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January 16, 2023 Bre Guolo0

The beginning of a new calendar year always feels like something new is about to happen.  Whether that’s true or not, it’s always a little bit exciting.

Here at QCL it creates a buzz; but it’s not like at the start of a race… it’s more like the final leg!  We’ve been working on our 2023 season since September; a lot of plans have been made, and now it’s time to execute.  Opening Day is officially in sight!

We have some practice at this… it will be our 33rd season!  And over those years, how things have changed!  In the early days of fishing lodges on BC’s north coast, it really was all about the fish.  Transportation was a challenge, comforts were few, food was often basic, but the fishing was good!  Potential guests would tell us: “As long as I have a good boat and lots of bait, I would sleep in a tent!”  The success of their trip was mostly defined by the number of pounds in their box.  But as word spread and more folks wanted to check it out, we soon discovered that they would be much happier in a well-appointed log cabin with a warm fireplace!  So, that’s where we started.

Over time, we’ve made many changes and have come a long way.  New and varied accommodations have created a range of venues offering something for everyone; from the extraordinary opportunity to stay right on the fishing grounds aboard the MV Driftwood, to enjoying the convenience of a comfortable room in the Main Lodge to private, tailor-made luxury in the Totem House.  We’re constantly upgrading our boat fleet to provide the best on-the-water experience for our guests and offering more and improved options in fish processing. On the hospitality side, we now offer dining in at least seven different venues and work with several BC suppliers to deliver top quality groceries to our QCL kitchens every week.

Huge strides in our transportation program let us deliver a full complement of guests from Vancouver to the Lodge in less than 4 hours and have them out fishing within 30 minutes of arrival (if they like)!

While the scale and scope of QCL has certainly grown and evolved over the past 30+ years, we’ve worked very hard to retain the most important ingredient in our recipe. Back when we had only 48 guests and half that many staff, we always regarded visitors to the Lodge as our guests.  They were never customers or clients.  They were our guests in our house and every one of our staff understood that, treating them accordingly.  If there is one rule that dictates our relationship with our clientele, that is it.  These days we certainly have more guests and ample more staff but that connection between them is paramount.  It has grown and evolved to create something that we call the QCL Experience, a very exceptional combination of friendship, adventure, wilderness, comfort, and fun in a truly unique and magical part of the world.  Many people first come here for the fishing, but it’s the QCL Experience that brings them back.

And the fishing is still a big deal!  Being in the gateway to the north Pacific always has the unique benefits of favourable ocean currents, abundant food supply, major migration routes for salmon and year-round habitat for groundfish.  QCL anglers continue to enjoy excellent angling opportunities and most always go home with as much fish as they want.

However, we recognize that the earth is in a state of constant change that affects everything we do.  The health of the oceans and of the lands adjacent are part of a delicate balancing act that we all have a part in.  In recent years we’ve seen increased awareness and interest among our guests, who have come to love these places immensely and are concerned about them.  We have many more conversations about the food chain, ecosystems, the life cycles of salmon, and the abundance of whales and herring.  It’s great to see this engagement in what’s so important to us all.  We encourage our guests and staff to learn more, to get involved and support organizations working to preserve habitat and rehabilitate species. The local Haida people are also engaged in this area, and we will be working with them more in the future to learn, to educate and practice good stewardship of the local ecosystems and environment.  Raising awareness among people who have been part of the QCL Experience is the best first step in preserving it.  Remember, we’re all in this together!

We look forward to seeing you back in Haida Gwaii this summer. The countdown to opening day is on!

 


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December 23, 2022 Bre Guolo0

Happy Holidays + New Year to all of you, our incredible Guests!

This is always the perfect time to reflect upon all that has happened in the past year. We are so thankful to have operated our 2022 season normally – the first in two years! We enjoyed every moment and memory created with you all – this year we welcomed a record number of guests to the Lodge; we have never been busier!

We watched you make your way down to the dock at the crack of dawn: a result of your commitment. We watched you smile and experience the pride that comes along with watching your days catch at the weigh scale: a result of your persistence. And we watched you laugh and share stories of your time on the water at dinner: a culmination of everything we love about the QCL experience.

On behalf of the QCL family, thank you for choosing us as your fishing destination. We wish you quality time and precious moments with your loved ones during this special time of year. And more importantly, we are already counting down the days to next season and looking forward to amazing you this summer!

2022 was a monumental year for us, our staff and our guests. Cheers to what will surely be an even better and more exciting one in 2023!

 


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December 19, 2022 Bre Guolo3

The holiday season is here, and the winter weather has certainly arrived with it. Now’s the time to surround yourself with the people that matter the most, while filling up on delicious food and drink!

Take some of the guess work out of your holiday preparations and try two recipes our F+B team has put together – The famous Bell Ringer Fish + Chips and a festive Bourbon Apple Cider.

These recipes remind us of those lively summer evenings spent at the Bell Ringer, after an epic day on the water. The Tyee bell is ringing, Fish + Chips are on the table and a drink is in hand.

Though we’re a handful of months out from opening day yet, hopefully these recipes spark some joy and fill that QCL void in the meantime!

BELL RINGER FISH + CHIPS
INGREDIENTS

Part A  |  Batter mix

  • 250g  rice flour
  • 5g  Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
  • 8g  baking powder
  • 341ml  lager or pilsner

Part B  |  Dredging mix

  • 75g  rice flour
  • 75g  cornstarch
  • 5g  Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
  • 2g  Old Bay seasoning (optional)

Part C  |  Fish

  • 1kg  firm whitefish (pacific cod, lingcod, halibut), cut into 55g strips, about 2cm x 6cm

Part D  |  Hand-cut double fried chips

  • 400g  kennebec potatoes
  • 5g  Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

Part E  |  Fryer set up

  • 3 litres  Canola oil
  • 1ea  Candy thermometer

Part F  |  Tartar Sauce

  • 100g  mayonnaise
  • 15g  cornichons, finely minced
  • 15g  onion, finely minced
  • 5g  capers, finely minced
  • 2g  Worcestershire sauce
METHOD

1. In a deep stainless steel pot, gently heat oil over medium low heat; clasp the candy thermometer to the edge of the pot to gauge the temperature
2. Wash the potatoes, then cut into French fries, not larger than 1cm x 1cm; any length is fine, and will depend on your potatoes
3. Once the oil is at 250F blanch the french fries for 5 minutes, then remove onto a paper towel lined bake sheet and cool. You’ll cook them one more time to make them crispy just before eating. Increase the oil temperature to 350F, ensuring to do so over medium heat
4. Combine dry ingredients in Part A; mix thoroughly, then add the can of beer. Very gently whisk together ensuring not to overmix; let stand for 15 minutes while you finish other tasks
5. Combine part B and reserve in a shallow dish; this will be your dredging mix
6. Butcher fish into strips about three times as long as they are wide; about 55g
7. Dredge the fish until it is uniformly dusted by the dredging mix, then dip into the wet batter
8. Carefully lower the fish pieces into the hot oil, and fry for 4-5 minutes; generally you will know they are done when they float, and are producing fewer bubbles; desired colour is a deep golden brown. Remove fish from the hot oil onto a paper towel lined tray and lightly salt
9. Return the cooled french fries to the 350F oil for 3-4 minutes, until they too are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil when done and toss in kosher salt
10. Serve the hot fish and chips with lemon wedges, malt vinegar, and tartar sauce

FESTIVE BOURBON APPLE CIDER
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce apple cider
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: apple slices (optional), sprig of thyme
METHOD
  1. Combine the bourbon, cider, sweet vermouth and lemon juice in mixing glass of ice
  2. Stir and strain it into cocktail glass
  3. Add a dash of orange bitters; garnish with apple slices (if desired, spritz them with a little lemon juice to prevent browning!) and a sprig of thyme
  4. Serve chilled and enjoy!

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November 29, 2022 Bre Guolo0

The weather has officially shifted and the holiday season is nearly upon us! Like most, the QCL team is looking forward to all the upcoming festivities. While an amazing time for reflection and getting together with loved ones, we also know it can be overwhelming – Ensuring you have the right ingredients for family gathering meals and picking out the perfect gifts (especially for the ones who say they don’t need anything) can be time consuming endeavors. We’ve put together the QCL Holiday Gift Guide in hopes that we can help make finding the perfect gift for the angler in your life a smooth (and maybe an easier) process!

Connect with Kristine Renaud to order | krenaud@fishqcl.com 800 688 8959

 

FOR THE BEST DRESSED

If you’re familiar with QCL, you’d know that every year we feature a new guest hat design. This tradition is 30+ years strong and typically reserved as an on-season exclusive.

Our 2022 hat was a fan favourite so we’ve made an exemption! Snag one before they’re gone!

 

FOR THE AVID ANGLER

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you or someone you know love to fish and any angler would appreciate an Islander reel. Available in 5 colours, the Islander MR3 mooching reel is sure to impress. Warning, fishing with an Islander might turn a hobby into a passion and passion into an obsession.

 

FOR THE ADVENTURE SEEKER

Go above and beyond, surprise your loved one with the fishing adventure of a lifetime. Connect with our team of Sales Executives to inquire about the limited opportunities remaining for 2023 or plan well in advance and explore the many options in 2024!

 

FOR THE FOODIE

Whether you’re buying for a seafood lover, aspiring chef or a master entertainer, Taste of B-Sea has something for all. Perfect for those who are looking to supplement their 2022 catch or for a friend that hasn’t yet had the chance to visit QCL, you can’t go wrong with the gift of premium seafood. QCL’s Taste of B-Sea program delivers Ocean Wise products from some of the most sustainable fisheries on the West Coast of British Columbia, straight to your door. https://www.queencharlottelodge.com/luxury-fishing-lodge/amenities/taste-of-b-sea/ 

Our Pre-Holiday Sale includes Lingcod ($29), Halibut ($40), Spot Prawns ($49) and Dungeness Crab Meat ($65). Stock up on these great options and check out what else Taste of B-Sea offers!

 

FOR THE TECH LOVER

As the world becomes more connected than ever, it’s important to keep that connection safe. Rep your favourite fishing adventure and protect your tech with our water and stain resistant laptop case – It’s a win, win!

 

FOR THOSE VISITING QCL

For those who already have a trip booked to QCL, we’ve added in a few of our favourite items to have at the Lodge.

  1. We always want our guests to remain as comfortable as possible on the water. Time flies when you’re having fun and catching fish, but not if you’re a little cold or wet. A warm pair of gloves, warm toque or wool socks would make for a perfect stocking stuffer!
  2. For the beginner or veteran, every angler needs a pair of sunglasses. Protection on the water is a necessity – Plus, everyone can do with a stylish pair of polarized glasses to reduce the glare and create a clearer view of the water.
  3. While it’s the middle of summer during our season’s, we never really know what the weather will be in the Pacific Northwest. Sneaking base layers under the tree is a sure fire way to ensure your loved one stays warm in between all the rod action or until reeling in the fish of their dreams!
  4. Haida Gwaii is full of abundant wildlife both on and off the water. A pair of waterproof binoculars would not be a bad item to pack!

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November 2, 2022 Duane Foerter0

Change is constant, they say. It’s like the wind, blowing in the background, that we tend to ignore and then are surprised when it stops. One constant breeze – always a breath of fresh air – that has been with us at QCL for over 20 years, is none other than Jin Chong, Mr. Hospitality himself.

Today marks a big day for Jin personally, and for QCL, as Jin has made the decision leave one passion to pursue another. While we’ll miss his infectious smile, easy-going demeanor, and warm personality at the Lodge, we couldn’t be prouder of Jin and his new and exciting venture!

Starting today you can find him as Managing Partner at Highwater Tackle, a very well-known and respected tackle shop located in the LoLo area of North Vancouver. Joining Jin as owners at Highwater are a couple of other QCL long-timers, Kevin Clough and Elyse Austrins.  Both Kevin and Elyse will remain at QCL full time in their current capacities, while Jin manages the store’s daily operations. Congratulations to all three of you on your new venture and farewell to Jin, but only for now. We know that it certainly won’t be the last time we see him at the Lodge and that QCL and Highwater will (and already are) finding plenty of reasons to work together.

Everyone please drop by and see Jin anytime at his new home.  He’ll be happy just to say hi, relive some old QCL memories, or to help outfit you with any fishing needs for your next outdoor adventure. Track him down without hesitation at 201 Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver.  And again, our congratulations to Jin, Kevin and Elyse with Highwater Tackle!


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September 14, 2022 Duane Foerter0

And just like that, the 2022 season has come and gone, helicopters have departed with our final guests and the sound of Canada geese is ever present. Most of our staff have returned to the “real world” and gone are the days where the commute to work is a quick 5-minute walk from one side of property to the other. Our rig-down crew is readying the property for the off-season and pretty soon our lively property will become a sleepy hideaway. Until next summer that is.

This season marked a monumental one for us. After 2 years riddled with challenges due to Covid and surrounding restrictions, it was our first “normal” summer since 2019. It was also our 32nd season of operations and it certainly did not disappoint.

Though many of us are fortunate enough to be here every year, there is always a bit of mystery that surrounds how it will all play out. We welcomed guests from across the globe to the Lodge this season, the weather played mostly in our favour and the fishing, while an obvious wildcard, was consistently active. It felt pretty incredible doing what we love and to experience a “normal” summer once again.

We want to thank each and every one of you who visited QCL this season and to those who helped make it one for the books. To the hardworking and passionate QCL crew, none of this would be possible without you.

We hope that you left with many precious memories of your time spent with friends and family (both new and old), full bellies and fish to share throughout the next many months. We’re so lucky to experience the magic of Haida Gwaii and are so appreciative of you all for allowing us to open our doors and to do what we love.

Continuously improving the guest experience is something management and ownership is committed to – We look forward to a busy off-season working to better all that we can. The countdown to 2023 has officially begun….


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August 31, 2022 Duane Foerter0

Well, here we are into the final week of the ‘22 season and we’re happy to say that all the wheels are still on the bus!  It’s been our biggest and busiest season ever with all the attendant challenges (and, of course, a few surprises too!).  We’re still enjoying an outstanding summer and it’s looking to be pretty fine right through the weekend, save for a little southeasterly blow through Friday night.

The salmon catch is getting a little more random with anglers finding five salmon species all over the fishing grounds… top water Coho chasing everything near the surface (but there’s good ones down 30-50 as well) and aggressive Pinks hitting whatever they can get their teeth into in the top 20 feet.  We’ve got Chinooks of all sizes – migratory spawners and local feeders – showing up inshore, and offshore while we’re fishing halibut!  And just to keep everyone on their toes, we’re finding a few Chum and even a couple of Sockeye on every trip. Carl P released a beautiful 32-pound Tyee with his guide Tommy G last trip while we had several nice fish in the low 30’s come to the Bell Ringer over the past week.  With the help of his guide Ryan K, Mike F boated an impressive big buck that tipped the scale at 44-pounds on the weekend.  Halibut fishing continues to be solid with most anglers happy to pick up a third teen-sized hali for the freezer.

The humpback whales that have been keeping us company all summer are still feeding constantly in the quiet bays from Wiah Point around to Inskip Pt, and from Hannah Bay all the way around past Green Point.  We’ve even had one or two feeding regularly right inside Naden Harbour since June!  While their constant presence is something we’re so accustomed to, we never get tired of the pure awesomeness of it!

 


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August 29, 2022 Duane Foerter0

As the season progresses at full speed towards the metaphorical finish line known as Labour Day, I find myself getting more nervous, almost disappointed, rather than excited.  A lot of people would probably assume I am ready to go home, ready for a change of scenery, ready to do anything other than go fishing.  But a lot of people don’t know what it’s like to be a fishing guide at QCL.

Being a fishing guide, to me, means a lot more now than it did 4 years ago when I started.  It’s not just about the fishing.  It’s about the atmosphere, the surroundings, the laughter and entertainment amongst the crashing waves. The people you meet over the course of the summer and the connections that are created are irreplaceable, even if they are short lived. The most cherished memories that I take away from this experience always seem to revolve around the people first.

With the beautiful weather, bountiful coho catches and Tyees still coming in every trip, I can find excitement knowing that there are still three trips left in the season.  This past week, the DFO increased the halibut retention limit to three fish, if they are all under 90 centimetres in length or one fish between 90 and 133 centimetres in length. The opportunity to take an additional halibut home is a significant bonus for an angler.  It’s another great example of why fishing later in the season is never a bad idea up here at QCL.

The abundance of humpback whales breaching, sunfish sightings and big Chinooks lurking by the kelp beds are just a few of my favourite takeaways from the 2022 season.  As unsettling as it may be to see my QCL summer come to an end, I am thankful for this experience and know that it will live with me for years to come. I also need to keep reminding myself…

The memories can’t start until the experience ends.

Until next year,
Captain Christopher


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August 24, 2022 Duane Foerter0

Amazing August!  QCL guests have enjoyed so much epic adventure up here this summer that it’s hard to see how it could get any better.  But these past weeks have delivered that “trip of a lifetime” experience for many.  The fishing overall has been steady… the big fish are not as plentiful as we’ve come to expect, but the action is consistent, and anglers aren’t spending too much time in their seats!  Going home with a nice box of beautiful wild salmon, halibut and lingcod is a precious treat that will be shared and savoured for months to come.

Small tides and light winds in the past week have really opened the door all day to bottom fishing, so our guests are really getting their fill of jiggin’ the deep!  It’s yielding outstanding catches of halibut, lingcod and Pacific cod.  This coincides nicely with a recent regulation change from DFO allowing sport anglers to retain a third halibut under 90 cm if they don’t have one larger than 90.

While most of our guides are still committing some part of their day to fishing inshore in search of big Chinooks, they’re finding good success on all salmon species while trolling offshore in 200-240 feet of water.  That’s typical for late season salmon and the results have been good!  We’re finally seeing more Coho in the 10-plus class, mixed in with powerful 16-20 pound Chinooks.  Every so often a big, bright Chum hooks up and delivers that outstanding battle that they’re known for!  Back at the Bell Ringer the Tyee bell is ringing every night for a wide array of big catches – from 40-50 pound halibut, to 30-pound-plus Lingcod and, of course, Tyee Chinooks over 30-pounds, some retained and some released.  There’s always cause for celebration down there!

August weather has been particularly warm and dry, so long days spent out in a boat are pretty sweet… especially with a nice social lunch break at the Driftwood to catch up with friends and compare notes.  With only 3 trips remaining in this 2022 season after Friday, we’re thankful that the fishing and the weather continue to cooperate and all of our guests, some of whom have waited since 2019 to get here, are getting the QCL adventure experience that they were hoping for!


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August 16, 2022 Duane Foerter0

The Big One That Got Away

Before most fishing was done by downriggers and trolling, boats would go out and motor mooch for salmon. The fisherman would make a cut-plug herring and thread it on to hooks and a leader. The leader would then be tied to a 4 or 6 ounce weight and then the weight was tied directly on to the main line. This was the BC standard for fishing for Chinooks and Coho.

One day in the early 1990’s I had a chance to introduce a husband and wife to the fishing up in Haida Gwaii. We made our way from the dock out of Naden Harbour to fish at the famous Bird 1 hotspot. There had been quite a few very large Chinooks taken over the last few days so I was very excited to see how this brand new fisher couple would make out. The tide was soft and the seas were calm – ideal weather and water for fishing with newcomers to the game. They watched as I cut the herring and rigged it up. They listened carefully as I explained how to let the line out and put the rod in the rod holder. I demonstrated how a mooching single action reel works and I drilled them on what to watch for and do when the inevitable strike comes. After a little bit of Q&A they were ready to go. The wife saw it first. The almost imperceptible first pull by a Chinook on the herring. Almost before she could say anything, the rod took a strong downward bend as the Chinook was beginning to panic and feel the hook. She was like a coiled cobra as she sprung to the rod… a natural. She reeled down to the fish and struck it hard. Line screamed off of the reel and the line angled up as I knew we were going to get a good look at this fish. Sure enough he swirled distant from the boat and I could see his wide gold green back. Eight inches across and all of 50 pounds or more. I was the only one that saw the fish and I was surely not going to further compromise the first few minutes of the fight with a description of how large the fish was. For now, this was information for me to keep to myself.

The fight waged for more than 45 minutes. Long, strong runs were followed by deep sulking.  She had, by that point, developed her routine of pumping up the rod slowly, when the fish would give ground, and then franticly winding to pick up line and keep pressure. There was very little chatter as it seemed appropriate to let the wife focus on the giant Tyee salmon. Forty-five minutes stretched into an hour and I could tell the fish was quickly tiring. The pumping became easier, the runs not as strong and purposeful, becoming more panicky and weak.

Then it happened. Right at the top of the pump the rod went slack. Clearly this Chinook had found a way to rip the hook out of its mouth. As always, I encouraged the fisher to wind quickly to see if the fish had simply turned and we needed to catch up with it. I knew it was gone but we had to try. Just as I was about to say that the fish was gone the rod started to twitch and shake and the line came in easily. In an instant I knew what had happened. The big fish was truly gone. As the lady reeled in the empty hooks a small 12 inch Coho juvenile salmon had raced after my red hooks mistaking them for krill shrimp. He was now hooked and coming quickly to the boat. Before I could explain anything, the exhausted lady angler had brought the tiny salmon to the side of the boat. She looked down in disbelief and exclaimed that if a 12-inch fish could fight that hard she did not think she would be able to land a really large salmon!

Brian Clive