Well here it is, September already, and once again we’re making the annual fall migration south to “the real world.” Gone are those beautifully casual 5-minute commutes down the beach to the lodge or to the dock. (You don’t want to hear what the alternative is like!) The early morning light is now delayed past 7:00 and it’s coming later and later every day. (Fun fact: In June we enjoy 17 hours of daylight… in December it’ll be just over 7 hours!)
The 2018 season will be noted for exceptional Coho fishing (offshore), a windy July, smaller Chinooks, Steak & Lobster in the Bell Ringer, friendly medical doctors onsite 24/7, more GPS hotspots on the map, quick & easy halibut, fresh sushi on the deck and a 4th beautiful big red boat on the water! QCL guests returned home with more varieties of fish in their boxes and many of them opted to add some tasty BC specialties like smoked sablefish and spot prawns. It seems we saw fewer whales overall this summer and the same 5 sea lions were roaming around the grounds much of the time.
The staff this summer was outstanding. We had the benefit of several leaders returning in key positions to maintain consistency in training and operations. And it’s always exciting to watch the stars emerge from the ranks of new staff as the season gets rolling. Some of the most memorable moments come when we welcome the return of a guest who was here 10 or 20 years ago. Their impressions of the “new QCL” are pretty wonderful and their recollections of “how it was” are heartwarming. While we’ve made a lot of changes to the program and marked improvements to the facility, we’ve tried very hard to maintain the quality and the style of service that we built our reputation on. That will always be priority #1.
What a wrap to the 2018 season! While it might have been a bit of a slow start (by our standards) to the season this year, the past month has been cracker jack! Good weather and tons of fish around has sent a lot of smiling faces home in recent weeks. It’s taking some getting used to but the offshore fishery has been incredible. We’re finding offshore trolling tacks that are producing great results at depths from 55 to 75 to 95 feet and deeper. This is producing reliable catches of gorgeous Coho to 16 pounds, quite a few hefty Chum in the mid-teens and Chinooks to 20 pounds. Halibut catches are virtually instantaneous when you touch bottom; but you do have to weed through somme chickens to find the turkeys! All good fun.
Our inshore fishing for Chinook salmon requires a different approach but it’s no less rewarding. The Tyee catch has been pretty consistent this month with several beauties in the low to mid-thirties coming to the boat every trip. And, just to keep everyone on their toes, there have been enough huge Chinooks around to reward the most dedicated Tyee angler! And it’s surprising how it can happen! Last week, on the first drop of the trip with his guests Bill and son Robert, veteran QCL guide Derek “Demo” Poitras started out at Parker Point. The herring must have landed right on its nose but before they had the second line in the water Robert was onto a heavy fish! After a serious tug-o-war, Derek slipped the net beneath a huge chrome buck and it was high-fives all around. Wasting no time they did a quick measurement and this “king of salmon” was back in the water and on its way again. Taped out to 47-pounds it was one of the largest fish of the season. Fantastic catch Robert! Well played and kudos to you for choosing to let him go!
On the next day Jason A was on board One-Fifteen with guide Lance Mercer. Cape Naden has been especially productive this summer and Lance had “that feeling” when they decided to drop in there first thing. It didn’t happen right away but after an hour of teasing an anchovy along the kelp they were rewarded with a big hit and a screaming reel. Jason worked the heavy fish masterfully and Lance was able to keep them out of the kelp. This big beauty taped out to 44 pounds and Jason never hesitated to send it back in hopes that it’ll return to its home stream! Congratulations guys and well done!
Things are still going strong here at QCL, with a good assortment of fish spread across our fishing grounds. Daily catches have ranged from Coho, Chum and Chinook action offshore to the odd Tyee-class salmon being picked up at some of our well known inshore points. Our best success inshore has certainly come as a result of the “stick, stay, make it pay” method of fishing, in order to catch the random snap bites that take place throughout the day. Fortunately, we have also had the privilege of extremely calm waters over the past week, which always gives some of our hotspots a real “fishy” feeling.
On Thursday morning at Cape Naden that “fishy” feeling was certainly in the air. As we made our way onto the fishing grounds I overheard some radio chatter about a few fish already being picked up Bird 2. Yet as we cruised past Naden something told me I should probably stop in for at least a pass or two.
That pass or two turned into an hour and a half at Naden with no bites, yet all four of us on board were optimistic that something was going to happen. Finally, around 9:30am, the screaming sound from our back rod interrupted a peaceful morning on the water. My guest, Dave R grabbed the rod, with no hook set needed, as the fish already had the Islander reel sizzling. We immediately cleared our other two rods, as we knew we were in for a battle! After a long first run that seemed like it may not end, Dave was finally able to slowly work the fish to the boat for our first look. At that point it was pretty clear we had a Tyee on the line and off it went for another powerful run. After a lengthy tug-o-war with this large specimen, we were finally able to put it in the bag! After some high fives and a few loud cheers, we brought the fish into the boat for a measurement and a few quick photos. This fish was then released to continue its migratory journey to its home river. This big silver beauty taped out to 46 pounds! Congrats Dave! Thanks for choosing to let it go!
Later on at the Bell Ringer things were buzzing, as there was also a 45 caught and released at Cape Edenshaw that morning, along with a few more Tyees caught at various spots on our western fishing grounds. Things are shaping up well for a great end to yet another season in Haida Gwaii!
Tight lines and silver smiles!
There is no better way to get up each morning than having your hands on the steering wheel and a crisp breeze on your cheeks, smoothly carving through the waters of Naden Harbour.
This week I have the pleasure to share my boat with Rick and Michelle, who are about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary! We started our day on the west side of our fishing grounds at one of my favourite areas to fish; Yatze bay, which is on the east side of Klashwun Point. We dropped lines and were blessed with a hit within moments, the lines singing and the thrill of the fight gleaming in our eyes. Unfortunately, after several minutes the fish shook the hooks, but we did not let that dampen our spirits. Our day on the water had just begun after all! It wasn’t long thereafter that we landed and released a beautiful 12 pound Chinook, sending it on its way and telling it to bring its big daddy. But the flurry wasn’t over yet. As we worked together to drop our lines once more I heard Michelle pipe up from the front of the boat where she was watching the rod behind me as I was finishing dropping the third line. “Jaxon, is the rod supposed to be doing that?”
Whipping around I see the rod tip rising as the fish took our bait from below and rush towards the surface. Yelling “Fish On!” Rick and I raced to prepare the boat, clearing lines and steering downwind of where the fish was running. But it wasn’t long before it wrapped itself around the prop and the back line as it ripped through the water around us. It was desperate to get off our line. But it was no match for us. It was like the three of us had fished together our entire lives as Michelle masterfully maneuvered the rod around the prop, Rick raising the engine while I quickly cut the back line while helping Michelle keep the line away from the engine as the fish jumped around us. It was a show for the ages, with only the eagles as our audience. It wasn’t long after that we landed the stunning 20 lb Chinook for the box. High fives and beaming smiles filled the boat.
We ended our day with four beautiful fish; 25, 20, 19 and 13 lb Chinooks, the smallest of which had unfortunately taken our hooks through the gills. Ecstatic with the amazing start to the trip we called it a day and headed back to the barn to celebrate our success, and prepare for the next!
Jaxon “Mr. Clean”
What a week it’s been! With easy access to the whole fishing grounds, QCL anglers last week enjoyed one of the fishiest trips of the season. Working the inshore sweet spots from Green Point all the way around to Cape Naden, our guests found their share of chunky Chinooks, many in the 21 to 28 pound class, with lots of high-teeners and enough Tyees to keep it interesting!
It was certainly a good trip for Saskatchewan angler David S, visiting the Lodge for his 8thtime, when he joined the QCL Tyee Club, boating a beautiful 37-pound Chinook with his guide Mark Kasumovich and fishing buddy John P. Andy S came from Washington state to enjoy some great QCL fishing and was rewarded with a 41 pounder with some help from his guide Tristan O’Brian. Gary V, fishing with his wife Janice and veteran QCL guide Nick Mercer, returned to the Bell Ringer with one of the season’s largest salmon, a stunning Tyee that tipped the scale at 45 pounds! For a lot of first-timers, seeing some big salmon up close is pretty inspiring, hopeful that they will get a chance to tangle with one like that someday!
When our guests chose to move offshore they found it pretty easy to “double-up”on their efforts. Halibut fishing has been a breeze lately, with many boats investing a whole 30-minutes to pick up a couple of nice “chickens”for the freezer. While they’re out there they spend more time trolling for Coho and they’re finding really nice fish. We’re seeing 12-13 pounders every day now and the occasional 14-15. The second half of August will be pretty exciting!
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 that’s when the determined angler utters those magic words…“Just 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 it’s natal stream and it’ll spawn successfully. Certainly there will be lots of anglers 4 or 5 years from now who will thank Derek for giving it the chance!
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.
Overnight 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!
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!