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July 20, 2018 Duane Foerter0

At Queen Charlotte Lodge we have a saying, “You come as a guest, leave as a friend and return as family!”  Two of our longest lasting QCL family members are Cal and Roxy Speckman, who bring their group to QCL on an annual basis.  Within the group are many returning family members and with their attendance and others, the lodge feels like old home week!

July 17th marked a special day on the calendar for our owner.  Paul Clough, had his first grandchild (Jordan) born on this day 16 years ago.  Cal was here to celebrate that occasion with Paul, and Cal bought champagne for the entire resort to enjoy the occasion.  As luck would have it this week, Jordan was at the Lodge to see his Grandpa and his Dad, Rob Clough.  On Tuesday night, with short speeches from Paul, Cal and Jordan, the lodge enjoyed a nice toast of champagne again…this time Paul returned the favor, a great night!

Most people that read our blog are looking for fishing information, a fishing story or anything to do with what’s going on so let’s not deprive you anymore!

As the week started a light Northwest wind came into the area and we waited for more bait to move in and cover the grounds.  Northwest winds are the best for bringing bait and fish into the QCL fishing areas.   The only issue is there were some huge tides to finish the weekend and start the week.  Huge tides bring bait in and flush it out just as quickly.  When tides are large you should organize your fishing days based on the tides and fish them hard, at LEAST one hour before and one hour after.  Tides and water movement might come early or late, so be in your favorite spot and be ready to fish the tide.

As a guide for 20 years at QCL, I am often asked where to fish on a particular tide.  Although the answer can usually be, wherever you think the “Big One” sits, the reality is every guide has a theory.  I have never shared my theory until Ryan Ashton, QCL dock manager (Guy Fieri look alike), suggested people would love to hear it directly from you.  Tides, theories and fishing strategies are often a secret but at QCL, we encourage all guides to share their knowledge.  The more people that know, the more they will become hooked on fishing, and that’s good for QCL!  Anyway, here is my theory.

Before I start you need to know what an Ebb and a Flood is and what I mean by those terms.  Masset Inlet gives you a great reference point so you know which way the water should be moving.   An Ebb tide is when the water is moving OUT of Masset Inlet and going from a HIGH slack to a LOW slack tide.  A Flood tide is the exact opposite.  The key is to think about the bays around a point.  Klash has a large bay to the east of the point and the 3 large protruding rocks.  When the tide swings from an Ebb tide to a Flood tide (slack) the water starts to move out of the bay, along the rocks and pumps everything that was in the bay out.  This is the time for the fish to feed, the easiest way possible.  It’s like going to a McDonalds’ drive thru for the fish and the Big Mac and Fries, Super-Size are on the way…oh yeah, don’t forget the Hot Apple Pie!  As the water flows out of the bay, position the boat right on the edge of a pronounced “ripline”, try to hold the position just outside the last rock as long as you can, eventually something has to show up!  Stay patient, often it takes up time for this type of fishing to pay off.   Once you drive through the ripline, circle back to the end of it, and drive back up it, all the way back through and repeat until you hit one or two or 10!

There are no guarantees this is going to work, that’s the beauty of fishing.  As an example on Monday I was fortunate to have my wife, son and daughter join me at the resort.  Monday and Tuesday we went fishing as a family using my “theory” and it worked…um ok that is a fish tale, it didn’t work at all!  2 Coho only and no other bites, zoikes, I suck!  We come back to the dock and most of the guides are dragging in nice totes of fish to the Bellringer and now I am second guessing myself.  Tuesday night we celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday and I have a little chat with him about the next day.  He wants to go fishing at 5am!  Mom and Makenna decide to take a pass for a sleep and a workout.  We get up at 4:30am and are on the water as the sun is rising.  Scott and Henry guests of the DW are already fishing Bird 2 and have a fish in their net!  So we stop and Jordan and I give it a try.  The Ebb is just starting at Bird 2 and the water is pushing nicely off the point.  Jordan puts on his favorite anchovy teaser head and puts it down.  BAM, fish on!  3 passes and 7 Chinook later we are giggling and laughing!  More boats are now showing up and Jordan resets his line, 41 feet.  As we are still sitting in the rip and his line pounds off the clip and starts peeling.  A nice one for sure, a beauty fight, a beauty play and the best morning as a Dad with a son you can imagine.  Jordan lands a 32.2 pounder to show Mom and sis!  Back to the dock by 11am for lunch with the family and grandparents!

Now Makenna is fired up and wants to go early to catch the early tide the next day with her brother!  We decide we better head back to Bird 2 and see if we can find another.  We fish the ripline at Bird 2 and pick one up early, then a Coho, then a second smaller Chinook.  Not as hot as the morning before.  The boats are out way earlier and the fishing seems to die off for about an hour.  We continue and are persistent fishing the rip.  We fish it hard but nothing is happening so we are sure to scrape the wall at Bird 2.  We do this about 10 times and in the back corner of Bird 2, right off the bow of the Driftwood we nail a good one.  20 minutes later, the 13 year old young lady lands an awesome fish measuring 36 pounds!  We release the fish back into the wild and the day feels complete.  So we troll from Bird 2 back to Naden hitting all the points.  We hit Parker and see Hawgfather with Clark, his guest.  Trevor and Clark had a beauty morning, 31 and 33!  We pick up 5 more fish on the drift out and decide it’s time to go meet Mom again for lunch at the Main Lodge.  As a guide, my theory was validated but only 2 of 4 days.  As a Dad, the greatest day of my year fishing with my kids!  (Love you Tricia, Jordan and Makenna!)

Fishing is currently hot and cold all in the same day and trip.   Persistence always wins!  Look forward to seeing you at the resort!  Until next time…

Red Baron


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July 18, 2018 Duane Foerter0

One of the coolest things about being a fishing guide in Haida Gwaii is the unknown of what each day will bring. No two days are ever the same, as the sea conditions, weather, and fishing are always different. Although we like to plan our day out and try to predict what might happen on each tide change, our plans are often altered due to the various scenarios that take place on the water. Today was no different.

With the first tide change not happening until around 10:30am, my longtime QCL guests John R. and Dan S. decided that we wouldn’t leave the dock until 8. My plan was to fish salmon a couple hours through the tide change, go out and grab a couple of Halibut, and then stop for lunch. The first part went according to plan; we set up shop for a couple of hours at Cape Naden with only 1 feeder spring to show for it that we ended up turning back. With not much happening through the slack tide I suggested we do one more pass and then run out for Halibut. On that pass we hooked another little feeder that popped off by the boat. A couple minutes after that I said, “Okay, let’s go grab some Hali’s”. Dan responded, “Come on, one more pass!” Sure enough, right near the end of that pass John had something pop the clip and then it was game on!

After a great battle we bagged a bright chrome Chinook that tipped the scales at 30.0 lb back at the Bell Ringer. Of course we weren’t going to leave now!  Before we could even get a third line back in the water, John again has something smash his bait but it quickly popped off. Within a few seconds our back rod started sizzling line and this time Dan was tied into a beauty! After an even longer fight than the first fish we put another one in the bag that weighed in at 26 lb. After a few more passes with no luck it was time for lunch at the DW.

Although the afternoon was not quite as eventful, we grabbed a couple decent chickens, did some Coho fishing offshore, and then finished the day back at Naden. During our final couple hours we were greeted with some rain showers, followed by blue skies, and calm waters, followed by strong gusts of wind out of the west. In addition, the flood tide brought in waves and waves of kelp that made it nearly impossible to keep all lines in the water at once. Once again, on one of our “last passes”, Dan was into another dandy. After a lengthy first run this fish managed to tangle the line into various large pieces of floating kelp. I thought numerous times that this fish was gone but today the fish gods were on our side. While I was steering the boat, John was able to use the gaff to unhook all the weeds from the line, which finally gave me an opportunity to slide the net under another beauty. It was a great team effort and a great way to finish off another adventurous day in the Gwaii!

Until next time, goodnight from Naden Harbour!

Jackson “Wacko Jacko”


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July 15, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Today was another sunny day on the fishing grounds with low to mid teen knot winds blowing from the northwest. In the morning the fleet of QCL boats either headed offshore to the 120-150 foot line searching for Coho and Chinook salmon or stayed close to shore, hitting the major points working the tide change searching for those larger Chinook lurking in the depths. The lighter morning winds allowed for calmer seas to hit the deeper depths for hali fishing as well.

Grady 114 and its crew decided to start the day off by hitting Cape Naden, looking for a chance at a few larger Chinooks. This seemed to be a common thought as quite a few other boats came to join the party. After all was said and done we had a bright chrome 21 pound Spring hit the deck for the morning tide. We were hoping for a couple more but with few hook ups seen or heard of, we gladly took what the fishing gods gave us!

My guests and I rounded out the day with a tote of a couple of halibut, several nice Coho, another mid-teen Chinook and we let a few other feeders go to grow up! Not a bad day overall up here in this special part of the province.  High fives, lots of laughs and positive energy at the Bell Ringer capped off another memorable day up here at QCL.

‘Til next time,

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

Jeff ‘Smurf’ Smirfitt


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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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July 10, 2018 Duane Foerter0

The life of a fishing guide in Haida Gwaii is pretty great!  But it’s been an absolute pleasure to be fishing up here the past couple days. The weekend was filled with lots of fish and the most picture perfect water you could imagine. That magic combination makes everyone enjoy their time up here that much more.

My guests were Jonathan and his 80-year old father Mike.  Jonathan has fished with us many times and he brought his Dad up here for the first time. Over the course of the weekend Mike often said, “Wow am I ever lucky to experience this!”  With consistent action offshore fishing for Chinook, coho and halibut there was no break on the rods.  Whales, porpoises, birds everywhere… it was a fisherman’s dream. “The seas are as lively as I have ever seen them in the past several years,” I told them.

On the first day the fishing inshore was a little slow.  So we ran out to 250 feet of water to try our luck there. Within minutes we were getting bites, but nothing was sticking for Mike.  As a kid back in Ontario, he would cast with spoons in the lakes. He asked if I had any spoons he could try out here for salmon.  I grabbed a little silver 4-inch Coyote spoon and threw that down. Within minutes Mike hooked up to a nice Chinook.  It was a spunky fish and he fought it for around 15 minutes. Mike did a great job and was pretty pumped when it was finally in the net. Later when we arrived at the Bell Ringer it weighed in at 24 pounds.  Needless to say we ran that spoon the rest of the trip!  We joked all weekend that Mike was our lucky charm and I was pleased that he and Jonathan were having such a good time.

At the end of the trip we all were just thankful for the fantastic water, fishing, and good times that were shared. Trips like this are the reason I love my job… nothing but smiles.

Cole Guolo


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July 4, 2018 Duane Foerter0

It is the last day of June in Haida Gwaii. The morning sun is peeking through broken clouds and lighting up the glassy water while eagles call from the shore. The smell of fresh sea air wakes my excitement for another day of chasing trophy salmon in the most beautiful place on earth. After getting a full box of Coho and nice mid-sized Springs offshore on Day One, we are in a good spot to take a gamble and spend a day fishing in tight to shore, looking for a big one. And that’s what we decide to do.

Chinook salmon fishing at QCLMy guests, Matthew and Daibidh and I are alive with anticipation when we drop in at Parker Point an hour before the morning tide; everything is setting up perfectly. After 5 hours without a touch I am starting to second guess whether we picked the right spot but we are determined to stick with the plan and stay optimistic. Then finally, after 6 hours, things start to pick up.  So we work the east bay with a newfound enthusiasm and our luck really starts to change. On our next pass the inside rod goes off and Daibidh is into a good one! After the second tide comes to an end our work seems to have paid off and we are high fiving over two beautiful fish, a 23 and a 25 lb Chinook. But we decide to take one last lap to see if we can’t still find that monster we are really after, and then it all happens. Ten hours after we first set our gear the outside rod buckles and the reel starts to burn.  “That’s the one!” I shout and start clearing the lines as Matthew takes the rod and the fish keeps accelerating towards Alaska.  After the most nerve-racking 30 minutes we are marveling at a magnificent 32 lb Tyee Chinook, a real trophy!  We take a few moments to take in its beauty as it regains its strength and then watch it swim off back into the depths. What a perfect way to end the day. There is no better feeling than to be rewarded for a hard day’s work. The level of excitement on the boat is unreal as we head back to the Bell Ringer, this was the perfect end to another amazing month in heaven!

Tristan “Youngblood”


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July 2, 2018 Duane Foerter0

It’s salmon season!  Sure feels good!  A shift in the winds may have been just the ticket about two weeks back, when large amounts of bait started to appear in Virago Sound.  The food pyramid kicks into high gear and everybody gets to eat.

Fishing variety at QCL Haida GwaiiWhile we traditionally focus our salmon fishing efforts along the kelp beds and the rocks, we’re finding heavy traffic a bit offshore along the salmon highway!  In waters where we typically target lingcod and halibut, QCL anglers are trolling bait and finding steady action on several species of salmon.  Anchovies at 30-50 feet are productive on coho, chum and pink salmon while the Chinooks can be down a little deeper in the 70-100 foot zone.  And when you’re tired of trolling it’s so easy just to stop over a patch of structure down below and you’re into halibut and lingcod at depths of 150-250 feet.Chinook salmon at QCL Haida Gwaii

Offshore trolling is often productive but it’s not everybody’s favourite place to fish.  Thankfully the bays and rocks that we’re so familiar with – Cape Naden, Parker Point, Bird 2 and Klashwun Pt. to name a few –  are also holding bait and that’s where the lunkers prefer to hunt.  These prime spots are turning out some really nice fish lately for anglers with the patience and knowledge of the tides to find them at feeding time!  Herring, offered whole or in cut-plug form, is usually the bait of choice in here.

Chinook salmon fishing at QCL Haida GwaiiThis past week the Tyee Bell has been getting a regular workout with new members joining the ranks every night.  Maxime G weighed a nice 35-pounder only to be joined an hour later when his father Luc rolled in with a 32 lb. Tyee of his own!  Most of the Tyee-class fish we’re seeing currently are in the low to mid-30’s but there have been some bigger fish around.  Roger G found a stunning 40-pounder at Bird One, fishing with QCL guide Aaron Lomax and Jason H released one last week.  The first 50-pounder of the season could certainly show up any day!

Northwesterly winds are forecast to continue this week and we’re hoping for a nice spell of sunshine – 2 or 3 days anyway – and that’ll put a smile on everyone’s face around here for sure!  Stay tuned!


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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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