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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 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


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July 16, 2022 Duane Foerter0

It’s hard to believe but we are officially at the halfway point for the 2022 season up here at QCL!  After an unseasonably late start to “summer” in June, the past 2-3 weeks have been pretty awesome!  Lots of fish, better than average weather and so much fun on the water and back at the lodge.  We’ve enjoyed very healthy numbers of what we’d call “feeder salmon” in recent weeks.  Lots of Chinook salmon in the low-mid-teens and hungry Coho in the 6-8 pound class are keeping anglers busy throughout most of the fishing grounds.  The presence of larger Chinook has been increasing steadily with regular catches of those stunning twenty-somethings, and the Tyee Bell is ringing every night now in celebration of Tyee-class fish either kept or released. Everything is feeling more like a “normal” fishing season, just a little later this year.

We started off this week’s trip with a bang on Monday night at the Bell Ringer with David H cracking the bell four times after releasing a big beautiful Tyee that taped out to 43-pounds before guide Alex K carefully returned it to the water. Roger P celebrated releasing a 30-pounder with his partner and their guide Colton M and Dan B was turning heads with an impressive 42 lb Chinook that came back to the dock with guide Dan R.  We’ve been very fortunate to find solid salmon fishing off most every point of the fishing grounds, at the right stage of the tide, which have been especially large this week with ranges up to 18 feet!

However, nice calm seas on Monday thru Wednesday provided perfect conditions for any angler’s preference!  Halibut fishing is very reliable on most days and this week was no different with many anglers finding impressive fish over 30-pounds and some tangling with the proverbial “barn doors” out on the grounds. Finding that magic number where it’s “not too little but not too big” is a challenge that definitely comes with fishing and Dan S pretty much maxed out his opportunity, bringing a 55-pounder back to the Bell Ringer!  Lionel W turned back a 5-foot-long halibut that scored over 100 pounds and Matt C hauled up a 75-incher which scored 230-pounds!  But the big catch this week went to Josh P who battled an 87-inch behemoth that would weigh about 273 pounds if you could get it in the boat!  While not every angler wants to work that hard, there are endless possibilities out there for those who dream of catching a fish larger than themselves!  Up here we seem to do that every week.

This weekend the large tides will start to diminish and we’re enjoying light winds and a comfortable mix of cloud and sunshine… with the occasional shower tossed in for good measure!


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July 3, 2022 Duane Foerter0

Two weeks of steady, moderate and predictable northwesterly weather has been an unusual treat up here!  Looking ahead, it appears that we’ll see light variable winds start on Tuesday and carry on towards the weekend.  The good weather has provided consistent fishing throughout the grounds with abundant salmon in a mix of all 5 species.  Anglers are enjoying lots of action, often provided by scrappy 10-12 pound Chinooks, 5-9 pound Cohos and Chum, and large, hungry Pink salmon! The larger Chinooks are there and we’re getting the occasional Tyee but anglers are thrilled to see one of those 20-plus beauties alongside the boat!  Productive Chinook fishing has been around the usual haunts between Cape Naden, Parker Point, Bird 2, Yatze and Green Point.  We’ve been able to fish the east side comfortably on the morning flood tides and Cape Edenshaw has produced its share of nice Spring salmon on most mornings.

The offshore jigging action has been equally reliable with great results for both halibut and lingcod. Many anglers are enjoying the ability to retain two halibut in one day; a couple of teen-sized fish provide lots of beautiful 1-pound portion-pacs to enjoy with friends and family.  But quite a few guests are finding one of those “overs” (20-70 lb) and happily settle for just one.  Our portion packing service sure comes in handy to preserve all of your precious catch right through to next year.  (if you can resist eating it all up sooner!)And while you’re out there on the hunt for your big catch, you just never know who you might bump into!  QCL guests especially enjoy the almost constant presence of so much wildlife in the area.  Humpback whales, in particular, are feeding constantly in the same waters where we fish and frequently come around the boats, bringing thrills and chills to excited anglers!


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June 29, 2022 Duane Foerter0

It’s hard to believe… but June is almost over!  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, with full house trips right off the bat and a “green but keen” new crew to bring up to speed in a hurry.  But we have to say, it’s been a great start to the season with tons of memorable experiences and stories being created.

We’ve seen an unusually solid streak of moderate northwesterly weather in the latter half of this month, bringing lots of sunshine, but still cool temperatures.  Fishing in general had a slower start with delayed spring runoff from the mainland river systems and cold water, but by mid-June the migratory salmon were showing up in numbers and we’ve been catching all 5 salmon species ever since.  Lots of teen-sized Chinooks have dominated the catch and we’re seeing more 20-plus fish and Tyees reported every day.  Mark N boated a nice 32-pounder on the weekend with guide Nick R and Daniel T had an awesome trip, combining a 30-pound Chinook with a 32-pound lingcod!  Most anglers are going home with several “other” salmon, mostly a tasty combination of Coho and Pinks these days.

Our bottom fishing has always been outstanding out on the grounds with anglers’ favourite spots marked at depths from 175 to 325 feet!  But some know there are places where, at the right stage of the tide, large halibut are regularly caught in as little as 30-feet of water!  Just ask Brian M who boated a 49-pounder just a few minutes from the lodge or Desmond F who pulled a 55-pound halibut right out from beneath the Driftwood at Bird 2!  Sometimes in life, an in fishing, it helps to think outside the box!  Good work guys!


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June 21, 2022 Duane Foerter0

Light winds from the west and a generous dose of sunshine really delivered some summer vibes for our guests this week.  It certainly helped that the fish were around, and everybody had their chances at some really nice salmon and groundfish.  The average Chinooks are still in the low to mid-teens but we’re definitely seeing more fish in the twenty-plus class and the Tyee Bell gets to sing most every night for some of those larger salmon, halibut and lingcod. This week we saw all five salmon species on the dock which is always a good sign of things to come.  Some of the outstanding catches were 33-pound Chinooks for Andy B (guide Alex) and Paul C (with guide Anton) last trip.  While there were no giant halibut released last week, QCL anglers managed to find lots of keepers in both the “under” (<90 cm) and “over” (90-133 cm) classes. Several anglers found impressive fish between 30 and 46 pounds, which always draw some attention at the Bell Ringer.

The weekend saw some blustery northwesterlies on Saturday but the salmon really seemed to like it… because the action from Klashwun Point down to Parker was very good on the ebb tide.  Solid numbers of teen-sized Chinooks were taken, with a surprising number of Coho, Chum and Pink salmon mixed in. Curtis L landed a fine 31-pound Tyee with his buds and veteran QCL guide Derek P in those lumpy seas on Saturday so he’s got a great story to tell!   Sunday flattened right out to pancake seas for Father’s Day and we scattered over the whole fishing grounds to pick up limits of halibut and lingcod.  Jim M released a big halibut that taped out to 180-pounds & Brian H turned back a 92.  First time angler Erin R battled her first halibut, which just happened to be an 82-pounder (Wow!) and veteran QCL guest Dana B released a 77.  This week is shaping up nicely with a busy Bell Ringer last night, celebrating several nice halibut and lingcod in the 25 to 40-pound class.  While we didn’t see a Tyee Chinook yesterday there were several in the mid-twenties so we’ll see what today’s effort brings!  We’ve got light to moderate northwesterlies all week with daily doses of sunshine, so everyone is enjoying beautiful Haida Gwaii weather through the weekend.


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June 2, 2022 Duane Foerter0

After what felt like the longest wait ever… we were absolutely thrilled to welcome our first QCL guests of the 2022 season on Friday.  And it felt so good!  While every guest who popped out of a helicopter was wearing a mask, once they took it off, the smiles were a mile wide.  Many of our guests this season booked their trip in the summer of 2019!  And finally, they’re here.
An awesome crew of talented and enthusiastic staff have just come through training week with flying colours and they’re looking forward to the next 100 days, working together here in Naden Harbour.

Our first group of guests found pretty typical early season angling with good numbers of teen-sized Chinook salmon sprinkled with a bunch of twenty-somethings to keep them on their toes.  Our first Tyee of the summer arrived on the dock on Day One when Fred M and his guide Gerritt put a 31-pounder on the scale.  While effort was well distributed around the fishing grounds, Cape Edenshaw was where we found most of the action on the weekend. Early season halibut are commonly found in close to the kelp and this May weekend was no different with several nice flatties picked up while trolling bait close to shore.  But we did see quite a few come in from the usual haunts, with some larger-sized fish among them.  Top “keepers” were a 37 for David R, a 39 for Patrick M and an impressive 63-pounder for Myles M!  Of course, there are always halibut out there that are just too big to keep!  Michael J released a 73-pounder on Friday, Lauren D turned back a 92 on Sunday and Carole T battled a “barn-door” halibut that taped out to 180 cm for a score of 188 pounds!  Those are some impressive fish for sure!  Well done!

Our culinary team under the direction of Chef Chris Green have outdone themselves once again this season with exciting new menus in the Main Lodge dining room as well as in the Totem House and Charlotte House.  First impressions have been awesome so our guests should look forward to memorable dining to compliment their incredible experiences out on the water this summer!