Northwest winds blow up the surf along Agate Beach. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Fishing Haida Gwaii: Northwesterly winds bring sunshine, chop, and wary fishers

“There’s no kicking the feet up on the gunwales.”

By Darrell Oike

Haawa for all the fish caught this week. Nice to have some sun, however with sun often comes the dreaded northwester. The northwest wind. It brings blue skies and that’s nice, but for those who need to fish out there, it changes the game a bit: north coast Haida Gwaii, chop on top of swell; west coast Haida Gwaii, chop on top of bigger swell. There’s no kicking the feet up on the gunwales. The ocean has her way with you as you spend the day basically trying to avoid, as much as possible, being broadside to the waves.

A nice light northwest, no problem — you can go offshore aways and fish in more open waters. But once it starts blowing a steady 20 knots, best get in a bit. On the north side you can hide behind Langara Island, but really, that is the only hiding spot other than right inside Naden Harbour or Masset Inlet.

The west coast has some inlets and more islands to be in the lee of, but the northwester, if it’s been going for a while, makes a steep swell that swallows nine-metre rocks. The waters off Haida Gwaii are in a permanent small-craft warning, so if you are in a sporty boat and it’s blowing 20 in the morning you might want to think about staying in. And if you’re a guide, well, you avoid being broadside.

Fishing has been pretty okay out there. Some days have been full of fish on the west side as runs of springs hit points and reefs, plow through a few bait balls, and get a bit thinned out as they mingle briefly under a few boats dangling herring, spoons, and anchovies before they travel onward.

The salmon have been mostly in the teens, but in the past week a few boats reported tyees so there are a few big ones in the mix. Make sure you retie your knots. Coho are coming in small numbers and halibut fishing produces on days when you can go out. On the east side of the islands in the lee of the northwest, halibut fishing has been excellent. In Juan Perez Sound as well as in waters around Kunghit Island, catches have been averaging between 30 and 100 pounds. Remember that when fishing around Kunghit Island, there is a large area of protected waters where hook and line fishing is prohibited.

Mariners are weather watchers. Watch the weather and get a forecast before going out. When you get up early and the tops of the trees are all blowing around from the north, you know. It’s going to be a lumpy day.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii gets top spot in The World

It was already a nice Christmas present, but Keith Moore was really… Continue reading

McNeill fined again for illegal fishing

A local man with a long history of poaching has been convicted… Continue reading

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Old Massett taps grassroots for community plan

Over coffee, kitchen tables, and community dinners, Old Massett is taking a… Continue reading

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Most Read