GPS Coordinates: 53°14’41.35″N 131°49’03.64″W
Trip Questionnaire: Please click on the link below. This will take you an electronic questionnaire form that we ask you to complete and submit to The Fly Shop®. Please be sure to click the “Submit” button at the end of the form. The information provided will help us — and the outfitter best coordinate your trip.
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Important: Entry/Exit Requirements
Entry into Canada is solely determined by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials in accordance with Canadian law. Please see the CBSA’s website for details: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html
Non-Canadians Entering Canada:
When you enter Canada, a border services officer will ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if you need one.
If you are a citizen of the United States, you need a passport to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport, but not to enter Canada by land or by boat. You must carry proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, or a Certificate of Indian Status, as well as photo identification. If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the U.S, you should bring your Permanent Resident Card with you.
U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid U.S. passport.
When returning to the United States from Canada, it is very important to note that all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States via air. For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Driver’s License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document.
You must claim your luggage on your first point of entry into Canada and clear immigrations and customs. Failure to claim your luggage will result in your luggage not showing up at your end destination.
Inoculations & Health Concerns:
There are no formal requirements, or recommendations for immunizations and very little risk of infectious disease in Canada. The risk would be about equivalent to what it would be for trip to Colorado. You should check with your personal physician if you are concerned. We recommend that anglers be up-to-date on their Tetanus, Hepatitis-A and Hepatitis-B vaccinations.
On Your Way To British Columbia
The Islands of Haida Gwaii is one of the most magical places you can find steelhead in the winter and definitely one of the most remote. The islands lay off the coast of British Columbia, right off the mouth of the Skeena system. The short rivers that drain these rainforest islands are home to an amazing strain of winter steelhead. This is your chance to get off the grid to chase dime bright missiles within sight of the ocean. The opportunity to hook fish this fresh, in rivers this beautiful, is a combo that is hard to duplicate elsewhere. With the popularity of winter steelhead growing right along with the sport of spey casting, it is getting harder and harder to ﬁnd productive systems with little to no angling pressure, except here.
Haida Gwaii has quietly gained a cult following among hard-core winter steelheaders. The sections of old growth rainforest, the mystique of the rivers and the landscape, and the heart and soul of the people who live there make this one of the most unique locations to ﬁsh in North America. Fishing Haida Gwaii has become a sanctuary for those who know it. For those that have connected with it, no other place can compare.
The weeklong trip will have you swinging ﬂies on tidal water every single day, hiking intimate walk and wade creeks, stalking wild steelhead with smaller spey rod setups and ﬂoating remote sections of the famous Yakoun River. These rivers are predominately lake fed ensuring that you will be out ﬁshing no matter what the conditions are. Some of the creeks only ﬁsh well with huge amounts of rain, while others ﬁsh best at low water. Diversity is what truly makes this trip special for winter steelhead.
This flexible program puts the angler on the best water at the best time. With 6 classified rivers available it is important to use the weather conditions to choose the best available option. With so many options there is virtually always something in shape. The Yakoun is the largest river on all the islands. Copper Bay Lodge has many ways to tackle this river including floating, just walking, and an option to staqy on the North Island at a B&B to stay closer if it is on at “The Yak”. During the week you will probably fish the Yakoun River, the Copper, the Pallant and a handful of others. The Copper river is only a 5 minute drive from the Lodge and is one of the most productive rivers on the Islands.
Unlike SE Alaska, the rivers of Haida Gwaii can have real trophy steelhead. The fish on the islands average around 8 to 12 pounds, but true monsters are ever present on every incoming tide. Fish over 15 pounds are landed by the lodge most weeks and these rivers kick out 20 pounders every year. Hooking a fish like this that has only been breathing fresh water for a couple days, if not a couple hours, is truly the peak of winter steelhead fishing.
Copper Bay has a completely renovated custom lodge. The beautiful cedar construction lodge is just a stone’s throw from the sands of a private beach facing the Hecate Strait. Guests always feel right at home in this relaxing oceanfront facility while the chef prepares wonderful meals in a brand new kitchen. There are both shared room, and private room options. The bathrooms are shared.
BC Fishing Licenses:
Fishing licenses are not included. Anglers will want to purchase their basic fishing licenses, steelhead report cards, and classsified tags for the Babine per day, for the duration of their stay at BSL, online before the trip. Purchase all licenses online at the British Columbia Government website: www.fishing.gov.bc.ca . You will need a valid credit card in order to purchase licenses online. Print a copy, and bring a copy with you to the lodge of your license, steelhead card and classified tags. Please keep a copy of your angler license number as well. If you have ever purchased an e license, your angler ID number remains the same in. If you have not kept a copy of your angler ID number you can simply re-register yourself in the system. After purchase, print copies of all of your valid licenses and carry them on you at all times on the river.
You will need the following licenses for your weeks stay with us:
- General Fishing license: Resident / Non resident
- Steelhead Tag
- Classified Waters Tag: per river, per day. (Purchase from the Lodge)
You can also purchase “QCI others” classified waters permits for each Saturday you will be on the trip, the days you will fish full days we will purchase the classified waters permits the evening before fishing based on conditions. All fishing licenses will be paid by your personal credit card.
If you have any problems during your trip with missed connections, or want to leave an emergency number for family members or office:
Frontier Far West Lodge in Telkwa:
Derek Botchford and Andrea Soto
U.S. Consulate General
1095 West Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Telephone: (604) 685-4311 | Facsimile: (604) 685-7175
Babine Steelhead Lodge swings flies only. You can leave the indicators at home, these fish are aggressive, you won’t need them. Spey rods are the game up North in Skeena Country. It is hard to argue that they cast further, more often, with less effort… which equals more fish to grass. Rods from 12.5ft to 13.5ft are the go to, in line wts 7 or 8. You can fish all week with only your spey rods, but single handers can be useful and fun to swing flies as well, so do not hesitate to bring along a 9 or 9.5 foot 8wt if you would like.
The Canadian dollar is the official currency in BC. However, US dollars are widely used and accepted, but you will not get a fair exchange rate. Credit cards will also be accepted anywhere. Remember to call the Credit Card Company and inform them of your travel dates before you depart, or you will have trouble.
We recommend guide and staff gratuities of approximately $500-$700 per angler to be divided amongst the staff. Tips are pooled and can be left in an envelope provided to you. If you find service by any individual to be exceptional, feel free to give them additional direct compensation. US dollars are preferred. All tips must be paid in cash.
Being on the ocean, the weather can be relatively mild by winter standards, especially at this latitude. On the other hand, weather can get very serious, and fast, so you will always want to be prepared for anything Mother Nature could throw at you. Expect and be prepared for cold and wet conditions when visiting Haida Gwaii in the winter. Rain and snow can occur at almost any time and typical day temperatures range from 35° – 50°F. Remember with this type of weather comes fresh fish. Beautiful warm days for extended periods could be the worst case scenario!
Power & Communications:
Copper Bay Lodge has wireless broadband internet access, land line phones and reasonable cellular reception. Power outlets in every room will allow you to charge all of your devices every night.
We do offer limited laundry service at the lodge, for if you fall in but do not plan on having regular laundry service. do offer limited laundry service at the lodge, for if you fall in the river, but do not plan on having regular laundry service. Pack enough clothes for the entire week.
We have wireless internet so laptops and tablets are welcome. There is some cell phone coverage at the lodge, feel free to bring your cell phone. Long distance calls can be made using the lodge telephone; however we request that people bring a calling card for this.
The lodge also offers a variety of toiletry articles’ including shampoo/conditioner, hand creams, and lindy’s handmade soaps so feel free to keep your toiletries to a minimum.
Alcohol is not included. We will make a stop at the store when you arrive to pick up your favorite steelhead trip cocktails and beer. 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. You may also try and take advantage of the Duty Free on the way into Canada.
Canadian Liquor Laws are different than ours here in the States. Beer and wine must be purchased in special stores. These stores usually stay open well into the evening and are open on weekends. However, “spirits” or hard liquor must be purchased at a Government Store. These stores do not stay open past 6:00 p.m., and are closed on Sundays. If you like a cocktail at the end of the day, plan on bringing your own from the States. You are able to bring 1.5 liters of wine, 1.14 liters of liquor or 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (8.5 liters) of beer or ale. There is an opportunity to purchase beer, wine and spirits at a Government Store at your end destination.
The Chef at Copper Bay Lodge takes extraordinary pride in preparing some of the finest meals you will ever see at a fishing lodge. Top quality ingredients and an excellent presentation are paired to serve you hearty meals with ridiculous porportions. We even collect wild local foods available such as dungeness crab, razor clams and even Sitka blacktail venison sometimes!
The lodge has rods and reels you may borrow and use during the week, although we recommend bringing your own equipment that you are familiar with. They provide a variety of Spey rods, and a few single handed rods to our guests. Depending on your preference, both single hand and Spey rods will prove effective on the rivers of Haida Gwaii.
Due to the small size of the rivers and the canopy of dense vegetation on the islands Spey casters will certainly have an advantage without having to backcast. If you have not already joined the two handed revolution now is the time to start! Spey casters can simply cover more water more effectively and our teams of expert instructors have all the tools to work with novice and veterans alike!
The most popular choice of Spey rods for Haida Gwaii are in the #6 and #7 weight category between 11 and 13 feet long. Your choice of rod for the trip is a matter of personal preference, though we have found that the lighter shorter rods are about perfect for every situation in the rainforests of Haida Gwaii. If you are having trouble deciding which rods are the most suitable for you, we would be more than happy to give you some expert advice, based on our experience there!
This is probably the most important part of your tackle system! A Reel of mediocre quality will not withstand the brute force of a fresh sea run trophy. Any high quality single action reel with 150 + yards of backing capacity with a good drag system will work fine. You hard-core guys know your classic Hardy’s and other noise makers will sing regardless of the drag system.
Below are some examples of what we feel are the most suitable Spey lines for fishing on Haida Gwaii and other surounding rivers. This will serve as a general guideline that anyone with any questions about equipment should follow. If you are uncertain which line you should select to properly match your rod, do not hesitate to contact us. We are experts in this field and we are happy to assist you in preparing the correct rod/line combinations.
Skagit style lines are basically shortened, condensed shooting heads developed in the Pacific North West by a hard core group of anglers that were looking for a way to cast sinking tip and large weighted flies long distances, with a very short compact casting stroke, and small D-Loop. These lines have become very popular with steelheaders due to the fact that they are easy for both the expert and novice to cast, not to mention extremely useful in situations where room for a back cast is limited. These lines also work very well for people who prefer to fish shorter rods, under 13’6”. The Airflo Skagit Compact heads can be very effecient tools on all of the islands rivers. These lines should be paired with the MOW sink tips in Heavy(T-14) or Medium(T-11) for these rivers. Many Skagit casters prefer to prepare their own sink tips using varied lengths of T-14. We prefer these custom tips in 2.5ft increasing length incriments. Give us a call if you have questions on these iterchangeable sink tips. This is the “Go-To” System on Haida Gwaii.
Scandi lines are the full floating version of the Skagit. Also short belly shooting heads, they are amazing at very efficiently loading the rod with a compact stroke and little effort, even in tight conditions. Long leaders are required to anchor these Scandi lines during the casting stroke. We do not use them all that much on Haida Gwaii, as we need to get the flies down to the fish in the cold water.
Leaders for sink tips, in winter steelhead fly fishing, are very simple…15lbs Maxima. You may want to bring a larger selection simply to insure that you will be prepared for any and every situation.
Chest high breathable waders are recommended when fishing any cold water these days and these rivers are no exception. Durability and comfort are key elements to consider when selecting a wader, there are many different manufactures that make quality products.
This is extremley important on Haida Gwaii. It is a rainforest, in the winter, at very high latitudes. You do not want to get caught with less than excellent rain gear and layering. Be prepared for what Mother Nature has in store and you will fish much longer hours… and catch more fish! Your choice of garment must allow freedom of movement and keep you dry, even in a downpour. We would be happy to suggest ideas for a raincoat.
The “layering” system works best with today’s top quality synthetic and wool garments. The idea is that by adding or removing multiple layers of clothing, in varying thickness and insulation, you will be able to obtain ideal body temperature and comfort, instead of just one big layer that you are either hot or cold in. If you have any questions we would be pleased to offer advice on the many options of the layering system.
*Do not use COTTON layers in these conditions*
If unsure of what gear you need to fully enjoy a week at Copper Bay Lodge we would be pleased to recommend equipment options. Although we do not seek to endorse specific brand names, our extensive experience has shown certain products to be superior.
The usual steelhead menu, in the full spectrum of colors commonly used, will work great on the rivers of Haida Gwaii and all of the other rivers of BC for that matter. Some are dark and somber, others are vibrant and bright, due to the diversity of water conditions. Even the same river can display different moods and may go from low and clear to high and muddy in a matter of hours. Flies that would spook fish in one condition may be barely visible in another. Rember to have flies also in varying weights and sizes as well as a variety of colors. It pays to carry a variety of patterns and be prepared for whatever nature and her fish can throw at you. Steelhead will always be deliciously unpredictable. Tube Flies are the newest fly design concept to hit steelhead fly fishing and the possibilities are endless. Tubes allow steelhead fishermen versatility when it comes to meeting changing conditions by changing the type of tube they use, allowing more control over the depth and action of the fly. They also have the advantage of having a larger fly with a shorter shank hook, exactly what is called for to drag out large steelhead. The stinger style flies will also allow this and the Intruder Style flies are a favorite up North.
There is a wide variety of flies for sale at the lodge, or you can ask The Fly Shop® to put a package together for you that will work in the majority of fishing scenarios.
A Note on Re-Booking for Next Season:
The potential for spectacular steelhead fishing in B C often falls within a very narrow window of just a handful of weeks per year. As such, competition for space can be significant. If you like your week and you intend to return next season, you are wise to move quickly to confirm with a deposit at the conclusion of your trip. Most lodges will hold space for you in the following year for just two weeks past the conclusion of your trip. We will make contact with you when you get home, but you are encouraged to be pro-active in notifying either the lodge or The Fly Shop® that you intend to return.
Copper Bay Lodge will not be responsible or liable for any loss, damage or injury to participants, personal property, or for any cancellations, expenses or delays incurred as a result of weather, transportation or other conditions over which we have no control. Management reserves the right to withdraw and/or cancel any excursions offered at any time and make changes in itineraries as may be necessary for safety and proper handling of said excursions. All guests have a responsibility to disclose to management any special medical, physical or dietary conditions. We make no compromise to assure a safe trip; however, outdoor activities of this nature are not entirely “risk free”. We recommend that you secure travel and trip cancellation insurance. Check with your insurance broker for options on this type insurance. All rates are subject to change without notice but will not change once booking is confirmed.