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Langara Island - Land of Legends

By Dave Vedder, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


Langara, the northernmost of the 150 plus islands comprising the Queen Charlotte Islands, is the first land mass encountered by migratory chinook, coho, and chum salmon as they begin the marathon journey from the Arctic feeding grounds to their natal rivers. This journey is a leisurely one. Salmon bound for a thousand southern rivers often tarry at Langara Island to feed on the huge biomass of herring, sandlance and anchovies that are swept against the sheer rock flanks of the island. No doubt the salmon and bait fish have rendezvoused here to play out their predator-prey drama for centuries. Man has only recently become a player in this remote and wild marine environment.

For years commercial anglers have ventured to the unprotected waters surrounding Langara. The bounty they found there was almost unimaginable. Trollers struggled back to port with holds crammed with giant chinook salmon. In a single day skilled skippers landed scores of trophy chinook averaging over forty pounds. From June through August wave after wave of migratory chinook, locally called Tyees, swarmed into the waters off Langara. Forty pound fish were common, fifties and sixties were taken almost daily and the occasional seventy pounder brought fortunate skippers the admiration of their peers.

The remoteness of Langara kept all but a few local sport anglers from sharing in this bounty. But as sports anglers grew more adventurous and seaplanes shrank our world Langara became home to a handful of fishing lodges. Today the tide has changed in favor of the sports angler. In recent years commercial fishing has been severely restricted around Langara. For the

past several years commercial boats have been severely restricted in the area. Sports anglers have also seen occasional restrictions, but the absence of commercial angling pressure has given sports angler an unprecedented chance to catch and release trophy chinook, while retaining a few fish for the barbecue.

Anytime you visit Langara, the anticipation and excitement surges. Few other places on the planet offer a better chance of multiple hook-ups on Tyee class chinook. It is doubtful that any other location on the Pacific coast is visited by more trophy class chinook, acrobatic coho and monster class halibut. From May through August chinook fishing here is often white hot. When the fishing is hot, as it often does here, sports anglers routinely release thirty and forty pound chinook.

On my recent visit to West Coast Fishing Club television personalities Shelly and Courtney were there to film a show. On the first morning they hooked and released four chinook ranging to forty pounds. I spent much of the morning shooting still photos of the action on the Shelly and Courtney boat. I still managed three chinook from 21 to 33 pounds. In the afternoon I took a break from salmon angling to try jigging near Langara rocks. There I landed two halibut in the 40 pound class and a 17 pound lingcod. If this isn´t fishing heaven, its certainly within a local phone call.

From August until the lodges close in September wave after wave of fat coho invade. These big "northern" coho average fifteen pounds. Twenty pounders are not uncommon. Halibut are here all season long. It takes a one hundred pounder to get any serious attention at Langara and two hundred pounders are landed almost every year. In addition to the unsurpassed bounty of salmon, halibut and bottomfish.

Thousands of anglers visit Langara every year, and most come home with fish stories to last a lifetime. But even at Langara success depends on good planning and a thorough knowledge of what the region has to offer and what you want from your adventure. To help you plan your Langara adventure, I have compiled the following information on travel planning, run timing, weather conditions and lodges.

Traveling to Langara
Langara has no public moorage, motels, restaurants or other commercial amenities. One of its charms is that Langara is a remote wilderness. From June through September Island bustles with the activities of a handful of lodges. After September the island is inhabited only by a few caretakers and the animals of the north country.

If you are going to Langara you will be going with a group headed for one of the lodges. Several lodge owners have joined together to charter flights to Sandspit, the only town in the Charlottes with an airport large enough to serve modern jets. In most cases you will meet at the south terminal of the Vancouver International Airport for an early AM departure. Most lodges have staff at the terminal to help with questions and to make sure your journey goes smoothly.

Your journey from Vancouver to Sandspit will take approximately two hours. Once in Sandspit you will take a bus t the seaplane terminal located north of town. From there you will take a seaplane to the lodge. This leg of the trip takes less than a half hour. Guest of West Coast Fishing Club depart directly from the airport via a 14 passenger helicopter that provides a scenic  ½ hour flight to the island.

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