10905069h-1200x675.jpg

September 7, 2021 Duane Foerter0

It’s fair to say that most anglers who travel to Haida Gwaii on a fishing trip dream of catching a big Chinook salmon, what we call a Tyee or, as our American friends like to say, “a big Kang”!  It’s easy to understand why.  In these cold northern waters, they are the kings, the royalty of the fish world!  Sleek and powerful and bright chrome silver, a large Chinook salmon over 30 pounds will certainly test the angler and their tackle.  And it’s never over until they’re lying in the bottom of the boat!

But if you ask these same anglers what fish they prefer on the dinner plate, the answer will often be halibut!  It might be the nice meaty texture, the brilliant whiteness when it’s cooked or the subtle, non-fishy flavour and aroma of fresh-cooked halibut that holds so much appeal.

In our early days when we used smaller boats and engines, we had no technology like depth sounders and GPS.  The halibut tackle was pretty light duty, and most anglers didn’t want to spend much time hunting for halibut.  In fact, many halibut were caught as bycatch while mooching with a weighted rod for salmon!   We’ve always been spoiled in Virago Sound, the halibut fishing is never too far from shore and anglers would make a quick run out to the “chicken coop” on the 180-foot line. They’d drop a herring down to the bottom and, in short order, they’d have their two fish limit – enough to keep a promise to their partner at home – and then it was back to working the kelp beds for that big Chinook.

But how the world has changed!  We used to use very rough triangulation to remember our halibut holes – line up that big old spruce snag with that point over there and stay even with that big rock on the beach, and you should be close to “the spot!” Well… maybe!

Nowadays we’ve planted so many X’s on the water that pretty well everyone has their own, favourite halibut hole!  Modern depth sounders synchronize with apps on your smartphone to actively upload depth and structure data to the cloud.  The detailed maps created of the seafloor have revealed a whole new underwater world, out beyond the kelp beds.  Sea mounts, pinnacles, rock piles and gravel benches provide habitats for all different species of fish and affect the tidal currents and feeding areas for baitfish.  What was, not long ago, a great, invisible, underwater mystery, is now a seascape for exploration and discovery.

We have lots of guests up here every trip who are quite happy to spend most of their time offshore doing just that.  We have larger, safer and more comfortable boats and tackle that can handle the proverbial “barn door” halibut.  We’re also able to find other species like lingcod and Pacific cod.  All of these fish are well managed and the limits are kept low to prevent overfishing of the stocks. And, of course, just because you know where they should be, doesn’t mean you’re going to catch them!  Afterall, it’s still called fishing… not catching!

All that being said, here’s a good fish story…

On Saturday morning, Curtis, Jen and Colin were salmon fishing, self-guided, near the Mazzaredo Islands. This is a location, well inside Virago Sound, where the water depth ranges between 30 and 70 feet.  It’s been very productive salmon water for much of the summer, so they were trolling for Chinook salmon with cut-plug herring.  Curtis had just rigged a new herring and tossed it into the water to set up the downrigger.  As the herring started to sink, he noticed some movement below it and leaned over to have a better look… just in time to see the dark shadow open up to reveal a huge white mouth that inhaled his shiny herring!  The shadow moved alongside the boat and then back down, flipping a wide brown tail that had to be 18-inches across!  In shock, Curtis grabbed the rod from the holder and hung on.  The sounder said 32-feet, so the giant fish couldn’t sound too far!  But the hook was in its mouth and the 11-foot mooching rod was soon arched over in a half-circle with the line singing tight.  Typically, a battle with a halibut is a weight-lifting exercise, with a short, 6-foot pool cue of a rod that bends a little at the tip.  It’s often a straight lift with lots of give and take and usually happens in 200-300 feet of water, so there’s lots of lifting to do!  In such shallow water Curtis’s fish had nowhere to go but out, so he held on as best he could while his boat-mates stowed the downriggers and made ready to chase down this sea monster.  Fortunately for them, the tug-o-war was over in about 15-minutes as Curtis was able to maneuver the huge halibut alongside their boat; quite a feat considering the noodly salmon rod!  They used another salmon rod as a measuring stick and after several attempts concluded that this giant was about six and a half feet long – 79 inches in length!  It was in no mood to have anyone poking around in its mouth to retrieve the barbless bronze salmon hook so they cut the line after taking a few photos and the giant halibut disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived!  A look at the IPHC Halibut Chart revealed that this big female weighed about 265 pounds!  Considering where halibut usually live, Curtis’s opportunity to witness this giant take the bait was a rare occasion indeed.  While it’s not unusual for us to catch halibut, even big ones, in close to shore like this, we’ve never seen one this big actually brought to the boat.  Well done Curtis, Jen and Colin!  Surprises like this keep us all interested and excited to get out on the water any chance we can!


095A9063w-1200x675.jpg

August 31, 2021 Duane Foerter0

Getting away and doing something fun and exciting (or relaxing) with friends and family this summer has been the biggest goal of most of our guests.  Seeing them leaving the helipad and having their first good look around is priceless… Off comes the mask, revealing a big smile, and the holiday has begun. (Not that we don’t still abide by the Covid rules – we have those too) But being in a beautiful, wild place with wide open spaces and abundant, fresh cool air is pretty exhilarating this summer!

So here we are at the end of August with the end in sight; the days are shorter – off the dock at 7 am just feels weird!  But we’re enjoying some really fine weather and exploring the fishing grounds in search of fish and wildlife and adventure.  Chinook salmon are still turning up inshore with opportunities to tackle a Tyee, ever-present off our favourite points. Fishing with her husband and their guide Jake off Bird Rock, Nadja M boated a nice 32-pounder on Wednesday as did Leesa A with her husband and their guide Tristan at Parker Point.  Anthony C landed a stunning 33-pounder on Tuesday and his wife Mimi followed suit with a 32 on Thursday, fishing with their guide Colten – quite an achievement!

Jaxon R turned eleven on Tuesday. We were thrilled that he celebrated here at QCL with his Dad, his Grandfather and his Great-Grandfather!  We are very fortunate to host family groups up here all the time – they’re a huge part of our guestlist every week.  But even for us, it’s rare to see four generations all in a boat together!  So the opportunity to get that photo to mark the occasion just couldn’t be missed!  Jaxon provided the key to putting it all together – catching a nice shiny Chinook salmon on his birthday and the moment was preserved!  We know you’ll remember it fondly Jaxon!

And late on Thursday, Marli J was still working the kelp beds off Yatze with her sister and her Dad, with guide DP at the helm.  A year ago, they had an epic encounter with a big salmon over at Cape Edenshaw and Marli was able to catch & release a beautiful Tyee.  You never expect these moments to repeat themselves but, sure enough, DP lured a big Chinook out of the kelp and it was Marli’s turn at the rod!  Her deft touch was still there and with some effort they managed to boat another Tyee Chinook together.  This one couldn’t be revived, as sometimes happens, but the group shared another momentous fishing experience that they’ll never forget. Whether you keep a fish, release it, or even lose it, there’s always a story that goes with it; to be shared (and maybe embellished!) with friends for years to come, and that’s one of the things we really like about fishing that never gets old!


10704176-1200x653.jpg

July 23, 2021 Duane Foerter0

While visitors to the lodge can enjoy a range of experiences while they’re here, certainly the big thrill comes with “going fishing.” For most of our guests, their trip to our remote fishing lodge in Haida Gwaii is a major highlight of their year, and we’re thrilled with that.  There was a time, many years ago, when the typical lodge guest called themselves a “fisherman” and their days spent up here were just the favourites of many fishing days on their annual calendar.  As a fishing destination there’s certainly a consensus that this is “the place to be.”

Nowadays, for many of our guests, this is the only fishing they will do all year.  They’re not so likely to consider themselves “anglers” or “fishers” or even “fishermen.”  But they wouldn’t miss their annual visit to QCL for anything!  That “QCL Experience” is a special recipe that combines a wealth of different ingredients that they’ve come to love.

 

Getting out on the water, immersed in nature, away from the all the noise and scramble of “normal” daily life, is a real treat.  Catching a fish – getting your own food – is a connection to our instincts, with our distant past.  The ability to take some fish home to share, proudly, with family and friends is every bit as exciting as catching it.  What we’ve discovered with our guests over the years, is how important that connection is.  With every vacuum-packed portion that you take from your freezer to share at your table, there’s a story that comes with it.  It could be the people you shared the catching with, the weather or the scenery at the time, or even the wildlife that tried to take the fish away from you! All of those ingredients come together to make each fish you take home a very special part of your adventure.  And we are so pleased to have some small part in that. Thank you for choosing to share that adventure with us!


90623221_mts-1200x675.jpg

October 24, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL Moments is our new slideshow series featuring the many memorable experiences that QCL guests enjoy every summer.  It could be fishing, dining, wildlife or wild life!  It’s all about the QCL Experience – every day is a new day at the Lodge!  You never know what’s going to come your way.


90818707w-1200x675.jpg

October 5, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL and the rest of the Sport Fishing Industry were notified in mid-September that one of our major competitors were suspending operations. This was definitely a shock as they have hosted thousands of guests since opening their doors in 1994.  West Coast Resorts operated two lodges on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, so we know that their customers will miss fishing at Englefield Bay and Hippa Island.

QCL estimates that 2000 or more avid WCR clients will be looking for a new home in Haida Gwaii. It would be an understatement to say that our phones and Sales Executives have been busy since this announcement.  As the dust starts to settle and we review our 2020 bookings we see that we are just now over 70% booked for 2020.  Another way to look at things is that we only closed our doors for the 2019 season 30 days ago and we are already almost three quarters full.

We are excited to be booked to this level as the 2020 season is still almost a year away. We are happy with this up-turn in business, however, we are also worried about our existing, loyal guests. We have made every attempt to reach out and let folks know about WCR and the effect this has had on our available space. We want to make sure our existing QCL clients have a chance to reserve their preferred space so we urge you to reach out to us and let us know what your thoughts and plans are for 2020.  After a great 2019 fishing season we want to see you make it back up to QCL in Haida Gwaii for another amazing trip next year. Help us help you!   We strongly suggest you call us soon at 1.800.688.8959


90801103w-1200x675.jpg

August 24, 2019 Duane Foerter2

QCL salmon fishingIt’s crazy realizing you are in the good old days. That these times here in beautiful Haida Gwaii will someday be just a fond memory. Tomorrow I leave this place after a great season with new scars, memories, pictures and fish – none of which can do it justice. This is a place full of endless adventure, almost untouched wilderness and 140 like-minded co-workers to experience it all alongside. When you come here you take a step back from reality and the hustle and bustle of concrete and traffic. An amazing escape that keeps people coming back year after year. As somebody once said to me, this is not the real world it’s the “reel” world.

– Jake Harach

QCL Haida Gwaii


SeaQualizer-closed-1200x675.jpg

July 31, 2019 Duane Foerter1

barotrauma in rockfishAt QCL we have always been known for our salmon fishing but we have seen a large increase in the past 5 years of our guests targeting rockfish.  If you didn’t know, many of these fish live up to 80 years with the Yelloweye species living up to 118 years or more!  Since 2017 we have seen changes in the catch and retention limits for rockfish as well as the species we are able to keep. These measures have been put in place to help keep these species of fish around forever.

When reeling rockfish up from depths over 200 feet they often get what is called barotrauma. This quick change in pressure causes their swim bladder to expand and protrude out of their mouth and their eyes to bulge out.

 

 

SeaQualizer for barotraumaEvery boat at QCL comes equipped with a descending device. These devices are designed to allow the fish to recompress and swim away at the desired depth the device is set for – for us that’s usually at 150 feet. The jaws of the device close on the fish’s lower lip and the device gets attached to your downrigger. The device is set to release at a select depth and the jaws will open once the downrigger gets there, letting the fish swim free.

barotraumaThere are many of these devices on the market now, all designed to allow these fish to recover and swim away. We are using the SeaQualizer device on all our boats.

There has been much debate as to if these devices work properly. I use this device every day and I was curious as to how well it worked.  So I started watching and recording the release using the image on the Lowrance HDS9 in my boat.  If you look at the photo of the screen, you can see the cannonball descending with the fish attached via the SeaQualizer.  At about 160-feet, you can see that the device opens up as designed and the rockfish (yelloweye) releases from the cannonball, swimming back towards the bottom.  It feels great to let these fish go back to their habitat to hopefully keep these species around forever!

Best Regards,
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide


90718315w-1200x675.jpg

July 19, 2019 Duane Foerter1

QCL salmon fishingWell, as much as we enjoyed (what feels like a record) 8 days of light variable winds and flat, flat water, it’s nice to get a little back to “normal”.  Southerly winds flanked the islands on both east and western shores leaving a giant flat zone on our northern coast.  The fog and glassy water were interesting but we like a little wind to move the bait around and concentrate the salmon.  And that’s what happened this week as the inshore salmon fishing improved steadily every day.  There are some big Chinooks in the water these days and QCL anglers enjoyed tangling with quite a few of them!  ( In the photo above, angler Will K celebrates briefly with QCL guide Nic Rasovic before they release a gorgeous 43-pounder! )  Cape Naden, Bird One, Parker, B2 , Klash…every point has turned out some beautiful Tyee-class fish this week.  Along the kelp we’re finding them fairly shallow at 25-35 feet much of the time, especially on this week’s morning ebb tides.  Offshore the pinnacles are seeing a lot of traffic as big schools of Coho are making their way through the grounds.  Trolling deep between 70 & 120 feet we’re picking up those nice silver bullets, with enough 15-20 pound Chinooks mixed in to  really make things interesting!

Halibut action has been busy but there are so many “chickens” QCL salmon fishingout there it’s taking some effort to weed through them to get those treasured 30-pounders! And of course, in the middle of all that, we find some giants.  Young Jarret C was jigging with his Dad and veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras when they hooked onto a monster that eventually taped out to just over 6-feet long, more than 200 pounds!  That makes quite an impression when you’re 12-years-old!  And for some anglers, winning a tug-o-war with a big ‘but is something of a fixation!  Such was the case for Roxy S this week.  For 17-years she’s been coming up to the Lodge and has certainly caught her share of big fish.  QCL salmon fishingBut the one prize that’s eluded her was the 100-pound halibut.  Well this was the week…on Monday, the eighth glassy calm day, Roxy coaxed her partner Cal out to the halibut grounds to give it another try.  She had to pull quite a few fish up from 200-plus feet but ultimately was rewarded with the one she was looking for.  With some help from the Fishmaster they taped the big fish out to 60-inches, scoring at 109 pounds, and Roxy had finally achieved her goal.  Congratulations Roxy!  That gold pin looks mighty fine on your shawl!


90609182w-1200x675.jpg

July 2, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL salmon fishingIt seems like just yesterday as we watched our new fleet of 8 boats make their way into the harbour and to the docks after weeks of anticipation. It has been amazing how many guests have told me they watched the video of the boats arrival. I wanted to provide you an update on how these boats are to fish out of.

Over the past 5 years I have been lucky enough to run all of our aluminum boats so as you can imagine it has been a great first month running one of these beautiful new ones!

QCL Salmon fishingBuilt by Bridgeview Marine, they feature Mercury SeaPro 300 HP engines, 2 Lowrance HDS 9 sounder units, a head up front and even a built-in urinal! Our 4 cabin boats come equipped with Shockwave seats which make any waves feel obsolete. No feature was missed in the design of these boats. They handle the waves beautifully and provide tons of room for fishing!

Seeing these incredible boats out on the grounds has really transformed our fleet  and brought QCL to the next level.

Next time you are on the dock stop by boat 86 and have a tour! The next 2 months couldn’t be more exciting and it’s a great sight to see these stunning boats out on the water every day!

Best Regards,

Ryan Kelly
Lead Guide