The MV Driftwood has been in drydock the past week for her quadrennial inspection. It’s always interesting to see what’s going on below the waterline! We’re happy to report she looks mighty fine and will be ready to sail north to Haida Gwaii in May!
Thanksgiving Weekend is coming! Enjoy some of that delicious white fish you caught this summer! Lingcod and halibut provide some of the tastiest seafood you can find anywhere and we are always catching them up at QCL. They’re so versatile and can be prepared a hundred different ways. While you maybe planning for a turkey dinner this weekend, we recommend white fish for lunch! Here’s a nice light recipe – perfect for a family gathering. ( from our latest cookbook, A Taste Of QCL Vol2 )
Well here it is, September already, and once again we’re making the annual fall migration south to “the real world.” Gone are those beautifully casual 5-minute commutes down the beach to the lodge or to the dock. (You don’t want to hear what the alternative is like!) The early morning light is now delayed past 7:00 and it’s coming later and later every day. (Fun fact: In June we enjoy 17 hours of daylight… in December it’ll be just over 7 hours!)
The 2018 season will be noted for exceptional Coho fishing (offshore), a windy July, smaller Chinooks, Steak & Lobster in the Bell Ringer, friendly medical doctors onsite 24/7, more GPS hotspots on the map, quick & easy halibut, fresh sushi on the deck and a 4th beautiful big red boat on the water! QCL guests returned home with more varieties of fish in their boxes and many of them opted to add some tasty BC specialties like smoked sablefish and spot prawns. It seems we saw fewer whales overall this summer and the same 5 sea lions were roaming around the grounds much of the time.
The staff this summer was outstanding. We had the benefit of several leaders returning in key positions to maintain consistency in training and operations. And it’s always exciting to watch the stars emerge from the ranks of new staff as the season gets rolling. Some of the most memorable moments come when we welcome the return of a guest who was here 10 or 20 years ago. Their impressions of the “new QCL” are pretty wonderful and their recollections of “how it was” are heartwarming. While we’ve made a lot of changes to the program and marked improvements to the facility, we’ve tried very hard to maintain the quality and the style of service that we built our reputation on. That will always be priority #1.
What a wrap to the 2018 season! While it might have been a bit of a slow start (by our standards) to the season this year, the past month has been cracker jack! Good weather and tons of fish around has sent a lot of smiling faces home in recent weeks. It’s taking some getting used to but the offshore fishery has been incredible. We’re finding offshore trolling tacks that are producing great results at depths from 55 to 75 to 95 feet and deeper. This is producing reliable catches of gorgeous Coho to 16 pounds, quite a few hefty Chum in the mid-teens and Chinooks to 20 pounds. Halibut catches are virtually instantaneous when you touch bottom; but you do have to weed through somme chickens to find the turkeys! All good fun.
Our inshore fishing for Chinook salmon requires a different approach but it’s no less rewarding. The Tyee catch has been pretty consistent this month with several beauties in the low to mid-thirties coming to the boat every trip. And, just to keep everyone on their toes, there have been enough huge Chinooks around to reward the most dedicated Tyee angler! And it’s surprising how it can happen! Last week, on the first drop of the trip with his guests Bill and son Robert, veteran QCL guide Derek “Demo” Poitras started out at Parker Point. The herring must have landed right on its nose but before they had the second line in the water Robert was onto a heavy fish! After a serious tug-o-war, Derek slipped the net beneath a huge chrome buck and it was high-fives all around. Wasting no time they did a quick measurement and this “king of salmon” was back in the water and on its way again. Taped out to 47-pounds it was one of the largest fish of the season. Fantastic catch Robert! Well played and kudos to you for choosing to let him go!
On the next day Jason A was on board One-Fifteen with guide Lance Mercer. Cape Naden has been especially productive this summer and Lance had “that feeling” when they decided to drop in there first thing. It didn’t happen right away but after an hour of teasing an anchovy along the kelp they were rewarded with a big hit and a screaming reel. Jason worked the heavy fish masterfully and Lance was able to keep them out of the kelp. This big beauty taped out to 44 pounds and Jason never hesitated to send it back in hopes that it’ll return to its home stream! Congratulations guys and well done!
August fishing… oh boy! It seems that everything really comes together by the time August rolls around. Certainly the catch board would say so! The inshore fishery, mainly focused on Chinooks, has turned out lots of beautiful big salmon every day. Those brawny 20-something pounders are the backbone of the action but there always a few surprises lurking in the kelp! The Tyee bell gets a workout every night with a couple big Chinooks caught and/or released. Lately the median-sized Tyees have been in the low to mid 30’s with the occasional giant making an appearance. Last week we were thrilled to see 3 of our largest salmon of the season caught – and released – at 3 different locations.
Working a herring along the wall at Bird 2 has to be one of the most effective ways to find a Tyee anywhere on the west coast! QCL guide Brett Towers was doing it right the other day, as the pressure was on! He had his Dad on board with a couple of friends. Making the turn along the kelp, deep in the bay, that herring worked its magic and Don was onto the fish of his dreams! It took them on a bit of a hayride but in the end, Brett was able to get the net under it and lift it into the boat. With a quick photo and a measurement, they had the silver giant back in the water. Taped out to 47 pounds, it was the largest Chinook we’ve seen this season and cause for some serious celebration back at the Bell Ringer that night! Fantastic work guys! Well done Brett!
A couple of days later, Driftwood guest Stan T was over at Cape Edenshaw with his guide Mark Kasumovich when they also teased a big slab away from the shelter of the kelp. Nice and vigourous when they got it in the net, Stan chose to send it back as well. This one scored out to 45 pounds and was yet another proof of Edenshaw’s reputation for holding big fish under the right conditions. Nice work guys and Congratulations to you Stan! Not far away, on the very same day, Dave R was fishing Cape Naden on board 97 with guide Jackson Jane, when they connected with a big Tyee. As Jackson reported in his post, it took the bait trolled on the back rod and gave them quite a workout before coming to the net. David was quick to choose releasing this beauty and it swam off with strong strokes of its tail after measuring out to 46 pounds! Amazing fish!
When these Chinooks aren’t bleeding and are properly revived, the survival rate is apparently very good. So it’s quite an extraordinary feeling to watch a big Tyee swim out of your grip and return to the depths. We have always believed that big fish breed big fish, and while we fully respect the angler’s right to choose, we try to ensure that they make an informed choice. Many anglers dream of having that opportunity and we support anything that can help to ensure those opportunities continue in the future.
Things are still going strong here at QCL, with a good assortment of fish spread across our fishing grounds. Daily catches have ranged from Coho, Chum and Chinook action offshore to the odd Tyee-class salmon being picked up at some of our well known inshore points. Our best success inshore has certainly come as a result of the “stick, stay, make it pay” method of fishing, in order to catch the random snap bites that take place throughout the day. Fortunately, we have also had the privilege of extremely calm waters over the past week, which always gives some of our hotspots a real “fishy” feeling.
On Thursday morning at Cape Naden that “fishy” feeling was certainly in the air. As we made our way onto the fishing grounds I overheard some radio chatter about a few fish already being picked up Bird 2. Yet as we cruised past Naden something told me I should probably stop in for at least a pass or two.
That pass or two turned into an hour and a half at Naden with no bites, yet all four of us on board were optimistic that something was going to happen. Finally, around 9:30am, the screaming sound from our back rod interrupted a peaceful morning on the water. My guest, Dave R grabbed the rod, with no hook set needed, as the fish already had the Islander reel sizzling. We immediately cleared our other two rods, as we knew we were in for a battle! After a long first run that seemed like it may not end, Dave was finally able to slowly work the fish to the boat for our first look. At that point it was pretty clear we had a Tyee on the line and off it went for another powerful run. After a lengthy tug-o-war with this large specimen, we were finally able to put it in the bag! After some high fives and a few loud cheers, we brought the fish into the boat for a measurement and a few quick photos. This fish was then released to continue its migratory journey to its home river. This big silver beauty taped out to 46 pounds! Congrats Dave! Thanks for choosing to let it go!
Later on at the Bell Ringer things were buzzing, as there was also a 45 caught and released at Cape Edenshaw that morning, along with a few more Tyees caught at various spots on our western fishing grounds. Things are shaping up well for a great end to yet another season in Haida Gwaii!
There is no better way to get up each morning than having your hands on the steering wheel and a crisp breeze on your cheeks, smoothly carving through the waters of Naden Harbour.
This week I have the pleasure to share my boat with Rick and Michelle, who are about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary! We started our day on the west side of our fishing grounds at one of my favourite areas to fish; Yatze bay, which is on the east side of Klashwun Point. We dropped lines and were blessed with a hit within moments, the lines singing and the thrill of the fight gleaming in our eyes. Unfortunately, after several minutes the fish shook the hooks, but we did not let that dampen our spirits. Our day on the water had just begun after all! It wasn’t long thereafter that we landed and released a beautiful 12 pound Chinook, sending it on its way and telling it to bring its big daddy. But the flurry wasn’t over yet. As we worked together to drop our lines once more I heard Michelle pipe up from the front of the boat where she was watching the rod behind me as I was finishing dropping the third line. “Jaxon, is the rod supposed to be doing that?”
Whipping around I see the rod tip rising as the fish took our bait from below and rush towards the surface. Yelling “Fish On!” Rick and I raced to prepare the boat, clearing lines and steering downwind of where the fish was running. But it wasn’t long before it wrapped itself around the prop and the back line as it ripped through the water around us. It was desperate to get off our line. But it was no match for us. It was like the three of us had fished together our entire lives as Michelle masterfully maneuvered the rod around the prop, Rick raising the engine while I quickly cut the back line while helping Michelle keep the line away from the engine as the fish jumped around us. It was a show for the ages, with only the eagles as our audience. It wasn’t long after that we landed the stunning 20 lb Chinook for the box. High fives and beaming smiles filled the boat.
We ended our day with four beautiful fish; 25, 20, 19 and 13 lb Chinooks, the smallest of which had unfortunately taken our hooks through the gills. Ecstatic with the amazing start to the trip we called it a day and headed back to the barn to celebrate our success, and prepare for the next!