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June 23, 2017 Duane Foerter0

What a fine week of fishing we’ve just come through!  Not that there were loads of giant Chinooks jumping into boats or non-stop bites on the slack tides, but it was a full spectrum of the QCL experience that made it outstanding.  True, there were some awesome fish caught; a couple of beautiful Tyees in the mid-forties amongst a number in the low thirties and lots in the twenties.  We logged five more anglers into the Halibut 100 Pounder Club, one of them scoring 225 pounds with a length of 76 inches!  We discovered numerous patches of hungry Coho scattered throughout the fishing grounds at a time when we usually don’t expect them.

The weather was fine and sometimes outstanding – with mostly calm water conditions due to light south and southwest winds – sometimes with the bouts of liquid sunshine that usually come with southerlies.  We had several humpback whales feeding and traveling throughout the grounds and eagles jostling with gulls as they foraged on boiling schools of needlefish along the tidelines.

Haida Gwaii black bearAmong our groups of guests this week were a fair number of first-timers, eagerly taking in all the wonders of the place. They were thrilled at all the excitement of getting out onto the ocean and catching some fish of their own to take home and share with friends and family, deliciously spiced with stories of the ones that got away.

cruising humpback whales

 

The Bell Ringer was rockin’ each evening with celebrations of success and, of course, tales of woe over those fish that didn’t quite get in the boat.  Guests from all over – Brampton and Boucherville, Saskatoon and Dartmouth, San Diego and Spruce Grove – discovered our little corner of the world and enjoyed our hospitality.  We had a great week, and it sounded like our guests did too.  We’d love to see them all again next year!

Team Tyee on the Driftwood


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June 20, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Breaking barriers through fishing!

With the Kingfisher Derby wrapped up Sunday evening it’s back to business as usual for the guides at Queen Charlotte Lodge.  With that comes working just as hard at putting our guests on to fish as well as having great shared memories on the water with old and new friends. So really not much is different for us.

What my guests for the derby weekend and my new guests for this week’s trip have in common is that they’re all French Canadians, all residing close to Montreal.  Another similarity between two of them involve Tyee Chinook. Meeting my guests Monday morning for the first time I quickly found out that both Denis and Steve are from Quebec and that there would be a bit of a language gap for the three of us. Either way we had the same goal, to enjoy our time out on the water and make memories to last a lifetime. Fishing the grounds at QCL was going to break the language barrier and we were going to make it work.

Rounding the dolphin on changeover Monday, we headed straight to Cape Naden in Grady 114.  It’s just a twenty minute drive so we were able to get the lines in the water in short order. The afternoon still proved to be fairly tough fishing inshore as was the theme over the weekend, with a few Chinook averaging 10 to 15 lbs.  But with the evening tide change approaching the lure of hogs lurking in the depths kept us motivated to keep on grinding the kelp and structure. With an hour before low slack we were fishing tight to the kelp and rocks when the inside rod popped the clip and my Islander started screaming line. Denis C was up to bat and although never having fished for salmon before, he instinctively knew to carefully grab hold of the rod without touching the reel and let this big slab of a fish sizzle line. The battle was on and we knew we had a good one. Long runs and sounding on the bottom had this fish tiring itself out quickly. This Chinook was looking for a fight as it kept charging my boat like a bull, with us as the matador. Careful maneuvering of the boat had this “bull” in control.  The language barrier we had experienced throughout the day vanished as Denis and I now were on the same wavelength. He seemed to know what suggestion or tip I was going to give him next as he was already doing them. Nothing needed to be said because he was already doing exactly what I was guiding him to do. Twenty minutes later the Chinook was in the net, 33 lbs… not too bad for a first timer. Congrats Denis!  Looking forward to spending the rest of the week with you and Steve.

Just another day in the life of a guide. You never know what’s in the stack of cards you’re dealt. All part of why I love this “job”.

Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.

Jeff “Smurf”


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June 19, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Well it’s over!  The 15th Annual QCL Kingfisher Derby wrapped up Sunday night with an amazing feast down at the Bell Ringer.  Delicious paella, barbequed whole pig, Dungeness crab, home smoked sausages and brisket, barbeque chicken, lox, candied and barbequed salmon, oysters and the list goes on… it was fantastic.  Thanks to our awesome culinary team for bringing it all together for the derby wrap up!

QCL Bell Ringer barbecue

The fishing derby itself certainly tested the determination of the participants this year.  While non-derby anglers moved a little offshore to intercept the feeder Springs, those hunting for the big fish – the Tyee-class Chinook that would claim the prize – stuck close to the rocks and kelp where they tend to lurk. This can be slow going at times and patience is often rewarded.  Favoured spots over the weekend were Cape Naden, Bird Two and Klashwun Point.  We found some Tyees and it was close going for a while but in the end a big chrome beauty landed by Terry H on Saturday’s late flood tide was unbeatable.  Fishing partner Eric T and their guide Mark Kasumovich knew they had a contender as soon as Terry hooked up just east of Cape Naden.  When the derby weighmaster called out the score of 40.2 after measurement and release they knew this might be a tough one to beat. QCL Kingfisher derby winner

Their hunch proved correct and on Sunday night they celebrated with a hefty cheque for $60000.  Congratulations Terry!  Second prize went to Australian angler Wayne C for his 35.07 scoring fish and Mathieu S took third with a Chinook scoring 32.01.  Wendy R claimed the single kill fish prize with an even 30-pounder and generously chose to donate her winnings to the Pacific Salmon Foundation.  Bravo!  All-in-all it was a stellar weekend with lots of first-timers joining the many veterans of derbies past to enjoy the excitement and suspense.  Thank you to all involved and we’re already looking forward to Kingfisher Derby 2018!


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June 17, 2017 Duane Foerter0

It’s another year in mid-June and it’s time again for Queen Charlotte Lodge’s annual Kingfisher Derby.

Anticipation and excitement among guests and guides was high for the shotgun start at Cape Naden. At 12 noon the horn went off and all participating boats raced to their favourite fishing spot between Cape Naden and Klashwun Point. Between my four guests from Quebec and myself we decided to fish Bird Rock One, a spot that doesn’t get hit hard and gets looked over by many. On the first pass we hit a shaker, a small feeder Chinook.  Over the first couple of hours the radio was fairly quiet, with only a few radio calls to the derby weigh boats. After a quick lunch break on the Driftwood the leading C&R fish was scored 28.9, a respectable leader for the early start of the 3-day trip.

With no boats at Bird Rock we went back and scraped the wall and worked the east bay. With an hour before the tide change Bird One was looking fishy and setting up really nice. After a few passes along the wall the outside rod went off, popped the clip and line started sizzling off of the reel. My guest Mathieu Savard was on the rod playing his first ever Chinook salmon and he was into a good one. Long screaming runs had the boys quiet as the concentration and focus was intense.  A lengthy battle ensued and after a 25-minute fight the big Chinook was in the bag.  After a brief discussion we entered the fish as a release, it scored 32.01, a solid fish to take the lead for Day One.  Shortly afterward a call to the weighmaster from another boat which scored 35.07 resulted in Mathieu’s fish getting bumped to second overall at the end of Friday.  Well done Mathieu, that was a fun ride to be a part of!

Best of luck to all derby participants over the rest of the trip…enjoy your time out there!  Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.

Jeff ‘Smurf’


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June 16, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Heading into one of the more exciting weekends of the summer, today we kicked off our 15th Annual Kingfisher Derby and it’s the biggest ever!  Sixty-four anglers are vying for $128000 in prize money.  This is a catch & release derby where all Chinook salmon entered are officially scored, revived and released by derby weighmasters.  The 3-day event concludes on Sunday at 7:00 pm when the prizes will be awarded for the three largest salmon released, plus daily winners and a single $10000 prize for the largest killed fish.  Stay tuned for the results!

The past few days have been consistent with last week’s fishery – lots of feisty feeder springs in the 130-foot line offshore and the occasional larger fish showing up in the mix.  The big fish this week was a stunning 36-pounder for first timer Trista B – a particularly good omen in this instance as Trista answered her boyfriend Andrew’s proposal with a resounding YES!  It’s truly a celebration Tyee!  Congratulations!

QCL salmon fishingQCL salmon fishing

 

 

 

 

 

Our halibut fishery continues to be especially rewarding, whether you’re seeking some perfect “chickens and turkeys” for the table or you love the challenge of finding “Wally” the barn door out there.  We’ve got it all in that department… the waters of Virago Sound provide lots of perfect structure for halibut and other groundfish.  Several big keepers kept the Bell Ringin’ each evening.  Joining the venerable 100-Pounder Club this week were Kevin C who managed to haul up a 110 and a 120-pound halibut!  Brad H released a 148, Mike N battled a 122 pounder to the top and David C called up some real grit to raise a monster alongside the boat that taped out to 76 inches in length for a calculated weight of 234 pounds!  It’s often amazing to go jigging because you just never know what you might hook up with down there.  Well done David and Congratulations to you and your guide Jeevan for such an awesome achievement!

Naden Harbour in Haida GwaII


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June 14, 2017 Duane Foerter0

“The charm of fishing is that it’s the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable. A perpetual serious of occasions for hope” – Sir John Buchan

I think this quote perfectly sums up what fishing is for me and also what early season in the Haida Gwaii is. With more and more fish showing up over the last few days the anticipation and excitement for those first big fish of the season starts building. We’ve seen a few Tyees landed, but I haven’t been fortunate enough to see one on the end of one of my guests line yet. It’s a roll of the dice, do I continue fishing a little farther off shore and stay in the numbers or do I move in close and start working the rocks, kelp and structure. A Tyee is elusive but yet attainable and like anything in nature the bigger it is the less of them there are. It takes a bit of luck and persistence but putting guests on top of these fish is the end goal. I think I’ll be holding on to hope for that next perpetual series of occasions myself.

Dan “Rainman”


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June 12, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Up here in Haida Gwaii we’re fortunate to have such a long productive fishing season.  While the makeup of the fishery changes as the weeks go by, we generally have pretty consistent action in comparison to most other locations.  We refer to these waters as the gateway from the open North Pacific through which pass so many different runs of salmon on the return journey to their natal streams.  Potentially every day we see salmon on their way to different river systems and the differences in strains can be noticeable.  These days, in the early season, we commonly see lots of “feeder Springs” – powerful fighters and aggressive feeders, they’re generally in the 12-18 pound class.  But it’s rarely just one run coming through at a time.  This weekend we noticed an increase in the number of fish in the low twenties and we’re getting the odd Tyee (over 30) as well.  And to top it off, really huge salmon can pass by anytime.  In 26 years we’ve literally caught a 50+ pound salmon during every trip of the season.  Every day we head out on the water we’re eager to discover just who’s swimming our way!  With access to so many runs, we never know.  That’s just another part of what makes fishing so exciting!

While most anglers manage to get their fill of salmon it was the bottom fishing that garnered all the recognition this weekend.  Several nice halibut and lingcod showed up at the dock and the Bell Ringer was rockin’ every night.  Quite a few halibut in the 30-50 pound size were taken and notable releases were a 77 pounder for Andrew M, a 90 for Curtis L and a 121 pound prize for Remo T.  The big halibut this week scored 148 lb and Aubrey C was the successful angler, receiving her gold halibut pin and a place on the QCL Halibut Club board along with Remo.  Lingcod are a popular catch for QCL anglers as well and we saw some wonderful 20-pound-plus fish at the scale on the weekend with the largest being a 32 for Anita A.  Well done!  We enjoy hosting derbies for many of our groups and this weekend saw the top salmon prize for the Annual Legends Cup go to Ken K for his stunning 33-pound Tyee, caught while fishing with guide Isaiah Dahl.  Congratulations Ken!

Looking at the week ahead we’ve got a mixed bag of weather in the forecast, winds west to south to southeast to east and back to west by Friday.  Tides are moderate with swings of 7-12 feet.

QCL fishing for halibut and salmon


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June 9, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Heading into the second weekend of the season we’re all happy to see some sunshine in the forecast!  With full access to the whole fishing grounds the past couple of days has turned out a lot of nice fish at the Bell Ringer.  Salmon action is productive offshore in the 120-140 foot line, fishing down 60-80 feet with spoons and anchovies producing equally well.  We saw a couple of nice Tyees come out of the kelp beds at Bird 2 and Cape Naden yesterday as well so everything is quickly coming back to normal.

The first annual Jig-a Pig Groundfish Derby wound up last night with some very impressive catches listed on the board.  John F took the prize for largest Lingcod with a 37-pounder while the largest halibut to the dock for the derby weighed in at 55 pounds for Kyle Q.  Anglers in the derby probed around all sorts of structure on our fishing grounds to find a wealth of fantastic bottom fishing.  Released halibut were not part of this tournament so some most impressive catches were carefully turned back to swim again.  Alan S released a 100-pounder on Wednesday and on Thursday we recorded halibut releases by Keith B – 115 lb. and Jeff F – 118 lb..  A forty-five minute battle concluded early Thursday morning with the measurement of a 78-inch halibut caught by Dana A which translates to 255 pounds!  His guide Mark Kasumovich was able to get the proverbial “barn door” stretched out peacefully at the surface long enough to get some accurate numbers along with photos and some video – watch for these to be posted here shortly once we get them off Dana’s phone.  All in all it turned out to be a fantastic week, even with the challenges thrown at us by Mother Nature.

QCL Bell Ringer QCL salmon fishing

   QCL Bell Ringer  QCL salmon fishing


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June 7, 2017 Duane Foerter0

After a few days of steady southeasterly winds that kept us around Cape Edenshaw on the east side of our fishing grounds, QCL guests were happy to get over to the west side and try something different!  This morning they were scattered everywhere!  Quite a few moved offshore to pick up halibut and lingcod while many others focused on their favourite salmon fishing holes.  Salmon action has been most productive fishing a little offshore in 120-140 feet of water and running anchovies at 60-80 feet.  While most of the salmon catch are those feisty early season feeders, we’ve seen the number of fish over 20 pounds increase steadily.  Tyees aren’t common yet but it’s only a matter of time!

Descending Devices

If you’ve enjoyed catching Halibut before, you’ve probably caught some other scary looking fish from the bottom. One of these species is the Yelloweye Rockfish, sometimes incorrectly referred to as red snapper. When these fish are reeled up quickly from the bottom, their swim bladder expands and protrudes through their mouth. It kind of looks like a big tongue. Barotrauma is physical damage to body tissues caused by changes in air pressure and affects rockfish caught in deep water and brought to the surface. These old fish are declining in terms of population numbers and limits have been reduced this year. We are trying to preserve this species and help with conservation efforts. However, it is very difficult to release these fish and reverse the pressure effects. Each of our guides are now equipped with a descending device. A rockfish descending device is a tool intended to lower a fish back into the water at a slow rate in order for the swim bladder to decompress to a normal state. Our guides have already been able to test the devices and have seen great results. During your trip, you may be able to see the descending device in action and know that we are doing our part in conservation efforts for this species.

Fishmaster Chelsea

 


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June 6, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Finally, another season at QCL is upon us. It’s opening day at the lodge, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get the lines wet. We start off the season by heading east, to cape Edenshaw! Not long after setting the gear, we were onto our first fish of the summer. This scrappy 15 pounder had our rod buckled and reel singing. The song we’ve been waiting so long to hear! After a hard fought battle my guests and I looked at each other and said “it’s great to be home”! Throughout the day we proceeded to hook into feisty little feeders.  A very modest size, but these fish were full of energy and lots of fun. By the end of the day the boys were depleted of all energy, as well as beer. Sounds like a trip back to the Bell Ringer is in order! On tomorrow’s agenda, big Hali at the “Hill”.

Until next time,

Ryan “Horseshoe” Winger


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