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Haida Gwaii Salmon Fishing

West Coast Fishing Club | BCBusiness
Visitors arrive at the West Coast Fishing Club by helicopter.

The West Coast Fishing Club in Haida Gwaii reels in the business crowd by upping the ante with a well-rounded luxury experience

For car nuts, it was 1957 and the Chevrolet Belair; for music aficionados, it was 1969 and Woodstock; for wine lovers, it was 2005 and Bordeaux. If salmon fishing occupied the same level of popular awareness, then surely 2013 would go down as the biggest year of all.” So begins the Winter 2014 volume of Tight Lines, the annual missive published by the West Coast Fishing Club (WCFC). Those fortunate few hundred who, in 2013, travelled from around the world to one of the WCFC’s three lodges, each some 50 kilometres south of Alaska in the spectacularly pristine Haida Gwaii, knew that not a word of it was hyperbole.

The salmon, however, are almost a red herring for the WCFC’s true raison d’être. For the bulk of its clientele, business executives from around North America, a trip to this remote corner of Canada is as much about the fish as it is about uniting associates outside of the office, whether to strategize, debrief or simply to bond and build a powerful team.

Sample Itinerary

Trips starting at $4,745

Day One 
630: Check in at the South Terminal of YVR 
07:15: Charter flight from Vancouver to Masset (1h45 min).
09:15: Helicopters shuttle guests to the Clubhouse (about 15 min.)
11:30-18:30: Fishing on state-of-the-art Boston Whaler boats; 1 guide, max. 3 guests 
19:00-20:00: Pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres and drinks served in main lounge, hot tubs (drinks also served to hot tubs), fitness room, sauna, steam bath, spa facilities, billiards and shuffle board.
20:00: Dinner service (three-course meal: fresh seafood, organic meats and vegetables, chickens and herbs from Grange’s South Beach Gardens farm in Masset).
22:00: Free time (outdoor fire pits blazing, billiards, movies, satellite sports, etc.).

Day Two
05:30-06:30: Breakfast (smorgasbord of fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries and fruit).
06:30-11:30: Morning fishing session (salmon, halibut).
11:30-13:30: Lunch and rest time (spa facilities, hot tubs, gym, business centre).
13:30-18:30: Afternoon fishing. 

“It’s a corporate tool, really. This is a place where you can forge and cement relationships,” explains Terry Cowan, manager of the WCFC’s Clubhouse, the jewel in the crown of the company owned by Toronto-based business partners Richard Grange and Brian Legge. Since the 1980s the Ontario duo has brought clients and colleagues to rustic outposts on northern B.C.’s salmon- and halibut-rich waters to drop lines, talk shop and bond. As they matured, so did their tastes, and in the 1990s the pair set their sights on building a more lavish place to hang their rods each evening. The Clubhouse, the largest of the WCFC’s three lodges, was born.

Where better to retreat after a day hauling in tyee than the Clubhouse, with its grand fireplaces, fully stocked bars, billiard tables, cognac-coloured leather furniture and stately dining room. And let’s not forget the hot tubs and fire pits on its ocean-front expansive decks— perfect places for a post-fishing scotch while whales ease gracefully by and dozens of bald eagles soar overhead. It’s little surprise the concept of fishing-meets-luxury caught the business world hook, line and sinker.

Which isn’t to say that the WCFC has been immune to the ebbs and flows of corporate tides. Yet when times got tough, instead of adding more beds, Grange and Legge decided to up the ante—and the price tag—on the experience, adding better boats (three new 27-foot Whalers now bring their fleet to 20), fine dining, a stunning private dining room and higher levels of service and non-fishing experiences such as a visit to an ancient Haida village.

Celebrity chef David Hawksworth has also become something of a mainstay at the Clubhouse, co-hosting culinary adventures that include cooking classes, wine tastings and, of course, multi-course meals prepared by the man himself.

Corporate clientele—if the Clubhouse’s myriad advanced bookings are a reliable indication—are eating up the changes. And a new group of guests that includes couples and families—and even the entire Vancouver Canucks hockey team— suggests they aren’t the only ones.