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
It’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
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!
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!
Moderate northwesterlies through last week gave way to light variable conditions through the weekend, but we’re expecting another week of westerlies to start on Wednesday. All this means is that the fishing has been fantastic and should remain so. There’s lots of bait inshore now and we’ve seen excellent volumes of Coho as well as Chinooks move inshore with it. Lots of really feisty 18-24 pounders are in the current mix. As a result, more anglers are fishing the usual rocks and kelp beds, leaving the offshore and pinnacles turf for bottom fishing. Moderate tides this week are extending the productive fishing periods around points like Cape Naden, Parker, Klashwun and Eagle Rock.
It’s been a great week for Tyees with lots of bell ringin’going on down at the dock. Gorana B was the queen last week, releasing her first Tyee over 40, a chrome beauty that was taped out to 41-pounds by veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras. Marie G did just fine as well, boating 30 and 31 pounders with guide Jeff Smirfitt on Monday and Tuesday. Deborah B completed her mission on Thursday, releasing a solid 31-pounder with her guide Nic Rasovic. The guys weren’t left out…we had several fish in the low-30’s, some kept and some released. Josh K returned to the Bell Ringer with a nice 36 lb Tyee and Taylor R turned back a 34. The most noise at the bell was made by Keith B who hauled up one of those barn-door halibut, this one scoring out over 200 pounds!
The weekend catch was no less impressive… with Devon W releasing a beautiful 45-pound Chinook at Cape Naden on Sunday morning, fishing with guide Neil Wood. Saturday saw Don T release a 40-pounder with his son Brett on the net. That was the encore to the 33-pounder they released on Friday! And the annual Tyee derby between brothers Conrad, Gerhart and Willy saw 31, 32, 33 and 32 pounders caught and released with their guides Kylie Tokairin and Danny Hollins. That means a lot of action down at the Bell Ringer! Great job folks!
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 take 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. On 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.
At 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.
Every 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.
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!
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide
Well, as much as we enjoyed (what feels like a record) 8 days of light variable winds and flat, flat water, it’s nice to get a little back to “normal”. Southerly winds flanked the islands on both east and western shores leaving a giant flat zone on our northern coast. The fog and glassy water were interesting but we like a little wind to move the bait around and concentrate the salmon. And that’s what happened this week as the inshore salmon fishing improved steadily every day. There are some big Chinooks in the water these days and QCL anglers enjoyed tangling with quite a few of them! ( In the photo above, angler Will K celebrates briefly with QCL guide Nic Rasovic before they release a gorgeous 43-pounder! ) Cape Naden, Bird One, Parker, B2 , Klash…every point has turned out some beautiful Tyee-class fish this week. Along the kelp we’re finding them fairly shallow at 25-35 feet much of the time, especially on this week’s morning ebb tides. Offshore the pinnacles are seeing a lot of traffic as big schools of Coho are making their way through the grounds. Trolling deep between 70 & 120 feet we’re picking up those nice silver bullets, with enough 15-20 pound Chinooks mixed in to really make things interesting!
Halibut action has been busy but there are so many “chickens” out there it’s taking some effort to weed through them to get those treasured 30-pounders! And of course, in the middle of all that, we find some giants. Young Jarret C was jigging with his Dad and veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras when they hooked onto a monster that eventually taped out to just over 6-feet long, more than 200 pounds! That makes quite an impression when you’re 12-years-old! And for some anglers, winning a tug-o-war with a big ‘but is something of a fixation! Such was the case for Roxy S this week. For 17-years she’s been coming up to the Lodge and has certainly caught her share of big fish. But the one prize that’s eluded her was the 100-pound halibut. Well this was the week…on Monday, the eighth glassy calm day, Roxy coaxed her partner Cal out to the halibut grounds to give it another try. She had to pull quite a few fish up from 200-plus feet but ultimately was rewarded with the one she was looking for. With some help from the Fishmaster they taped the big fish out to 60-inches, scoring at 109 pounds, and Roxy had finally achieved her goal. Congratulations Roxy! That gold pin looks mighty fine on your shawl!
Well it was WTF (Women that Fish) Derby weekend here at QCL, with 13 ladies from various locations across North America. The conditions have been excellent with calm seas and fairly clear skies. This has made for a very amusing couple of days on the water, with some decent fish being caught and lots of laughs!
Today we decided to spend the morning grinding it out at Cape Naden in hopes of hooking a derby winner. After a slow start we managed to put three teen-sized Chinook in the box before lunch. We also had the privilege of watching an amazing show put on by a Humpback whale that was feeding out on the horizon. All in all in it was a great morning on the water!
After lunch we decided to grab a couple halibut and then finished the day back at Naden, where we managed a nice 20lber that put up a very acrobatic fight! With another beauty day in the forecast to finish off the WTF Derby, I am looking forward to spending another day searching for the big one that the ladies have been referring to as “Walter”.
Tights lines from Naden Harbour!
Mid-season fishing is living up to expectations with the arrival of plentiful Coho salmon offshore to augment the Chinook action we’ve enjoyed off the kelp beds. Though we’re seeing some big ones up to 13 pounds, they’re averaging about 6½and we’re getting them from the surface down to 120 feet so it’s an adventure hunting for them! Most anglers are seeing success on Chinooks in closer to shore in all the favourite spots. Cape Naden has been productive, fishing shallow through the ebb tide, QCL guests have done very well there recently. Likewise, the busy water in the rip between Klashwun Point and Shag Rock has turned out some really good Chinook action – with all the challenges that come with fishing a rip! In the past week we’ve seen quite a few nice Tyees in the high 30’s and some in the low 40’s come to the boat. These are such stunning fish and we’re especially happy when a guest elects to turn them back in hopes that they’ll return to their home streams.
Halibut fishing has been reliable as always with most anglers taking their limit home. The regulation change for this season is going over very well –anglers can choose to take either – two fish under 90 cm length or one between 90 and 126 cm length. That’s a maximum halibut size of roughly 55-pounds for those who like the big ones! We’re still seeing a few of those 100 pound-plus giants alongside the boat this summer –loads of excitement whenever that happens!
Talk about exciting, how about doing battle with a sea lion over a 75-pound halibut! That happened to Nancy & Tim L while they were fishing off the Little Peanut last weekend. Nancy had hooked a pretty big halibut and almost had it to the boat. They knew it was oversized and were prepared to release it when a sea lion grabbed it by the tail before they got it to the boat! It was literally a tug of war with the sea lion pulling the halibut around by the tail and Nancy reeling away on its lips! This went on for a few minutes; the halibut was too big for the sea lion to do his usual damage, especially with Nancy yanking it away every time he released his grip. Unbelievably they eventually boated the halibut; it was quite alive and the teeth of the sea lion had not even penetrated the skin! They had to release it but there was no way they were giving it back to the sea lion. So they put the boat in gear and drove off a few hundred yards in hopes of eluding the hungry sea lion. But he was right there with them. Luckily the Fishmaster was close by so they recruited him to distract the sea lion and they were able to release it! Great job you two! Hopefully the free-swimming halibut got away okay. Crazy stuff happens when you’re fishing!