditions that would have cause a repeat. We headed for home and all I could think of was were in the hell I was going to find a replacement Cannon ball. It was late in the afternoon & by the time we got back to Skidegate every place that could sell a cannon ball would be closed. There was still one place out of masset that was open but they only had 12lb available. When I asked how much I was told $60…… What could I do….. I told them I was on my way…. We loaded up the boat & headed for home. By the time I picked up the cannon ball, dropped the fish off at the processors, fueled up the boat, & cleaned the boat it was close to 10pm. What a day!!! While I gassed up the boat, cleaned it & peppered it the other made up an amazing curry Halibut. After a great supper & a shower it was off to bed, because we had to be up in 5hrs to do it again!

    I will start with Day #3 tomorrow.
  15. advTHXance

    advTHXance Well-Known Member

    A lot of area up there is uncharted. We had some hydro surveyors at our lodge last summer who re-mapped the whole west side from skidegate to langara, but they said it wouldnt be available on charts for 2-3 years typically. There are lots of unmarked reefs and pinnacles up there even in areas that look to be well charted.

    Awesome recap so far, glad you had fun and made the most of it despite the shitty weather!
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  16. walleyes

    walleyes Crew Member

    Loving it so far ILHG.
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  17. Scorpiofisher

    Scorpiofisher Member

    Great write-up so far ILHG. Always enjoy reading your fishing report stories!!.
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  18. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    Day#3: We had an unexpected chance in the wind forecast for the majority of the day. Winds were going to be down as low as 5 knts until early afternoon. Then wind was forecasted to pick up to 35-40 knts.... We had a small window to get out & get stuff done. The night prior we discussed & the boys wanted to try out some deep dropping. High tide was at 5:00 & was a 11.5'. Boys wanted to drop the crab traps so it was another early morning. We left base ~ 4:45am & headed for Skidigate. The wind forecast was on the money. Water was glass, & it was a welcome site. We made the crossing through the narrows & was welcomed with calm seas.

    The original plan I had was to target some shortraker rockfish on a ledge that went from 900’-1700’. But looking how nice the water was, I asked the boys if they wold prefer to go out deeper & try for some sable fish. We headed out to a 2,460’. Flat bottom with ideal conditions for some sable fish. I was excited to try out my new deep drop reel I had purchased. Its called a Shimano “ Beastmaster 9000”. It’s an amazing unit that is used on the east coast to catch 400lb sword fish in 2000’ of water. This reel is a winch that could pull a truck. This reel will kick the shit out of a 400lb swordfish in auto mode. This reel packs 250lbs of winding strength! It also holds ~4,600’ of line which allows me to target depths I couldn’t reach prior.

    So I rig up with the following from the mainline down:

    · Cork screw swivel

    · Deep Drop LED strobe light in green.

    · 6’ of 150lb line that has a pair of owner size 9 circle hooks, pared with glow B2 squid & baited rockfish belly.

    · Spreader bar with 9’ green LED squid from light house lures. (switch out hook with size 12 hook)

    · 10 lbs of lead ****Don’t want to discuss 2lb limit… Its retarded & wont work****

    I fire up the kicker & set up for a ~0.75 MPH back troll. Rig finally hits bottom & I bring it up ~6”. (Sable fish are in the mud & you need to be on bottom). As we drift, I keep checking for bottom & working the gear. About 15 min in its looking like I am dragging bottom or getting hung up??.... I engage the reel & start to pull up. The rod starts to bend over & its looking like I got hung up……….. I pull a bit harder into it & suddenly I have a head shake….. A BIG HEAVY head shake…. WTF….. ???

    I kick the reel in & put some heat on what ever the hell I have managed to hook up. The rod bows down & acts like I’m stuck on bottom…. Then I pissed off what’s hooked on the other end & and it shakes its head a few times & starts to swim a way slowly. I kick that reel in & put the heat to it. My rod holder was stressed to the max & I was providing support. I gained about 50’ & then it decided it didn’t want to go along for the ride. I tightened up the drag to almost breaking point & was hardly making any ground. I let the reel do its thing for about 15 min & we gained about 200’. Then the reel started to smoke & was going into thermal shut down. Everyone on the boat was pumped to see what the heck we had on. I had

    Attached Files:

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  19. ILHG

    ILHG Crew Member

    to dial back the retrieval speed on the reel, but kept the same amount of heat on the fish. I could not move this thing…. This reel was getting its ass kicked…. We had no choice but to grab the rod & try to pump it to surface. Lift the rod & use the electric reel to grab line. The entire time the reel will grab an inch of line if the fish gave it up. It had heat on the fish the entire time. We took turns until it hurt to much & need to be switched out. Some shifts you would not make a single inch on this fish. It was like pulling up a car….. 3 grown men giving all they had. (4th guy had a shoulder injury)

    I can not explain how heavy this beast was. Honestly… I have pulled up some big Halibut & seen people bring in 250lb Halibut… This was way heavier, not even comparable. This fish didn’t even take any huge runs Just shake its head & slowly take ~10’ of line at a time. I honestly don’t even think it knew it was hooked! Almost 3 hrs into the fight we have the beast with in 45’ of the boat. I was stressed the entire time because the line was like a guitar string & if this fish took a hard run we could break off.

    So, something happened with the reel & it got zero’d out on the depth counter… The reel thought we were at surface & would no longer try to pull in any more line…. Its my first time using it & I cant remember how to override it & kick it back in….. We are forced to manually crank the fish in the rest of the way. During the 30 seconds or so of confusion with trying to trouble shoot the reel we lost tension on the fish. The light swells made the line slack enough that we lost the fish… We all stood there covered in sweat & hurting more than I can explain… 45 freaking feet away & it was over….. It was quite while packed things up & we recovered from the event that had just happened…

    I looked over at the guys & said, well we still have a few more hrs of calm seas so let’s keep moving. While I drove the boat towards land not a word was said on the boat….. I looked at my map & picked a spot along the way that should hold some shortrakers. I told the guys we will give it one more drop & get them something they can bring home.

    We stopped & dropped down some gear. We immediately got into some Thorny Head rockfish. After we took a few we packed up & I headed to go work the deep-water pinnacles that the wind had kept us away from all week. I had a spot I have been wanting to fish for months & I was finally getting the chance to get it done. Attached is a pic of the spot. Its 2 nice pinnacles with a flat bottom between. The 2 pinnacles run North South & provide a great place to stack up bait in. There is a wolf packs in there waiting for the tide to bring them lunch. When we arrived, I set up so we would drift down the side of one & onto the flat spot.

    As soon as we started to come down off the top of the pinnacle all you could see was bait & fish. I mean it was stacked with activity and over 200’ thick… Everyone dropped big swimbaits & not one made it to bottom.

    To be continued… I have to get back to work!
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  20. Sangstercraft

    Sangstercraft Well-Known Member

    BEST STORY EVER. What Hewescraft and engine size are you running?
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