Star Travel guy Adrian Brijbassi gets out-fished in beautiful British Columbia
Star Travel writer Adrian Brijbassi continues his west coast odyssey. Today he checks in from his fishing trip. I've also included a post from Wednesday...HAIDA GWAII, B.C. Having never fished, I had no appreciation or understanding for it. That changed when
Paul Clough, owner of the Queen Charlotte Lodge, took me out on the Fish Finder, his aptly named,
custom-built, 600-horsepower beauty of a boat.
Clough and his wife, Cynthia, are quite the team, readying multiple lines on the Fish Finder, baiting them
with anchovy and moving deftly around the edges of the boat even with wine in hand and cigar between lips.
"This is how you fish," Cynthia, a one-time Canadian Olympian, said with a big, delightful grin after a sip of chardonnay.
The previous night, the lodge provided a unique way to learn how to deal with the salmon that run through the waters of Haida Gwaii, the northern wilderness area of Vancouver Island that's sometimes called the Galapagos of the North for its natural wonders. The Queen Charlotte Lodge has a salmon simulator game that's a lot of fun and surprisingly realistic. It was set up in the lobby after dinner and you hold a rod that's hooked up to the game console while trying to get the feel for when to let a fish run and when to reel it in.
Remembering those lessons and with Paul and Cynthia's help, my wife Julia and I both actually did what we thought was impossible before we arrived here: we caught salmon with something other than a fork. It was exhilarating, an adrenaline rush that can quickly make you addicted to doing this.
"We take people out because Cynthia and I enjoy turning them on to fishing. We want to see others enjoy this as much as we do," says Paul, who often hosts staff members, corporate clients and other guests on the Fish Finder.
In about an hour of fishing, we caught six small salmon, which we hope to barbecue next week when we're back in Vancouver. That was a puny take compared to what others brought back to the lodge. There were several tyees - Chinook salmon larger than 30 pounds - hauled in on the day. Notably, one 43-pounder wasreleased back into the waters.
"All the lodges here do a good job of informing guests about how we want to conserve and replenish the salmon stock. We encourage guests to release the large fish back into the waters. It's good for the gene pool. Big fish breed big fish," says Paul, who first came to the lodge in 1993 as a guest and bought the 20-acre property six years later.
The lodge, which has been featured on a World Fishing Network reality-TV series, rewards guests who hook tyees with the honour of ringing the dockside bell. They're also feted with gold and silver pins at an evening presentation ceremony.
"I had been to all the lodges in the area and this one was by far the best."
In a few hours, I'm heading back out to the Pacific - on my own this time- to see if I can reel in a whopper alone. Although I'd be happy with just survival.
HAIDA GWAII, B.C., Aug. 18, 2010 — Even up here, at the farthest edge of the country’s west coast, a Maple Leafs fan can’t escape the jokes.
“I take so much abuse here over the Maple Leafs,” laments Chris Paterson, a chef on the MV Driftwood, a
floating vessel that belongs to the Queen Charlotte Lodge.
Paterson is in his fourth season working in Haida Gwaii, which was officially known as the Queen Charlotte Islands until June, and is one of the more than 70 staff members of the lodge catering to about 80 guests.
On the Driftwood, Paterson serves up chowder, burgers and smokies to the anglers who descend on the north Pacific chasing the chief, or tyee, a Chinook salmon 30 pounds or greater. (Adrian - I think he serves chicken, too, or that's a pretty funny-looking burger hanging above his head - Jim).
Prior to joining for the lodge, Paterson was a chef in the Turks & Caicos. Although he’s been away from Toronto for more than a decade, he maintains an apartment in the GTA and hope for the city’s woeful hockey team.
“I always tell people to remember that we have the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the Stanley Cup is there all the time,” he says.
In Haida Gwaii, Paterson lives on the Driftwood with other staff from the ship and those guests who don’t stay in one of the main lodge’s rooms. The reason guests may opt for the Driftwood is because it’s in the middle of the fishing action in Haida Gwaii, considered by many fishermen to be the best salmon fishing spot in the world. You can wake up, set your line over the ship, have breakfast then head out on a lodge-provided boat into the ocean to challenge the tyee.
Even those guests of the Queen Charlotte Lodge who don’t stay on the Driftwood can enjoy the food Paterson and others prepare. When you float up to the lodge, you catch sight of a number of the lodge’s sturdy fishing boats docked on the sides and deckhands ready to reel you in for lunch.
The Driftwood is the complimentary pitstop for those anglers who get hungry but don’t want to travel back
into Naden Harbour and the lodge, which is about a 15-minute boat ride away.
“The salmon fishing here is the best you’ll find, but there’s so much more than that,” says Paterson, who has caught a 40-pound tyee since he started working for the lodge. “I see humpback whales and orcas on a regular basis. We stand here and we watch eagles all day. If you want to see the real wilderness, this is
The Queen Charlotte Lodge is featured on the reality-TV series “The Lodge” on the World Fishing Network
and has built a reputation for offering luxury stays in one of the most pristine wilderness settings
contained in our country — or any other. We’ll have more reports from the lodge and Haida Gwaii in the