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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


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August 13, 2022 Duane Foerter0

I guess we could call it the height of our summer!  The past few days of brilliant sunshine delivered some of those iconic deep colours that say it’s summer at the lodge!  The fishing effort was largely focused on the waters from Yatze east to the Mazzaredos and the salmon action was quite steady overall.  Anglers were busy reeling in lots of nice Coho mixed with a bunch of Pinks; punctuated by a chunky Chinook every so often!  We managed to find a few Tyees in the mix, between 30 and 36 pounds – and lots of those amazing 20-somethings, the top target of our salmon anglers!  We caught a break on Thursday and the winds died right off to send the entire fleet offshore to load up on halibut and lingcod, which they did quite successfully.

Seeing as it’s already August 13th (or Foggust as many call it) we’ve been really lucky to avoid much fog in the area so far.  But a big bank rolled in late Thursday; we usually watch it creep in from the north and settle over the east side of Naden Harbour.  Combined with a brilliant super-full-moon, it made for another dramatic visual this week. 

I hope you enjoy this eclectic collection of photos that pretty much describe how the week went!  But don’t worry, the weekend, so far, has been different!  Tune in next week for the update!


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August 9, 2022 Duane Foerter0

A classic northwesterly system is bringing us big blue skies this week – the staff are enjoying our version of beach life and our guests are doing the great drift on the seas rolling down from Shag Rock past Cape Naden.  While there are excellent opportunities hunting for Chinooks that lurk around the kelp beds at Yatze, the Bird Rocks and Parker Point, the offshore drift along the 120-foot line is usually quite productive and fairly unpredictable in these conditions. Depending on your depth you can hit good numbers of Cohos and Chinook, but you can also find lots of action from Pink and Chum salmon along the way.  Bottom fishing will have to wait for Thursday when we will be able to access the offshore waters again.

We’ve seen some great Chinook action this past week with a number of big Tyees in the area.  Normand B masterfully brought a huge Chinook to the net for his guide Alex K on Thursday… after a measurement and a quick pic Alex carefully revived the big beauty to watch it pull away with a few strokes of its massive tail.  She scored at 49-pounds and was cause for some serious celebration at the Bell Ringer on the final night of the trip!  Great job guys and Congratulations! 

On the weekend Myron N was able to follow suit, releasing a stellar 33-pounder with his guide Chris M.  Bill G celebrated a 31 on the dock on Sunday along with a nice 32-pounder for John M to cap off a terrific weekend of salmon action.  We also had outstanding lingcod catches on Friday when Mo N returned to the dock with an impressive 32-pounder, only to be upstaged by his fishing partner Scott N, who weighed a 42 – the largest of the season so far!  Kudos to their angling skills – and those of their guide Alex!


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August 5, 2022 Duane Foerter0

In 2020 I had been involved in rowing for close to half my life. I had rowed as an athlete for ten years and transitioned into coaching after a spinal injury in the lead up to the Rio Olympic Games ended my career. I spent 2015 to 2020 as the head coach and then general manager of the rowing centre where I first learned to row, on the gorge in the heart of Victoria. I loved my role working with people and had no plans to change my chosen career.

When COVID closed the club I had worked so hard to build I went back to my first passion in life, fishing! I grew up in Jasper, Alberta. I learned to love fishing in the family canoe with my father, fishing for pike on Talbot lake with the goofiest spinning frog lure you’ve ever seen. I still have one. As I got older I got into fly fishing and spent most days that the water wasn’t frozen chasing trout on the fly.

When I got into rowing at age fifteen, fishing largely fell out of my life with the exception of a few days swinging for salmon and steelhead in the rivers of Vancouver Island. With Covid opening the horizon, as it did for so many, I dove head first back into the sport. I’m still fairly young in my guiding career but it feels very familiar to me because to be a guiding is to be a coach. You are enabling success, achieving goals and teaching guests to the skills to take their QCL experience in their own hands and make the most of it.

Just like coaching you need both “soft skills” and “hard skills” guiding salmon fishing. The hard skills are the tangible things like knowing where the fish will be, what they’ll be feeding on and when they’ll be feeding. The soft skills are more subtle such as a hand on the back when a good one pops off. Soft skills are needed to build relationships to enable your guests to learn and land the fish of their dreams. I love both sides of the job but strongly believe that the softs skills are where the guides at QCL set themselves apart.

We see all kinds of guests and each have their own expectations and goals. Just like coaching, our job is to learn those goals and impart the knowledge and skill for the guests to achieve them. I grew up in a team environment and I have enjoyed being a part of this guide team immensely. Knowledge is power on the water and I’ve been humbled to learn from some of the best rods on the west coast while I’ve been here and what I continually find amazing is their willingness to teach and enable newer guides like myself.

If you asked me in March 2020 where I would be in two year years, I never would have thought I’d be tough tacking Cape Naden in ten foot seas and scraping kelp beds for a clip popping hog but after the first time I came around the dolphin I’ve never looked back. Every time I see the joy in my guests eyes when “that fish” hits the bag I fall in love with fishing all over again because just like coaching shared success is always sweeter than individual success.

Tight lines and I hope I see you out there this season!               Alex W


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August 3, 2022 Duane Foerter0

The mid-summer stretch is treating QCL guests to some really excellent fishing adventure these days!  Very favourable weather conditions have added some icing on the cake – some of us are wearing t-shirts!  We even had 3 guests go for a dip off the lodge beach before enjoying the hot tub!  Life is good!

It was especially good for veteran anglers Joe H & Brad R as they first set their gear at Green Point Tuesday morning.  Joe’s rod had the twitch before Brad even managed to get his in the water!  But together these fellows would share an epic battle with a massive salmon that they’ll remember for a long time. Brad finally slipped the net below the big beauty and when they lifted it aboard, they were super thrilled!  Finally returning to the dock last night, the scale at the Bell Ringer revealed a weight of 52 pounds! Cause for celebration for sure! Nice fish boys!

While big Tyees over 50 pounds aren’t as common as they used to be, we’ve certainly seen a nice bump in the big fish department recently with several Tyees kept or released.  Jeff W released a 33-pounder on the weekend and Jason N boated a 38 on Saturday, followed by a 30 on Sunday!  Zack J followed up with nice 31-pounder and Ryan O returned to the Bell Ringer with a stunning 14 lb Coho, the largest of the season so far!  When we have the right tide and wind conditions the halibut grounds are a wonderland!  On Saturday we saw lots of nice keepers land back on the dock but the Tyee Bell was ringing big-time with released giant halibut reports!  Richard K released an 87-pounder, Janet B recorded a 69-inch halibut that scored 168 lb and Clint C turned back a full-on barn door that measured 75-inches to score 220 pounds!  Amazing!  Coho catches remain very strong with the average size creeping up around 8-pounds now so everyone is enjoying the awesome salmon action on the water.

Light to moderate winds wavering from southwest to northwest are to continue right into next week with very little precipitation and the odd sunny period – so we have pretty perfect conditions to look forward to.  Peak tides will return around the 12th when we’ll see 17-foot swings, so hold on for that one!  Stay tuned!


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August 1, 2022 Duane Foerter0

As we crest over the midway point of our summer season here at QCL, we find ourselves knee deep in Coho.  There appears to be no sign of slowing to the arrival of the acrobatic white gums.   As the flow of fish continues to increase, we have begun to see an increase in size as well.  Fish stretching into the double digits are becoming more and more common every week.  Yesterday a 14-pounder arrived at the Bell Ringer!  What a fish!

At the same time, I felt that Chinook fishing had been slower than usual last week.   But there has been no lack of quality when you do find a pocket of black gums!  Though the hookups on Springs have been hindered by the relentless hammering of Coho, the fish that are being caught are often up into the twenty-plus class and put up quite a battle for our visiting anglers!

This past week my guests and I were fortunate enough to connect with a trio of gorgeous Chinooks at Cape Naden.  On three consecutive passes we managed to find an eighteen pounder, followed by a fat 23-pounder.  Not much later, on our third tack through the shallow bay that divides Cape Naden and Hanna Bay, the portside rod popped off and began to strain from the heavy head shakes of what would turn out to be a stunning 37-pound Chinook!  After an exciting battle, punctuated by many long runs, the 27”x 38” chrome missile was carefully landed onto the deck of our 22’ Bridgeview.  After a quick measurement, this big beauty was successfully released to continue his long Journey home!

Tipper