The Copper Bay Lodge is located on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Island), an island archipelago that floats off the coast of British Columbia. Made up of over 350 islands, it covers an area of 10,000 square kilometres and often gets referred to as the “Galapagos of the north”. This remote island chain is home to some of the oldest traceable populations on Earth, and its wild coastlines and old-grown forests host a wealth of animal life. The island is home to over 750,000 seabirds, 20 different species of Whales, Dolphins and vast numbers of hard fighting Steelhead. These true ‘off the grid’ fish have put Haida Gwaii on the map amongst the travelling freshwater fly fishing community, and it now attracts groups of keen anglers each and every season.
The Steelhead populate most of the island’s river systems; however, the primary, most essential and longest river is the Yakoun. This beautiful river is densely forested and flows for an estimated 55 to 60 kilometres. Starting on the northern end of Graham Island, it flows north from Yakoun Lake to enter the Masset Inlet and then the Pacific Ocean. As a Salmon river, it’s consistently good and offers some very reliable fishing conditions; even after heavy rain, the Yakoun River can drop back into shape in a matter of hours. It’s one of the most exciting and interesting venues you’ll ever get to fish and represents the ultimate in winter Steelhead fishing. Being the main river on the island chain, It has the best fly water and most productive fishing opportunities.
The Haida Gwaii Steelhead are some of the most potent strains of Salmon in the world and will test your tackle and angling ability to the limit. Many of the fish caught are fresh from the sea, and the neon glow from their bright silvery scales seem to have the ability to illuminate an entire pool. These winter-run fish are well known for their strength and impressive size, especially considering the relatively small waters they inhabit. The majority of the rivers and streams they live in are small, especially if and when you compare them with the other classified rivers of British Columbia.
The Queen Charlotte Steelhead start their life in the gravel of the stream bed before migration to the sea. Some steelhead migrate the following spring to the ocean and spend one to three years before returning, while the majority remain in their native streams for two years and then migrate downstream to the sea to complete the sea-run phase.
A unique thing about the fish and fishery in Haida Gwaii is that many of the Steelhead are mainstream spawners. Unlike some of the more extensive systems, where the Steelhead will hold up in the mouth of a creek waiting for the correct water flow to enter for spawning, most of these fish 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.
The fish average between 8lb to 12lb but tend to be thicker and more robust than the fish from most summer runs. The Yakoun has the largest average size among all the rivers fished in Haida Gwaii, and it also has the highest catch rate – under good water conditions, you can expect to have at least one bite each day. Many of the smaller rivers can be very hit and miss; however, when you hook into a fish on one of them, it’s a unique experience.
To find out more about Copper Bay Lodge and fishing in Haida Gwaii, Canada, visit our YouTube channel.
The Steelhead of Haida Gwaii are special winter fish. Dime bright, tidal pool pushes with enough shoulders to push tackle to the limit. Throughout a seven-day trip, anglers will have the chance to fish five separate Salmon rivers, each with their own unique challenges and rewards. They certainly don’t always have fish, and productive windows can be small, but they are beautiful streams to cast a fly.
The main river on the island is the Yakoun. Located on the northern end of Graham Island, part of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, it flows north from Yakoun Lake, entering the Masset Inlet and then into the Pacific Ocean. The Yakoun is the largest river on Haida Gwaii and offers good water and fish catching conditions throughout the entire season.
Another famous river in the region is the Copper, the lodge namesake, and this regularly offers excellent Steelhead fishing and is located only minutes away. Further along, several coastal streams add to the multitude of daily angling opportunities. These smaller streams, many almost no bigger than a ditch, are used by the Steelhead for spawning. Often you can witness the fish paring up and doing their deed, and although not populated all of the season, they are popular in April and May. The fish in these waterways are powerful and truly at the top of the steelhead evolution.
While there is no such thing as an ordinary day at Copper Bay Lodge, each one begins with either a sit-down breakfast at 7:30 am or an earlier ‘to go Breaky’. After hot coffee, eggs, cereal, fresh fruit or whatever else you need to get going, you will depart for an exciting new adventure each day. Except for a trip to the Yakoun, which is around an hour away, none of the fishing is more than 35 minutes from the Lodge, which allows you to spend more time fishing and less time riding around. When departing for the Yakoun on Graham Island, you will have breakfast to go at 6:30 am.
The morning fishing session runs until midday, when you’ll stop for a streamside lunch. Lunch can be either hot or cold and might include such fare as steaks, quiches, sandwiches, salads, cheese, and fresh bread. Due to shorter days in winter, lunch is often a speedy affair as typically everyone is keen to get right back on the water. The afternoon fishing session runs until 6 or 7 pm, when you’ll return to the Lodge for happy hour, drinks, and hors-d’oeuvres before dinner in front of the fireplace. Dinner is usually served around 8 pm, although this can be subject to change, especially if the fish are pouring in on a tide and you can’t tear yourself away.
The Lodge is very flexible when it comes to arranging your day. If you have a special request, just let them know, and they will do their best to accommodate you and give you the best experience possible.
Copper Bay Lodge is the oldest fishing Lodge on Haida Gwaii. Walter and Maria Ernst hosted Coho and Steelhead anglers at CBL long before the saltwater Salmon lodges opened up. Although they were gear fishing back then, the Lodge runs a very similar program to this day; a small, intimate fishing experience catered towards the adventurous freshwater fly fishing angler.
With miles of fantastic Steelhead fishing opportunities, a stunning Panabode, cedar lodge, and enough rooms to host each angler in their private room, it’s no wonder why the Copper Bay Lodge is famous amongst travelling rods.
The Lodge is located just outside Sandspit in British Columbia and hosts four anglers per week. A rustic beach house fully renovated in 2011; it’s possibly one of the most comfortable and homiest Salmon Fishing Lodges in the industry. You can’t help but get lulled into island mode staring at the beautiful sunrises and listening to the tide from your bed.
You truly have to come to experience this trip for yourself to understand why this part of the world is so special. Steelhead fishing is hard work, and as any well-seasoned Steelhead angler knows, fishing is not easy, and after a hard day of working for a limited number of fish, it’s essential that you’re comfortable at your Lodge.
The lodge features:
The Lodge also offers various toiletries, including shampoo/conditioner, hand creams, and soaps, so feel free to keep your toiletries to a minimum.
The Chefs at Copper Bay Lodge take extraordinary pride in preparing some of the finest meals you will ever experience at a fishing lodge. Top-quality ingredients and an excellent presentation get paired to serve you with hearty meals throughout your stay. The chef is flexible with meal timing and knows you are there to fish and explore the islands.
Chef Crystal Smith strives to leave you having more thoughts about the cuisine than the world-class fishing. You can decide on the breakfast of your choice in the dining room, cooked to order, before departing on your day’s adventure.
Most Days afield, your guide will have a quick lunch to not interfere with the time spent fishing. Successful winter Steelhead fishing is based on time spent with a fly in the water. If you care to take the time, your guide will grill your sandwich with homemade soup and freshly baked goods.
Choice dinner specialities include Filet Mignon, Prime Rib, wild fish, local Halibut, Chicken, Baby Back Ribs and many more tasty delicacies to satisfy the hearty fisherman’s appetite. Daily, homemade bread, delicious pastries and gourmet delights get served with each lodge meal. The Lodge can’t control the weather or the fish’s attitude, but they can control the first-class food, service and accommodation.
Soft drinks, beer and wine are included, but spirits are not. However, on your transfer to the Lodge, you will have the option to stop at the shop to pick up a bottle of your favourite tipple. If you have a specific brand of alcohol that you prefer, you might consider bringing it with you as the selection in Sandspit is limited. Of course, if not, you can always take advantage of the Duty-Free on the way into Canada.
Although the fishing days are fixed, the below itinerary is still flexible should you require additional free days to explore at the beginning or end of your holiday; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart Any international Airport (See Details)
You will need to collect your bags and take a taxi to your overnight hotel.
Overnight Accommodation: Hotel in Vancouver (Twin Room) F/B
After breakfast and a leisurely morning at your overnight hotel, you’ll need to make your way to Vancouver airport, ready for the flight to Sandspit.
A representative from Copper Bay Lodge will be waiting to transfer you to the accommodation. Normally it’s possible to fish for an hour or two once you arrive at the Lodge.
Overnight Accommodation: Copper Bay Lodge (Single Room) F/B
After breakfast, you will enjoy your first full day of fishing on the daily chosen river.
You will arrive back at the lodge between 6-7 pm to enjoy a nice dinner.
Overnight Accommodation: Copper Bay Lodge (Single Room) F/B
After an early breakfast, you will have the chance to fish for half-day, before returning to the lodge for lunch and then to the airport for a 3 pm flight home.
Arrive Vancouver Depart Vancouver
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 91%
"I enjoyed the most wonderful week at Copper Bay Lodge, I was told the fishing was a little slower than usual, but it was still fantastic. The food, accommodation, guides and staff were all excellent too. A huge thank you to everyone involved in making my trip happen."
"I've been lucky enough to fish a few destinations in Canada and Copper Bay Lodge was up there with the best of them. I landed a good number of Steelhead throughout my trip and would certainly book again - the scenery is stunning."
"Haida Gwaii (or Queen Charlotte Island as it's known) is a stunning place and has to be one of the most picturesque places in the world to wet a fly. The lodge was very comfortable and the staff and guides were very accommodating, the fishing was very good too - I'd love to return again one day!"
The season runs from November to April.
Season: November to April
Peak: November to March
Weight: 8lb to 25lb
Average Weight: 10lb to 12lb
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two anglers sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
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Our famed Nicholas Dean Steelhead fishing packages cover the whole of the Steelhead season in Canada, fishing on the mighty Skeena River and all of its watershed. These ultra-chrome rockets on the Skeena average between 8lb and 20lb; however, there’s always the chance of a more significant specimen and each season fish to over 20lb and even 30lb grace anglers nets.
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This is as close as we can get to guaranteeing you to catch Steelhead on the fly, we offer stable river conditions (a rarity for Steelhead) to eliminate those annoying lost fishing days. With our partners Alaska Steelhead Co, you will have access to not only the top guides but rivers that hold high numbers of Steelhead.
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