On the Northeast side of Vancouver Island, there is a magnificent piece of BC Coast known as the Broughton Archipelago. Situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet, on the west side of Queen Charlotte Strait, you’ll find BC’s largest marine park.
This is a pristine area of inlets, passes, sounds, channels, and countless islands with very little fishing pressure. There are four main entrances: Wells Pass, Fife Sound, Retreat Pass, and Knight Inlet. The coho fishing boundary runs inside from Lewis Rocks just west of Wells Pass (the northern entrance to the Archipelago) to the mouth of Knight Inlet (the southern entrance). The western edge of the Broughtons has many rockfish conservation areas (check the DFO websites for closed areas).
Two years ago, the five members of the Eadie Family from Rimby, Alberta, booked me for two trips. They had previously fished with “Two-Bucket Billy” Meehan on his 32-ft Uniflite, “Tyee.” Billy got his nickname because he dragged two five-gallon buckets alongside his boat to slow him down. It seemed to work—he caught a lot of springs. Sadly, Billy passed away few short years years ago.
We arrived outside the closed area at Scott Cove after a 25-mile run from Telegraph Cove. We no sooner got lines in the water than we were into coho. I still get a charge watching people catch coho, especially when it’s a double header with fish catapulting out of the water, lines crossing, panic on their faces and then big smiles when the fish is in the net. They always worry when they lose a fish, but I assure them that’s just part of fishing.
We zig-zagged towards the Burdwood Islands, sometimes in more than 800′ of water, and after three hours had six coho (one for the skipper) in the well— of 12 to 18 lbs each—and three times that many lost or released. Back at the cleaning table in the cove, we found the coho stuffed with 5′ and 6′ herring. We returned the next day to limit out again. Two days later, another family of five from Edmonton limited out, two days in a row.
I run three Berkley Roughneck rods with Penn 310 or 320 reels, spooled with 25-lb mono. I use 8″ O’Ki Gold Betsy flashers and an assortment of herring, anchovies, spoons, plugs, and hoochies. Off one Scotty, I run a single rod with flasher and an OMW106R Gold Star hoochie. This rig has taken 2⁄3 of the coho the last three years. I set this rig at 67′. I troll closer to 4 mph than 3, so the hoochie is probably about 50′ deep.
On the other Scotty, I stack lines, 25′ apart, at varying depths from 30′ to 120′. I run different rigs, changing often, until something works. One hoochie I have used for 30 years is the Army Truck hoochie in both 4″ and needlefish size. A 602 or 603 Tomic usually makes it into the water as well.
I tie my hoochies and spoons on 40-lb mono, 20″ to 24″, with a single 4/0 Gamakatsu barbless hook. Bait leaders are 30″ to 36″ long on 40-lb mono on “wired” Anchovy Special.
The Broughton Archipelago is easily accessed from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, or Port Hardy. It is northeast of these areas and lies 10 to 20 miles across Queen Charlotte Strait. It is mainly calm water in the summer, but get a weather report to be on the safe side.
I fish out of Telegraph Cove Resort, which has a campground, marina, boat ramp, cabins, hotel, restaurant, pub, two coffee shops, and a liquor outlet in the general store.
There are two marinas in the Broughtons. The main one is Pierre’s Echo Bay Resort. It has gas and diesel, moorage, some accommodation, and supplies. It is 5 minutes from Scott Cove. All summer, Pierre has a pig roast one Saturday and Prime Rib the next.
Sullivan Bay is about 5 miles from Wells Pass on Sutlej Channel. It has gas, diesel, and moorage.
If you continue past Sullivan Bay, you will come to Kingcome Inlet, and then you will arrive at the beginning of Tribune Channel on your port side, which carries on around the eastern end of Guilford Island and into Knight Inlet. Echo Bay is straight ahead at the start of Tribune Channel, with Fife Sound and Cramer Pass on your starboard.
Marc and Karen Johnson, from Springville, Utah have been coming to Telegraph Cove for more than 20 years with their son Jared and his family. Jared is the owner of Rocky Mountain Tackle and recently started distributing Lighthouse Lures (Canadian) in the United States.
Their go-to spot is Wells Pass. Two years ago, they got into some huge coho, some of them near 20 lbs. They fish much the same gear as I do but use more spoons, especially the Skinny G. I have been the recipient of many spoons and hoochies to “critique,” thanks to his generosity. The coho usually “leave the building” after a heavy rain, and this happened last September 1. After limiting out in Cramer Pass the previous two days, we fished several hours on the 1st without a strike, save for a late running 20-lb spring.
I never pursue the coho to their spawning rivers. They have overcome many dangers and hardships, so I always feel good about letting them complete their journey, having made it thus far. Who knows, three or four years from now, I may run into one of their kids in Cramer Pass.
Roy Graham is owner and operator of Broughton Archipelago Charters out of Telegraph Cove and can be reached at 250-668-8209 or by email.
This article appeared in Island Fisherman Magazine. Never miss another issue—subscribe today!