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June 11, 2024 Tayler Fuerst0

Fishing is not the only wonderful part of your QCL Experience.

While it’s often what brings us all together, QCL has developed into a first-class experience that extends beyond the rods. Much of your time on the water is looking along the coastline, taking in the marine ecosystem and wildlife that seemingly puts on a daily show for us.

Our waters are frequented by majestic marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, humpbacks, orcas and from time to time porpoises. While most hangout around the rugged coastline to sunbathe or hide from predators, you’ll often encounter them swimming alongside your boat.

And the wonders don’t stop there! Low tide reveals starfish, sea urchins and more. The dark rugged rocks teem with vibrant colours.

Seals

Harbor seals are the most abundant marine mammal that can be found in our waters. They spend their days hunting for fish and sleeping on the rocks throughout our fishing grounds. They are one of the smaller species of seals, weighing in at a maximum of 300 pounds. These seals are very common around the docks at our lodge, typically you can find 6-10 of them bobbing around the waters of our dock. During the summer months they give birth to their young, which can be seen swimming around our docks with their mothers. If you ever see the harbor seals at our lodge all tucked into shore; that is a good sign that there may be Orcas around as they are a favorite prey species for transient Orcas

Sea Lions

Steller sea lions spend their summers on the north end of Haida Gwaii where they congregate in large groups for the breeding season as well as feeding on the large populations of salmon and bait fish. You can either find them patrolling the waters of our fishing grounds in search of bait or sunbathing on the costal rocks. Stellar sea Lions are the largest species of seal in our North Pacific waters and the 4th largest species in the world with the males reaching up to 11 feet and 2,500 pounds.

Humpbacks

Humpback whales migrate north in the summers to feed in our cool productive waters after they spend their winters raising their young in the warmer southern waters. These whales can reach up to 60 feet and 36.3 metric tons. You can typically find them on the grounds searching for large schools of bait fish. They will often slap their tails, fins or fully breach out of the water as a way to communicate with other whales or as a dominance display towards rival whales. They are quite common on our grounds and it is important that we respect their space and insure that we shut our motors off when the whales are passing by to insure their safety and ours.

Orcas

Orcas can also be found hunting in our fishing grounds throughout the summers. These whales are actually the largest species of dolphin in the world measuring up to 27 feet and weigh up to 13,000 pounds. There are two ecotypes of orcas that we encounter on our fishing grounds, Transient and Resident Orcas. Resident Orcas specialize in hunting fish such as salmon and have been known to try and steal fish from anglers. These Orcas have a smaller home range and won’t venture far out of those ranges to hunt. Transient Orcas do not stay in a home range and will instead travel throughout the waters reaching from Alaska to the Oregon Coast. These whales specialize in hunting marine mammals such as seal, sea lions and even whale calves.

Starfish

Starfish used to be extremely common along all the shores of Haida Gwaii. Unfortunately, in recent years a disease called Sea Star Wasting disease has decimated the population starting in the early 2010’s. However, in the last couple of years we have seen the population slowly bounce back. This change has been most noticeable for us along the piers of our docks. In the last two years at low tide we have started to see the population of Ochre Sea Stars bounce back as more and more of them populate our docks. These creatures are extremely resilient and are even able to completely regrow limbs once they have been ripped off by predators. The Ochre Sea Star is the most common species of starfish that you will find in our waters and typically feed on snails, barnacles and muscles.

So the next time you’re on the water, take a moment to take in the beauty of your surroundings, before the reel screams and your next fish is on!


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November 1, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

Over the years we’ve welcomed many faces to QCL and while we are grateful for our returning guests, we are also grateful for those that are visiting for the first time. In honour of all of you, we’d like to reintroduce you to who we are and what magic lies behind the QCL Experience.

Tucked among the lush oasis of old growth forests and rich waters is a luxury fishing lodge – QCL, a private haven for our guests to escape and explore for more than 30 years. Welcoming guests since 1991, we have created a place where modern day adventurers can enjoy the northwest wilderness perfectly blended with the comforts of warm, attentive hospitality in understated luxury lodging.

After changing ownership 20+ years ago, QCL has grown with new standards of business operation that started the Lodge on our current path.

First and foremost, we are a fishing lodge that strives to provide our guests with the ultimate first class fishing experience. Designed to take full advantage of the unrivaled fishing opportunities available in Haida Gwaii, our fishing grounds offer vast populations of bait fish for productive fishing anytime throughout our season. Our fishing grounds are among the world’s premier fisheries for salmon and halibut, with other species available.

Our guests range from fishing novices to seasoned veterans, and we offer a full range of services to meet these needs. Our boat fleet is specifically designed for performance and safety, allowing our guests to choose to fish on their own, self-guided, or benefit from the assistance of a professional guide, guided. Our fishing program is designed to offer even more flexibility with variable start times for guests who are eager to hit the water at dawn, or for those who prefer a slower start to their day.

The QCL Experience does not end once our guests return to the dock – with an elevated standard of hospitality across property, our accommodations, dining services and amenities are among the cornerstones of QCL’s luxury.

Upon booking, guests have the choice of accommodation (based on availability); each room and/or venue offering something for everyone. For those looking for the finest in what QCL has to offer, our private houses are the perfect off the water experience, with a private hot tub, chef, and hostess the QCL experience is tailor-made for you. And for those looking for constant adventure, we have limited spots available on our MV Driftwood.

Guests immediately feel at home in the comforts of the stunning Main Lodge, made from lodgepole pine, as it is the centerpiece of QCL. Upon returning from the water, guests find their way to the Lodge to sip a craft cocktail by the crackling fire in the great stone hearth, take in the setting sun views from the hot tub or sauna, or share stories around the harbourside firepit.

Serving as the hub of our Food and Beverage programs, the Dining Room is located on the second floor of the Main Lodge. Guests looking for an espresso and fresh baked pastry, an afternoon bite or 3 course meal and extensive wine selection, this is where you’ll find it. Our menus emphasize the local seafood, nod to a classic steakhouse, and honour the flavours of the West Coast. Alongside the Dining Room, our guests often find themselves recharging in the Angler’s Club Lounge. Located on the first floor of the Main Lodge, this is home to our wine cellar, main bar, and pool table.

For those in search of a lively location to start or end the day, we have the Bell Ringer – a simple concept that is often imitated but never replicated. Located on the dock, this is the spot to grab a coffee before heading out on the water, and sharing stories of the days catch while you wait for it to get weighed.

Not to be confused with the MV Driftwood, our on the water dining experience for all guests. For those looking for break to their fishing day the DW offers a lively lunch location with tales of the morning and views of the rugged landscape.

Over the years, QCL has learned what best inspires the dining experiences that create irreplaceable memories and from this inspiration we have created two quintessential dining experiences – he Bell Ringer, and the Buoy dinner. Available for a fee, they create a semiprivate dining experience that cannot be rivaled in our remote wilderness.

We understand that the definition of adventure and luxury varies from person to person, and we strive to provide each of our guests with a personalized experience. You can anticipate this personalized experience from the moment you book your trip, to arriving at the lodge, whether they are on the water or in the dining room. Among other amenities such as our spa, fitness center, hot tubs and saunas – the staff is truly the hallmark of your trip. The QCL Crew is always present to ensure your visit to QCL is truly an unforgettable memory.

It is worth noting that while we do our best to share the QCL Experience with you here, there is nothing similar to the feeling you get from stepping off the helicopter after a scenic ride across Haida Gwaii.

Thank you for booking your first class fishing experience with us, we cannot wait to welcome you!


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September 6, 2023 Tayler Fuerst2

“And when we hear the call of the geese in the harbour, we know that it’s time to wrap it up for another season…”  That time has come!  We sent off our final group of guests yesterday, followed by a large portion of our crew.  Wow!  Is it ever a different place when they’re not here!

Our 33rd season at QCL was pretty epic.  We were able to welcome back quite a number of guests who’ve missed us over the past 4 years, as well as many newcomers who wanted to know what this place was all about. Our core group of QCL guests, whom we’re very fortunate to see almost every summer, were thrilled with many of the tweaks, both large and small, that we implemented this year.

Certainly, our new Coho Class of boats had to be a highlight for many, combining great functionality and performance with lots of comforts and convenience – for both guided and self-guided anglers.  New menu features and hospitality treats balanced out the program when our guests returned to the lodge at the end of the day.

Conversations among the guide team this past week were consistently positive about the fishing.  Huge volumes of feeding Chinook and Coho were present through the first half of the summer, and as the number of migratory salmon increased, the Tyee Bell was ringing more frequently every trip.  In short, it was busy on the boats!  Bottom fishing for halibut, lingcod and rockfish always balances out the fishing experience and provides a tasty variety of filets to enjoy at home.

But we have to say, at the end of every trip, and at the end of every season, what our guests always go out of their way to speak with us about, is essentially the QCL Experience.  That’s the very special combination of this amazing place and what people are able to do here, fully enveloped in the enthusiasm of our wonderful staff and the hospitality that they provide. That’s what puts a smile on everyone’s face up here.  We’re very thankful for the efforts of each of our team members and the continued support of our awesome guests.

We can’t wait to get back up here again next season and see you all again!

 


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August 20, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

My best luck so far, these past couple of trips, has been at Cape Naden fishing quite shallow. My most consistent action with Chinook salmon has come from running a cut-plug herring at 19 feet, tight in the pocket, during and soon after high tide. Otherwise,  fishing deep offshore near the Little Peanut and the Pinnacles at about 150 feet on the downrigger, with KingKandys and whole herring, has been producing. Coho are in similar areas, to that of where Chinooks are being caught, just up a little higher.

Over the last few days the offshore program has seen an increase in productivity, with many boats heading that way!

We have some wind in the forecast this trip, so dress for the weather and bring extra layers to keep on hand. Additionally, we will be experiencing some strong tides so keep your eyes out for debris in the water!

Guide, Eric Roundhill


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August 17, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

Ah yes… it’s August!   Later starts, but still long days on the water; the warm summer weather has us in t-shirts as much as in fleece.  Some morning fog is typical, adding lots of atmosphere, as boats quietly tack around the fishing points; the sounds of voices seem amplified when you can’t see the speaker. Commonly, a feeding Humpback will pop up in the middle of it all, blowing a breath that smells slightly fishy, yet strangely sweet. These are memories that stick with you.

These days we’re spending as much time offshore as we are in along the kelp beds.  Large schools of migrating Coho salmon are gorging on needlefish as they move in from the open sea on their way to the rivers.  We’re finding them just away from the shoreline in water depths of 120 to 250 feet and are catching them consistently from the surface down to 90-feet or more.  Spoons and hoochies, trolled with the help of flashers, are extremely effective on these fish and anglers can put a few in the box in short order.  The 5-6 pounders we were seeing inshore in June are now 8-12 pounds and growing every day.  There’s lots of excitement in the boats while these Coho are around!

Larger Chinooks, on their way to a river somewhere, tend to move inshore to lurk among the kelp and rocks.  It seems the early bird anglers enjoy the best success with these, working their favourite points and bays around Parker, Naden and Klashwun on the turn of the first tide. Cape Naden is an especially popular hangout, for both salmon and anglers, though for obviously different reasons. As the tide flows around this particular head of shoreline, the currents create conditions perfect for hungry salmon to get out and feed on the swirling schools of baitfish.

QCL guests are getting those perfect-sized Chinooks in the 16 to 26 pound class these days, finding them either inshore along the structure or offshore down deeper.  Lots of Coho out there ensure anglers are never bored while searching for the fish they want!  Fortunately, our halibut and lingcod fishery is very reliable so pulling up a couple of “white” fish is always part of the plan.  We can retain the halibut possession limit in a single day now, so that makes it easy to get the job done on a single visit offshore.

With only a few weeks left in the summer season, we’re already seeing changes out there.  Many of the seabirds are losing their breeding plumage and look different. The juvenile eagles are now joining their parents in the hunt for food which is pretty entertaining to watch!  Northern resident Orcas are passing through regularly and many of the Humpbacks have come back in from offshore to top up on all the needlefish hatched out this summer.  It’s certainly a time of plenty and we’re constantly amazed at how productive this very special place can be!  You need to experience it at least once!

Fishmaster, Duane Foerter

 

 


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August 10, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

It’s a foggy morning in Naden Harbour. New guests have been anxiously waiting for the fog to clear, while old guests are reluctantly waiting to return to the busy world from their time in paradise. Finally, the fog lifts and the helicopters fly in one by one. The dock becomes a busy and excited place as guides greet their new guests and one by one, the boats all leave the dock for an afternoon of fishing.

I’ve got four guests who are keen on salmon fishing. After checking the tides and weather forecast, I decide to take them to my favourite salmon fishing point, Cape Naden, which is often productive on the ebb which coincides with this afternoon’s tide.

Cape Naden looks picturesque today – The tide is high, the whole kelp bed is visible and the current is ebbing as the water curls around the rocks heading west. The water is clear of debris and only a few boats are fishing the point. As we roll in and drop lines we see a boat or two catching fish every pass. As the afternoon goes on we catch a small Chinook, however we have yet to catch any fish worth keeping. Our patience is being tested as we make another inside pass that yields no results.

This time, we go a little further past the last eastern rock on the cape and as we make our turn, boom, the outside rod with and anchovy starts bouncing. My guest immediately spring into action popping the rod out of the holder and off the downrigger clip. It’s a nice Chinook that starts running and so the rest of us begin clearing rods. First comes the back rod which is taken out of the water and stowed up front. Next, I reposition the boat so that the Chinook is off to the side. Then, I go to clear the other downrigger rod, I pull it out of the rod holder, pop it off the release clip and begin to reel. All of a sudden I feel a grab! I set the hook and hand it over to my guest – We’re doubled up! Although this first fish was a nice Chinook, the second one is clearly bigger and starts peeling line in the opposite direction of the first fish. After a couple minutes of chaos we successfully netted a 21 pounder. The second fish was still way off in the distance making wake at the surface and peeling line. The mood was tense as this second fish dragged us offshore. After circling the fish and tiring it out we finally coaxed it into the net. It was a 37lbs Chinook! Celebrations are in order and it’s time to cap a successful first day of the trip at the Bell Ringer. We follow many other excited guests back to the Lodge where we tell stories of our day, take pictures of our catch and enjoy some “Fishmaster Ceasar’s”.

Guide, Gerritt Dunstee

 


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July 31, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

While we are known for our access to some of the most sought-after salmon fishing grounds in the world, what QCL offers doesn’t stop there. Our fishing grounds are also home to rich bottom fish populations, offering our guests a multitude of fishing adventures all within one day.

In order to grasp the appeal to our bottom fishing grounds, you need to first know what makes bottom fishing “good”.

When targeting bottom fish – Halibut, Lingcod and Rockfish for example – anglers use topographical charts of the ocean floor to predict where fish are likely to live. These charts illustrate plateaus, troughs, and pinnacles (underwater mountains); which are what we refer to as structures. These structures are prime living locations for a variety of the bottom fish we target at QCL.

Our Fishing Grounds sit on the edge of an underwater shelf. At the edge of the shelf, depths drop rapidly from roughly 350ft to depths that plummet well below 700ft. This creates a concentration of bottom fish that venture onto the shelf for easier access to food sources and in turn, allow us the opportunity to fish these large numbers of fish. Additionally, this shelf allows for plentiful fishing without needing to travel extended distances or out into the open ocean; often the case when searching for good structure. Our grounds offer the ability to catch bottom fish from as close as the shoreline to a few miles offshore. Due to this, we often see Halibut and Lingcod being a bycatch when targeting salmon in shallow waters close to shore.

The structure of our fishing grounds also creates the unique ability to specifically target different bottom fish. For example, Lingcod are often found living amongst large rock formations and pinnacles, but Halibut are known to frequent large sand plateaus where they can easily camouflage themselves. Both locations offer ample opportunity to cross paths with both species but on our grounds, there are areas which support both types of bottom structure which results in precise targeting of each species.

An added benefit of our fishing grounds is that we have seen a steady increase in food sources such as herring and squid. They congregate around the underwater landmarks that Halibut, Lingcod and others are often found. Where there’s food, there’s always something around to eat it!

Behind each angler is a knowledge and passion for the sport they are partaking in, and we hope that with this knowledge your passion is ignited for your upcoming trip to QCL.

 


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July 18, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

This past week, the North shores of Graham Island have been blessed by weather typical of July. With light to moderate winds, and a mix of sun and rain, guests have experienced a true Haida Gwaii summer.

Salmon fishing has been consistent throughout the season, with plenty of Chinook and Coho keeping rods bouncing, and the bell rings most nights! We’ve been happy to celebrate alongside more guests choosing to release these 30+ pound fish, recognizing their beauty and that their importance extends far beyond their meat!             

Anglers have been finding Chinook on both tides, with the ebb tide producing at Cape Naden, Bird Rock 2, and Klashwun Point, and the flood producing at Bird Rock 1, Parker Point, Yahtz Bay, and the top side. Coho have been picked off all along our inshore waters, no need to leave the Chinook grounds to find them this year! While Chinook limits have remained at 1 per day and 2 possession, anglers have found themselves with some extra time to put towards bottom fishing. Plenty of “turkey” size halibut, those in the 90-126cm mark, have been caught by those willing to thump the sand and weed through the chickens. And for those brave enough to work the tricky reef structure, some sizeable rockfish and lingcod have been caught on flat water days. With some small tides this week, and mostly light wind in the forecast, it should be a fun and productive!

Tight lines!

Lead Guide, Liam Longacre


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July 14, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0
“Fish on!”

A common phrase in the QCL anglers’ vocabulary, defining the past trip here at QCL.

It’s halfway through the season and we’re seeing consistent action on the water. There has been plenty of opportunity to land Chinook, the majority ranging in size from 9-16 pounds. Complementing the fishing, we’ve seen tons of wildlife on the grounds. Nothing beats watching a whale show in-between bites!

Recently, our days have started with a windy ride through Virago Sound and these higher winds pushed plenty of bait in! A familiar tack amongst the guides is to cruise our way up to Klashwun Point, and do the “Haida Drift”, working points down to the Mazerrado Islands.

Starting our day with a trip up to a favourite of mine, Parker Point, we were met by a few other boats aiming for a release worthy fish like us. We began on the top side of Parker, worked our way on the inside tack, in about 50 feet of water, with lines set to 27 & 37 ft. Immediately we received a hit on the anchovy. This seemed to be a multi species tool, landing plenty of Coho, Chinook and the odd Chum or Pink. We later set off from Parker to the shores of “B1”, where there was consistent action with Chinooks (10-15 pounds). Within a short 5 hours on the water, we found ourselves limited out for salmon, occasionally even trolling up the odd Halibut within Cape Naden. With large unpredictable tides, bottom fishing and finding bait can be difficult in the beginning but is manageable as you stick it out.

Just as quickly as the day started, the bite slowed signally the time to head back to the Bell Ringer to swap stories with a cocktail in hand. Another good day of fishing in the Gwaii, with plenty more to come.

Guide, Wyatt Fulthorpe

 


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July 3, 2023 Tayler Fuerst0

Sometimes the fishing success of a day can boil down to the angler’s ability to capitalize on the smallest of windows. For us, this was no different. Our day started on the eastside, over at Cape Edenshaw. When we arrived just outside Piggie’s Bay, we were fortunate enough to be met by calm seas and the low sun showing promise of a warm afternoon. The report from the day before told stories of plentiful smaller Chinooks in this area, ranging from 8-12lbs on average; a perfect place to start the morning and get comfortable on the rods. We quickly had our first anchovy down and fishing at 35ft when, before we even had the chance to swing the second downrigger out, we had our first bite of the day. A brilliant battle resulted in some smiling faces, and the ultimate release of a healthy 10lbs Chinook. Our morning continued with similar sized fish every half an hour or so. A successful day, let alone a successful morning.

Our want for a warm burger pulled us across Virago Sound and towards Bird Rock 1. The Driftwood was peacefully anchored behind B1; my favorite spot on a strong flood tide. While we ate our lunch, a humpback whale moved into the other side of the rock, feeding, and rolling on what was suspected to be schools of bait fish being pushed in by the beginning of the tide change. With full stomachs we quickly made our way back into the boat and didn’t hesitate to have rods back in the water only a few feet off the bow of the Driftwood. It wasn’t long until we were into the action began. Chinooks could be seen like hungry tuna, splashing on the surface chasing balls of needlefish. The Humpback relentlessly circled the bay with an open mouth, gorging on all the bait that was helplessly being funneled into the bay by the flood tide. While we watched the ocean’s food chain come to life around us, the first rod went off. Moments later the second rod popped off the clip and the sound of the reel sent us diving for the rod. For the next 45 minutes we experienced one of the most phenomenal snap bites I’ve seen in my years of guiding. We fought double header after double header, pausing only long enough to rebait and sneak a peak at the show the Humpback was continuing to put on for us.

Just as fast as it began, the signs of the feeding frenzy quickly dissipated. The tide slowed, the birds flew back to shore, and the humpback slowly made its exit out of the bay. We finally had the opportunity to reflect on what we were just apart of.

Just another day in Haida Gwaii.

Guide Manager, Kyle Bell