Know more. Get more. Travel better.
 
* Hideaways Aficionado Club is a registered trademark of Hideaways International, Inc.
Copyright © 2017 Hideaways International, Inc. All Rights Reserved



Contact our travel experts
Our consultants can help you with customized travel planning.
Email, or call 800-843-4433.

 

some string here



Nimmo Bay Resort: Luxury in the Wild

Nimmo Bay Resort: Luxury in the Wild

By Hideaways President Mike Thiel

As the floatplane glided to a stop at the dock of British Columbia's Nimmo Bay resort, I succumbed to the view of a pristine bay surrounded by lush, evergreen hillsides. Immediately, I was greeted by a smiling young lady who unloaded my duffle and escorted me along a series of floats to my rustically elegant cabin, suspended high on pilings above the rocky beach. The first thing I noticed once inside was the wall mount of a beautiful steelhead—a sea-run rainbow trout that in life must have weighed about 10 pounds. Yes, I was in the right place.

Nimmo Bay has a reputation as a most luxurious and exotic fishing lodge—a bucket-list sort of place for the outdoorsy—and that's what brought me here. I was fulfilling my fishing fantasy of roaming a virtually untouched wilderness in pursuit of Pacific salmon and steelhead. It's the stuff of a die-hard fisherman's dreams.

I plunked myself down on the living room couch to enjoy the view, but instead picked up a book on the coffee table entitled Finding Nimmo, the story of how this remote lodge came to be. The title apparently was drawn from an episode of the popular TV show, Boston Legal, which was filmed here. The show starred William Shatner as Denny Crane, and it was one of my favorites, as I definitely identified with Crane's personality. I hadn't, however, associated it with this resort until reading that book, and then it came back to me; on the show, in his moments of mental wandering from the legal rat race, Crane always fantasized about going fishing at Nimmo Bay. In point of fact, it was the show's writer/producer, David E. Kelley, who was the avid fly fisherman and frequent visitor to Nimmo Bay, and who wrote the resort into the show and featured it in one episode.

Frankly, I couldn't put the book down. It traced Craig Murray and his family's exploits as they went from a life of commercial fishing, lumbering, and raising their children on a small boat, to seeking and staking out this particularly pristine, tranquil bay in the midst of the 50,000-square-mile Great Bear Rainforest. In the process, they built what has become one of the most luxurious wilderness lodges in British Columbia. The trials, tribulations, and adventures involved in the undertaking were riveting. Only the call to lunch at the main lodge tore me away from the book.

My visit was toward the end of the season, in late September, and things were winding down from a busy summer. The few guests there included an Australian family of six—grandma and granddad, grown daughter and son-in-law, and their kids of about eight and ten—a corporate group of four fun-loving guys enjoying the bonding experience of fishing, and two newlyweds enjoying a belated honeymoon. In high season, there might be 20 guests occupying the nine spacious cabins, which are clustered on stilts on an expansive deck along the shore or tucked in next to a waterfall cascading from the 10,500-foot Mount Stephen, which provides the backdrop for this idyllic setting as well as fresh water for the resort.

While fishing is the primary draw of Nimmo Bay, many people—like the Australian family—come here simply to enjoy the wilderness and myriad other activities Nimmo offers: hiking, kayaking, whale-watching, birding, and nature photography. That first afternoon, we all set out for a "cocktail cruise" on the resort's comfortable boat, searching for bears and other wildlife. Scenic couldn't begin to describe our voyage up narrow, rocky fjords, past fog-shrouded mountains, and to the edge of waterfalls plunging down cliffs hundreds of feet high. The bears were elusive, but we did spot one momma black bear with cubs and plenty of bald eagles. On other trips, guests reported seeing Orcas, humpback whales, and dolphins. If you're lucky, you also might catch sight of wolves, coyotes, fox, and, of course, grizzlies looking for dinner along the shores of the myriad inlets, islands, and rivers that make up the vast Great Bear Rainforest.

In a wilderness area as big (it represents one-quarter of all temperate rainforest terrain in the world) and remote as this, there are no roads. The only way to get around is by boat or helicopter, and heli-fishing and other heli-adventures are Nimmo Bay's specialty. So the next day, having suited up in wading gear from Nimmo's extensively equipped adventures prep room and stashed our fishing equipment in a pod on the landing skids of our Jet Ranger, Kate and Alex, the newlyweds, and I met Trevor, our pilot/guide for our stay, on one of several heli-pads suspended above the tide.



The Heli-Fishing Begins!

It's difficult to fully appreciate the vastness of this area until you get a bird's-eye view. As we cruised along at about 100 mph, at heights ranging from near-ground level to some 6,000 feet, the territory below unfolded as a giant maze of waterways, islands, forested ridges, and bald mountains. The sky-scapes were spectacular. The only signs of civilization were an occasional logging camp and its waterfront landing area. The further we traveled from the main causeway of Broughton Sound, the less civilization we saw. By the second morning of our stay, a snowy mantle covered the tops of the higher mountains and there was just ridge after ridge of snow-topped green mountains as far as the eye could see.

Flying from one fishing spot to another certainly gives you that "Superman" feeling, especially while zooming along a river-course at treetop level. Not catching fish here, or tired of this scenery? Let's try another spot! Trevor put that thing down on sand and gravel bars at the edge of salmon rivers you might think impossible to land on. When we got hungry, Trevor would pick a gorgeous spot with promising fishing prospects and, while we were fishing, would set up a formal lunch table with tablecloth, gourmet snacks, salads, and sandwiches, and wine and beer. Now that's fishing in style!

We saw, or saw evidence of, a fair bit of wildlife on these trips-so many bald eagles they became ho-hum, if that's possible, plus osprey, ravens, and the ever-present bears, luckily at a respectable distance. Lunch one day was on the beach at a beautiful stream-fed lake nestled between towering mountains. As I strolled the banks, I noted we weren't the only ones who thought this was a great dining spot. I'd swear there had been a bear party there the night before—hundreds of tracks marked the sand at water's edge, and I'm pretty sure some wolf tracks were mixed in.

I should mention that, in addition to ferrying you around the wilderness and giving you fishing tips, your pilot is also your "bear proofer." Whenever we were fishing the riverbanks, Trevor carried a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun in a scabbard on his back, and Clayton, the pilot/guide for the four business buddies, toted a massive Israeli-made 44-magnum semi-auto pistol in a shoulder holster. That said, I'm told that in all the years Nimmo has been showing guests around the wilderness, only one bear was hungry enough not to be scared off at the sound of a gunshot into the air.

The fishing, which is what I came for, proved to be a trickier proposition than I'd imagined. At our very first stop, I had a fish on, on my third cast . . . a promising start . . . and lost it about 10 seconds later. After that I got the occasional tap but at the end of day, I had nothing to show for my sore fly-casting arm. On the other hand, Kate was reeling them in one after another—pink and Coho up to about 15 pounds. And Alex wasn't doing too badly, either. The women and "first-timers" always seem to have the luck! In defense of my own fishing prowess, they—and the group of four, who also had a lot of success-were spin-casting, while I was being a purist, sticking to fly casting. The rivers were somewhat swollen from recent rains and running a bit fast. Even with a sinking fly line, I couldn't seem to get down into the holes where the fish were hiding or resting for their next rush up the river to spawn.

I must admit, I was awed at the spectacle of the salmon spawning. My visit was toward the end of the pink-salmon run and about in the middle of the coho salmon run. The shallows of the rivers were teaming with "zombie fish"--"humpies" as latter stage spawning pink salmon are called for the humped backs and hooked snouts they develop, were everywhere, lazily swimming in vague circles just a few wiggles away from death. You could actually catch them with your hands but not on flies and, besides, who would want to catch a dying fish? Not surprisingly, the banks of the rivers were littered with their carcasses. No wonder the bears, as well as every other predator in the wilderness were having a field day! But the game fish were hiding elusively down deep.

Honestly, the second day didn't go much differently from a fishing perspective. Everyone else was hauling them in except me. I was beginning to feel jinxed. It almost made me want to go "to the dark side" and convert to spin fishing. In spite of frustration with my lack of success, helicoptering around such a beautiful wilderness and the camaraderie of fellow fishermen, plus luxurious lunches in gorgeous settings washed down by excellent wines, helped make the day.

However, what really helped was returning to the cozy luxury of Nimmo lodge and the anticipation of a good dinner. Francisco, a Chilean who served for many years in Canada's special forces and does a bit of everything around the resort, was always there to greet us as our helicopters landed, with an iced tub of beer in hand. He learned quickly that my preference on these occasions was for Irish whisky and not beer, and an icy tumbler of the golden anesthesia, delivered to the hot tub, definitely took the sting off any frustrations with my lack of fishing success.



The Day Winds Down

That time between an active day of adventures and everyone gathering for dinner had its own special allure. We guests would convene at what has to be the most spectacular hot-tub venue I have ever experienced—two deep, old-fashioned, wood-slatted tubs on a wooden deck at the foot of a gorgeous woodland waterfall. With good company, friendly banter, and the alcoholic beverage of choice in hand, what more could you want? If you were really enthusiastic, which several of us were, you could replicate the Japanese onsen experience by alternating soaks in the hot tub with plunges into the icy waters at the foot of the waterfall. Fantastic!

Cocktails were accompanied by a generous and creative selection of hors d'oeuvres, and served either in the lodge or around the fire pit on the floating dock. Frazer Murray, son of the resort's founder, and his lovely wife Becky now run the resort and often gathered with the group at cocktail time to review the day's activities and help with plans for the next. Hayley, who was smart, welcoming, somewhat self-effacing, and always stylishly dressed, was the "hostess with the mostess" both at dinner and breakfast. She was a genuine pleasure to be around. I could go on and on about the staff's thoughtful attention to guests' needs and requests—but suffice it to say, this is both a personable, family-run endeavor and a very polished and professional resort.

As for dinner, if you were feeling "private" as the Australian family seemed to be, you could have dinner as your own group. The rest of us, however, dined in the round, family-style. Meals were set, four courses served with appropriate wines, and the chef, Sandi, outdid herself. I feel soups are a key indicator of an establishment's quality of dining, and the first night's delicious creamy scallop soup set the tone for the rest of our dining. Of course, there was grilled salmon and delicious oysters, but perhaps the most showy dinner entree was a heaping bowl full of fresh, steamed Dungeness crab that we all lit into.

After dinner, we might sit around the lodge chewing the fat, retire to the pool room for some friendly competition, or, if the weather was clear, sit around the fire pit and admire the unpolluted starry sky. On one particularly boisterous night, we all did shots of Patron tequila, chilled by its journey down a "luge" course that Francisco carved from a 50-pound block of 10,000-year-old glacier ice collected by the fun-loving foursome on their helicopter adventure that day.

On my third and last day, some decisions needed to be made. The helicopter wasn't an option, but Fraser, who was as frustrated as I was that I'd been skunked on the fishing front, offered to take me deep-sea fishing for halibut. Or, he volunteered, I might take a small aluminum skiff and try my luck fly fishing for salmon and possibly sea-run cutthroat at Big Nimmo Bay, just a ten-minute boat ride away. I opted to try the salmon fishing. So, with Francisco as my companion and a cooler full of beer and lunch makings, I chugged off in the tiny skiff. We came up dry at the first couple of spots, one at the mouth of a river that fed into the bay. But the couple dozen bald eagles, which presumably were there to fish, too, were an encouraging sign and kept us entertained. Then we moved across the bay to the mouth of a smaller stream, and salmon were jumping all over! For the next hour, I had a hard time keeping them off my line. I stopped counting at a dozen, ranging up to 15 pounds, and was teased by hook-ups on even more. Plus, I did it the old-fashioned way, on a fly. The curse was broken!

I found it ironic that after two days of chasing fishing opportunities all over the Great Bear Rainforest, covering hundreds of miles by helicopter, success was waiting for me right around the bend from Nimmo Bay Resort. It must have been the lucky Nimmo Bay hat I got and wore for the first time that day.

I don't think I can summarize the Nimmo Bay experience much better than David Kelley, Boston Legal's creator, who said, "I fell in love with Nimmo Bay on first sight. It is a place of serene beauty, family and friendship." Or to quote William Shatner, "[Nimmo Bay is] luxury in the wilds, and it's wildly luxurious . . . and yet its footprint in the ecology is very small . . . the best of all possible worlds." I know I left a happy camper, with one more bucket-list fantasy fulfilled.



NIMMO BAY KNOW HOW

Seasons: The resort is open from May into October. On the fishing front, the early part of the season focuses on steelhead and trout. Salmon fishing picks up in July and runs into October, with different species showing up at different times. Bear, Orca, and humpback whale-watching are best from July through September. Other activities and adventures-kayaking, hiking, photography, rock climbing, and more—are available pretty much through the entire open season.

Getting There: A sojourn at Nimmo Bay combines well with a few days in either Vancouver or Seattle, or both. It's relatively easy and cost effective to do an open-jaw flight from most parts of North America, flying into Seattle, for instance (what I did), and back out through Vancouver. This is probably the better direction as, only during the height of the summer season is there floatplane service by Kenmore Air (kenmoreair.com) from Seattle to Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island. That's the takeoff point for Nimmo Bay. There is good express bus service (quickcoach.com) between downtown Seattle and Vancouver or its airport. Pacific Coastal Airlines provides relatively frequent service from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Port Hardy. Nimmo Bay will make arrangements for getting you from/to Port Hardy by either helicopter or floatplane.

What to wear: Life here is casual. Jeans are acceptable for most activities, though you may want to dress up a bit for cocktails and dinner. This is a rainforest, so light, action-oriented rain gear is advised. Weather can be quite changeable, so bring layers, including fleece. Don't forget the bathing suit for swims in summer and soaking in the hot tub at other times. During the summer, a pair of shorts might come in handy.

What to bring: The resort provides all the active gear you'll need. The dedicated fisherman will want to bring his/her own rods/reels and perhaps a selection of favorite flies, although local favorites are provided by the resort. If you are dedicated to wildlife viewing and attached to your own binoculars, you may want to bring them along, although again, they are provided.

Dining and dietary considerations: The resort serves excellent meals but with a set menu or at least limited choices. If you have dietary restrictions, you'll probably want to make that known well in advance so the chef can accommodate them.

Rent your car:    Insure your trip:    Send your luggage ahead: 
TOP VACATIONS SHARE CONTACT Get Help
Italian Villas Luxury Cruises   767 Islington St., Portsmouth, NH 03801
Caribbean Asia Hotels   TF: 800-843-4433 / US: 603-430-4433
Paris, France Vacation Homes for Rent   Fax: 603-430-4444
Hawaii European Vacation   ms@hideaways.com
TERMS PRESS CAREERS ADVERTISE

* Hideaways Aficionado Club is a registered trademark of Hideaways International, Inc.
Copyright © 2017 Hideaways International, Inc.
All Rights Reserved