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May 17, 2018 Duane Foerter0
A few decades ago, it was all about catching a big fish. Most visitors to remote fishing resorts and lodges were only hooked on fishing; accommodations and amenities were barely a thought. Nowadays people come for the experience. In fact, some guests don’t even care if they catch a fish. Being there, immersing yourself in nature is reward enough.

Some resorts have no trouble baiting travelers angling for luxury. After you’ve been out on the briny blue, celebrating over cocktails with your new fishing chums, immerse yourself in a hot tub, tuck into chef-prepared superb cuisine with fine wines and then drift off under plump duvets and sheets made of the finest Egyptian cotton next to your private bathroom. Several fishing lodges are land-based, where you can stroll pristine sandy beaches, hike through old growth forest. Or spend the afternoon watching wildlife—whale sightings are the norm.

However, there’s nothing like the thrill of reeling in a big fish. For beginning anglers, a good day’s fishing can be a crapshoot, but not in the waters surrounding these resorts. The rugged shoreline of the Central Coast, the west coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii provide ideal habitat for vast shoals of baitfish. There are countless nooks and crannies for salmon, as well as gravel banks and pinnacles for halibut, rockfish, and lingcod. Snagging a salmon is more the rule than the exception – the resort guides know exactly where ocean fish are biting.

There are fishing lodges and resorts throughout B.C. that can provide all-inclusive packages– including accommodation, meals, fishing gear and service– to meet most budgets. Here are a few of B.C.’s finest…

Queen Charlotte Lodge, Haida Gwaii

This remote part of the world is a welcome escape from daily life, and Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL), on the northern shores of Haida Gwaii in Naden Harbour, offers a unique mix of adventure and comfort, friendship and fun.

Once the site of an old whaling station, QCL sits on 20 acres, surrounded by old-growth forest and beachfront. It offers five different kinds of accommodation, from the main lodge with 24 rooms to private chalets with private chefs. While nowhere can guarantee that you’ll catch a fish, QCL guarantees you’ll never be hungry, and you’re spoilt for choice.

For instance, the main dining room offers three appetizers, six entrees and three desserts, with a big barbecue buffet the night you arrive. Variety kicks in at other venues:  Chef at the Buoy Teppanyaki House will prepare surf ‘n’ turf at your table, or maybe you prefer to hang out at the Bell Ringer and pick a lobster from the live tank after enjoying just-prepared salmon and albacore tuna sushi (all Ocean Wise) at the Kingfisher lounge…

A typical day:

4.30 a.m. Full-on breakfast in the main lodge or if you need to be on the water before dawn, cappuccino and breakfast sandwich to go at the dock.
6 a.m.: Catch 20lb chinook salmon
9 a.m.: Stop by the Driftwood (anchored on the fishing grounds) for a bathroom break, coffee and muffin.
11 a.m. -2 p.m.: BBQ lunch on the Driftwood, including salad bar, chowder and chili.
5 p.m.: Cocktails (go for the Twin Creek Smash) and pub snacks at the Bell Ringer, a social house with a weigh scale and excellent bartender. Here is where you tell stories and trade lies and your catch is weighed. Party central.
7 p.m.: Main lodge for dinner: Ponzu-cured Albacore or BC spot prawns followed by herb-crusted halibut and an extensive wine list.
9 p.m.:  Kingfisher Lounge downstairs with port and cheese or Irish Coffee around the fireplace.
Charters depart Fridays and Mondays from Vancouver to Masset for three- or four-night stays from June through August.  All-inclusive fly-in fishing packages start at $4,895.

queencharlottelodge.com

Jane MundyJANE MUNDY

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April 24, 2018 Duane Foerter0

In case you missed it, we made an appearance on local TV this week.  Hospitality Manager Jin Chong was under the bright lights on Monday morning at Vancouver Global TV, sharing a tasty lingcod recipe.  It’s all part of a current promotion series we’re doing with PostMedia.  There’s a trip for two up for grabs with Global TV running this week thru Sunday April 29th.  You can enter online on the Global TV contest page.

The studio was filled with the fantastic aroma of soya, ginger, garlic, sake, sugar and seared lingcod filet!  That’s for good reason as Jin’s recipe is Ginger Soy Lingcod with Dungeness Lo Mein – and it is delicious!  Here a link to the video lesson and the recipe!  https://globalnews.ca/news/4162566/ginger-soy-lingcod-with-dungeness-lo-mein-recipe/

This recipe is also included out new cookbook, available at the lodge this summer, A Taste of QCL 2.  Here’s the recipe in the cookbook:

A Taste of QCL



April 9, 2018 Duane Foerter0

With less than eight weeks to go before Opening Day there’s lots of excitement around here!  Are you ready?

Every day on the water is an adventure at Queen Charlotte Lodge! It might the fishing, or the magnificent environment, the good friends on board or the crazy stories you shared. But it’s something we all treasure and we love to do it at QCL!


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January 17, 2018 Duane Foerter0

If you’d like a truly unique Haida Gwaii fishing adventure, the MV Driftwood has something special to offer.  While you enjoy our trademark QCL hospitality and the many benefits of fishing with Queen Charlotte Lodge, this is no ordinary fishing trip!  The Driftwood generally sits at anchor right on the fishing grounds in the quiet water behind one of the Bird Rocks.  As the centre of our fishing operations during the day, it’s ideally situated to provide a nice lunch break for our guests.

For those staying aboard the Driftwood, this perfect setting is home.  They awake each morning with the unique opportunity to drop a line over the side and hook a Tyee Chinook before they even put their socks on!  With virtually zero travel time, Driftwood guests typically are fishing long before anyone else arrives at our favourite holes.  Choose to fish on your own or with a guide, we can accommodate your needs.  And at the end of the day, while you’re enjoying a delicious dinner prepared by your own Driftwood Chef, your catch is being professionally packaged in our licensed processing facility back at the lodge.

One of the most special things about calling the Driftwood home during your stay is that unique setting.  The evenings are magical.  All the other boats are gone, it’s all quiet.  You’re hanging out with the whales, the bears and the birds, surrounded by pristine Haida Gwaii wilderness.

Treat yourself to 4 days in paradise… check out the MV Driftwood.


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January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter2

Everyone buys a fishing trip with the idea they are going to “SMASH” them while on their fishing adventure.  All hoping their arms are sore from fighting fish, hands and fingers are sore from hooks and tying leaders and shins are sore from continually bashing them on gaff that is sticking out of the gunnel.  Oh the joys of fishing!

I personally have fished for salmon since I was two years old.  From the days of Grandpa raking herring and dumping them in the boat for his 2 year old Grandson to try and grab for the bait tank.  To the days of jigging herring, to fish from my 10 foot dinghy with my 2.5hp “Big Block” Mercury.  Now to my spoiled life at QCL and the dock staff preparing my boat for fishing daily.  Although the adventures of fishing with Grandpa and in my dinghy were great, the QCL experience is second to none!

44 years of salmon fishing, 18 seasons with QCL and the number one question asked over that period of time is without doubt, “When is the best time to go fishing?”  As the old adage says…”if I had a dollar…”

Rob, quit with the soliloquy and answer the question!  When is the best time to go fishing?

Well my favorite answers are always a bit cheeky:

  • “Last week was the best! You just missed it!”
  • “Next week is the best! You are a week early!”
  • “Right now is the best! Are you not getting them, maybe you need a guide?”

In all honestly, with every cheeky answer there is a truth.  Each river that holds Chinook or King salmon, from Alaska to San Francisco has a prime time of stock return, or when the majority of the species return to the river.  That timing varies from late March to late October with the bulk of the returns happening late April through October.  The return for Coho or Silvers varies but the bulk of these fish return mid-June through late October.

After being cheeky, usually I get to the true answer!  In all likelihood I stole my answer from someone but it accurately describes the truth when asked the question of best time to fish.  Here is my answer:

QCL has roughly 100 days of fishing during a season.  From year to year we have 12 to 15 of the greatest days of fishing one could hope for.  We also have 12 to 15 poor days of fishing when everyone second guesses themselves!  The issue is, I cannot tell you when either of these days are going to happen but what I can tell you is they will happen.  The rest of the 70 days are productive and success is varied.  Calling them average would make Grandpa turn over in his grave, he would have died for an “average” QCL day down on the south coast!

I know most of you were hoping for an exact window, an exact time as to when the fish are guaranteed to be there and biting, if I could tell you that my name would not be Rob, it would be Fish God!  What I can do is help you with how to pick a fishing adventure and the timing of it.  Here is the list:

  1. Choose QCL – If the fish aren’t biting, the service and people are amazing! They have 135 staff to deal with your every need.
  2. Call QCL and ask what dates are available. Remember, any date could have 1 of “those” days, good or bad!
  3. Continue to book the same date or close to the same date, year after year, you will run into one of “those” days eventually.

Two Examples of people who have gone on the same date year after year are below.  One of them produced the greatest day of fishing and one produced the lodge record at QCL:

When our family purchased the Lodge in the year 2000, my best buddies Bryan and Jason Killins were on the first trip of the season, May 29th to June 1st.  They continued on this trip for many years with varying success.  Some years’ crazy amounts of fish, some years, lots of empties in the boat.  On June 2nd, 2015 we got our regular early start, off the dock at the crack of 10am!  Being last off the dock has its advantages…um NO!  But this day did, we were approaching “The Maz” and we saw a massive bait ball with birds feeding on the surface.  We stopped to give it a “try” and 6 hours later, we had landed 76 Chinook with 14 double headers!  The greatest day of my fishing career!

One of the most memorable days for the lodge came in late August 2011, August 20th to be exact.  When our guest Mr. Chris Lewis caught and released an 84 pound Chinook with guide Derek “Demo” Poitras.  Chris has continued to fish this timeframe over the years and as luck would have it, they were graced with another monster of 49 pounds with his son Josh!

Any day can be your day, it can be on your first trip or your 30th trip, but if you don’t book, you will never know!  Hope to see you at the lodge this summer.  All the best and Happy New Year.

 

Rob “Fish God” Clough

(Kind of catchy…might have to drop Red Baron!)


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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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October 4, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Minke whale calfOn Thursday, Sept. 21st, a newborn Minke whale was beached in Naden Harbour on the sandy shore of the Kung village site in Haida Gwaii. Spotted by Andy Adams, caretaker of nearby Samson Lodge, at 10:30 am, he knew he would need a few pairs of hands to get him back into the water. Andy boated down the bay to Queen Charlotte Lodge and asked if we would be able to help. Operations Manager Brad Palmer cleared the rest of the work day so that we could go and assist. What an incredible opportunity! Eight staff members piled into the boat with buckets to see what we could do. The whale was very still when we got there and we were worried that he was sick or injured. He had a few scrapes on his back, which could have resulted from being separated from his mother by a pod of Orcas and chased into the harbour.

Minke whale calfWe’ll never know why he got there but we knew we had to help him. We kept pouring buckets and buckets of water on him to get his temperature down and after a while he perked up a bit and started breathing deeper and moving slightly. He was so young he still had part of his umbilical cord attached and pink pectoral fins. We dug a bit of the sand out from around him to let the water pool there to keep his temperature down as the tide was coming in. High tide was at 2:30 pm, and he was beached right at the high tide line so we knew we only had a brief window of time to get him back in the water. Very carefully we stood in the water with him and repositioned him towards the deeper water. He responded very well and got livelier as the water got deeper around him. We stayed with him in the water while he got his bearings again. In a big burst of energy he flipped his tail and swam out in a small circle, but came right back to us! I guess he wasn’t quite ready to go yet.

Minke whale calfAbout 15 minutes later he made his final exit to the deeper water and stayed around for a few minutes until we couldn’t see him any longer. What an amazing feeling to watch him regain his energy and swim back out into the ocean! What an incredible animal! With a bit of help, we hope he can now find his mother. What an absolute privilege to see a whale up close like that and be able to help him out. We all agreed that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Janelle Stapleton

 

For more information on Minke whales follow this link: http://wildwhales.org/classify/baleen-whales/minke-whale/

Minke whale calf

Minke whale calf


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September 12, 2017 Duane Foerter0

QCL Haida GwaiiAs the Sikorsky winds up and lifts off with our last guests of the summer, there is always a collective sigh of relief among the small group of us left standing at the helipad.  We share high-fives and hugs all ‘round.  Completion of the marathon that is the summer season at QCL is something worth celebrating.  I like to compare it to having company over for a visit… always a great time, lots of fun, delicious food and drink, wonderful stories and at the end, a little exhausting.  It’s a great feeling really.  The silence that remains after that last helicopter leaves is bittersweet.

QCL Main LodgeThe latter days of the 2017 season were as consistent as the rest.  The bulk of salmon were found offshore with the commercial trollers in waters 250 to 400 feet deep.  Interestingly there was a huge mix of species out there.  As expected, there were tons of nice Coho in a wide range of sizes from 6 to 17 pounds.  There were far fewer Pink salmon in the latter weeks but we discovered quite a few Chum; with some chunky big silver ones up to 18 pounds, and we always seem to find the occasional Sockeye in the mix.  While we didn’t encounter any Tyees offshore, QCL anglers were successful at locating enough Chinook salmon to add a couple of them to most fish boxes.  They came in a range of sizes between 14 and 28 pounds and were generally caught at depths from 60 to 160 feet down.

QCL TyeeAnd there are always those anglers who wouldn’t give up on the traditional inshore fishery.  Right through to the closing day, patient anglers were still finding some nice Chinooks in along the rocks and the kelp.  Birds 1 and 2 kept a half dozen boats interested on most mornings and evenings with some nice Chinooks showing up every day.  The arrival of a big Chinook always gets a little more attention and the last 40-pounder of the season was no different.  Fishing from one of the Driftwood boats with QCL veteran Keith Burdett, Kristi Isaac hooked up with a good fish off the east corner of Bird 1 during the final week of the season.  QCL Tyee Chinook SalmonThere was a decent chop coming with the northwesterly breeze and this fish was in no hurry to come to the boat.  But patience paid off and after 20 minutes a stunning big salmon was in the net.  We managed to get down there with the camera in time to document the occasion as Kristi had decided that this big Tyee should be released.  Taped out to 44-pounds and carefully revived & released, it was a fantastic way to cap off another great summer.  Congratulations to Kristi & Keith on a wonderful fish and thanks for giving it a chance to return to the river!

Now the process that we call “rigdown” is well underway.  Cleaning, counting, packing and shipping keep a good-sized crew busy for several days after that helicopter leaves.  The final stage involves disconnecting all the pieces of the marine operation and relocating the barges, floats, docks and breakwaters to safe anchorage for the winter.  Once that’s completed in late September we’re down to the caretaker team to spell each other off through to the new year when we prepare to start all over again!

QCL Halibut FishingSeason 27 will be complete.  It was certainly one of our biggest and busiest ever.  We knew there would be challenges with some of the new program changes this year and there were.  But, thanks to our incredible staff, a very dedicated management team and passionate and supportive ownership, we made it one of our most successful ever, on every level.  We’d like to say a huge Thank You to each and every one.  We couldn’t do it without you!  To our loyal and super-enthusiastic guests, we wish you all a wonderful Fall / Winter / Spring.  Enjoy all those delicious fish dinners and share them with your friends and family.  And remember, every time you pull a piece of fish out of the freezer, there is a story that comes with it!  Be sure to share those as well!


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September 2, 2017 Duane Foerter0

It’s crazy to think that another fishing season is almost in the books. With that being said, fishing is still going strong here at QCL. Although there is still the odd Chinook being picked up inshore, most boats are now spending the majority of the day working “the salmon highway” along the 300-foot contour line. This has resulted in very consistent Coho fishing on a daily basis and on some days the Chinook fishing has been just as good out there, resulting in action-packed fishing days. In that mix of consistent Coho fishing there has been some real lunkers, with several nice mid-teen Cohos hitting the dock last trip. This photo features a gorgeous 17-pounder caught by Arnot T.  Congratulations!  With the calm waters that we have continued to see lately, many nice halibut continue to be caught on a daily basis. All in all, guests, guides, and everyone else involved seem to be very happy with how things are going out on the water!

Today we had a new group of guests arrive for our final weekend trip of the season. Again, the offshore fishing was very productive, especially on the ebb tide. Although the Chinook were fewer in number out there today, a fair number of Chum salmon were caught. These powerful fish often provide an acrobatic and unpredictable fight that our guests really seem to enjoy. With the Coho fishing remaining strong today, there were certainly some real beauties around. The highlight of our day was when one of my guests hooked into a nice fish that took a couple of lengthy runs. I figured that we for sure had a nice Chinook on the line, but to our pleasant surprise it ended up being a large 15 lb Coho. What a fish and what a day!

Tight lines everyone!

“Wacko Jacko”


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August 29, 2017 Duane Foerter0

QCL Salmon FishingAfter an exciting and busy night watching the big fight in the Bell Ringer most guests were ready to go bright and early for 7 am to be first off the dock.

I’d had a quick chat with my guests the night before and decided we were going to start our morning in Yatze bay.  The slight fog was lifting as the sun was starting to poke out. We could see the lighthouse on Shag Rock in the distance as we dropped in.  We were the first boat there. Right as we dropped in we hooked into a coho who launched out of the water multiple times.  Although it slipped the hooks and got away we were optimistic for the rest of the morning.QCL Bell Ringer

We were fortunate enough to hook 3 Chinooks over the next hour and landed 2 beautiful fish. Each guest boated a beautiful fresh Chinook that delivered an exciting fight.

This weekend and the excitement of the lodge guests was amazing with the great weather, the big fight and steady salmon fishing.  Weekends like this go to show why us guides spend the whole off-season talking about QCL and our time up in Haida Gwaii!

Ryan ‘R’ Kelly

 


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