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March 04, 2011

5 Top North American Fishing Lodges

Try these destinations for your next fishing trip

The Lodge at Walters Cove, West Coast Resorts

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, 800-810-8933,
Location: West Coast Resorts' Lodge at Walters Cove is located in a pro­tected bay in the remote, coastal fishing town of Kyuquot on the northwest side of Vancouver Island. The edge of the continental shelf lies only 12 to 15 miles from shore. Access is limited to air and sea, cutting off the village of 300 from the rest of the world.

Fishing seasons/­expectations: Expect excellent bottomfishing all year for halibut (25- to 30-pound average), lingcod and rockfish, and a very consistent seasonal salmon fishery. Resident salmon feed yearlong on the large flat known as "The Reef," while migratory runs of chinook/king show in March and continue through September. Prime time for kings is June through August. Late July through early September is prime for coho (silver) salmon. Some days, multiple boats release 30-plus king salmon (from the teens to 40 pounds); the 2010 single-day record was 48.

Lodge records: Biggest king salmon: 54 pounds. Biggest halibut: 190 pounds.

A typical day's outing: The typical day starts with a buffet breakfast and a 6 a.m. departure. Most anglers pack a lunch and fish all day, returning to the lodge around 5 p.m., though they may return earlier. Generally, guides start the day drifting and jigging for halibut, and switch to slow-trolling for salmon. Later, they opt to jig for lingcod and snapper (yellow eye). In June and early July, guides often fish inside the surf line and along the massive kelp beds. From mid-July to early August, they fish "The Reef," three to five miles out. From early August till the end of the season (early September), the major migratory route for salmon takes us 12 to 14 miles offshore.

Average climate/weather expectations: The lodge's ­location sees more sunshine and less fog than other coastal areas. The shore features a temperate rainforest, however, so expect rain any time. Summer temperatures average 65 to 75 degrees.

Getting there: Trips ­originate from Vancouver, British Columbia, and packages include a 70-minute floatplane flight from the river beside the Vancouver International Airport to the lodge dock. The carrier is Seair Seaplanes, which flies nine-passenger Cessna Caravans.

BC salmonVessel information: Walters Cove debuts a new fleet of boats for the 2011 season - 24-foot commercial-grade Sea West boats. These fiberglass vessels feature enclosed cabins, suspension seats and onboard heads. They're powered by 300 hp Mercury Verado outboards and sport 9.9 hp auxiliary engines. All come with Lowrance GPS/fish finders and Scotty electric downriggers.

Available tackle: Captains spool up single-action Daiwa MOne Plus mooching reels with 30-pound Berkeley Big Game monofilament and pair them with Shimano Technium 10½-foot mooching rods for salmon fishing. Halibut gear comprises 7-foot Kufa rods and Penn 320 level-wind reels with 100-pound TUFLine. The lodge can also provide Shimano Charter Special level-wind reels with matching rods for salmon.

Accommodations: Each of the 11 guest rooms accommodates two to three people (twin beds and bunks) with a private bath. The lodge features cedar-lined walls and fir floors with First Nation artwork and Pacific Coast photos. When weather permits, guests use the harbor-view deck for meals. The lounge area features a full-service bar, comfortable couches and overstuffed chairs around a giant wood stove.

2011 packages: A four-day, three-night stay is $3,895 per person; five days/four nights is $4,395. Includes seaplane airfare, accommodations (double occupancy), meals, snacks and non­alcoholic beverages (wine is complimentary with dinner), fully guided fishing (minimum 10 hours per full day), all tackle and bait, foul-weather gear and boots, and cleaning/packing/freezing fish for transport home.

Provisions for taking home fish: Your catch is filleted, portioned, vacuum packed, frozen and packaged in airline-approved, waxed, lined cardboard boxes that weigh 50 pounds or less (to avoid airline charges).