Best described as a race between two creatures, this fable outlines the importance of patience and consistency in life. The season has been off to a great start, even though the salmon have not yet returned in the usual numbers that were seen in seasons past. As guests flock from all corners of the country and even world in search of the elusive Tyee salmon. Aptly named ‘Walter’ by those in the know.
The one thing that remains constant is the amenities and service that compliment pristine wildlife, and bottom fishing. Whether it’s a super pod of orca moving through Virago Sound hunting in a uniform line, Humpback whales feeding in 30 feet of water off Bird 1, or Dall’s porpoises breaching an arm’s reach from the boat. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze. All of these natural wonders come as a result of the patience and consistency that are required to locate and land Walter. There have been several sightings of him so far and as we remain hopeful that these newly arrived northwesterly winds will bring with it good fortune. The one thing that remains constant is experiencing fishing first class.
All this blue sky is a little overwhelming to most of us up here! The temperature hit 21 degrees yesterday and we can hardly stand it! (But I’m sure we’ll adapt!) As we hoped and expected, the northwesterlies have been pushing bait into the sound and our salmon fishing is picking up noticeably every day. Although it’s been a slow start throughout the north coast of Haida Gwaii, we’re seeing an abundance of herring and needlefish and the Chinooks are coming along. Finding them is a test for many anglers though.
Today Parker Point lit up nicely during the early flood tide with some nice mid-twenties Chinooks picked up. But at the same time, guides are finding feeders offshore in 150-250 feet of water, fishing anchovies down 50-80 feet. Sporadic salmon action but usually productive for the persistent! A beautiful 28-pounder was released yesterday by Christopher D while fishing with guide Tristan O’Brian. That’s a nice fish boys, well done!
We’re starting to see all the other salmon species showing up now with some mid-teen-sized Chum hitting the dock and reports of Pinks and a couple of Sockeye. Every once in a while you get a surprise and that happened to day for guide Luke Wagner when his guest Nicole landed a stunning Coho that tipped the scale at 12-pounds! A nice big one for so early in the season!
Our 16th Annual Kingfisher Derby wrapped up on Sunday with the usual suspense. With an additional 7 anglers signing on at the last minute the purse grew nicely and the grand prize for largest Chinook released bumped up to $55,000! Phil Mudge, fishing with guide Kevin Clough at Bird 2, was leading after Day 2 with a nice Tyee that scored 31.36. But we knew there were more Tyees hanging around out there. Sunday morning broke and around 0800 Randy Rognlin, fishing with guide Matt Burr at Cape Naden, registered a beauty that scored 32.91, taking the lead. Later in the morning a non-derby angler held up a nice big Tyee at Parker Point that was even bigger, just a reminder that no one was quitting before the final bell at 1900 on Sunday night.
In the end however, Randy’s Tyee held to take the top prize and the Bell Ringer was rocking! Derby Master Mike Reading presented cheques to all the winners with Phil Mudge getting $30000 with his 31.36, Chris Waters got $15000 for a 27.42 and 4th prize of $7000 went to Mike Lane for a Chinook scoring 26.8. Interestingly the largest killed fish also scored 26.8 to take the $10000 prize for that category. Another $7000 was awarded in day prizes. A big thank you to all participants for coming up and we’re happy to hear that most of them are planning to return next year to try again! It’s always a fun and exciting weekend!
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.
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 and 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!
The 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!
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.
That 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!
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.
On 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 happening. 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.
A big thank you goes out to all who participated 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!
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.
The 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!
Moderate 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.
Well its finally here, the first day of the season! All the hard work and anticipation has been for this moment, when the first group of guests show up on property and we finally get to head out on the water. For us returning guides it’s back to business as usual as we take our seat and settle into the best office in the world with a view that’s nothing short of world class. The sound of the helicopter flying in is a familiar one, the look of excitement and anticipation as people walk down the dock is contagious, and there is nothing that beats hearing the fleet of boats powering up as they leave the harbour to take eager fishermen out on the water. To me this is familiarity, this place is home, these waters are calming. I look forward to all the new people I’ll be meeting this summer, all the familiar faces that make the pilgrimage to this special place every year and spending time on the water with the friends I’ve made over the years. I look forward to a season of telling stories, hearing new ones and most importantly making new ones.
Welcome to the 2018 season at QCL in Haida Gwaii. Let’s get after it, and go get ‘em!!
We at QCL are in support of conservation measures designed to enhance and promote our fisheries. We know that our guests have the same respect for the resource; we hear it all the time.
Effective June 1st 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have updated Chinook Retention limits to 1 (one) Chinook per day and Possession 2 (two) Chinook for your trip. Overall Salmon limits have not changed. You can still catch 4 Salmon per day (of which 1 (one) can be a Chinook) and retain in your possession 8 Salmon for your trip (of which 2 (two) can be Chinooks).
Your time on the water is not reduced nor is your ability to fish for the amazing Chinook Salmon. Access to Halibut and Ling Cod is also available to round out your catch.
We hope that you will join us in supporting these enhancement measures announced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to assist our Chinook stocks to rebound in numbers.
As always, we look forward to spending some time with you on your upcoming trip!
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.
Published in the Vancouver Sun on: May 12, 2018 | Last Updated: May 16, 2018 3:02 PM PDT