2017 Season Wrap-up

We had to wave a grudging goodbye to Langara Island this past week as September served up some BIG action for our final trips of 2017.

September 15, 2017

If you’re looking for a solid combination of fishing, wildlife, and weather, September at Langara has been as sure a bet as any time in our season for the past several years.

Once again, Chinook, Coho, and Halibut were still being found in good abundance right up to our final morning on the water. Conditions were mostly excellent — a bit of wind, but lots of sunshine. And the Humpback whales were still hanging out in large numbers — waving us goodbye with a flick of their flippers.

These last few trips of 2017 continued to see most boats focusing on the waters from Langara Rocks around to Andrews Point, mostly farther offshore, outside of the Rocks, following the drift on either tide.

Both Chinook and Coho have been passing by this area in waves most days, so sticking it out for a couple of tide changes usually results in at least a few flurries of bites throughout the day. Salmon were being found here at all depths, most a bit deeper, from 40 to 100 pulls.

But some of our best catches from our closing week happened elsewhere…

A lone boat fishing in tight and shallow to McPherson Point at the end of the day had their curiosity rewarded with a great double-header: the first hit at 20 pulls, the second chased a line up to the surface and grabbed it right below the boat. Ten minutes later they landed a nice pair of mid-20 pound Chinook — one retained, one released.

And our largest September salmon, a 42-pound Chinook, was caught and released west of the Lighthouse — a beautiful exclamation mark to the quality of late-season fishing here at Langara Island.

Most of the Coho in September were averaging a healthy 10-15 pounds, with lots of hook-nosed Northerns hanging around.

And the west side was open for much of the past week of the season, still yielding plenty of Halibut and Lingcod.

Our favourite marine mammal researchers, John Ford and Graeme Ellis of DFO’s Pacific Biological Station, were back for the second time this season. John and Graeme have been regulars at Langara Island for over 25 years, making biannual visits to observe and record Langara’s large populations of cetaceans.

During this week’s stay, they identified over 75 Humpbacks and numerous Fin whales. A few Dall’s porpoises were also seen cruising in the wake of our boats. Unfortunately, the Killer whales made themselves scarce — one of the rare weeks this season they were not spotted around the island.

The highlight of their week was this energetic young Humpback that breached dozens of times over the course of a 30-minute swim across the top of the island.

Based on John and Graeme’s observations, the number of Humpback whales that have made the Langara Island area their summer home continues to increase, and well over 600 individual Humpbacks have been identified here over the years.

Wrapping up the 2017 season

Our 33rd year of fishing at Langara Island had its ups and downs, so finishing it on a strong ‘up’ was both enjoyable and a bit of a shame — this season certainly had a few more great days, or even weeks, left in it.

Overall, 2017 had its share of variable weather and some stretches of hot-and-cold fishing, but at the end of the day all but a few trips provided our guests with productive fishing for salmon and halibut, and the opportunity to land or release their limit of Chinook.

Chinook highlights

The vast majority of Chinook found at Langara Island this season fell into the 15-25 pound range. Plenty of 30+ and numerous 40+ pound Chinook were landed throughout the season, including the earlier mentioned 42-pounder on our last trip.

Salmon of the season goes to longtime Langara Fishing Lodge guest Gary Loos, with a monster Chinook measuring just over 60-pounds, found off Gunia Point.

The largest salmon recorded at Langara Island Lodge was a 53-pound Chinook, caught-and-released off Cohoe Point by Scott and Christian Myers.

Congrats to Gary, Scott, Christian, and all of the other guests who landed their fish of a lifetime this season!

We were pleased to see that all but a few of these larger salmon were released, as more and more of our guests have come to appreciate the importance of letting these prime specimens continue their migratory journey — not to mention the enjoyment of seeing such a beautiful fish swim away strong after a hard-fought encounter.

While Langara Island continues to yield a healthy number of larger Chinook each season, and still remains the area with the highest overall abundance of migratory salmon on the coast, the longterm strength of Pacific salmon stocks is something that all anglers should keep front-of-mind when choosing to release or retain their catch.

Other species

2017 was another great season for Coho salmon. They started showing up with some frequency in June, and were here in strong abundance from early July through to our final morning.

Halibut fishing was absolutely stellar this year. We continued to enjoy a high rate of incidental Halibut catches all around the island while fishing for salmon, and our many well-known spots in Langara’s deeper waters were all yielding a generous supply of these bottom fish throughout the season.

The healthy abundance of Halibut here is key, but let’s not forget we’ve come a long way from lining up landmarks in search of that favoured spot on the bottom. Our sounders and GPS apps these days are a huge advantage, making it much easier to fish productively, and selectively — an important factor given the need to minimize incidental catches of other bottom species these days, particularly Yelloweye Rockfish.

The Langara difference

While fish abundance and weather conditions may vary from trip to trip or season to season, it’s the unique qualities of Langara Island, and our operations, that make fishing here such an unrivalled experience, regardless of when you’re joining us:

  • our proximity to the fishing grounds — if you wanted to try, you could literally go from bed to boat to baiting a hook in under 15 minutes.
  • our sheltered waters — we had our share of stormy weather this season, but not a single day that wasn’t suitable for fishing.
  • our spectacular wildlife — no other location on the west coast features such a rich population of marine mammals and sea birds.
  • and, of course, our incredible staff — our guests are always welcomed back here by familiar faces, and by enthusiastic and hard-working people with a real love for Langara. For a seasonal business, we are blessed to have the majority of our lodge employees stay with us for at least several seasons, and our guides are by far the most experienced on the coast, with well over a century of collective experience fishing these waters.  A huge thanks to all of them for making 2017 such a successful season!
We look forward to seeing you all back at Langara Island in 2018!