Salmon's Mooching Legacy
A brace of silver salmon caught motor mooching graces the dock at Legacy Lodge. The key to the bite is the proper rigging of the cut plug herring and Legacy Lodge guide Paul Cain, left, was on the water every day to make sure clients, who are otherwise on their own when it comes to the actual fishing, are geared up right and in the best areas to fish.
Immersed in the grandeur of British Columbia's rugged coast, Legacy Lodge is where friends meet to share spectacular scenery and battle some of the largest Chinook and Coho Salmon in the world. And at the end of each day, the warmth of true hospitality greets guest returning to the comfort of superior amenities.
The venerable and sturdy Grumman Goose floatplane trundles leisurely over a channel studded with emerald islands as we journey toward our destination, Legacy Lodge.
Legacy Lodge is anchored deep within British Columbia's Rivers Inlet in a hidden hobbit cove hard against an impenetrable forest. Frodo would be very much at home here.
The eye candy provided by a flight across the Inland Passage from Vancouver Island's northeastern tip to an untamed spot on the mainland coast about 300 miles north of Vancouver is enough for some. A nature lover could exist on the stunning panoramas alone. But I think they're missing the main point of a visit to this magnificent, remote part of the world.
Scenery and prolific wildlife are integral to the total experience of a visit to Rivers Inlet and Legacy Lodge, but they are side dishes to the main dish - fishing for some of the biggest coho and Chinook (or spring salmon, as they are called in British Columbia) on the planet.
Rivers Inlet sits at the convergence of three rivers. Salmon headed to the Kilbella and Chuckwalla rivers start to arrive in early June, and catches build toward the end of the month. That's when the Wannock River strain makes its first showing. Toward the end of July, a second run of Chinook surges toward the Wannock and peaks in mid-August. Coho show from July to September, growing progressively larger throughout the summer. The largest Chinook ever recorded, 126 pounds, was reportedly caught in a tribal net in Rivers Inlet waters, and every year these waters yield more salmon weighing in excess of 50 pounds than anywhere else in British Columbia. The coho grow bigger here, too. Many reach 20 pounds or more as numbers peak in August. For a change of pace, anglers can tuck into a cove and work the bottom for tasty halibut, yelloweye rockfish and lingcod.
The roar of the engines subsides and is replaced by silence as the Grumman Goose slides the last few feet to the Legacy Lodge dock, where co-owner and operator, Mick Heath and general manager Johanna Tormata wait to greet the customers. Some of the anglers are new acquaintances.
Other arrivals have been to Legacy Lodge multiple times, but no distinctions are made as we are greeted, all of us, like the old friends we are, or soon will be, with hugs and handshakes all around.
The place, the people, the experience, do that to you. Ultimately it is about the fishing, but it is also about much more. It's the realization of Heath's long held vision, the culmination of a 20-year quest that has indeed become his Legacy. The setting, the staff, the food, the ambiance create - dare I say - a romantic feel to the place, a term not normally used when talking about a fishing lodge.
While the hardest of hardcore fishermen are drawn to Legacy Lodge year after year - for the fishing of course - so are couples, fathers and sons, and fathers and daughters. They also come for the fishing, but more for "quality time." While the term is a cliché, the need is real.
It was fun watching one particular "seasoned" father/young adult daughter duo banter over dinner about the day's events on the water. She had never fished for salmon before and never fished much at all except for panfish as a young girl. Yet, by the big smile on her face each evening as their boat eased into the dock, it was clear who had caught the biggest and most salmon. Dad? He would mildly feign chagrin over the student defeating the "mentor," but clearly was a proud papa.
Could the pride of accomplishment, the satisfaction, possibly have been as great had the success been accomplished the way fishing is conducted at most lodges - with a guide running the boat, finding the spots and setting up the fishing rigs, typically heavy duty bait casting outfits? And, often, even hooking the fish and handing.