Can you say 78 pounds! What a fish! Getting up early to fish that 6:30 tide paid off big time for Trevor and Brad, out with Robbie C this morning at Parker Point. A beautiful fish, well played and carefully released, is a joy to behold! Well done guys! and Congratulations Trevor! It’s a great day for fishing… at QCL Haida Gwaii!
Fishing derbies can often bring out a secretive and overly competitive nature in many anglers regardless of what grand prizes are at stake. Here at Queen Charlotte Lodge we host a few derbies each year which often include both guided as well as unguided guests and we try to eliminate these negative aspects about the sport.
Our most popular event is the annual Kingfisher Derby. The Kingfisher Derby has a large emphasis on catch and release of large Chinook salmon. Every year our guide team has a derby amongst themselves for the single largest Chinook guided into during the entire season, whether it is caught and released or retained. This derby includes a small cash buy in but the emphasis for us involved is to have fun, continue to always work as a team, to always think about sharing information as the guest experience comes first and again to have fun. The winner has bragging rights until next season.
Currently QCL is hosting the North American Fishing Classic. Today we wrapped up day two and guests and guides alike are grinding the kelp beds hard, searching for those monster hogs to take the daily prize for largest Chinook caught. There have been some beauties caught on both days so far with several in the 30 and 40 pound class. Spirits are high as there are still two days left.
Today a non-derby angler, guided by QCL guide Coady D, caught and released a beauty 51 pounder – a stunning gold pin winning, 5 Bell Ringer, solid silver slab of a fish! Well done guys, thanks for putting it back! Fishing is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing sport shared by friends and family alike. But sometimes a little well-intended competition never hurts to bring out the positive and hopeful passion of an angler!
Keep your rods bent, nets ready and hang on for the ride!
Light to moderate westerly’s through much of the past week have turned out excellent fishing opportunities for QCL guests. We’ve been doing very well at all the favourite spots; Klashwun Pt., Eagle Rock and Bird One have been producing steadily for both Chinook and Coho. Fishing halfway down in 70 feet of water, anchovies, spoons and herring have produced equally. The late stages of the flood tide have been especially good at Bird 2 and Cape Naden. Approaching the first of August one change that we’re noticing is pockets of pink salmon; it is one of those years when we should see lots of them!
The Bell Ringer has certainly been a rockin’ place these days with lots of big fish either coming to the scale or being reported as released! Young Henry P. followed up his 40 pound catch last week by releasing a big beauty on Thursday that taped out to 46 pounds! How many 10 year olds have caught two Tyees over 40? Wow! Great job Henry and Scott! Manitoban angler Roland M. had the good karma going for him (along with a good guide in Jackson Jane!) last week, releasing a 37 lb. Tyee on Tuesday, a 42 pounder on Wednesday and finishing off with a 38 pound release on Thursday! Magnificent fishing Roland! Thanks for taking the lead in our catch & release efforts!
Sunday seemed to bring in a whole new run of Chinooks and QCL anglers really ramped it up in response. We saw several nice Tyees in the thirty’s and lots of perfect 20-somethings to take home! Bruno G boated a 40 pounder, Norm D landed a 42 and Mike H released a stunning fish that taped out to 44 pounds! The moderate tides and flat seas on Sunday created perfect conditions for halibut hunting and our guests soaked it all up! Ten fish over 80 pounds were caught and released on the mid-day slack with lots of awesome keepers in the 30 to 60 pound class coming back to the dock. Biggest fish of the day was monster reeled up by Trevor H. that measured 77 inches for a weight of 244 pounds! Dustin M recorded a big catch on Friday that scored 234 with a length of 76 inches! Other huge catches on Sunday included a 198 for Matt B., a 180 for Aaron J., and a 120 for Aaron R.! A couple of our lady anglers, Sharma C and Darlene S-F, did a great job hauling up an 87 pounder to the top for photos before turning it back as well! It’s amazing to see these huge fish at the boat and to be able to release them so successfully! Well done guys & gals!
Lucky for us the fantastic fishing achievements of July continue to roll in! It’s almost a new surprise every day! Through a real mixed bag of weather conditions this past week QCL guests have found exciting fishing all over the grounds. The current hot spot… Mazzaredo Islands! We generally drive right by these quiet little kelp beds on our way to the Bird Rocks or Klashwun Point. Historically we fish them when the seas further out are a little too lumpy. But they always hold fish and those who decide to spend some time there are often well rewarded! We’ve seen a lot of fish taken there this week with some giants in the mix.
Fishing with guide Kingsley (Panda) Bryce, Henri A. brought a big beauty to the boat Monday, taping it out to 46 pounds before carefully releasing it. Driftwood guest Tim A. landed another huge Chinook that tipped the scale at 46 pounds and there were a couple of others in the 30’s caught on Tuesday. But these large fish weren’t confined to the Mazz, with several Tyees taken throughout the grounds. Perennial Driftwood guest Jim S. and his son started off their trip Monday with Scott boating a magnificent 48 pounder! And on Tuesday 10-year old Henry P., fishing with his father Scott and guide Oliver Schmaler, did a fantastic job of playing a huge Chinook to the boat that tipped the scale at 40 pounds! Great fish Henry, we’re sure your Grandpa Herb is very proud of you!
We always hope to see some fish in the “extreme” category and on Monday California angler Neilson T. and his wife Jane were fishing with guide Kashes Redfern at Parker Point. Nielson’s first fish of the trip took a whole herring off the back rod at 10 pulls just seconds into their tack. It was a tough battle but on Monday night at the Bell Ringer, his 64 pound Chinook got quite a lot of attention! What a magnificent fish!
On the weekend Kelsea FM claimed the prize in her family’s annual fishing derby, boating a wonderful big salmon on the final day with guide Luke (Skywalker) Wagner. They taped it out to 52 pounds before reviving and releasing it. Congratulations Kelsea! What a fantastic way to finish a beautiful day on the water! (made all the more special when she had her husband Fred and their two small children on board to share the experience!)
Halibut fishing this past week has been exceptional with lots of nice fish coming to the boat. Several fish in the 30 to 70 pound class were taken and we found quite a number of big ones out there! Mark M released a 100 pounder, Bryan H a 141, Robert D a 163 and Jonathan B with Colin R teaming up to land a 180 pound halibut! And guide Matt Brown kept his guests busy on Sunday – Dale J reeling up not one, not two, but 3 halibut over 100 pounds! What a workout! Dale’s fish taped out to 103, 109 and 142 pounds! Talk about a sweet spot – they seem to have found one!
Looking ahead to this weekend the tides will moderate to only about a 7 foot change and we’re expecting only light variable winds after a little south to southeasterly kick on Friday.
Today marked another amazing day in Haida Gwaii, not because of the weather or not because of the fishing but because we are so lucky to experience this beautiful island everyday. I always tell guests that it’s called fishing and not catching. There are many days where it seems like you can put anything shiny in the water and it will work. Today all fish caught were hard earned but lots of great fish hit the dock!
Luckily with each tide there can be a new crop of fish, providing the chance to catch that fish of a dream. Today while fishing Bird Rock 2 we watched a young humpback feeding, he worked the bay and then turned around and decided to put on a show with a full jumping corkscrew. Moments like this are what I remember at the end of the day and make me feel lucky to spend the summer in Haida Gwaii. Tomorrow brings new hope of catching big Chinooks and monster Halibut.
We don’t have the answer to that question but over the years we sure have come to know a few of these fanatical anglers! They are on a perpetual quest, ever hoping to outdo their best catch. Some of these characters become fishing guides and take their quest to the next level – hoping to produce a better result every time they go on the water.
Such is the case with QCL guide Kraig (KoneZone) Coulter, a seasoned professional guide with years of experience fishing in northern Ontario, Alberta and here in Haida Gwaii. And when matched up with guests of a similar mindset, a perfect storm of fishing effort erupts! They are always the first on the water and the last boat in. The weather is not a factor and the sea conditions only make them more determined.
On the weekend Kraig was fishing with a couple of fellows from Montana; Bruce Severson and George Best are two great guys that have been up here to see us several times. They’ve shared some fabulous days on the water together. It’s no coincidence that Bruce (and Kraig) landed the largest salmon at QCL last year, a stunning chrome Chinook that taped out to 68 pounds!) Saturday afternoon was blustery, winds out of the northwest at around 15 knots and the air just a little misty. Four kilometers offshore at Kraig’s favourite halibut hole, the sea was rolling slightly with a bit of chop on top. High tide had passed and the ebb was underway. They had dropped down 295 feet on either side of the boat, a traditional jig on one side and a 16/0 circle hook baited with the head of a pink salmon on the other. While Kraig back-trolled to hold the boat in position, Bruce and George bounced the bait just off the bottom.
Bruce’s salmon head setup hooked up first, the rod dipping sharply as something far below took hold and tried to take off with it. The take was so strong that he had to rest the grip of the 6-foot heavy action rod on the gunwale of the boat so he didn’t get hauled overboard! Halibut tend to inhale their food, sucking it into their mouth for a taste before actually biting on. The salmon head passed the taste test and Bruce was holding on tight as the 80 pound Tuffline surged off of the reel. Adjusting the drag to slow it down only confirmed that they were messing with a serious fish down there! The rod arched over the side and Bruce’s back was already feeling the strain of what was going to be a long battle! After 15 minutes of give and take, it was time to share the load and Kraig took the rod to give Bruce a break. He was able to get some line up but the fish was still far from the surface. George took his turn and after reeling through the 3-man roster a few times, they finally saw a huge dark shadow begin to appear below the boat. Kraig called the Fishmaster to standby in case they needed assistance. After 90 minutes of a hard fought tug-of-war the massive green-brown head of a giant halibut broke the surface. The first thing they noticed was the precarious state of the big circle hook, looped through the fish’s lip like the boldest piercing. They had no idea how that little strip of skin, perhaps a half inch thick, could hold up against the strain they put on that fishing line! Once they’d seen the fish Kraig called on Shooter to get out there for some photos to capture the event. During the 15 minute wait the halibut began to descend and they decided not to test it too much for fear of breaking it off. With Shooter on the scene with the camera, it took them another 30 minutes of tough pulling to bring it back to the surface.
Kraig has a bit of a reputation for catching big “butts” but this fish was extraordinary. The head was absolutely huge and it’s wide open mouth looked like it could swallow a football! It rolled over to its white side and suddenly the enormity of this halibut was plain to see. As he carefully led the giant alongside the 24-foot aluminum boat, he knew that this fish was well beyond the size of any halibut he’d ever seen before. Of course, every fisherman wants to know how big his fish is and these guys were especially curious. How do you describe a catch like this? Fortunately there is a chart published by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), formulated from logged commercial halibut catches, that gives us an indication of the weight of a halibut based on it’s length.
The obvious challenge… how to measure a barn-door-sized fish, held on the surface by only a little hook through a thin strip of skin? At any moment this fish could easily break off with a twist of its giant body in the water. Amazingly, this particular giant was extremely well behaved. Eventually they were able to get it horizontal alongside the boat and, after inconclusive attempts with the harpoon shaft, and the net handle, they decided to put a line on its tail and hopefully hold it flat. That took some doing but finally they managed to get a rope over the tail, which was 22 inches across! While Bruce held its tail just under the water and Kraig (with fingers crossed) managed the head with the circle hook, George used a salmon rod as a measuring stick. Flexing the rod to follow the curve of the fish, they marked the spot on the rod and then measured with the tape.
The number they got was “off the chart” that is stocked in QCL boats so they measured again to double check. Stretched alongside them was a halibut 90 inches in length! Seven and a half feet! That was a full 10 inches longer than the current lodge record fish, landed just a month earlier. They had no idea what the weight would be but the 80-inch fish was 277 pounds. Not until they arrived back at the lodge would the internet tell them their halibut would weigh approximately 405 pounds!
With measurements and photos completed it was time to let this big female return to the depths. She could produce about 4 million eggs when she spawns next winter! With Bruce on the tail line Kraig easily removed the circle hook from the halibut’s lip. There was a moment of hesitation but once that great head pointed toward the deep there was no stopping this fish! Like a giant spring the fish’s body flexed and Bruce’s grip on the rope let go. The tail slapped the surface like a humpback whale, splashing water everywhere, and the rope briefly followed, singing over the gunwale as this gentle giant made her way towards the bottom. What a fabulous moment to share on the water! The three exhausted anglers sat back and reflected on what they had just experienced. It was the stuff of dreams, a fish they could not have imagined crossing paths with! And yet it was over, the halibut returned to her place down below and the men left with memories and a story to share for the rest of their days. I guess that’s what it is with fishermen.
While the 2015 fishing season to this point has been a full-on flood of incredible feeder Chinooks, we’ve seen a dramatic shift to a more traditional fishery this week. There are still 15 to 20 pounders out there, but fewer of them. The arrival over the past 7 days of larger salmon, many of them Tyee-class, has really got a buzz goin’ on around here! It feels more “normal”!
The Tyee bell has been getting a good workout with beautiful salmon over 30 pounds coming to the dock every night and a number of nice ones reported as Catch and Release. We’ve recorded 20 Tyees over 40 pounds this week and 6 of those were over 50! Bird Two has turned out a good number of these fish, particularly for our guests staying right there aboard the Driftwood! John B, fishing unguided early Tuesday morning, brought a handsome 51 pounder to the scale about the same time that fellow DW guest Peter R was weighing in a nice 43 lb Tyee. Right after lunch Gerard B was fishing the east point of Bird Two with partner Norman C when he hooked up with heavy fish that set the bar for the season so far – a stunning big Chinook that tipped the scale at 58 pounds! Congratulations guys!
QCL guide Ryan Winger really had it goin’ on this week, putting his guests onto 3 giant salmon. Caleb S hooked up a monster Chinook on Monday which put up a huge fight but when it finally came to the boat, the hooks were down too deep and they were unable to release it. Ringing that bell 5 times for his 55 pound Tyee certainly set the tone for the rest of the trip! Fishing partner John R managed to release a beauty on Wednesday that taped out to 45 pounds and then on Thursday, topped that with a C&R 50 pounder! Not a bad week at the office Ryan! Great job guys!
On Wednesday Paul & Cyn were enjoying an afternoon fish with their granddaughters when Cyn set the hook on a solid Chinook at Bird 2. So accustomed to passing the rod off to her guests, Cyn was suddenly confronted with the prospect of playing a big Chinook herself! And of course she handled the fish masterfully, playing it to the net while their excited young passengers cheered her on! She and Paul did a quick measurement and released an awesome Tyee that taped out to 55 pounds! Congratulations Cyn! Welcome to the Club! (And, for those of you who know about the QCL tradition, she did complete the heart eating ceremony without a hitch! Albeit with a substitute heart!)
So much news to share and so little time! Stay tuned for the next chapter of QCL 2015!
What a day! Big fish have arrived on our grounds! The calm water made running the kelp easy and productive. Both today and yesterday there were some real cannons caught. My guest Matt released a thick 36 pounder yesterday and lodge guest Caleb S. (guided by Ryan Winger) landed a hog weighing in at 55 lbs!
Biggest fish of the season came in today, caught by unguided Driftwood guests… weighing in at 58 lbs! There were even more sizzlers with a beauty 51, 47, 45 and a few in the 30’s as well! It’s exciting to see fish of this calibre beginning to arrive! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will hold!
At the midpoint of the 2015 season it’s nice to see the big Tyees starting to roll into our fishing grounds! We’ve enjoyed all the amazing action of thousands of feeder Springs over the past several weeks – a quality fishery that will be talked about for years – but it sure is nice to see those truly awesome giants over forty pounds!
The weekend started off with a bang as Tom T. boated a stunning fish at Klashwun Pt. with guide Torsten Novak that tipped the scale at 42 pounds. Eric P. and his guide Oliver Massey showed up at the Bell Ringer with a stockier fish that actually weighed exactly the same – 42 lb. Seeing big fish on the dock on the first evening sure gets anglers riled up for some exciting fishing through the weekend! Out on the Driftwood, anchored in the sweet spot at Bird One, Bill H. landed a stunning fish on Saturday that came to the scale at 47 pounds. Fellow DW angler Roberto F. boated a 48 pounder at B-Two first thing Saturday morning with assistance from Fishmaster Clay Novak. Those are awesome fish guys – Congratulations!
Sunday morning found Coady D. fishing with his family off the wall at Bird Rock when he hooked up with a heavy fish that gave him quite a tussle, especially since it became foul-hooked part way through the battle. But after 20 minutes his Dad was able to get the net under it and their cheers could be heard from Parker Point! After carefully taping it out to 47 pounds, Coady turned the big silver giant back and finally took a breath in the realization of what he’d just experienced – the fish of a lifetime that he’ll remember forever! Great job and thanks for letting that big fish go!
We saw several nice halibut on the dock, a number of them in the 40 to 60 pound class. And the Coho numbers have been increasing steadily over the past couple of weeks with most anglers now finding their limit for the trip. The Fishburn guys, fishing with guide Matt Brown, enjoyed some memorable halibut catches, releasing 90 and 120 pounders before boating a hefty 55 to take home!
This week we’re enjoying light variable winds, scattered rain squalls and flat water. Temps have dropped down somewhat to about 17 degrees. But looking ahead to the weekend, the northwesterlies will return with sunshine and temperatures rising to 23 degrees. Back to the beach for the crew and some blue skies and surfy seas for the anglers!
Calm seas and overcast skies made for an excellent day to be on the water! There were a few dandy springs taken at Bird Rock 1 this morning as well as a good snap bite at Cape Edenshaw. A low-pressure system has moved in and given us some much needed rain. This should get some new fish moving into our fishing grounds. As the day went on the fishing became a bit scratchy. This could be due to large tidal swings and an algae bloom on our grounds at the moment. Things should bounce right back tomorrow and this rain could bring in some more chrome!