Heli-fishing at it's finest

Fort McNeill, British Columbia

Nimmo Bay is widely considered by those in the know as the top of the premier league in fishing lodges in British Columbia. However it remains such a well kept secret at least until now, that most people who even frequent these kinds of places, have never heard of it. Pictures of former president George Bush are dotted around the place, and clearly the lodge is proud to have hosted the former luminary. Richard Branson also gets a look in, but really the place is so good, they don't need to remind guests of the kind of people that frequent this unspoilt gem.

Nimmo Bay Helicopter

There are several reasons for this - the prices, the meticulous attention to detail and the top of the range twin engine helicopters that whisk you away to unspoilt rivers to fish for salmon and trout, or to a glacier 6,000 feet up for a packed gourmet lunch. There are only nine guest chalets, all fully furnished with every convenience possible in such an outpost. They even have an emergency supply of toothpaste under the sink, and CD players in every room with music from the likes of Andre Bocelli and David Gray given a prominent position. This place is hip without being stuffy. Activities are planned each morning according to the weather, but there are such an abundance of places to visit by helicopter that each day can be different, with an area of about 30,000 square miles and elevations ranging from sea level to seven thousand feet to choose from. Every piece of equipment, fishing and wading gear is available for guests at no charge, and after a gourmet breakfast usually featuring Canadian bacon and blueberry pancakes, you start the fitting process to get ready for the adventures of the day.

Other activities at Nimmo Bay include kayaking, rafting, whale watching, caving, beachcombing, hiking and wildlife viewing. The highly respected Andrew Harper rated this place the "Fishing Lodge of the Year" in 1999, and no wonder. Located in an exclusive bay below 5,000 foot Mount Stephens, Nimmo Bay is also ecologically friendly, dedicated to preserving the environment for generations to come. Power now comes primarily from a water powered generator backed up by an auxiliary propane generator, and the composting toilets reduce all human waste to harmless dust.

Nimmo Bay is a family run business that has been going since 1980, and is the brainchild of the personable Craig Murray, an excellent host who stays personally involved throughout your stay. His sons, daughter and nephew also work the resort, and can be seen at breakfast and dinner when you are treated to a first class gourmet feast prepared by Chef Heather Davis, who used to be the baker and dessert chef under former head chef Reggie Christensen. Reggie had spent at least seven years at the lodge formulating the gourmet feasts that await guests for four days, and just like the rest of Nimmo Bay, no expense is spared in the presentation of the food either. The plates all come from supply houses in Vancouver with beautiful designs and colors to complement the exotic food and selections of Canadian wines; dinner really is something to look forward to at Nimmo Bay.

To be whisked away by helicopter and taken to a totally inaccessible river full of Steelhead, Coho, Chinook, Chum and Pink Salmon, is the ultimate experience. Whether you are into fly-fishing or spin casting, all the clothing and equipment is provided by Nimmo Bay, and the pilot even carries a gun to scare away any over zealous grizzlies that may range into view. The wolves and cougars will just keep an eye on you, and the bald eagles will fly effortlessly by as you fish. The pilot also carries a camera, so any pictures of you reeling in a 60 pounder are easily available the very next day, as well as being posted on the Nimmo Bay web site. You fly so low that you can actually see the salmon jumping. It is important to remember however that unlike April Point, all fishing is catch and release. Bruised egos however can still have salmon shipped back home by going through the lodge's supplier. There are no limits to the amount of smoked or fresh salmon you can order from the supplier. A novice fisherman should get the hang of things in about a couple of hours, and by the second day of spin casting in this environment and with this kind of back up, you will be thirsting for more.

A word here about the helicopters themselves:

The helicopters are all supplied by Vancouver Island Helicopters and have the innovative Nimmo Bay logo. The Eurocopter AS350B series and the Bell206B were chosen for Nimmo Bay because of safety considerations and comfort of ride. They are all equipped with emergency pop-out floats, and have a state of the art music system to make the trips even more fun than normal. They are also especially equipped to carry six passengers as well as the pilot, and has excellent high altitude performance. The design of the machine itself employs composite materials for the rotor blades and rotor, the airframe and the cowling. Even though safety is of course the main concern of the pilots, our Aussie pilot couldn't resist the opportunity to show off his skills a couple of times - weaving in and out on high speed through low lying mountain ranges following the meandering course of these pristine rivers.

Getting to Nimmo Bay requires a direct flight on Pacific Coastal Air from Vancouver's South Terminal to Port Hardy, and from there it is a 20 minute helicopter ride to the lodge. If you have your own aircraft, you can fly direct to Port Hardy, while private float planes can land and be secured directly in Nimmo Bay.

250.956.4000, or
Fax: 250.956.2000

Nimmo Bay on the web

Prices between $3,995 and $4,995 for 4 days.

Mike Hepworth, October 2002

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