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King Pacific Lodge

by Larry E. Stefanyk & Ellen Huse

“The place where all your salmon fishing dreams start and end….”
As a seasoned traveler to top-of-the-line fishing lodges and resorts I have experienced some exceptional locations with outstanding hosts, but King Pacific Lodge stands out as the best of the best. Located at Milbanke Sound, owners George and Lisa Cuthbert run this floating lodge operation with help from the rest of the family, and a crew of highly experienced guides and lodge staff.
With a passion for fishing since an early age, George has enjoyed over 25 years within British Columbia’s Sport Fishing Industry, including 22 consecutive seasons at remote luxury lodge locations. His wife Lisa also has a 25 year career in British Columbia’s sport fishing industry. George and Lisa, their children, and other family members not only love to fish, but are committed to building lasting relationships by providing quality experiences with their wealth of knowledge and their spectacular treatment of lodge clients.
The trip for us in early September began with an overnight in Vancouver, then a flight from the south Terminal to Bella Bella at 1:00 in the afternoon. George welcomed all the guests at the Bella Bella Terminal and explained the next leg would be a short 10-minute flight on a Helijet “Sikorsky” S-76 helicopter. Ellen sat up front with the pilot and had a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous scenery, and got our first glimpse of the floating King Pacific Lodge.
After a short orientation, we were assigned our rooms and a boat. A quick sandwich, some solid fishing location tips from the guides, and we headed out to do a wee fish before dinner. On the water with our lines down by 4:30 pm, and it wasn’t long before we had two Chinook in the boat and lost another half a dozen. Back at the dock at 6:45 pm with smiles on our faces, the lodge crew tagged and processed our fish as we headed to our room to freshen up before the eight o’clock dinner.
The floating lodge looks out over a beautiful bay and we enjoyed a five-star meal, complimented with great wines. The seating selection for dinners is prearranged and labelled, providing the opportunity to mingle with several different interesting guests over the four-day stay.
The next morning, we were up at 5:30, had breakfast and left the dock at 7:00. We fished close to the lodge for the first couple of hours then headed south to fish for halibut. After a run of about 40 minutes we dropped our lines at the magic depth for that location - 160 feet. We lowered our gear and after a short fight I was rewarded with a halibut in the mid 20-pound range. Then we headed back to the lodge for hot soup and a sandwich.
We fished the afternoon in beautiful surroundings and caught both Chinook and coho. Dinner the second evening was an exquisitely presented sablefish - the best I have ever tasted.
Next day started again at 7:00 as we left the dock and headed out to the halibut grounds first thing with the tides in our favor. Ellen had landed a halibut before, but never been holding the rod herself when one of those powerful bottom fish hit. She lowered the line carrying a salmon belly with a little herring to the bottom, and started jigging. Within minutes she was giddy with joy to feel the tug, tug, tug of a halibut hit. She set the hook and the struggle was on!
Lift….lift….lift, reel, reel, reel. Lift…lift…lift, reel, reel, reel. She finally understood why people said bringing up a halibut was like bringing up a piece of plywood. Finally at the surface, she kept its head in the water and brought it in alongside the boat. I leaned over, gaffed it, and hauled it in the boat. A quick dismissal, some rinsing, and we were ready for photos. It was a sweet 28 lbs we found out when it was weighed later at the dock.
Now it was my turn to see if I could pick one up. I used the same bait setup, salmon belly and herring, and started to jig. Jig, jig, jig, jig, jig. Then, bummer….I hooked the bottom. Then the bottom moved and started stripping serious line off the reel! The drag was tight but the line was moving as if it was free spooling.
Line stopped moving.
I started lifting, reeling, and after an up and down struggle of give and take of line, it was finally coming to the surface.
We could see it; was it too big for the legal size?
Before determining if we could keep it or not, the halibut spooked and DOWN it went. Battle on again to get it to the surface. This time when I got it to the surface we measured it. It was a legal. I handed Ellen the rod and got the harpoon ready. With a quick plunge the harpoon secured the halibut to the boat.
Next job, get it in the boat. Ellen brought the halibut along-side the boat and I leaned over and gaffed it. But this puppy was not coming in like the 28 pounder. I struggled to lift and get it over the side of the gunnel, and finally, with some solid effort, it did lay on the bottom of the boat. I quickly bled it to dispatch it, and there we sat smiling with our limit of halibut by 10:15.
The rest of the morning we hooked a number of salmon, but oddly, none wanted to come in the boat, so we headed to the lodge for lunch.
After lunch was another great afternoon on the water, both catching, and getting outwitted by salmon that managed to spit the hook before reaching our net. Dinner was a new choice of delicious entrees cooked to the perfection of our preference. Both main course and desserts were elegantly and artistically prepared, so a feast not only for the stomach, but also, the eyes.
Memories of great meals, first class accommodation and of course, outstanding fishing.
One other stand out acknowledgement of King Pacific Lodge is the congeniality and efficiency of their staff. They did those extra things that make your experience a memorable one.
If you are planning a salmon and halibut trip in the future, make sure you put King Pacific Lodge on your bucket list.
For more information contact George or Lisa at:
Toll Free: 1 855.825.9378
George’s Cell: 1.778.384.3474

Huxley’s Run: 

When downriggers were introduced they brought a whole new aspect to ocean fishing. They take terminal tackle deeper and more effectively than previous methods. They make average anglers better and good anglers deadly. But downriggers did something far more pervasive to the sport. They created the Downrigger Dance.
This is the dance that evolves when a group of anglers relax on a cruiser and watch the rods in the rod holder expectantly. The group of anglers usually consists of friends or family or both. They usually have great love and or admiration for each other. And then a rod goes off.
This is the start of the Downrigger Dance.
Hands outstretch, elbows stick out, hip checks are common. Threats of violence sometime ensue. And it’s all because the Rule of First Fish was not discussed and agreed to by all parties.
The Rule of the First Fish can be established in various ways. Drawing straws works. So too does a draw of cards. Whatever method is used, one ultimate rule within the rule has to prevail. And that is; whoever’s turn it is on the rod, no one violates that rule. Break that rule and it’s chaos. If the person whose turn it is is asleep, wake him. If they are relieving themselves, wait. Interrupt order and you interrupt karma — or become a victim of it.
Such was the case of a fellow I will call Fred. Fred was part of our party on a guided fishing trip and quickly asked the guide where he should put his tackle he brought from Saskatchewan. When the guide said “back in your car” Fred started to argue. The guide of course, won out and the trip began.
We drew straws and Fred started pouting as soon as he realized he would be third on the rod. The rods were out and the usual lying began. Fred seemed distracted however, not quite in on the conversations. And then we found out why.
The starboard rod showed signs of something and Fred knocked us aside before picking it up. When he lifted the rod it bent over sharply and Fred started reeling. He was smiling widely but not as widely as the guide. The guide merely stood beside Fred and watched him fighting his fish. Fred would reel and then could reel no more. Reel and reel no more.
“You better get the net ready,” said Fred.
The guide smiled even wider and said, “I might do that once we break that baby off the clip.”
Once the small rock cod was released and the rods were put out again, Fred got a severe talking too about going out of turn. He seemed contrite but there was still a wildness in his eyes, a wildness that came to the surface when he jumped the next rod when it twitched. This time it wasn’t a rock cod; it was some weed. “Good eye,” said the guide, telling Fred to stop reeling and taking the rod out of his hands.
Upon much discussion of the rules committee it was determined and the other two anglers on the boat would get two turns each, before Fred got his third turn.
If Fred squealed in protest at that, he squealed even louder when two chinook of about 16 pounds were boated by the two other anglers who had positioned themselves right over the rod holder, blocking Fred from access.
We could tell Fred was now wound very tightly and when we voiced our concerns that he seemed ready to once again break the order, he promised emphatically that he had learned his lesson. But we knew there was no way to truly relax with Fred hovering and flitting from one rod holder to the other. The guide sensed the tension and had a solution.
He asked Fred to steer the boat a bit. Fred squirmed like a little kid, bolted into the cabin and squirmed delightedly into the captain’s chair. The guide gave Fred his bearings and slid the door of the cabin shut.
“You guys have your hands full with that one,” said the guide. And for the first time we relaxed, leaning on the gunnel, sipping brews and taking in all the sights — except the rod tips.
The loud “thump” that came five minutes later startled us. And we didn’t quite realize what it was because there was a fish on both rods. We fought and landed a double header of chinooks not much smaller than the first two.
When the guide finished boating our fish we noticed Fred’s suspicious absence. The guide pointed to a triangle shaped smudge on his glass cabin door.
“Karma,” he said. And there in the cabin, holding a bunch of paper towel stained red to his nose, was Fred.

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