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October 18, 2019 Duane Foerter0

Well that’s a wrap… literally, for the 2019 season.  While our last guests departed over a month ago, along with almost all of our staff, a devoted group of lodge operations people form the Rigdown Crew.  They work in small teams to carefully put the various parts of the lodge to bed for the winter.  The hospitality and food services teams need about a week to complete the inventory, do a final cleanup and store everything away.  The fishing ops group need a bit more time as they have to completely decommission their floating dock operation and move everything to safe storage on land – after all the counting and cleaning.

Once they’re done the property crew can finally start to make the big moves!  Disconnecting all the services to the marina – water, power and communications lines – they all need to be pulled ashore.  The four separate floats that comprise the marina have to be winterized, boarded and tarped from the weather before they are each towed across the harbour to their winter anchorage; a job that can only be accomplished when the weather and tides are just right.

And the boats!  That’s a major project in itself.  All of the smaller aluminum boats come ashore where the engines are removed, the rigging is checked and they’re lined up on land.  All of the big boats, Gradys and Bridgeviews, are moved to an indoor storage facility down at Sandspit on Moresby Island.  So that’s a run to Masset, and a trailer trip down island to the ferry at Skidegate, enroute to storage at Sandspit.  It’s a big project but it allows us to work on all of those boats through the winter.

Back on land, most of the buildings have to winterized as they’ll be empty and cold until April.  The exceptions are the log buildings which are all heated via central boilers and/or heat recovery systems running off the diesel power plants. Then there’s the exterior protection – the famous tarping of the lodges.  Winter weather in Naden Harbour comes primarily from the southeast – that’s pretty much straight onshore for us!  That’s a lot of rain and wind coming at the buildings, usually sideways!  For protection we’ve developed a system of using tarps and strapping that covers the windward face of the lodges, preventing the driving rain from penetrating.  Together with a little central heating we’re able to keep these facilities in really great shape.

So, the Rigdown Crew has been busy!  But they’re all done Tarping the lodge for winternow and all except two have returned south for a well-deserved break!  Over the next few months there are always a crew of 2 or 3 onsite, watching over the property and attending to lists and lists of off-season tasks outlined by each manager before they left.  There’s a shortlist of available crew who share a stint in Naden Harbour over the winter – an assignment that’s not for everyone but just great for a select few!  And, before we know it, it’ll be time to unpack and start it all over again!

 


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October 5, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL and the rest of the Sport Fishing Industry were notified in mid-September that one of our major competitors were suspending operations. This was definitely a shock as they have hosted thousands of guests since opening their doors in 1994.  West Coast Resorts operated two lodges on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, so we know that their customers will miss fishing at Englefield Bay and Hippa Island.

QCL estimates that 2000 or more avid WCR clients will be looking for a new home in Haida Gwaii. It would be an understatement to say that our phones and Sales Executives have been busy since this announcement.  As the dust starts to settle and we review our 2020 bookings we see that we are just now over 70% booked for 2020.  Another way to look at things is that we only closed our doors for the 2019 season 30 days ago and we are already almost three quarters full.

We are excited to be booked to this level as the 2020 season is still almost a year away. We are happy with this up-turn in business, however, we are also worried about our existing, loyal guests. We have made every attempt to reach out and let folks know about WCR and the effect this has had on our available space. We want to make sure our existing QCL clients have a chance to reserve their preferred space so we urge you to reach out to us and let us know what your thoughts and plans are for 2020.  After a great 2019 fishing season we want to see you make it back up to QCL in Haida Gwaii for another amazing trip next year. Help us help you!   We strongly suggest you call us soon at 1.800.688.8959


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September 24, 2019 Duane Foerter0

The bears have moved to the streams and the sound of the geese staging in the estuary rings across the harbour…Autumn has arrived.  Our lodge guests have been home for a while now, sharing their tasty fish dinners with friends and family, spiced with lively stories of how they managed to catch such wonderful food.  Another summer of fishing, friendship and fun has concluded at QCL, for the 29thyear!

It’s amazing how each season unfolds.  As familiar as it is to those of us fortunate enough to be here every year, there is always some mystery in how it will all turn out. The weather and the fish are the obvious wildcards…cross your fingers on that!  But the parts that are within our control are what we have the most fun with. It’s thrilling to roll out a new program each season and see how everyone likes it.  Sometimes it’s a facility change, like the beachside sauna and hot tub or Smoke & Oak –our whisky and cigar retreat on the hill.  Last year we launched a Steak & Lobster dinner at The Bell Ringer.  This season we introduced an exciting fleet of 8 beautiful new boats to help bring our guided fishing program up to where we want it.  Next summer…who knows?

Certainly, we hope that our guests enjoy our programs and facilities; and by all accounts we think they do, but it’s the hospitality of our people that they appreciate the most.  We feel that our QCL staff truly enjoy being here, helping to create a memorable QCL experience for all of our guests.  At the end of the day, and at the end of the season, that’s what matters most.  Thanks ever so much to all of our guests who joined us in Naden Harbour this summer and to all of our staff and management who made it all come together! We hope to see you next year!


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August 24, 2019 Duane Foerter2

QCL salmon fishingIt’s crazy realizing you are in the good old days. That these times here in beautiful Haida Gwaii will someday be just a fond memory. Tomorrow I leave this place after a great season with new scars, memories, pictures and fish – none of which can do it justice. This is a place full of endless adventure, almost untouched wilderness and 140 like-minded co-workers to experience it all alongside. When you come here you take a step back from reality and the hustle and bustle of concrete and traffic. An amazing escape that keeps people coming back year after year. As somebody once said to me, this is not the real world it’s the “reel” world.

– Jake Harach

QCL Haida Gwaii


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August 21, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL salmon fishing Well just when we were bragging about how great the weather has been this summer, we’ve had a couple of “rock ‘n roll”shows this week!  On the weekend, some good old-fashioned northwesterly winds bumped up the energy level a notch and we discovered that fishing is really good inshore!  From Bird 2 all the way past the Mazzaredo Islands and over towards Inskip Point, QCL guests found loads of terrific salmon action.  Admittedly we didn’t see so many halibut but everybody was busy!

Tyee Chinook salmon C&R

 

One exception on Friday was a stunning big Tyee, hooked up at Eagle Rock by guest Larry C, fishing with guide Nic Rasovic in the 102.  It might have been some good luck that Nic’s Dad was aboard as Larry’s fishing partner, but after an epic battle Nic slipped the net beneath a big chrome beauty that he quickly taped out to 48-pounds before getting it back in the water!  It took Nic a while to revive the huge Chinook but with some assistance from Fishmaster Trevor Harris they were thrilled to see it swim away with nice strong strokes of its tail.  Congratulations Larry!  Well done boys!  Always amazing to see this caliber of fish and thanks for sending her back!

The fishing has been steady through the weekend and into Monday as well.  Here’s a few shots of the kind of action we’re enjoying… No napping in the boat these days!


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August 16, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL salmon fishingThe tides of August have been generous so far and QCL anglers have certainly enjoyed the benefits! The salmon action has been outstanding, particularly for beautiful strong Chinooks in the 15-25-pound class. We’re getting them inshore in all the favourite places too. Coho action has been productive but more widespread, with anglers generally targeting waters a little farther offshore in 150-225 feet, fishing from the surface down to around 60-feet. The numbers are there but the bulk of Coho are still averaging under 10-pounds, a little lighter than normal for this time of the season. But no one is complaining with these chrome-silver bullets providing tons of exciting action wherever we find them! Down at the Bell Ringer, the sound of the Tyee Bell is pretty common each evening with a few over-30’s being either reported or weighed-in every trip.

QCL salmon fishingThis week our two largest Chinooks, both scoring out at 42-pounds, were released. Fishing with veteran QCL guide Tegan Baxter, Ray P turned back a stunning fish on Monday and on Thursday an equally impressive Tyee was released by Odon D and his guide Kyle Bell. Great work guys and thanks for choosing to release those amazing fish!

With only 5 trips left to go for the 2019 season we’re super-thrilled to see such consistent fishing and particularly good weather! There’s no space left this year but we’d certainly encourage anyone hoping to come up next summer to make plans now as most everyone is talking about their return trip in 2020!

QCL Haida Gwaii


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August 5, 2019 Duane Foerter0

Here it is…August!  It’s prime time for many fisheries on the coast with all salmon species on the move.  Last week we had a “Salmon Grand Slam”–Audrey C came all the way from Quebec and during her weekend stay she caught all 5 species of Pacific salmon!  Surprisingly we don’t see that very often, mainly because we don’t catch many sockeye.

Catch & Release TyeeOur salmon fishery has been outstanding this summer, with solid salmon populations feeding and moving through Virago Sound. The last 3 weeks of July were dominated by light variable and mainly southerly winds so the days on the water have been especially comfortable!  Those conditions do tend to let the bait drift out into the open water though and our efforts have definitely been rewarded out there.  More than half the salmon catch in July was taken out where we would traditionally fish for halibut.  We’re finding lots of Coho in the top 60 feet as we would expect but Chinook fishing has been especially productive in the same areas, just down deeper at 100 to 140 feet.

Catch & Release TyeeThe classic inshore fishery for Chinooks has really turned on lately.  Anglers working the kelp beds and the rocky points are finding beautiful Tyee-class fish at all the favourite spots.  Cape Naden, Parker Point and Bird 2 have probably been the most consistent spots but we’re also seeing big fish coming from Cape Edenshaw, B1, Yatze, Eagle Rock and Klashwun Point.  No surprises there!  The Tyee Bell has been ringing most every night with a mix of big Chinooks in the 30’s and 40’s recorded.  Each trip we’ve managed to release a number of these big beauties and lots of anglers are discovering how great it feels to watch a huge salmon swim away with strong sweeps of its tail!  This week Mark A. released a 46-pound Tyee at Parker Pt. with guide Jake Harach and Dick R. turned back a stunning big female that taped out to 47-pounds with guide Kylie Tokairin.  Last week John M. released a 40-pounder with guide Tristan O’Brian and Chris P., fishing with Kevin Clough, also released a real nice 40-pounder at Bird Two.  Congratulations All!

So far we’ve seen only a few of those hook-nosed “Northern”Coho come through and as we move into August we’re sure to encounter lots more of them in the coming weeks.  But there’s certainly no shortage of nice fish out there to stock up the freezer with some nice filets and portion-packed chunks!

We’re just coming off a period of huge spring tides with last week’s new moon –18.0 foot high and 0.3 foot low –and we’ve got 6-7 days of moderate northwesterlies going on right now.  So it’s all coming together for some epic salmon action as we head into the second week of August –already!  Stay tuned!QCL salmon fishing

 


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August 4, 2019 Duane Foerter0

The adventures here in the northern waters of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) are as boundless as they are memorable this time of year. Each day fishing vessels depart the harbour full of excitement, sharp hooks, and people sure to tQCL salmon fishingake in all that the stunning ocean will provide. Wednesday morning was no different. After carefully selecting a herring lure and tightening our lines into the tranquil waters of Cape Naden, my guest landed a Chinook salmon tipping over the 40 lb. mark!  With the aromas of lunch cooking aboard the MV Driftwood wafting across the fishing hole we decided to stop for lunch. Our appetites were itching for the satisfaction of a hot meal as one might expect. We decided after lunch that we might as well see what other trouble we could get ourselves into for the afternoon, what fish we could find and what sights we could see. QCL salmon fishingOn our way off shore large black dorsal fins gently broke the surface off the starboard bow of vessel 93, creatures of the deep indeed. I slowed the boat and turned off the motor so the orcas had the room and safety to transit the ocean ahead. A baby orca and two adults slipped back under water and then surfaced, looked us square in the eyes and dipped under water again. Cameras were snapping and smiles and grins spread across the boat, we had no choice. The orca parents looked right at us again and there was a space of time where we all shared a moment. Our breath taken and hearts pounding we continued on our way. Another day at Queen Charlotte Lodge on track to be, dare I say, unforgettable.

Logan Allen
Fishing Guide


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July 31, 2019 Duane Foerter0

barotrauma in rockfishAt QCL we have always been known for our salmon fishing but we have seen a large increase in the past 5 years of our guests targeting rockfish.  If you didn’t know, many of these fish live up to 80 years with the Yelloweye species living up to 118 years or more!  Since 2017 we have seen changes in the catch and retention limits for rockfish as well as the species we are able to keep. These measures have been put in place to help keep these species of fish around forever.

When reeling rockfish up from depths over 200 feet they often get what is called barotrauma. This quick change in pressure causes their swim bladder to expand and protrude out of their mouth and their eyes to bulge out.

 

 

SeaQualizer for barotraumaEvery boat at QCL comes equipped with a descending device. These devices are designed to allow the fish to recompress and swim away at the desired depth the device is set for – for us that’s usually at 150 feet. The jaws of the device close on the fish’s lower lip and the device gets attached to your downrigger. The device is set to release at a select depth and the jaws will open once the downrigger gets there, letting the fish swim free.

barotraumaThere are many of these devices on the market now, all designed to allow these fish to recover and swim away. We are using the SeaQualizer device on all our boats.

There has been much debate as to if these devices work properly. I use this device every day and I was curious as to how well it worked.  So I started watching and recording the release using the image on the Lowrance HDS9 in my boat.  If you look at the photo of the screen, you can see the cannonball descending with the fish attached via the SeaQualizer.  At about 160-feet, you can see that the device opens up as designed and the rockfish (yelloweye) releases from the cannonball, swimming back towards the bottom.  It feels great to let these fish go back to their habitat to hopefully keep these species around forever!

Best Regards,
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide


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July 26, 2019 Duane Foerter0

Beep* beep* beep* beep*

The sound of my alarm clock marks the beginning of another day in Haida Gwaii. Before I can turn off my alarm salmon are already on the brain.  What are the tides doing? What is the wind direction? Where were they “gettin’ em” yesterday?
I meet my guests on the dock and brimming with excitement we head back out onto the fishing grounds. With a great first days catch under our belts were feeling confident and can’t wait to do it all over again.
We come around the corner of Naden and realize the flat calm water of yesterday has been replaced with rain, wind and waves but we don’t let it dampen our spirits and my guests are already into the beers.
Out of nowhere a humpback launches itself clean out of the water and we are all left speechless. Not long later the reels are screaming and we’ve hooked our first Chinooks of the day.
Four great days and countless fish later the trip is over and my guests return to their lives surely never to forget their time up here.
What a job, I can’t believe they pay me to do this.
Another trip for the books and I crash back into bed…

Beep* Beep* beep* beep*

What will today hold?
I don’t know but I know it will surely be incredible.

Jake Harrach


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