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June 21, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Walter and the Hare

Best described as a race between two creatures, this fable outlines the importance of patience and consistency in life. The season has been off to a great start, even though the salmon have not yet returned in the usual numbers that were seen in seasons past. As guests flock from all corners of the country and even world  in search of the elusive Tyee salmon. Aptly named ‘Walter’ by those in the know.

The one thing that remains constant is the amenities and service  that compliment pristine wildlife, and bottom fishing. Whether it’s a super pod of orca moving through Virago Sound hunting in a uniform line, Humpback whales feeding in 30 feet of water off Bird 1, or Dall’s porpoises breaching an arm’s reach from the boat. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze. All of these natural wonders come as a result of the patience and consistency that are required to locate and land Walter. There have been several sightings of him so far and as we remain hopeful that these newly arrived northwesterly winds will bring with it good fortune. The one thing that remains constant is experiencing fishing first class.

Hope to see you on the water soon.

Sean “Mayo”


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June 20, 2018 Duane Foerter0

All this blue sky is a little overwhelming to most of us up here!  The temperature hit 21 degrees yesterday and we can hardly stand it!  (But I’m sure we’ll adapt!)  As we hoped and expected, the northwesterlies have been pushing bait into the sound and our salmon fishing is picking up noticeably every day.  Although it’s been a slow start throughout the north coast of Haida Gwaii, we’re seeing an abundance of herring and needlefish and the Chinooks are coming along.  Finding them is a test for many anglers though.

Halibut & Lingcod a PlentyToday Parker Point lit up nicely during the early flood tide with some nice mid-twenties Chinooks picked up.  But at the same time, guides are finding feeders offshore in 150-250 feet of water, fishing anchovies down 50-80 feet.  Sporadic salmon action but usually productive for the persistent!  A beautiful 28-pounder was released yesterday by Christopher D while fishing with guide Tristan O’Brian.  That’s a nice fish boys, well done!

We’re starting to see all the other salmon species showing up now with some mid-teen-sized Chum hitting the dock and reports of Pinks and a couple of Sockeye.  Every once in a while you get a surprise and that happened to day for guide Luke Wagner when his guest Nicole landed a stunning Coho that tipped the scale at 12-pounds!  A nice big one for so early in the season!

QCL Chinook Salmon fishingOur 16th Annual Kingfisher Derby wrapped up on Sunday with the usual suspense.  With an additional 7 anglers signing on at the last minute the purse grew nicely and the grand prize for largest Chinook released bumped up to $55,000!  Phil Mudge, fishing with guide Kevin Clough at Bird 2, was leading after Day 2 with a nice Tyee that scored 31.36.  But we knew there were more Tyees hanging around out there.  Sunday morning broke and around 0800 Randy Rognlin, fishing with guide Matt Burr at Cape Naden, registered a beauty that scored 32.91, taking the lead.  Later in the morning a non-derby angler held up a nice big Tyee at Parker Point that was even bigger, just a reminder that no one was quitting before the final bell at 1900 on Sunday night.

Salmon fishing at QCLIn the end however, Randy’s Tyee held to take the top prize and the Bell Ringer was rocking!  Derby Master Mike Reading presented cheques to all the winners with Phil Mudge getting $30000 with his 31.36, Chris Waters got $15000 for a 27.42 and 4th prize of $7000 went to Mike Lane for a Chinook scoring 26.8.  Interestingly the largest killed fish also scored 26.8 to take the $10000 prize for that category.  Another $7000 was awarded in day prizes.  A big thank you to all participants for coming up and we’re happy to hear that most of them are planning to return next year to try again!  It’s always a fun and exciting weekend!


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June 15, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Yay!  A shift in the winds to northwesterly this week is bringing some welcome sunshine and the promise of great fishing for the next couple weeks.  We’ve been able to get offshore regularly to check out our favourite halibut holes and are happy to report that all is well in that department!  But while we’re out there we’re seeing significant amounts of bait –big herring and mature sandlance –that persistent NW winds tend to drive south into Virago Sound and our inshore fishing grounds.  The Chinook fishing has not yet ramped up to “normal”but it is improving steadily.  Guests and guides are putting some time in at all the favourite haunts now and we’re seeing some nice fish come to the boat.  Another Tyee yesterday, a 31-pounder for veteran QCL guest Matt A was a nice addition to the chorus of Tyee bell ringers on the dock. Matt was joined by his son Trevor who was thrilled to haul up a chunky halibut that taped out to 60 pounds before being released.

A bit of novel news from this week is the success of two boats who chose to avoid some gnarly weather on Tuesday Chinook salmon fishing at QCLand fish inside the harbour.  One boat, guided by Sam Johnstone, was jigging for halibut and connected with a good fish alongside the deep channel leading north out to sea.  After a 20 minute tussle they discovered a big hali alongside the boat that they taped out to 100 pounds!  Congratulations to Mike N on a big catch in a little spot! Meanwhile, guide Kylie Tokairin was trolling along the same drop with guests–her own Dad and his friend, when they also hooked up with a big halibut, but on a salmon rod!  They got pulled around for over an hour but finally managed to coral the giant at the boat, taping it out to 62 inches length, scoring 121 pounds!  Way to go Brad!

QCL Grady WhiteThe 16thAnnual Kingfisher Derby kicked off today with $120,000 in the pot!  This annual Catch & Release derby attracts a strong following who compete every year for the largest released Chinook salmon.  With new bait and new fish moving into the sound it’s bound to get very interesting!  Stay tuned!


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June 11, 2018 Duane Foerter0

As we roll into the middle days of June we’re seeing more familiar faces and enjoying some of the many special events that have developed here over the years.  Fishing has always been all about tradition and we see a lot of them celebrated up here!  Friends from Calgary, here this weekend, always toast the conclusion of another successful fishing trip with a round of fine grappa on the final evening, pouring carefully from a spectacular 3-litre bottle that sits in a place of pride in the lodge.  They left this morning with some great memories, assorted boxes of fish and renewed friendships.  It’s an honour to play some small part in it.

Over the weekend the fishing showed signs of “progress”with the first signs of other salmon species arriving.  We saw a few big bright silver chum come to the dock; pound for pound possibly the toughest salmon out there.  There were also some small coho and pinks in the mix, that we haven’t seen to date.  Chinook fishing often requires patience and attention to detail and we’re certainly seeing that these days.  Active periods are often closely attached to the tides and successful anglers are those who manage to be on their favourite point just when the tide is right.

Magnificent Tyee Chinook salmon at QCLThat was the case for Josh K on Sunday morning as he was fishing with Red Baron and a couple of buddies just south of Klashwun Point.  They hooked up with the fish we all dream about at that spot and Josh handled it masterfully.  The stunning chrome bright Tyee tipped the scale at just over 37 pounds –what a beauty!  Nice fish guys!  While we haven’t seen a lot of larger salmon yet, the bulk of Chinook in the area are those feisty feeder springs in the 10-20 pound class.  We’re getting them more widely throughout the grounds now with Parker Point, Bird 2 and Eagle Rock providing some excitement around the slack tides.

We know that halibut are commonly found closer to shore in these early days of the season and savvy anglers are picking them up while trolling along the kelp for salmon.  The MV Driftwood has been anchored at the Mazzaredo Islands much of the time as we have boats spread out evenly to the east and the west.  They often drop a line off the side and it’s quite common for a guest aboard to catch their limit of halibut right there in less than 50 feet of water.

Sometimes they get more than they bargained for.  There was excitement galore after supper on Saturday night when the tip of the rod outside the Chef’s galley door jerked down hard. A mad scramble ensued as the crew were busy pressure washing the tenders and guest Jim S was charged to deal with the fish.  Problem was, once Jim grabbed the rod, the fish made a run toward the stern of the Driftwood, right under the swim grid and the crew working around it!  The only way to follow the fish was to pass the rod under ropes and around boats until he could get to the aft deck, where he and first mate Ryan Winger jumped into a tender and proceeded with the battle!  As the water depth was only 40 feet this fish was unable to sound and made long powerful runs out away from the boat instead.  When Jim finally managed to get it close, it was obviously way too big to keep.  Ryan and Chef Ricky managed to get a length measurement –a whopping 74 inches –before they released the giant, which scored out to 215 pounds!  What an amazing catch in such an exceptional circumstance! Way to go Jim and the DW crew! That’s a fish story for the record books, even by Driftwood standards!


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June 8, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Our first week of the new season has been a terrific introduction of new programs, some new staff and many new guests to QCL. It’s been exciting to watch it all unfold; guests and staff alike are having lots of fun.  Steak & Lobster dinners in the Bell Ringer, hand rolled sushi while you wait in the Kingfisher Lounge, and after dinner treats at the campfire while watching all the activity on the dock, are some of the little details that we’re enjoying this summer.

QCL Bell RingerOn the water, the fishing action has been well distributed around the grounds, with early morning salmon bites at Cape Edenshaw and offshore bottom fishing around the slack tides.  While salmon action is improving steadily and we’ve seen our first Tyee of the summer ( a nice 30-pounder for Larry D.) we’re still waiting for the volume and size of fish we are accustomed to at this time of year.  They’re starting to get them on the west side now with several teen-sized Chinooks coming from favourite points like Bird 2, Eagle Rock and Yatze.

But the big story this week was bottom fishing, with the 2ndAnnual Jig-A-Pig Derby QCL Halibut fishinghappening.  Not a C&R event, the largest halibut available could measure no longer than 115 cm, so there was a lot of effort from participants to get close to the magic number!  They found several fish that were too big, 3 of them over 100 pounds and quite a few between 50 and 100.  But the winner turned out to be a fish scoring 113 cm and weighing 39.2 pounds for Doug W, fishing self-guided with his partner Scott P.  Lingcod are plentiful on our fishing grounds as well and there are a number of keen veterans who love to bounce a jig around the deep water (200-300 ft) structure out there.  They found good quantities of teen-sized and twenty-something lingcod but a toothy giant that weighed in at 40.4 pounds for Eric H. was the fish that took the prize, with a little help from his fishing partner John F and guide Mark Kasumovich.

Lingcod at the Bell RingerA big thank you goes out to all who QCL Jig-a-Pig Derbyparticipated and to those who came out on top, Congratulations!  The excitement of jigging in 250 feet of water and never knowing for sure what’s going to come up is addictive and we’re happy to see such enthusiasm every season!  We look forward to seeing everyone back again for some fun in 2019!


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June 4, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Ahhh…it’s so great to get back on the water again!  That was definitely the consensus this weekend as we kicked off our first trip of the season.  The weather was very typical Haida Gwaii –a constant cycling of sunshine, showers and layers of clouds moving through all day and night!  Normal is good.

QCL Chinook fishingThe early season fishing has been similar to last year with teen-sized feeder Springs dominating the catch.  The action wasn’t hot, but most anglers bumped into a few over the course of the trip.  The best concentration of Chinook action has been on the eastern side of our fishing grounds with most boats working the inshore waters from Inskip Point around past Cape Edenshaw to Slab Rock.  Anchovy / flasher combinations or small spoons fished down 30 to 35 feet have  been most productive.  We’ve seen a number of nice Springs in the low to mid-20’s but we’re awaiting the first Tyee of the season.   Sandy O. came close with this beautiful 25 pounder!  Any day now!

QCL Chinook salmonModerate southerly winds on Saturday and Sunday saw most boats exploring the offshore waters to pick up some tasty halibut and lingcod.  We were finding lots of nice chickens for the fish box and, as usual, some anglers got a little more than they bargained for!  Our halibut fishery has emerged in recent years as some of the most exciting fishing out there and, true to that tradition, we recorded 4 fish over 100 pounds on our opening weekend.  The size champ of the season so far is Lorri S. (who not only bagged a perfect 22-pound Chinook) but also hauled up a classic “barn door”halibut that taped out to 75 inches –that’s 220 pounds!  Fabulous fishing Lorri!  Keeping “girl power”in the forefront, Aubrey C. brought a 108-pounder to the boat.  A 59-inch halibut for Jesse C. scored out to 105 pounds and John L’s big slab on Sunday was in the same league, coming in right around the 100 pound mark.  Jesse’s wife Marla was also in the running on Sunday when she landed a 57-inch halibut for a score of 93 pounds. The nice thing is that all of these very memorable fish (all females) went right back down to carry on with the business of making more halibut!  Fish stories to last a lifetime!

Making the most of that great fishery, today we kick off our second annual Jig-a-Pig Derby –dedicated to those who have a thing for jigging!  No doubt the Tyee Bell will be ringing a lot this week with tales of mighty battles going on out on the grounds!  We’ll keep you posted.


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May 30, 2018 Duane Foerter0
From the Desk of Paul T. Clough,
We at QCL are in support of conservation measures designed to enhance and promote our fisheries. We know that our guests have the same respect for the resource; we hear it all the time.
Effective June 1st 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have updated Chinook Retention limits to 1 (one) Chinook per day and Possession 2 (two) Chinook for your trip. Overall Salmon limits have not changed. You can still catch 4 Salmon per day (of which 1 (one) can be a Chinook) and retain in your possession 8 Salmon for your trip (of which 2 (two) can be Chinooks).
Your time on the water is not reduced nor is your ability to fish for the amazing Chinook Salmon. Access to Halibut and Ling Cod is also available to round out your catch.
We hope that you will join us in supporting these enhancement measures announced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to assist our Chinook stocks to rebound in numbers.
As always, we look forward to spending some time with you on your upcoming trip!

 



April 9, 2018 Duane Foerter0

With less than eight weeks to go before Opening Day there’s lots of excitement around here!  Are you ready?

Every day on the water is an adventure at Queen Charlotte Lodge! It might the fishing, or the magnificent environment, the good friends on board or the crazy stories you shared. But it’s something we all treasure and we love to do it at QCL!


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January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter2

Everyone buys a fishing trip with the idea they are going to “SMASH” them while on their fishing adventure.  All hoping their arms are sore from fighting fish, hands and fingers are sore from hooks and tying leaders and shins are sore from continually bashing them on gaff that is sticking out of the gunnel.  Oh the joys of fishing!

I personally have fished for salmon since I was two years old.  From the days of Grandpa raking herring and dumping them in the boat for his 2 year old Grandson to try and grab for the bait tank.  To the days of jigging herring, to fish from my 10 foot dinghy with my 2.5hp “Big Block” Mercury.  Now to my spoiled life at QCL and the dock staff preparing my boat for fishing daily.  Although the adventures of fishing with Grandpa and in my dinghy were great, the QCL experience is second to none!

44 years of salmon fishing, 18 seasons with QCL and the number one question asked over that period of time is without doubt, “When is the best time to go fishing?”  As the old adage says…”if I had a dollar…”

Rob, quit with the soliloquy and answer the question!  When is the best time to go fishing?

Well my favorite answers are always a bit cheeky:

  • “Last week was the best! You just missed it!”
  • “Next week is the best! You are a week early!”
  • “Right now is the best! Are you not getting them, maybe you need a guide?”

In all honestly, with every cheeky answer there is a truth.  Each river that holds Chinook or King salmon, from Alaska to San Francisco has a prime time of stock return, or when the majority of the species return to the river.  That timing varies from late March to late October with the bulk of the returns happening late April through October.  The return for Coho or Silvers varies but the bulk of these fish return mid-June through late October.

After being cheeky, usually I get to the true answer!  In all likelihood I stole my answer from someone but it accurately describes the truth when asked the question of best time to fish.  Here is my answer:

QCL has roughly 100 days of fishing during a season.  From year to year we have 12 to 15 of the greatest days of fishing one could hope for.  We also have 12 to 15 poor days of fishing when everyone second guesses themselves!  The issue is, I cannot tell you when either of these days are going to happen but what I can tell you is they will happen.  The rest of the 70 days are productive and success is varied.  Calling them average would make Grandpa turn over in his grave, he would have died for an “average” QCL day down on the south coast!

I know most of you were hoping for an exact window, an exact time as to when the fish are guaranteed to be there and biting, if I could tell you that my name would not be Rob, it would be Fish God!  What I can do is help you with how to pick a fishing adventure and the timing of it.  Here is the list:

  1. Choose QCL – If the fish aren’t biting, the service and people are amazing! They have 135 staff to deal with your every need.
  2. Call QCL and ask what dates are available. Remember, any date could have 1 of “those” days, good or bad!
  3. Continue to book the same date or close to the same date, year after year, you will run into one of “those” days eventually.

Two Examples of people who have gone on the same date year after year are below.  One of them produced the greatest day of fishing and one produced the lodge record at QCL:

When our family purchased the Lodge in the year 2000, my best buddies Bryan and Jason Killins were on the first trip of the season, May 29th to June 1st.  They continued on this trip for many years with varying success.  Some years’ crazy amounts of fish, some years, lots of empties in the boat.  On June 2nd, 2015 we got our regular early start, off the dock at the crack of 10am!  Being last off the dock has its advantages…um NO!  But this day did, we were approaching “The Maz” and we saw a massive bait ball with birds feeding on the surface.  We stopped to give it a “try” and 6 hours later, we had landed 76 Chinook with 14 double headers!  The greatest day of my fishing career!

One of the most memorable days for the lodge came in late August 2011, August 20th to be exact.  When our guest Mr. Chris Lewis caught and released an 84 pound Chinook with guide Derek “Demo” Poitras.  Chris has continued to fish this timeframe over the years and as luck would have it, they were graced with another monster of 49 pounds with his son Josh!

Any day can be your day, it can be on your first trip or your 30th trip, but if you don’t book, you will never know!  Hope to see you at the lodge this summer.  All the best and Happy New Year.

 

Rob “Fish God” Clough

(Kind of catchy…might have to drop Red Baron!)


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August 29, 2017 Duane Foerter0

QCL Salmon FishingAfter an exciting and busy night watching the big fight in the Bell Ringer most guests were ready to go bright and early for 7 am to be first off the dock.

I’d had a quick chat with my guests the night before and decided we were going to start our morning in Yatze bay.  The slight fog was lifting as the sun was starting to poke out. We could see the lighthouse on Shag Rock in the distance as we dropped in.  We were the first boat there. Right as we dropped in we hooked into a coho who launched out of the water multiple times.  Although it slipped the hooks and got away we were optimistic for the rest of the morning.QCL Bell Ringer

We were fortunate enough to hook 3 Chinooks over the next hour and landed 2 beautiful fish. Each guest boated a beautiful fresh Chinook that delivered an exciting fight.

This weekend and the excitement of the lodge guests was amazing with the great weather, the big fight and steady salmon fishing.  Weekends like this go to show why us guides spend the whole off-season talking about QCL and our time up in Haida Gwaii!

Ryan ‘R’ Kelly

 


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