by Larry E. Stefanyk
Hakai Land & Sea Fishing Club is a non-profit organization, currently with 85 members, something totally different on the west coast of BC. It started in 1970 when three friends headed north from Rivers Inlet exploring new fishing grounds, and they realized the incredible potential of Hakai Pass. On their return to Vancouver they were able to secure a land lease from the Provincial Government and soon a camp was born out in the wilderness. Every year a little more is added and in 2016, the new bunk house was put in place, which has accommodations for 16 guests. All rooms have two single beds and a private washroom.
My personal experience with Hakai Pass started on July 23, 2016, with a lovely stay at the Accent Inn in Richmond, BC, a truly great hotel for people who do some travelling. Up bright and early, I headed to the float plane terminal on the Fraser River to head 440 km northwest. We were travelling on a Seair Seaplane, the Cessna 208 Caravan to Calvert Island within the Hakai Conservancy, a marine park that covers an area of 1,230 square kilometers. Flight time was approximate 90 minutes. Arriving at the dock we were met by the entire staff as we all carried our bags along the board walk, looking over the sandy beach and the turquoise water to the bunk house, where we each chose a room.
From here we headed to the rustic cook house, had a sandwich and a hearty bowl of beef soup, then were presented with a safety ordination and discussion of the fishing opportunities, all done by Ben Angus, the manager and chef—a world class chef at that!
I was assigned to fish with Henry Ellis, who had been going to Hakai for years and who knew the ropes of the area. By 1:00 pm we were stowing our rods in their new 20-foot Center-counsel Ironwood boats, which were equipped with 70 HP Yamahas. Our first destination was the “Gap”, a short 20 minutes from the camp. We prepared our cut plug herring, and I set out 20 pulls and Henry went 25 pulls. With barely enough time to glance around at the scenery, it happened–our first fish, an 11-pound coho. What power! It jumped, bounced, jumped, took line, up to the boat and then gone like a rocket and the fight started all over. Finally, we net it.
We kept the first fish then next, a smaller coho, released. The fishing was fantastic for coho but zero on the Chinook action. Back to the dock for dinner at 7:15. Ben prepared a marvelous dinner: salad, steak, baked potatoes with vegetables, all done to perfection, and homemade hot apple crumble with ice cream for dessert. All 16 of us sat at the big banquet table a swapped stories and while we savored the meal. I hit the pillow early as another day was starting at 6:00 a.m.
Next morning, after a light breakfast we were on the water at 7:00 heading to the “Steps”, which is in front of Starfish Island, a sweet five minute run from the dock. Apparently, this spot has been a good producer for years but, not this morning. Back to the dock at 9:00 for a hot breakfast. After breakfast I went on the crew boat to fish for halibut with three other guests. 5. After a 20-minute run, lines were in the water at 300 feet. It did not take long for all of us to have our limit and there were smiles and high fives all round. Back to the dock by 11:30, then lunch. After lunch, Henry and I were back on the water off the Racetrack, and then Barney Point. We picked up a few Chinook and coho, but nothing big. Another scrumptious meal topped off the day.
The third day on the water we went halibut fishing and were rewarded with our limit, and a nice ling cod. I also picked up a Chinook—thinking I had the fish of a life time as it fought for its life, but it turned out to be only 20 lbs. The day continued with fish after fish, truly a world class experience, even for a seasoned veteran like me. After Henry had landed a nice coho, I had my cut plug herring dangling in the water, maybe 12 to 18 inches under the surface film, then this beast from the deep rose and inhaled my herring as I watched. Sweeeeet! The line on the reel started to spin without any indication it was going to stop. Henry turned the boat and we started to give chase. I gained some line but not enough; he was winning. Henry put more gas to the motor and I started reeling as fast as I could. We had seriously travelled close to a mile from where I hooked the fish. As I gained line, it headed straight down; I had the fish of a life time it seemed. It had been over an hour of give and take, and finally, I saw the tail—it was like a sail, this was the one. My arms were aching as well as my shoulders, it took one more run. FINALLY, I brought it to the boat, Henry maneuvered the net, head first in it went, but it was too heavy for Henry to lift. I helped put it into the boat. This was the one.
Okay, would you believe it… 22.5-pounds, and I fought it for an hour and fifteen minutes. That, is a Hakai Chinook.
The next morning on our last day on the water we were heading to the “Gap”, and on our way out one of the guests, Scott Davidson, was into a big Chinook at Odlum Point. We fished the area and I watched Scott out of the corner of my eye. He landed the Tyee in the fog and it weight in at 41-pounds. Nice.
We continued to the “Gap” where we fished the wall, and caught fish after fish, then continued by the kelp bed which held plenty of salmon, all fished at 15 pulls. Our arms were getting sore, and it was time to head back to the camp.
What a magical place for salmon. Hakai has it all: Chinooks, coho, chum and pinks, ling cod… plus halibut.
The Hakai Club works on a break-even or small annual surplus; basically everything is done to keep costs down as the Club exists to serve its members. There are normally 12 camps each season; six three-night camps and six four-night camps.
If you are interested in joining the Club as a member, or visiting as a guest, please contact: