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August 7, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Last Saturday was one of those days when you talk yourself into going fishing. Breezy southeast conditions were predicted, the Driftwood was anchored at George Point and every boat would be trolling the shorelines around Cape Edenshaw. As the day wore on, boats would gradually make their exit and return to the lodge for some cocktails and a nice dinner. But often thats when the determined angler utters those magic wordsJust one more pass! 

Working the kelp line inside Piggy Bay late in the afternoon, Tim & Karen D, hosting their newlywed daughter and son-in-law, lined up the perfect tack at the perfect time and the stars aligned. The inside rod dipped and Derek was there on the double. The telltale power of a heavy fish had the crew frantically clearing all the gear while Derek held on for quite a ride! Avoiding the safety of the kelp, this salmon was headed for open water. 

Over the next 30 minutes they were gradually pulled about 500 metres offshore, away from the relative calm of the leeward shoreline. But patience and a deft touch on the gear eventually saw Tim ease the net beneath a big silver slab in the rock & roll seas. No blood and with lots of kick left in him, they chose to get a quick measurement and release this beautiful Tyee. Fishmaster Trevor Harris was alongside to witness the battle and take a few photos, then revive the big Chinook for a few minutes before it swam away with strong and steady strokes of its tail. 

Congratulations were in order! Scoring out to 44 pounds, Derek and family released one of those legendary fish, the one that every angler wants to catch. Hopefully good fortune will see this salmon find its natal stream and itll spawn successfully. Certainly there will be lots of anglers 4 or 5 years from now who will thank Derek for giving it the chance!


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August 6, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Well it’s early August and our new guests arrived in bright sunshine and blue skies this morning, excited and smiling at their good fortune.  With a forecast of light variable winds and favourable tides, they know they could be in for something very special this week.  We’ve recently experienced some ups and downs weather-wise and have certainly seen how it can affect the anglers’success.  Fortunately our track record is pretty solid and it’s very rare to get a “bad”weather day without getting a “good”one in return.

Our two most recent trips are good examples. Last week moderate to strong northwesterlies limited access to some of the fishing grounds over the first couple of days and the catch record confirmed it.  But along came Thursday and everything changed.  We got out early and enjoyed a full day of fantastic fishing, enjoying the whole of the grounds and catching lots of fish.  Everyone picked up some Chinooks and got into some nice Coho offshore.  Most had managed to get one halibut earlier in the week and practically everyone got out to get a second on Thursday.  There was a buzz in the dining room that night with the energy provided by a banner day on the water.

Exciting Chinook action at QCLOvernight the winds swung to southeast and threatened to corner everybody at Edenshaw for the weekend.  Our new guests arrived and headed out, prepared for what Mother Nature was about to serve up.  Friday weather turned out to be pretty moderate and we saw a very respectable catch on the dock that night.  Saturday was definitely the test and the eastern grounds were not rewarding us with many treasures.  Oh, there were fish caught, but there was considerable time between bites.  At dinner we shared a favourable forecast for Sunday and surely everyone went to bed with their fingers crossed!

At 6:00 am, dawn broke with a patchy blue sky and just a light breeze.  It was a quick breakfast for sure and everybody was on their way.  Once again, easy access to any of your favourite spots feels fantastic and every guide had a plan.  Tides were moderate but still a factor to plan around, whether fishing for salmon inshore or bottom fishing on the outside.  Over the course of the day the Fishmaster reported decent catches going on practically everywhere; not much chatter on the radio, everybody was busy!

The beautiful sunny weather and great fishing saw most anglers lingering on the water right until the 8:00 pm call. Meanwhile, back at the Bell Ringer, the totes were lined up out the door.  The atmosphere down there was electric with cheers, jeers and high-fives going off all the time.  We didn’t weigh any monsters last night but the bell was ringing pretty steadily for some 30-something Chinooks, teen-sized Coho and a few halibut just too big to bring home!  The last fish hit the scale at 10:34 pm and the dining room was busy well after that!

In most of our daily lives we’ve created a  world with few limitations; we can get pretty much anything we want when we want it.  Part of the appeal of the fishing adventure is that lack of control.  Just being out in a wild place and experiencing everything it has to offer –“good”and “bad”- is a huge attraction for many of us.  And here at the Lodge, we’re privileged to watch that story unfold day after day!


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August 2, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Now into the final third of the 2018 season, we’re thinking those northwesterly winds we were praising in late June can let up already!  We’ve had 2 weeks of steady northwesterlies now and are ready for a change!  Anglers and guides are looking forward to getting back offshore with easy access to the fantastic bottom-fishing and large schools of Coho passing through the area.  This week we’ve seen excellent Coho action with the larger-sized fish we expect in August.  Double-digit sizes are pretty common now with several fish in the low teens showing up.  Paul C, fishing with guide Max Peiffer, picked up this stunning 16-pound Northern while trolling at 37-feet in front of Bird 2. Fish like this one are always on the bucket list of any salmon enthusiast!

It’s been an excellent Coho season for us with large numbers being found in the offshore waters, generally down 30 to 60 feet and hitting anything from anchovy set-ups thru spoons and hoochies.  At the same time we’ve been quite successful throughout July finding considerable Chinook salmon in the same offshore areas, just deeper at 60 to 100 feet.  And occasionally we get a surprise, like the 42-pound Tyee landed by Driftwood guest John C last week, while trolling for Coho in 220-feet off Shag Rock!  It goes to show you have to be prepared for anything when fishing up here!

The weather is about to change for this weekend with winds shifting today around to southwest and then rising to southeast overnight.  They’re forecasting some fairly breezy conditions for Friday and Saturday so we’ll be spending some time over at Cape Edenshaw this weekend.  The upside is that those shorelines have seen very little fishing pressure with all the northwest so it could be very productive!  Look for an update on Sunday.  After the weekend it looks like we’ll enjoy a nice stretch of light variable winds right through the middle of the month!  We’ll be ready for them!


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August 1, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Painting the Canvas: a story of relativity

Never a bad day in Haida Gwaii, just some better than others. And while this will always remain true, it is a relative statement. The day and trip is what you make of it, just depends on what your mind set is. I am a firm believer that positive vibes yield positive results, what you define as positive is up to you.

As a guide I have the privilege of meeting and experiencing different people and things, and every trip is different. For some, it is a couple celebrating their anniversary, wanting to experience all the sights and sounds of Virago Sound. There is no need to necessarily target the sizzle of a large migratory Chinook salmon popping off the down rigger clip faster than you can you say “how you doing?”  Often the thrill of seeing a large Orca hunting, maybe the dreary bark of a large bull sea lion, even the aggressive deep water dive of an auklet will leave the most experience outdoorsmen in awe.

That being said, people flock from all corners of the world and country in search of a massive black-gummed salmonid. The feeling of coming around the corner of your favourite point and seeing a nice back eddy, then presenting your cut plug roll in just the right way and watching your rod get buried past the second eyelet will make even the most experienced angler salivate. Potentially forgetting to keep that tip up to let him run, Oh well, it’s all part of the fun when trying to hook and then subsequently land “Walter.”

For some it is hooking the fish of a lifetime; for others it’s taking in the sights and sounds of Haida Gwaii.  For most it is a balance of the two. At the end of the day whatever your muse, our job is to give and do our best to provide our guests with as much colour as possible to paint on the canvas which is their trip to Queen Charlotte Lodge in Haida Gwaii.  I look forward to painting further canvases in the future and trying to fulfill each guests dreams.

Signing out Sean “Mayo”


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July 29, 2018 Duane Foerter0

from our Fish Handling Supervisor

Each day I put on my signature red boots and head down to the dock, never too sure what is in store for me that day, but always eager to find out. I start my day in the freezer, sorting the previous day’s catch into each guest’s bin. A quick check against the catch boards, everything matches, perfect.

QCL Bell RingerEarly evening arrives and boats are starting to come back from the fishing grounds, ready to weigh in the day’s take and enjoy a beverage and some appies. The totes are lining up in the Bell Ringer, full of fish ready to be weighed. The music is on and the drinks are flowing. I look back and see a silver tail peeking up over the edge of a tote; it looks big. Standing nearby, an excited guest and guide can barely contain their smiles. Will it go 30? As each guide lays out the fish, I’m sure to check the tags to ensure the angler will receive their own fish, cut exactly the way they want. Fillet? Portion cutting? Smokehouse? Then it’s time to snap a quick photo with the catch before it’s recorded. By now, I know the guides well. I can usually guess which guest’s fish they’ll weigh first, second, third. In between weights, I catch snippets of fishing stories; the good one that got away, the near-misses and the close saves. A few times each night, it’s time for a ‘Bell Ringer’. Whether it be the perfect ‘turkey’ halibut, or a coveted ‘hog’, we celebrate just the same. After each fish is weighed, it is sorted into bins by cut, then off to the processing room it goes, where it is cut, washed and vacuum packed. From there, it hits the freezer, flash frozen for freshness for months to come.

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It’s the last night of the trip, and once all of the fish have been recorded, processed and sorted, it’s time to box them up to send out the following morning. The boxing team and I pack up every guest’s fish, checking the catch and recording the outgoing weight. As the morning sun is rising, we load the boxes onto “The Q”, sending them out to Masset, where they’ll fly south and be waiting for their owner in Vancouver.

Every day I am fortunate to be at the centre of the ruckus, recording each fish, celebrating each victory with guide and guest alike. This season has been one for the books, with near-daily Tyees, and many multiple-Tyee days. Our largest thus far has tipped the scale at 40.4 lbs. Coho fishing has been on, right from the get-go. We’ve seen plenty of ‘Silvers’ in the double digits all through July, and even some pushing close to the 15-pound mark moving into late July. The season high stands at 13.4 lbs, but I suspect we’ll see some bigger ones moving into August. This season has also brought an unusually high number of the most elusive salmon: the Sockeye. We had ten in one week! With the increase in Sockeye numbers, three boats have been able to complete the ‘Grand Slam’ of salmon fishing, one of each species. This season has also been strong for bottom fishing. Numerous Halibut north of the 50-pound mark have been released, and several have even taped out to more than 200 pounds, a real ‘barn door’ of a Halibut. June also brought about a large quantity of Pacific Cod. We caught more in one day than the entirety of last season! We also got to see a new kind of fish this year, landing our very first Alaskan Pollock. You never know what you’ll pull up when you drop a line down to the bottom!

I am lucky to have this unique vantage point which affords me the privilege of taking care of each and every fish brought back to the dock. The excitement of the scale draws the attention of veteran anglers and first-timers alike. Whether someone is looking for a guess on weight, a crash course in salmon identification, or just to take a photo, I’m always happy to help.

Breanne C


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July 27, 2018 Duane Foerter0

With a little over a month left in the season the memories of the good times are starting to build. Every morning that I wake up I am wondering how the day will unfold. Action has been found at all of the major points, and big fish are being caught on a daily basis. I am excited to get on the water tomorrow morning and see what will unfold, and to find the fish.

The other morning, we were off the dock at 8 AM and decided to head directly offshore. High slack tide was at 12 PM and the plan was to go catch our Coho, then be inshore for the tide change to target Chinook. On our way out we were cruising through the flat calm water and noticed tidal rip had formed off of Cape Naden. We decided to stop here and ride the tide line with the ebb current to shag rock. After about 20 minutes we had a couple Coho in the boat and released some smaller sized Chinook. Something then caught my eye as a killer whale spout blew off my port side. We decided to pull up our lines and watch the show. This was amazing just like we had chosen to fish the tide line a pod of resident killer whales were hunting along the rip searching for Chinook salmon.

After watching the whales cruising through the tide line and feeding on salmon we decided to head inshore and look for some Chinook. We planned to go to Green Point for the low slack and then do the “Haida drift” with the flood tide towards Bird 2. We dropped in close to our western boundary and rode the flood tide towards Green. Before hitting the point … BOOM!  A fish hit the ‘chovie and was off the clip screaming line. After a few big runs we landed the fish which ended up weighing 33 pounds.

I am looking forward to what the day will hold tomorrow. There has not been a 50 Lb Chinook caught yet this year, however I know within the next two weeks some lucky angler, or angler’s will have the opportunity to real in one of these unicorns.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on the dock,

Skywalker

Salmon trolling at QCL Haida Gwaii


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July 24, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Family Tyee fishing trip!Northwesterly winds have definitely set the tone over this past week, directing the fishing effort to the sheltered shorelines south and east from Klashwun Point.  Fortunately we’re finding some pretty nice Chinooks while combing along the kelp beds and rocky points.  There have been opportunities to get offshore and pick up some Coho and Halibut as well, but some sizeable tide action can make that a challenge much of the time.  The odd twist is that we usually enjoy a pile of big blue sky with these winds but that’s been pretty spotty most days too!

Chinook salmon action at QCLThe Tyee bell was getting some action on most nights last week with several Chinooks and halibut tipping the scale over that magic 30 mark.  John R kicked the party off with a 30-pounder, repeating his Tyee Club appearance from last year.  Brian K added a 30 on Wednesday along with Jordan C who boated a 32 and Laurence H who’s 37-pounder was the big salmon of the day.  Matt C came close, however, with a 34 lb Tyee, but he seriously proved his skills with the 41 lb halibut that he weighed right after that! That’s a nice day on the water!

The winds let up nicely on Tuesday and the halibut fishers responded!  We saw lots of flatties on the dock with several perfect specimens ranging from 30 to 42 pounds.  Rob G missed the cutoff however with a big one that taped out to 86 pounds!

Tyee Chinook salmon at QCLThursday proved fruitful for salmon hunters with more Tyee catches recorded.  John P shared the thrill of the Tyee with his 2 sons, boating a stunning 31-pound Chinook.  Makenna C got the day off to a great start at Bird 2 when she caught & released a beauty that taped out to 36 pounds!  Fishing with his guide Trevor Harris, Clark H worked the shoreline religiously and was rewarded with two fine Tyee catches – at 31 and 33 pounds!  And off the outer face of Bird 2 at afternoon slack, veteran QCL anglers Carol H and her husband Andy connected with the big salmon of the week, a hefty Tyee that thrilled the Bell Ringer crowd at 42 pounds!  The average size is creeping up steadily for both Chinook and Coho salmon over the past couple of weeks, and we’re really pleased to see so many chunky Coho in the 10-12 pound range!  Let’s see what happens this week!


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July 20, 2018 Duane Foerter1

At Queen Charlotte Lodge we have a saying, “You come as a guest, leave as a friend and return as family!”  Two of our longest lasting QCL family members are Cal and Roxy Speckman, who bring their group to QCL on an annual basis.  Within the group are many returning family members and with their attendance and others, the lodge feels like old home week!

July 17th marked a special day on the calendar for our owner.  Paul Clough, had his first grandchild (Jordan) born on this day 16 years ago.  Cal was here to celebrate that occasion with Paul, and Cal bought champagne for the entire resort to enjoy the occasion.  As luck would have it this week, Jordan was at the Lodge to see his Grandpa and his Dad, Rob Clough.  On Tuesday night, with short speeches from Paul, Cal and Jordan, the lodge enjoyed a nice toast of champagne again…this time Paul returned the favor, a great night!

Most people that read our blog are looking for fishing information, a fishing story or anything to do with what’s going on so let’s not deprive you anymore!

As the week started a light Northwest wind came into the area and we waited for more bait to move in and cover the grounds.  Northwest winds are the best for bringing bait and fish into the QCL fishing areas.   The only issue is there were some huge tides to finish the weekend and start the week.  Huge tides bring bait in and flush it out just as quickly.  When tides are large you should organize your fishing days based on the tides and fish them hard, at LEAST one hour before and one hour after.  Tides and water movement might come early or late, so be in your favorite spot and be ready to fish the tide.

As a guide for 20 years at QCL, I am often asked where to fish on a particular tide.  Although the answer can usually be, wherever you think the “Big One” sits, the reality is every guide has a theory.  I have never shared my theory until Ryan Ashton, QCL dock manager (Guy Fieri look alike), suggested people would love to hear it directly from you.  Tides, theories and fishing strategies are often a secret but at QCL, we encourage all guides to share their knowledge.  The more people that know, the more they will become hooked on fishing, and that’s good for QCL!  Anyway, here is my theory.

Before I start you need to know what an Ebb and a Flood is and what I mean by those terms.  Masset Inlet gives you a great reference point so you know which way the water should be moving.   An Ebb tide is when the water is moving OUT of Masset Inlet and going from a HIGH slack to a LOW slack tide.  A Flood tide is the exact opposite.  The key is to think about the bays around a point.  Klash has a large bay to the east of the point and the 3 large protruding rocks.  When the tide swings from an Ebb tide to a Flood tide (slack) the water starts to move out of the bay, along the rocks and pumps everything that was in the bay out.  This is the time for the fish to feed, the easiest way possible.  It’s like going to a McDonalds’ drive thru for the fish and the Big Mac and Fries, Super-Size are on the way…oh yeah, don’t forget the Hot Apple Pie!  As the water flows out of the bay, position the boat right on the edge of a pronounced “ripline”, try to hold the position just outside the last rock as long as you can, eventually something has to show up!  Stay patient, often it takes up time for this type of fishing to pay off.   Once you drive through the ripline, circle back to the end of it, and drive back up it, all the way back through and repeat until you hit one or two or 10!

There are no guarantees this is going to work, that’s the beauty of fishing.  As an example on Monday I was fortunate to have my wife, son and daughter join me at the resort.  Monday and Tuesday we went fishing as a family using my “theory” and it worked…um ok that is a fish tale, it didn’t work at all!  2 Coho only and no other bites, zoikes, I suck!  We come back to the dock and most of the guides are dragging in nice totes of fish to the Bellringer and now I am second guessing myself.  Tuesday night we celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday and I have a little chat with him about the next day.  He wants to go fishing at 5am!  Mom and Makenna decide to take a pass for a sleep and a workout.  We get up at 4:30am and are on the water as the sun is rising.  Scott and Henry guests of the DW are already fishing Bird 2 and have a fish in their net!  So we stop and Jordan and I give it a try.  The Ebb is just starting at Bird 2 and the water is pushing nicely off the point.  Jordan puts on his favorite anchovy teaser head and puts it down.  BAM, fish on!  3 passes and 7 Chinook later we are giggling and laughing!  More boats are now showing up and Jordan resets his line, 41 feet.  As we are still sitting in the rip and his line pounds off the clip and starts peeling.  A nice one for sure, a beauty fight, a beauty play and the best morning as a Dad with a son you can imagine.  Jordan lands a 32.2 pounder to show Mom and sis!  Back to the dock by 11am for lunch with the family and grandparents!

Now Makenna is fired up and wants to go early to catch the early tide the next day with her brother!  We decide we better head back to Bird 2 and see if we can find another.  We fish the ripline at Bird 2 and pick one up early, then a Coho, then a second smaller Chinook.  Not as hot as the morning before.  The boats are out way earlier and the fishing seems to die off for about an hour.  We continue and are persistent fishing the rip.  We fish it hard but nothing is happening so we are sure to scrape the wall at Bird 2.  We do this about 10 times and in the back corner of Bird 2, right off the bow of the Driftwood we nail a good one.  20 minutes later, the 13 year old young lady lands an awesome fish measuring 36 pounds!  We release the fish back into the wild and the day feels complete.  So we troll from Bird 2 back to Naden hitting all the points.  We hit Parker and see Hawgfather with Clark, his guest.  Trevor and Clark had a beauty morning, 31 and 33!  We pick up 5 more fish on the drift out and decide it’s time to go meet Mom again for lunch at the Main Lodge.  As a guide, my theory was validated but only 2 of 4 days.  As a Dad, the greatest day of my year fishing with my kids!  (Love you Tricia, Jordan and Makenna!)

Fishing is currently hot and cold all in the same day and trip.   Persistence always wins!  Look forward to seeing you at the resort!  Until next time…

Red Baron


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July 18, 2018 Duane Foerter0

One of the coolest things about being a fishing guide in Haida Gwaii is the unknown of what each day will bring. No two days are ever the same, as the sea conditions, weather, and fishing are always different. Although we like to plan our day out and try to predict what might happen on each tide change, our plans are often altered due to the various scenarios that take place on the water. Today was no different.

With the first tide change not happening until around 10:30am, my longtime QCL guests John R. and Dan S. decided that we wouldn’t leave the dock until 8. My plan was to fish salmon a couple hours through the tide change, go out and grab a couple of Halibut, and then stop for lunch. The first part went according to plan; we set up shop for a couple of hours at Cape Naden with only 1 feeder spring to show for it that we ended up turning back. With not much happening through the slack tide I suggested we do one more pass and then run out for Halibut. On that pass we hooked another little feeder that popped off by the boat. A couple minutes after that I said, “Okay, let’s go grab some Hali’s”. Dan responded, “Come on, one more pass!” Sure enough, right near the end of that pass John had something pop the clip and then it was game on!

After a great battle we bagged a bright chrome Chinook that tipped the scales at 30.0 lb back at the Bell Ringer. Of course we weren’t going to leave now!  Before we could even get a third line back in the water, John again has something smash his bait but it quickly popped off. Within a few seconds our back rod started sizzling line and this time Dan was tied into a beauty! After an even longer fight than the first fish we put another one in the bag that weighed in at 26 lb. After a few more passes with no luck it was time for lunch at the DW.

Although the afternoon was not quite as eventful, we grabbed a couple decent chickens, did some Coho fishing offshore, and then finished the day back at Naden. During our final couple hours we were greeted with some rain showers, followed by blue skies, and calm waters, followed by strong gusts of wind out of the west. In addition, the flood tide brought in waves and waves of kelp that made it nearly impossible to keep all lines in the water at once. Once again, on one of our “last passes”, Dan was into another dandy. After a lengthy first run this fish managed to tangle the line into various large pieces of floating kelp. I thought numerous times that this fish was gone but today the fish gods were on our side. While I was steering the boat, John was able to use the gaff to unhook all the weeds from the line, which finally gave me an opportunity to slide the net under another beauty. It was a great team effort and a great way to finish off another adventurous day in the Gwaii!

Until next time, goodnight from Naden Harbour!

Jackson “Wacko Jacko”


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July 15, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Today was another sunny day on the fishing grounds with low to mid teen knot winds blowing from the northwest. In the morning the fleet of QCL boats either headed offshore to the 120-150 foot line searching for Coho and Chinook salmon or stayed close to shore, hitting the major points working the tide change searching for those larger Chinook lurking in the depths. The lighter morning winds allowed for calmer seas to hit the deeper depths for hali fishing as well.

Grady 114 and its crew decided to start the day off by hitting Cape Naden, looking for a chance at a few larger Chinooks. This seemed to be a common thought as quite a few other boats came to join the party. After all was said and done we had a bright chrome 21 pound Spring hit the deck for the morning tide. We were hoping for a couple more but with few hook ups seen or heard of, we gladly took what the fishing gods gave us!

My guests and I rounded out the day with a tote of a couple of halibut, several nice Coho, another mid-teen Chinook and we let a few other feeders go to grow up! Not a bad day overall up here in this special part of the province.  High fives, lots of laughs and positive energy at the Bell Ringer capped off another memorable day up here at QCL.

‘Til next time,

Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride!

Jeff ‘Smurf’ Smirfitt


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