After 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.
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!
Last 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!
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!
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!
This past weekend trip was full of good times, as there were some fish around to be caught and the Bell Ringer was quite lively on a nightly basis. The fish coming in consisted of a combination of nice Chinook, Coho, and Halibut. Many boats decided to spend a good majority of their days offshore, targeting Coho with the odd Chinook and Pink salmon in the mix out there as well. This style of fishing certainly produced the most consistent action for anglers. Inshore, the waters surrounding Cape Naden and Bird Rock 1 produced some nice Chinook for those who chose to “stick, stay, and make it pay”, particularly through the afternoon low slack tide. This fishing was quite interesting at times, as it was often a race to sneak the fish in past a couple of hungry sea lions.
Today we had a new group of guests come in for our weekday trip and they were all very excited to get out on the water! While on our way out, my guests and I decided that today we were going to stick inshore in hopes of hooking into some large migratory Chinook salmon. After making this decision, I knew exactly where I wanted to drop the lines. A few minutes later we had three lines in the water at Bird Rock 1. As the day passed by, boats would come and go, with many choosing to make their way offshore in search of Coho and Halibut. After a slow start we decided to grab some lunch at the MV Driftwood. Then, following a short discussion, we decided to keep sticking it out inshore and back we went to Bird 1. Shortly after, we managed to put a nice 20-pounder in the box. With the low slack tide approaching I had a feeling that this was a sign that something good was about to happen. All of a sudden, right on top of the slack tide, our back line had a hard hit and my guest Dale was hooked into a real screamer. While clearing the other 2 lines we hooked a second fish that hit while I was popping the line out of the downrigger clip. Both of my guests were now into a couple beauties, with one screaming line off the bow and the other off the stern. After a couple of fun filled and chaotic fights this father-son duo managed to land their double header. In addition, Dale’s fish ended up being a 34 lb hawg! Although he had every intention to release any Tyee that he might catch on his trip, this one was hooked far too well for that to be a possibility. Regardless, he and and his group members were quite excited later on back at the Bell Ringer!
We are all looking forward to the remainder of the trip!
It’s “Special Combo” fishing at QCL these days! The return of more southerly weather has sent many QCL anglers offshore to enjoy a totally mixed bag of fishing adventures. While we’re still finding some nice Chinooks inshore, the angling opportunities found out in water depths over 200 feet are amazing. We’ve put quite a lot of effort into mapping these offshore fishing grounds in recent years and we’re certainly seeing the results.
We’re blessed with a huge selection of underwater structure out there. We’ve discovered that they it not only holds traditional bottom fish like halibut and lingcod, but tends to help anglers target on the migrating schools of salmon species as well. Underwater “hills and valleys” provide reference points that we use in trolling at a range of depths – generally from 50 to 120 feet down – and QCL anglers are finding all 5 species of salmon. The traditional target fish for our offshore trolling has been coho but down a little deeper we’re getting into beautiful 15-25 pound Chinooks as well. And while we’re out there, it’s so easy to just take a little break from trolling and drop a jig down on one of these hilltops for nice halibut, rockfish and lingcod.
Today saw a mix of light variable winds which allowed QCL guests and guides to fish all corners and everywhere in between on all of our fishing grounds, both inshore and offshore. Chinook fishing close in to the kelp and rock structure is still producing results but at a slower pace. With patience and willingness to stay at one spot, most anglers will be rewarded when the bite finally does turn on. Get your lines back in the water as quickly as you can though and try to hook up again because these are mostly snap bites, lasting only a short period and you may have a chance at only a couple of fish at a time. The bonus though is that the average size of these Chinook are larger than the average size from earlier in the year with a chance at a fish of a lifetime. Coho fishing offshore is still producing results in the 160 to 300 foot lines while still trolling fairly shallow.
It was changeover day and with my new guests for the trip aboard Grady 114 we headed out to the fishing grounds. The water was in great condition and the starting options were endless. With only a few boats at Cape Naden we dropped in and set the gear. Over the radio I heard of a few caught here before we arrived and was hoping we could still cash in on the bite. After a couple of passes without a touch and without seeing any other boat hookup I was starting to think we missed our chance at the early afternoon bite.
After an hour and thinking about a potential move, possibly offshore to find some Coho, the port rod goes off. With two big heavy slams of the rod tip the down rigger clip pops and line starts peeling. We’re off to the races boys! My guest carefully picked up the rod and let the fish continue to head for Alaska. Quickly we got to a point where I had to start reversing to chase this fish down. The tension on the drag was set just right and there didn’t seem to be any slow down at all. A bit faster on the chase and finally the line slowed down but was still creeping off the reel. This is a good one guys, don’t start reeling until this fish stops taking line! With well over half of the spool of line being pulled out to the open ocean my Islander finally stopped letting out line. I watched the rod tip as my guest was about to start reeling when one big head shake pulled the rod tip down and the the line went limp. Heartbreaking. Potential fish of a lifetime?? Who knows. Didn’t see it once. Will never know. But it was fun while it lasted. We re-grouped, carried on and shared a high five over the one that got away. Makes for a good fishing story anyways.
Till next time…
Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.
After a really nice stretch of northwesterly weather – sunny skies and some lumpy seas – QCL guests have been enjoying some pretty fine fishing action this week. Both bait and salmon moved back in closer to shore where we’re accustomed to finding them and the results showed up on the catch board as very good numbers of chunky twenty-something Chinooks. While the Tyee bell hasn’t been ringing quite as often as usual, the fish boxes going home are nicely packed with those QCL portion-cut vac-pacs for our guests to share over the coming months!
Beautiful calm seas on Friday found many of our boats fishing offshore again in the 130-200-foot zone, and having a blast hooking up with lots of aggressive Coho mixed with enough Chinooks to keep them on their guard, all in the top 50 feet. Of course we’re starting to see the “silver princes of August” – those stunning teen-sized Coho that often smash the bait as soon as it hits the water. Some nice 14-15 pounders have shown up at the Bell Ringer to grab everyone’s attention! Of course we’re also weeding through a ton of Pink salmon as well this season – one way to ensure your bait is always fresh!
This weekend we’re on the flipside of the weather with moderate southeast & southwest winds, along with the rainfall that usually comes with. The outlook for next week is light southerly winds going to moderate southwest by Thursday. Tides are moderating with changes of only 8-10 feet.
We love sharing the news of what’s up at QCL and this summer we’re having some fun “up” above – capturing new views of the lodge and the grounds with a camera drone. Look for awesome new video content coming to the website this fall! In the meantime, here are some still frames to share our new point of view!
Over the last few days we have been getting some constant Northwest winds. Although it makes for some more difficult fishing conditions we find that the wind and water mixing blows in bait and salmon, and this time the winds did not disappoint.
This morning the seas were flattened out while the tide was flooding and as we made our way out to Bird 2 the sky was clear and the sun was just poking out on the horizon. As we came off plane we saw another one of the Grady Whites hook up deep in the bay and one of the Broadwaters get into a double header right off the point. As we dropped in things were looking good.
Although it took a few passes on the inside wall until we hooked up we got into a nice fish eventually. As a few more boats showed up we decided to pull gear and run to some less crowded fishing grounds. Up in Yatze bay we ended up hooking into quality Chinooks on every pass. In the wind and waves I always find it most effective to drift, pick up and run back up to drift again and today that was the ticket. We had all our Chinooks and a couple of good Coho before lunch and just drifted for the rest of the day.
Even though the northwest winds can be difficult, they are always welcomed!
August has roared in with the welcome return of some northwesterly winds and it’s marvelous! What we generally think of as the prevailing summer winds have been strangely absent this year. Weeks of southerlies – swinging from southeast to southwest – have made for nice gentle seas and easy access to the expansive fishing grounds. But northwest winds serve to drive the bait to the northern shores of Haida Gwaii and into our home waters of Virago Sound in particular. And we all know that where there’s bait… there’s great fishing! Of course we won’t sneeze at the gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures that are mighty uplifting for all of the staff around the lodge as well!
As a result we’re quite happy to report that the fishing has turned on quite nicely this week. Chinook action has moved back onshore and QCL anglers are finding lots of nice chunky salmon in all the traditional haunts – Bird 2 has seen some nice hot bites in recent days, the waters from Cape Naden to Bird 1 have produced some Tyee action and the kelp beds in front of Yatze bay are providing pretty steady results, especially on the flood tides. Derald W boated a stunning big Tyee while fishing with veteran QCL guide Ryan Winger on Tuesday. He always tries to release his big fish but unfortunately this one couldn’t be revived and at the Bell Ringer it tipped the scale at 42 pounds. We also saw several nice Tyees in the 30-plus range on the board this past week. We’ve been trolling up Coho all over the offshore waters recently but are now seeing decent numbers showing up closer to shore. The average size is still 7-9 pounds but we are getting some beauties over 10 pounds starting to appear, as we would expect for this point of the season.
The halibut fishing continues to be a nice reliable part of the experience and lodge guests have been happily picking up some nice “chickens” for the fish box while releasing a number of big females over 60 pounds. Andre C released a giant that taped out to just over 100 lb., Eric S. reeled up a 134 and Haydn S. got a serious workout pulling up an 82 pounder followed by a bigger one that taped out to 123! Lots of great fish stories go along with these catches to be sure.
Looking ahead, the northwesterlies are forecast to continue right through next week so we’ll keep the sunscreen on the table and be ready in the Bell Ringer to celebrate many more great catches! Stay tuned!
Halibut fishing has become more popular than ever at QCL and with good reason. “Back in the day” most of our guests picked up a couple of random halibut while mooching for salmon and they were happy with that; not going offshore to jig for halibut meant more time for catching salmon! With the introduction of GPS mapping of the fishing grounds many anglers have found their own favourite fishing holes and return to them year after year. Releasing all of those big breeding females over 75-pounds has been a good thing too. As a result, many QCL guests make fishing for halibut and lingcod a priority during their stay.
We know that there are some big fish out there; some really big fish. It’s not unusual for us to see a number of halibut in excess of 100-pounds released every week. And sometimes they are massive – over 6-feet in length. Well last week, working with some largish tides, lodge guest Derek Benson and his father spent some time in a couple of boats with friends, fishing offshore in the hunt for a big halibut. They tried out a few of our favourite waypoints but found their best luck over a hump 215 feet down. There was a fair bit of excitement when they returned to the lodge and shared their many photos and videos of the results!
Derek tells the story pretty well!
“We pulled up to our GPS mark at “Hali-wood”, knowing we were in a good spot from the sizable halibut lost there the day before. Dropping back down to the same spot, my Dad hooks up. Thirty minutes later we are cheering over the 254 lb. halibut lying alongside of the boat. I had laid my 7-foot rod down to her and it was 6” short of the tip. After a quick release, I reset on the GPS mark and dropped the same jig back down. The fight started as I was adjusting the Lowrance sounder with one hand and jigging the rod with my other. After 15 minutes of not raising the halibut up an inch, I asked my Dad to get the boat in gear and start circling around her. My plan was to get momentum on the halibut to help angle her up, rather than trying to lift her straight up, with the boat in neutral. An hour later (and 30 corkscrews later!) we gasp in disbelief at the width and length of this fish. Again I laid my 7-foot rod on top of the fish, and there was still nearly a foot of fish extending past the rod! It then took another 30 minutes to unhook it and 3 more times to the surface. I was using my Shimano Teramar rod and Shimano Talica 16 2-speed, a tuna setup but multi-purpose. Measuring out to 94 ½ inches it converted to 474 lb. on the IPHC chart. This was definitely the fish of a lifetime, and I’m happy to say, it was safely released.”
Congratulations to Derek and his crew on a great angling achievement! Two years ago we recorded a fish for Bruce Severson and George Best that measured out to 90 inches in length for a score of 405 pounds and we doubted that we would ever see another fish in that league. This one certainly is and we’ll be happy to add Derek’s 474-pounder to the QCL record book! We’ve seen a lot of great fish up here and we’re always in awe of the quality of our fishery! Every time a new record is set, we’re happy to celebrate it!