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This is a 2 part report on fishing up @ Milbanke Sound @ area as well as my stay @ St John's Lodge Aug 28-September 1st.

Salmon fishing
Started off slow and more or less stayed that way the whole trip with a few flurries toward the end.
A push of mid sized Spring Salmon hit Cheney Point on the 30th but by the next day only one was hooked-out of my boat.

Cape Mark
A few short bites but stayed quiet for the most part.

Coho
Conspicuous by their absence, a fact the lodge refuses to address.Something very unusual has happened to Coho stocks this year numbers are way down.Past years a person could count on a Coho every 5 minutes if they targeted them no such luck this year.Again a push of Coho the last 2 days salvaged the trip for many but action was thin compared to years past.A person wonders why there are so many 2 year old squibs biting but no mature fish.

Bottomfish
Strong action for the well equipped and knowledgeable.
I love to wrestle Lings off the bottom with my light muskie rod, Rockfish and even a couple Cabezon all came from Rempstone Rocks south of Cape Mark.

Halibut
As is often the case in this area very slow one 50# fish and few under 15# were all that came in.

Jellyfish
Man Alive some mornings you never saw so many Jellies there were everywhere an absolute mess and stingers thrown in for good measure made fishing Cheney a misery until the tides pushed them out.
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St John's Lodge
You've no doubt heard about this place the converted BC Ferry that's heavily promoted on the radio and elsewhere.I've been to a number of all-inclusive lodges on the coast over the years so was quite keen to see how they measured up.

Fishing operation
Well setup and smooth running on the surface at least.
Electric downriggers make all the difference especially for us 'older folks'.I used my own gear as I don't trust lodge gear especially late in the season.
The GPS/Depthsounder units were a bit of a joke but as with all cheap electronics if you turned it off/on they started back up.
Very little support offered for anyone who fished unguided-questions about technique/depths/etc. to the Fishmaster were met with non committal grunts or offers of guides for hire, a poor showing overall.

Rooms
The rooms were built a decade ago and look much like any $40/night hotel room anywhere in the province, very poor value.

Food
Quite poor overall, so many items seemed to have been sourced from Costco it was laughable.
The cook did no baking at all all bread/pastries were all frozen and the same food appeared meal after meal.Many of the guests did enjoy their meals(helped along by the barman who loved to free pour) but overall compared to other lodges coast wide St John's again offers poor value.
The greatest disappointment for me personally was to see the pre frozen Costco Seafood, much of it farmed, that they offered.The toughest Crab Claws I ever tried to eat, watery farmed Prawns, I could go on & on but you get the picture.

The Lounge-St John's dining room/lounge has a million dollar view of the Harbour and the Islands to the west and since it's quite separate from the rooms people can party late without disturbing the other guests.The room could ue a reno as it's looking a bit tired around the edges.
Sad to see non-smoking rules flouted openly by the Owner, his friends and even the Manager.They don't notice the stink but non smokers sure do. :roll:

Fish Care
This is where this place fell down hard for me personally.
I was stunned when I got home and opened my fish box-the Coho I asked to be left whole had been filleted so that I can't take them to the smokehouse.
Each and every time I brought in a Coho I specifically asked the cutter for 'head off/guts out' and told then I was taking the fish to Bruce's Market in Albion.It seems my requests were routinely ignored, this after I gave the cutter Jamie, a new filleting knife as a tip!
He mentioned a couple times how much easier it made his job, maybe too easy.
On one of my Bottomfish trips I killed a 30# Lingcod which caused a stir on the dock.Now normally I wouldn't kill a Ling that big but I'd gone through a lot of gear and she had my last jig deep in her throat and so I bonked the fish.
Now since I'm a single guy I expected to be eating those fillets for some time to come-many fine meals.
Imagine my surprise when I found that instead of cutting the filets into portion sized chunks I was left with 2 whole sides vacuum packed!
That's 10 pounds of Lingcod in one package!
How in the name of all that's holy am I going to eat all that?
The answer is of course is that most of it will now go to waste.:(
There were a number of other screwup with my fish as well I won't go into detail-enough is enough.

I did talk to someone in the Office as soon as I discovered the missing fish/screwups and they promised to get back to me but I have no great hopes of an even settlement.

Talking to a friend who Guides there off and on through the season he told me the place is notorious and this was confirmed by a customer @ work who's familiar with the operation.

So if you're thinking of a trip to St John's best think carefully, there are a number of places I could name that offer better value. St John's does have some excellent people working there but the system they operate under seems to undermine their efforts.The high return rate of 80% means a touch of arrogance permeates the place, IMO a bad sign.

Dogbreath-aka Carl Z
 
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