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July 12, 2018 Duane Foerter0

QCL salmon fishing successAs we enter the middle days of July, (and of the season!) we’re happy to report that things are cooking along just fine.  Fishing has been exceptional lately with incredible amounts of bait and salmon showing throughout the fishing grounds.  Herring, in particular, has been the common denominator that draws so much life around it.  Besides the extraordinary volume of salmon in the area, Humpback whales, white-sided dolphins and Dall’s porpoise are regular attendees at the party.  Anglers who find themselves in the midst of all this excitement return home with stories and memories to share for years.

Tyee Chinook salmon at QCL Haida GwaiiWhile the bulk of this bounty is found offshore in what would traditionally have been called the “halibut grounds” it’s nice to see that the inshore fishery is back on track.  Regular catches of 20-pound-plus Chinook salmon around the shoreline structure and kelp beds are the preferred pastime of many anglers and they’re happy too.  The Tyee bell has been ringing nightly, reporting nice catches of those larger fish in the 30-plus range.  Parker Point, Bird 2 and Green Point have been productive lately around the tide changes.  Veteran QCL angler John V released a big beauty last weekend that taped out to 39-pounds and yesterday Timothy M brought a big chrome beauty back to the Bell Ringer that tipped the scale at 39 as well.  Those are stunning fish guys!  Congratulations!

Halibut are completely distributed throughout Virago Sound and we catch them absolutely everywhere.  The regular flow of the tides in and out of Naden Harbour push the needlefish around and halibut love to come inshore to feed on them, providing exceptional opportunities to catch giant halibut in shallow water.  Many a giant has been played off the deck of the MV Driftwood as she’s anchored up in 40-feet of water at the Mazzaredo Islands.  Of course, when you drop your halibut bait to the bottom in search of the perfect 30-pounder you never know what you might find!  Such was the case for Sharon & Ward M yesterday when they hooked up with a heavy fish just east of “the Mazz” in 50-feet of water.  The excitement of pulling a big halibut up alongside the boat is soon accentuated by the anxiety of how to deal with it!  Thankfully in this case, QCL Dock Manager Ryan Ashton was in the area and jumped aboard to help out.  Sometimes the fish cooperates and a quick measurement is possible before an uneventful release.  Not this time.  They did manage to come up with a length of about 60-inches and they were able to remove the hook from the giant’s lip – but at a price!  Getting up close and personal to attend to business got Ryan well doused, repeatedly, and he returned to the lodge completely soaked, eager for a warm shower!  But the estimated 109-pounder was safely back on the bottom and Sharon & Ward had to drop down and try again for the perfect take home model.  Great job – well done!


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June 27, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Tyee Chinook C&RNice to see the world trying to move to “normal”- around here at least!  It’s amazing what a few days of wind can do.  The arrival of considerable amounts of bait both inshore and off, has turned up the fish volume noticeably.  We saw a half dozen Tyees on the weekend with the largest being a 40-pounder released at Klashwun Point by Jason H with his guide Cole Guolo. They attempted a replay on Saturday but unfortunately the 30-pound Chinook was not able to be revived.  Nice work guys!

Offshore we’re finding more Coho, Pink & Chum salmon while running spoons and anchovies down 80 – 110 ft.. They’re typical 5-9 pounders this time of year but are providing some good sport and some variety in the fishbox. Every once in a while a nice bright Chum takes the bait and surprises the angler with a very determined battle! Pound for pound a Chum is one of the toughest fighters out there.

We’re accustomed to our guests encountering some massive Halibut during their stay and this year has been no exception!  Fish over 100 pounds are reported every other day and many weeks we’ll hear about one over 200.  But a couple of times each summer a QCL angler manages to haul up a fish of epic proportions, the proverbial “barn door halibut.”  Such a fish came to the boat of Michel D , fishing with QCL guide Sam Johnstone. This one came up relatively quickly; it took Michel only 45-minutes to bring her to the boat.  But when she came alongside Grady 110 on Wednesday afternoon, they were all in awe of this massive fish.  With Denis M on the phone camera, Sam and Michel carefully measured the length before removing the jig and setting her free.  At 84 inches in length this  big female scored out to 323 pounds!  It has all the makings of a fish story that will no doubt be shared through generations!  Congratulations Michel !


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June 24, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Chinook salmon fishing at QCLYou can feel the excitement throughout the entire lodge right now.  The past few days have included some steady winds from the northwest, which has brought the entire fishing grounds to life.  The birds are everywhere, having a hard time deciding which bait ball to dive on.  Humpback whales are working together, scooping up massive mouthfuls of fish as they move across the grounds.  On top of all this, the fishing has picked up significantly.

The past few days have seen some of the best chinook fishing of our season so far.  It appears as though a new wave of fish has started to push its way across our grounds. Multiple Tyee’s are starting to be caught, and we just had the first 40 lb Chinook caught of the season.  Fish are still being caught offshore in the deeper water, but the inshore fishing has really improved over the last couple of days.  Most of the salmon are still being picked up around the slack tides; however, as the tidal differences continue to decrease, the fish seem to be biting a little more consistently throughout the day.  On top of all this, the Coho have started to show up in little pockets scattered across the halibut grounds.

Halibut fishing has also been getting better and better.  The smaller “chicken” halibut have been plentiful as always, but some absolutely massive halibut have been caught on the grounds as of late.  Some of them have even been found in some pretty unexpected places. Last trip my guests and I were trolling around Cape Naden looking for a chinook.  We were working in tight to the kelp bed when all of a sudden the back rod started to scream out line. It wasn’t long into the fight when my guests and I realized something fishy was going on. After the initial “run”, the fish just stayed down on bottom.  Every time we gained a couple of yards of line, it took them right back with a single pull.  Finally, after about a 30 minute fight, we got it to the surface.  QCL salmon fishingIt measured out to a 100 lb halibut.  The thrill of seeing a fish that big never gets old, and to reel it up on a salmon rod with 30 lb test makes it that much more impressive!

You really never know what you are going to see each and every day up here.  We truly have the coolest office in the world.

Until next time – Keep your rod tip up!

Nick “Mighty Oak”


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June 16, 2018 Duane Foerter0

The season has started and the fishing stories are starting to grow. As the catch list among the guide team grows the talk around the dinner table is always entertaining. Tales of epic battles with Chinook, tug of wars with Halibut, and memories of the one that got away always entertain groups of hungry guides crowded around the table.

Three Tyee’s have already been brought to the dock and it seems as though multiple 60+ pound halibut releases have become a daily occurrence. The past several years our guide team has begun targeting Halibut at the various pinnacles or hills that are found around our fishing grounds, and catching these monsters has become part of our daily routine. There was even a 220-pound halibut caught off of the driftwood when it was parked at the Mazarredo islands last week. Lucas the driftwood deckhand was fueling boats when he noticed the rod in the holder fully corked peeling line. After almost an hour the new driftwood halibut record was successfully landed, measured, and released. what a beauty!

Most of the salmon are being caught around slack tide periods as of late. The old saying “stick, stay, and make it pay” has been proven to be productive, as snap bites are found at all of the major points. One of my favorite moments as a guide is to observe a rod tip dancing up and down, or bust out of the clip and start screaming. Eager anglers jumping to attention and connecting to a fish will always bring a smile to my face. The weather over the next week is projected to be Northwesterly winds and we are excited to see what they blow in. The fishing grounds has not seen an extended Northwest wind this year. Flocks of birds were observed gorging on bait balls off shore today and 100’s of Auklets were seen off Klashwun point. I am excited to start the day tomorrow and see what the fishing grounds hold.

Signing off

Luke “Skywalker”


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June 15, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Yay!  A shift in the winds to northwesterly this week is bringing some welcome sunshine and the promise of great fishing for the next couple weeks.  We’ve been able to get offshore regularly to check out our favourite halibut holes and are happy to report that all is well in that department!  But while we’re out there we’re seeing significant amounts of bait –big herring and mature sandlance –that persistent NW winds tend to drive south into Virago Sound and our inshore fishing grounds.  The Chinook fishing has not yet ramped up to “normal”but it is improving steadily.  Guests and guides are putting some time in at all the favourite haunts now and we’re seeing some nice fish come to the boat.  Another Tyee yesterday, a 31-pounder for veteran QCL guest Matt A was a nice addition to the chorus of Tyee bell ringers on the dock. Matt was joined by his son Trevor who was thrilled to haul up a chunky halibut that taped out to 60 pounds before being released.

A bit of novel news from this week is the success of two boats who chose to avoid some gnarly weather on Tuesday Chinook salmon fishing at QCLand fish inside the harbour.  One boat, guided by Sam Johnstone, was jigging for halibut and connected with a good fish alongside the deep channel leading north out to sea.  After a 20 minute tussle they discovered a big hali alongside the boat that they taped out to 100 pounds!  Congratulations to Mike N on a big catch in a little spot! Meanwhile, guide Kylie Tokairin was trolling along the same drop with guests–her own Dad and his friend, when they also hooked up with a big halibut, but on a salmon rod!  They got pulled around for over an hour but finally managed to coral the giant at the boat, taping it out to 62 inches length, scoring 121 pounds!  Way to go Brad!

QCL Grady WhiteThe 16thAnnual Kingfisher Derby kicked off today with $120,000 in the pot!  This annual Catch & Release derby attracts a strong following who compete every year for the largest released Chinook salmon.  With new bait and new fish moving into the sound it’s bound to get very interesting!  Stay tuned!


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June 11, 2018 Duane Foerter0

As we roll into the middle days of June we’re seeing more familiar faces and enjoying some of the many special events that have developed here over the years.  Fishing has always been all about tradition and we see a lot of them celebrated up here!  Friends from Calgary, here this weekend, always toast the conclusion of another successful fishing trip with a round of fine grappa on the final evening, pouring carefully from a spectacular 3-litre bottle that sits in a place of pride in the lodge.  They left this morning with some great memories, assorted boxes of fish and renewed friendships.  It’s an honour to play some small part in it.

Over the weekend the fishing showed signs of “progress”with the first signs of other salmon species arriving.  We saw a few big bright silver chum come to the dock; pound for pound possibly the toughest salmon out there.  There were also some small coho and pinks in the mix, that we haven’t seen to date.  Chinook fishing often requires patience and attention to detail and we’re certainly seeing that these days.  Active periods are often closely attached to the tides and successful anglers are those who manage to be on their favourite point just when the tide is right.

Magnificent Tyee Chinook salmon at QCLThat was the case for Josh K on Sunday morning as he was fishing with Red Baron and a couple of buddies just south of Klashwun Point.  They hooked up with the fish we all dream about at that spot and Josh handled it masterfully.  The stunning chrome bright Tyee tipped the scale at just over 37 pounds –what a beauty!  Nice fish guys!  While we haven’t seen a lot of larger salmon yet, the bulk of Chinook in the area are those feisty feeder springs in the 10-20 pound class.  We’re getting them more widely throughout the grounds now with Parker Point, Bird 2 and Eagle Rock providing some excitement around the slack tides.

We know that halibut are commonly found closer to shore in these early days of the season and savvy anglers are picking them up while trolling along the kelp for salmon.  The MV Driftwood has been anchored at the Mazzaredo Islands much of the time as we have boats spread out evenly to the east and the west.  They often drop a line off the side and it’s quite common for a guest aboard to catch their limit of halibut right there in less than 50 feet of water.

Sometimes they get more than they bargained for.  There was excitement galore after supper on Saturday night when the tip of the rod outside the Chef’s galley door jerked down hard. A mad scramble ensued as the crew were busy pressure washing the tenders and guest Jim S was charged to deal with the fish.  Problem was, once Jim grabbed the rod, the fish made a run toward the stern of the Driftwood, right under the swim grid and the crew working around it!  The only way to follow the fish was to pass the rod under ropes and around boats until he could get to the aft deck, where he and first mate Ryan Winger jumped into a tender and proceeded with the battle!  As the water depth was only 40 feet this fish was unable to sound and made long powerful runs out away from the boat instead.  When Jim finally managed to get it close, it was obviously way too big to keep.  Ryan and Chef Ricky managed to get a length measurement –a whopping 74 inches –before they released the giant, which scored out to 215 pounds!  What an amazing catch in such an exceptional circumstance! Way to go Jim and the DW crew! That’s a fish story for the record books, even by Driftwood standards!


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June 8, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Our first week of the new season has been a terrific introduction of new programs, some new staff and many new guests to QCL. It’s been exciting to watch it all unfold; guests and staff alike are having lots of fun.  Steak & Lobster dinners in the Bell Ringer, hand rolled sushi while you wait in the Kingfisher Lounge, and after dinner treats at the campfire while watching all the activity on the dock, are some of the little details that we’re enjoying this summer.

QCL Bell RingerOn the water, the fishing action has been well distributed around the grounds, with early morning salmon bites at Cape Edenshaw and offshore bottom fishing around the slack tides.  While salmon action is improving steadily and we’ve seen our first Tyee of the summer ( a nice 30-pounder for Larry D.) we’re still waiting for the volume and size of fish we are accustomed to at this time of year.  They’re starting to get them on the west side now with several teen-sized Chinooks coming from favourite points like Bird 2, Eagle Rock and Yatze.

But the big story this week was bottom fishing, with the 2ndAnnual Jig-A-Pig Derby QCL Halibut fishinghappening.  Not a C&R event, the largest halibut available could measure no longer than 115 cm, so there was a lot of effort from participants to get close to the magic number!  They found several fish that were too big, 3 of them over 100 pounds and quite a few between 50 and 100.  But the winner turned out to be a fish scoring 113 cm and weighing 39.2 pounds for Doug W, fishing self-guided with his partner Scott P.  Lingcod are plentiful on our fishing grounds as well and there are a number of keen veterans who love to bounce a jig around the deep water (200-300 ft) structure out there.  They found good quantities of teen-sized and twenty-something lingcod but a toothy giant that weighed in at 40.4 pounds for Eric H. was the fish that took the prize, with a little help from his fishing partner John F and guide Mark Kasumovich.

Lingcod at the Bell RingerA big thank you goes out to all who QCL Jig-a-Pig Derbyparticipated and to those who came out on top, Congratulations!  The excitement of jigging in 250 feet of water and never knowing for sure what’s going to come up is addictive and we’re happy to see such enthusiasm every season!  We look forward to seeing everyone back again for some fun in 2019!


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June 4, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Ahhh…it’s so great to get back on the water again!  That was definitely the consensus this weekend as we kicked off our first trip of the season.  The weather was very typical Haida Gwaii –a constant cycling of sunshine, showers and layers of clouds moving through all day and night!  Normal is good.

QCL Chinook fishingThe early season fishing has been similar to last year with teen-sized feeder Springs dominating the catch.  The action wasn’t hot, but most anglers bumped into a few over the course of the trip.  The best concentration of Chinook action has been on the eastern side of our fishing grounds with most boats working the inshore waters from Inskip Point around past Cape Edenshaw to Slab Rock.  Anchovy / flasher combinations or small spoons fished down 30 to 35 feet have  been most productive.  We’ve seen a number of nice Springs in the low to mid-20’s but we’re awaiting the first Tyee of the season.   Sandy O. came close with this beautiful 25 pounder!  Any day now!

QCL Chinook salmonModerate southerly winds on Saturday and Sunday saw most boats exploring the offshore waters to pick up some tasty halibut and lingcod.  We were finding lots of nice chickens for the fish box and, as usual, some anglers got a little more than they bargained for!  Our halibut fishery has emerged in recent years as some of the most exciting fishing out there and, true to that tradition, we recorded 4 fish over 100 pounds on our opening weekend.  The size champ of the season so far is Lorri S. (who not only bagged a perfect 22-pound Chinook) but also hauled up a classic “barn door”halibut that taped out to 75 inches –that’s 220 pounds!  Fabulous fishing Lorri!  Keeping “girl power”in the forefront, Aubrey C. brought a 108-pounder to the boat.  A 59-inch halibut for Jesse C. scored out to 105 pounds and John L’s big slab on Sunday was in the same league, coming in right around the 100 pound mark.  Jesse’s wife Marla was also in the running on Sunday when she landed a 57-inch halibut for a score of 93 pounds. The nice thing is that all of these very memorable fish (all females) went right back down to carry on with the business of making more halibut!  Fish stories to last a lifetime!

Making the most of that great fishery, today we kick off our second annual Jig-a-Pig Derby –dedicated to those who have a thing for jigging!  No doubt the Tyee Bell will be ringing a lot this week with tales of mighty battles going on out on the grounds!  We’ll keep you posted.


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October 30, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Mark the Date!     NOW   Monday June 4 – Friday June 8, 2018

Last June we held our first ever fishing derby targeting only bottom fish – halibut and lingcod specifically – and it was a resounding success!  Where salmon has been “king” for decades, we’re certainly seeing our time divided among lots of different fisheries.  The early season in Haida Gwaii has proven to be an excellent time to go after large-size lingcod and halibut.  They have voracious appetites and feed quite aggressively.  QCL guests have really taken to exploring the offshore waters and have been jigging up a storm!  New and improved depth sounder and GPS technology have added a whole new dimension of experiences to a QCL fishing trip.

The 2017 Derby produced some impressive catches last June.  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.  All in all, it turned out to be a fantastic week.

The 2018 Jig-a-Pig Derby is set for Monday June 4th thru Friday June 8th.  Many of this year’s participants are booked to return and they’re bringing friends!  If you’d like to get in on this fun and exciting event be sure to contact us soon!


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August 25, 2017 Duane Foerter

QCL Coho SalmonLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experienceLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experiences there are to be had up here. Well this week we had a father & son angling team at the lodge that really took it to heart! Ronald and Dan R not only found the variety but, with the help of their QCL guide Jake Harrach, they found the quality as well!QCL Lingcod Fishing

Over the past 4 days they managed to catch the largest fish of the trip in each of 3 species and the 2nd largest in a 4th! On Tuesday Dan caught and released the big halibut of the trip, a big slab that taped out to 163 pounds. On Wednesday Ron boated a nice big lingcod that tipped the scale at 35 pounds which, in most weeks would be the big one! But he came second to a 50-pounder landed by Lino P! That’s only 6 pounds short of the lodge record! Congrats Lino! On the same day Ronald caught the largest Coho of the week, coming in at 16-pounds – a beautiful fish for sure! Then on Thursday, making that famous “just one more pass” at Cape Naden on the way in, Dan hooked up with a big Chinook that really put him to the test. After a twenty-minute tussle, Jake slipped the net beneath the chrome beauty and they knew there would be some more Bell-ringing back at the dock that night! At 39-pounds, this big Tyee would add to Dan’s record of success as the largest Chinook of the trip. Congratulations guys! That’s an amazing catch report! It’s a good thing you’re going home for the weekend to get some rest!QCL Tyee Salmon

The weekend forecast is for more southerly weather and calm seas (with a regular dose of liquid sunshine.) The inshore Chinook fishing has certainly picked up in the past week with the best action during the first and last hours of the day. Offshore the Coho catch remains strong and we’re seeing more of the larger Coho coming to the scale. Bottom fishing has been getting easier with the tidal range diminishing every day since Monday’s new moon. QCL anglers released 6 halibut over 100 pounds this trip and we’re still seeing nice 30-plus fish at the Bell Ringer every night. These are great days to be fishing at QCL!


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