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PPS Destinations Report 

Gold River, BC.

Date:        September 2006

 Reported by Dr. Ernst 'Ernie' Schmidt, DMD;  Vancouver, BC, Canada 

Just when I thought I had seen it all, I find a new experience right in my own back yard!  After hearing about this 'new' lodge at Gold River, BC, I thought I would take a weekend and see for myself how this beautiful new lodge 'stacked-up'.  After all, my friend had never been to the exotic destinations I had so I couldn't expect him to have a realistic reference of what is out there.  Well, to my amazement, I stayed at what is definitely the most beautiful lodge of my fishing career.  What's more, the amazing detail and furnishings have to rank among the top destination lodges in the world.  Friends, I am reporting on a relative newcomer, The Lodge At Gold River, situated right on the Gold River just on the outskirts of the eponymous town of Gold River, BC.  My tale is one of the Lodge as well as the experience of the local fishing and wilderness; read on.

The trip began when my colleague and friend, Dr. Stephen Tsotsos of Toronto Canada, finished his CE presentation in Richmond BC.  His host, Mr. Mark O'Neil of Patterson Dental, picked us both up and took us on the 5 hour voyage to Gold River.  Fantastic late-summer weather made the 2 1/2 hour ferry and the 2 1/2 hour car ride seem like it was just minutes.  We arrived at the lodge, greeted by Mark's brother and lodge manager, Kent O'Neil, just in time to join the regular guests for dinner.  Even in the dark, it wasn't hard to tell that this was some lodge.  The West-Coast architecture in addition to the grand scale was almost alarming in its presence.  What really knocked it over the edge for me, were the art and accessory furnishings.  I have never seen such exotic and tasteful decorations in any lodge I have ever stayed.  Artwork and other pieces ranging from local Native and other West Coast motifs gave me the impression that no expense was spared in the trimmings.  In fact, I would say that the accessories themselves might be worth more than many other lodges.  After a delicious dinner of West Coast fare, we retired to our rooms for the obligatory sleep before the big fishing day.  Was I dreaming or was the ceiling higher than most cabins are long/wide.  Was all this space just for me?  You gotta be kidding, right?  The decor, furnishings, huge stone fireplace and layout made it an absolute crying shame to turn the lights out.  What a waste.  What wasn't a waste was the beautiful lulling noise of the adjacent Gold River.

Next morning, after a good sleep and a better breakfast, we were escorted by Kent, Pilot/Guide Morris (Vancouver Island Helicopters) and fishing guide Randy on a magnificent day of chopper fishing and exploring.  In short, the weather was fantastic and the company was better.  We started out with a short flight to the mouth of the Conuma River.  There were so many Coho, King and Chum salmon in the river that, in order not to snag them, I decided to devote myself to catching Cutthroat Trout.  Otherwise, it would have been totally impossible not to snag the millions of salmon in the river.  After several Kings, Chums and Coho jacks were landed, we decided to move on and continue exploring.  Next stop, Megin River, right in the very heart of Strathcona Provincial Park.  I was stunned by the beauty of this totally pristine area.  High mountains, verdant valleys and towering trees told the tale of the river's existence over the past thousands of years.  I did not see one tiny evidence of any other human.  In fact, the terrain is so rugged that it would be totally impossible to visit this beautiful river without helicopter transport.  We fished the river for a few hours and I was most fortunate to have caught my first West Coast cutthroats in over 15 years.  There seemed to be a few of these handsome fish in every pool/run that we fished.  From there, up again and over to the nearby Burman River.  Can it be?  Two such amazingly beautiful river valleys in such close proximity? Surrounded by towering mountains, the crystal clear waters were jammed with thousands of salmon. Here, I managed small cutthroat as well as hooking several fresh Cohoes.  In one of the areas that I fished, guide Randy told me to drift my single-egg fly pattern through the gin-clear waters of the log jam. This was no ordinary log jam.  These had to be some of the biggest logs in existence.  This was a jam of Jurassic proportions as there was little way of getting around these monsters.  Well, before I knew it, the day's fishing had come to an end, and we choppered back to the lodge.  One of the benefits of arriving a bit early for dinner was that I got to check the waters of the Lodge's beautifully manicured trout pond.  On the scale of a beautiful Japanese garden, I sat on stone benches, catching fat rainbow trout which ranged from 1 to 6 pounds.  Heck, I know people that wouldn't have left the lodge but could have been totally satisfied to stay on the 22 acre grounds.  That evening, dinner was served on the river-side patio, complete with its own stone fireplace and being 'watched-over' by one of several totem poles on the grounds.  Although the wines and bonhomie were both excellent, I think the day's ultimate experience was immortalized by the sensation of the duck confit against our taste buds.  The rest of the dinner was merely spectacular, but the duck........

If ever there was a lodge that you wouldn't mind being rained-out at, this would be the one.  Stunning architecture, amazing landscaping and some of the most beautiful and pristine coastal scenery in the world, make this a Class A-1 winner for any adventurer, with or without spouse or family.  Although the local fishing is highly regarded among BC anglers, this lodge is of the 'high-end' calibre and is best complimented with a day of chopper fishing.  In addition to coastal river fishing for world-class steelhead, trout (rainbow, cutthroat and bull) and salmon fishing, there is a thriving salt-water fishing for salmon and halibut.  Hiring a helicopter gives virtually unlimited options to fish many of the local coastal rivers and lakes as well as many wilderness rivers along the rugged mainland of BCs coast.  In addition to fishing, there is wilderness alpine hiking as well as picnicing atop the area's high peaks.

Although many lodges have a hard time differentiating themselves from the competition, this is one that ranks as absolutely peerless.  The Lodge at Gold River can be viewed on its website at http://www.thelodgeatgoldriver.ca/home.html or can be reached by phone; 1-250-283-2900

Ernst 'Ernie' Schmidt, pps@shaw.ca