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January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter1

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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August 25, 2017 Duane Foerter

QCL Coho SalmonLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experienceLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experiences there are to be had up here. Well this week we had a father & son angling team at the lodge that really took it to heart! Ronald and Dan R not only found the variety but, with the help of their QCL guide Jake Harrach, they found the quality as well!QCL Lingcod Fishing

Over the past 4 days they managed to catch the largest fish of the trip in each of 3 species and the 2nd largest in a 4th! On Tuesday Dan caught and released the big halibut of the trip, a big slab that taped out to 163 pounds. On Wednesday Ron boated a nice big lingcod that tipped the scale at 35 pounds which, in most weeks would be the big one! But he came second to a 50-pounder landed by Lino P! That’s only 6 pounds short of the lodge record! Congrats Lino! On the same day Ronald caught the largest Coho of the week, coming in at 16-pounds – a beautiful fish for sure! Then on Thursday, making that famous “just one more pass” at Cape Naden on the way in, Dan hooked up with a big Chinook that really put him to the test. After a twenty-minute tussle, Jake slipped the net beneath the chrome beauty and they knew there would be some more Bell-ringing back at the dock that night! At 39-pounds, this big Tyee would add to Dan’s record of success as the largest Chinook of the trip. Congratulations guys! That’s an amazing catch report! It’s a good thing you’re going home for the weekend to get some rest!QCL Tyee Salmon

The weekend forecast is for more southerly weather and calm seas (with a regular dose of liquid sunshine.) The inshore Chinook fishing has certainly picked up in the past week with the best action during the first and last hours of the day. Offshore the Coho catch remains strong and we’re seeing more of the larger Coho coming to the scale. Bottom fishing has been getting easier with the tidal range diminishing every day since Monday’s new moon. QCL anglers released 6 halibut over 100 pounds this trip and we’re still seeing nice 30-plus fish at the Bell Ringer every night. These are great days to be fishing at QCL!


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August 19, 2017 Duane Foerter0

QCL Fishing AdventureIt’s “Special Combo” fishing at QCL these days!  The return of more southerly weather has sent many QCL anglers offshore to enjoy a totally mixed bag of fishing adventures.  While we’re still finding some nice Chinooks inshore, the angling opportunities found out in water depths over 200 feet are amazing.  We’ve put quite a lot of effort into mapping these offshore fishing grounds in recent years and we’re certainly seeing the results.

QCL Fishing AdventureWe’re blessed with a huge selection of underwater structure out there.  We’ve discovered that they it not only holds traditional bottom fish like halibut and lingcod, but tends to help anglers target on the migrating schools of salmon species as well.  Underwater “hills and valleys” provide reference points that we use in trolling at a range of depths – generally from 50 to 120 feet down – and QCL anglers are finding all 5 species of salmon.  The traditional target fish for our offshore trolling has been coho but down a little deeper we’re getting into beautiful 15-25 pound Chinooks as well.   And while we’re out there, it’s so easy to just take a little break from trolling and drop a jig down on one of these hilltops for nice halibut, rockfish and lingcod.

QCL Fishing Adventure


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August 15, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Today saw a mix of light variable winds which allowed QCL guests and guides to fish all corners and everywhere in between on all of our fishing grounds, both inshore and offshore. Chinook fishing close in to the kelp and rock structure is still producing results but at a slower pace. With patience and willingness to stay at one spot, most anglers will be rewarded when the bite finally does turn on. Get your lines back in the water as quickly as you can though and try to hook up again because these are mostly snap bites, lasting only a short period and you may have a chance at only a couple of fish at a time. The bonus though is that the average size of these Chinook are larger than the average size from earlier in the year with a chance at a fish of a lifetime. Coho fishing offshore is still producing results in the 160 to 300 foot lines while still trolling fairly shallow.QCL salmon fishing

It was changeover day and with my new guests for the trip aboard Grady 114 we headed out to the fishing grounds.  The water was in great condition and the starting options were endless. With only a few boats at Cape Naden we dropped in and set the gear. Over the radio I heard of a few caught here before we arrived and was hoping we could still cash in on the bite. After a couple of passes without a touch and without seeing any other boat hookup I was starting to think we missed our chance at the early afternoon bite.

QCL salmon fishingAfter an hour and thinking about a potential move, possibly offshore to find some Coho, the port rod goes off.  With two big heavy slams of the rod tip the down rigger clip pops and line starts peeling. We’re off to the races boys!  My guest carefully picked up the rod and let the fish continue to head for Alaska. Quickly we got to a point where I had to start reversing to chase this fish down. The tension on the drag was set just right and there didn’t seem to be any slow down at all. A bit faster on the chase and finally the line slowed down but was still creeping off the reel. This is a good one guys, don’t start reeling until this fish stops taking line! With well over half of the spool of line being pulled out to the open ocean my Islander finally stopped letting out line. I watched the rod tip as my guest was about to start reeling when one big head shake pulled the rod tip down and the the line went limp. Heartbreaking. Potential fish of a lifetime?? Who knows.  Didn’t see it once. Will never know. But it was fun while it lasted. We re-grouped, carried on and shared a high five over the one that got away.  Makes for a good fishing story anyways.

Till next time…

Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.

Jeff ‘Smurf’ Smirfitt

QCL Haida Gwaii


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August 7, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Over the last few days we have been getting some constant Northwest winds. Although it makes for some more difficult fishing conditions we find that the wind and water mixing blows in bait and salmon, and this time the winds did not disappoint.

This morning the seas were flattened out while the tide was flooding and as we made our way out to Bird 2 the sky was clear and the sun was just poking out on the horizon. As we came off plane we saw another one of the Grady Whites hook up deep in the bay and one of the Broadwaters get into a double header right off the point. As we dropped in things were looking good.

Although it took a few passes on the inside wall until we hooked up we got into a nice fish eventually. As a few more boats showed up we decided to pull gear and run to some less crowded fishing grounds. Up in Yatze bay we ended up hooking into quality Chinooks on every pass. In the wind and waves I always find it most effective to drift, pick up and run back up to drift again and today that was the ticket. We had all our Chinooks and a couple of good Coho before lunch and just drifted for the rest of the day.

Even though the northwest winds can be difficult, they are always welcomed!

Dan “Rainman”

QCL salmon fishingQCL halibut fishing


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August 5, 2017 Duane Foerter0

August has roared in with the welcome return of some northwesterly winds and it’s marvelous! What we generally think of as the prevailing summer winds have been strangely absent this year. Weeks of southerlies – swinging from southeast to southwest – have made for nice gentle seas and easy access to the expansive fishing grounds. But northwest winds serve to drive the bait to the northern shores of Haida Gwaii and into our home waters of Virago Sound in particular. And we all know that where there’s bait… there’s great fishing! Of course we won’t sneeze at the gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures that are mighty uplifting for all of the staff around the lodge as well!

QCL salmon fishingAs a result we’re quite happy to report that the fishing has turned on quite nicely this week. Chinook action has moved back onshore and QCL anglers are finding lots of nice chunky salmon in all the traditional haunts – Bird 2 has seen some nice hot bites in recent days, the waters from Cape Naden to Bird 1 have produced some Tyee action and the kelp beds in front of Yatze bay are providing pretty steady results, especially on the flood tides. Derald W boated a stunning big Tyee while fishing with veteran QCL guide Ryan Winger on Tuesday. He always tries to release his big fish but unfortunately this one couldn’t be revived and at the Bell Ringer it tipped the scale at 42 pounds. We also saw several nice Tyees in the 30-plus range on the board this past week. We’ve been trolling up Coho all over the offshore waters recently but are now seeing decent numbers showing up closer to shore. The average size is still 7-9 pounds but we are getting some beauties over 10 pounds starting to appear, as we would expect for this point of the season.

QCL halibut fishingThe halibut fishing continues to be a nice reliable part of the experience and lodge guests have been happily picking up some nice “chickens” for the fish box while releasing a number of big females over 60 pounds. Andre C released a giant that taped out to just over 100 lb., Eric S. reeled up a 134 and Haydn S. got a serious workout pulling up an 82 pounder followed by a bigger one that taped out to 123! Lots of great fish stories go along with these catches to be sure.

Looking ahead, the northwesterlies are forecast to continue right through next week so we’ll keep the sunscreen on the table and be ready in the Bell Ringer to celebrate many more great catches! Stay tuned!


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August 3, 2017 Duane Foerter0

You never fully know what you are driving out to as you exit the harbour, heading for the fishing grounds, which always makes dropping your lines for the first time of the day exhilarating.

Today my guests and I started our morning off at Klashwun Point. The flat calm seas made for a quick drive and the blue skies had everyone smiling.

I had just finished explaining to my guests how to pop the line out of the downrigger clip when both lines started peeling. No need to pop the clip when fish hit that hard!  My guests landed a beautiful 21 lb. and a 19 lb. double header, which was not a bad way to start the day!  Following our exciting start we looked up and saw a boat getting pulled offshore as they fought a fish – this fight resulted in a Tyee release! The day continued with consistent Chinook action off the face of Klash, followed by some quick Coho bites in the tide lines around Shag Rock.

It’s exciting not fully knowing what’s coming down the pipe for tomorrow – I look forward to wetting the lines and finding out!

Ryan “Horsehoe” Winger


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July 23, 2017 Duane Foerter0

This past week the trend of calm seas continued, which made for an enjoyable week of fishing. So far this season we haven’t seen any particular spot out produce the rest, which has resulted in boats being distributed throughout the fishing grounds. On most days, the best successes often come by picking your favourite spot and sticking it out using the “stick, stay and make it pay” method of salmon fishing.

Much like last season, I have continued to spend many hours each day working the kelp beds around the waters of Cape Naden. This past week my guests and I chose to spend nearly our entire days working Naden, with the occasional break to do some bottom fishing. We all felt that it looked really “fishy” and at times we enjoyed some great Chinook fishing with the odd Coho in the mix. On Thursday afternoon we decided to mix it up and give Parker Point a try after lunch. Although there were a couple fish around at Parker, we decided it was only fitting to finish the trip back at Cape Naden. Upon returning to Naden we watched another boat hook up on a couple of fish, but not much was happening for us. With only a couple of passes left, my guest was telling a funny story as we were trolling past the kelp bed off the point. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the rod tip dip down and then yelled “fish, fish, fish!!”. My guest grabbed the rod, set the hook, and the battle was on! This was the fish we had been looking for at Naden all trip…a real sizzler! After a few lengthy runs we tired the fish out and finally managed to put this 38lb Tyee in the bag to conclude a week of fishing.

Back at the dock there were a couple of other Tyees that came in, with a 45lber being the largest of the day and of the trip. Let’s hope this trend continues and we continue to see some nice Chinook rolling through!

Until next time,

“Wacko Jacko”


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July 21, 2017 Duane Foerter0

The Tyee Bell was ringing last night in celebration of a couple of the season’s largest catches.  We just love celebrating at the Bell Ringer!

Joe & Ruth H spent some quality time on the halibut grounds this week with their guide Jake Harach… and they made the most of it!  Ruth boated a perfect “over” at 51 pounds but Joe had to contend with some serious heavy lifting.  He got his 30-minute workout wrangling a massive fish that taped out to 71 inches in length for a calculated weight of 187 pounds.  A few quick photos alongside the boat and a measurement and then she was gone with a splash!  Eighteen cracks of the bell on Thursday night and presentation of a gold halibut pin capped a great week of fishing.

Ten-year-old Hayden B returned to the lodge this week with his Grandpa Sam and his Aunt & Uncle to share their annual fishing adventure.  Hayden was learning to use the single-action salmon gear that we use on the BC coast and he was making good progress, albeit with a few bruises and mixed success.  On Thursday morning their veteran guide “Rainman” Dan chose to “turn right” to fish the kelp beds past Cape Edenshaw and they hooked up with “a real good fish.”  It was Hayden’s time.

And he was up to the task – kept the tip up and didn’t lock up on the Islander!  Twenty minutes of tug-o-war and Dan slipped the net beneath a very sizable salmon.  Here was one excited young man!  Of course he was dying to know how big his fish was but managed to stay out all day.  When his turn at the scale came at the Bell Ringer last night there were lots of bets on the size of Hayden’s fish.  “Rainman” hoisted the big beauty onto the hook and covered the numbers while the scaled settled.  Seconds later he lifted his hand… 45-pounds was the weight!  Welcome to the Tyee Club Hayden!  That’s a marvelous catch and quite an achievement for a young angler.  Congratulations!  With a little boost from his guide he gave the Tyee Bell four good dings to a huge round of applause from the crowd, a moment that we’re sure he’ll remember for a very long time.


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