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
It’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
At 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.
Every 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.
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!
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide
Well, 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” out 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. But 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!
It 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!
Built 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!
One of the special privileges of being a guide is having the opportunity to be a part of some truly unforgettable moments on the water, creating memories that last a lifetime. Last Sunday morning, Father’s Day, Grady White 107 was cutting its way through the glassy ocean with myself and 3 generations of family, a classic father, son and grandfather fishing team.
Anticipation was high as we dropped in at Klashwun Point, low slack was approaching and there was hardly another boat in sight. As we began working the formidable structure of Big Point, reminiscent of an ancient ruined castle, we were treated to a show of humpbacks breaching and eagles dive bombing boiling balls of needlefish. The only thing missing were the salmon! After hours of fishing with only one feeder sized chinook landed and released, the current soon pushed all the baitfish out past the point. Our high hopes faded and we decided it was time to make a move.
After the boys had a burger break on the MV Driftwood, we decided to roll the dice and cruise across Virago Sound to Cape Edenshaw. We set up in Piggy’s Bay and I only had time to put in one rod when it suddenly lurched violently. Fish On! After boating a beautiful 20 pounder, we set up again and quickly hit a double header. Looks like we found the spot! Pure pandemonium ensued over the next several hours, with beautiful, hard fighting Chinooks refusing to leave us alone. The highlight fish was a serious reel-melter that later weighed in at 29.4 pounds- a true “Tryee”! I for one can’t think of a better way to spend quality time with family and friends than experiencing this one-of-a-kind fishery in such a beautiful and remote corner of the world. It’s my privilege to be able to introduce people to the amazing migratory salmon of Haida Gwaii every day – it’s a dream come true.
An escape to this remote corner of the world is on the wish list for a lot of people, and for good reason! It’s definitely an angler’s paradise; those gorgeous chrome-bright salmon sure make an impression on you! The wilderness seascapes of the fishing grounds are literally overflowing with an abundance of life –both above and below the surface. Sharing a breath of salt sea air with a feeding humpback whale just a rod’s length off your boat is a sure testament to that – especially while you’re reeling in a nice lingcod off the other side!
Guests staying with us this week got to experience all that and more. Among our guests we were thrilled to host Kevin Costner and his family who were able to enjoy the QCL Experience with us. We’re so pleased that we were able to show them some beautiful BC wilderness along with some warm QCL hospitality. While they’re returning home with a nice box of fish we hope that their whole family takes along many fond memories of their visit here.
June fishing continues to be very productive with good numbers of Chinook salmon in all weight classes. Sixteen lucky anglers got to ring the Tyee bell over the past 4 days, celebrating what most would consider the fish of a lifetime. But like we always say, there so much more to it than just fishing!
It’s amazing that they can predict weather a week in advance and when the day comes, it actually happens exactly as promised! That brief 6-hour burst of southeasterly wind that sent us to the shelter of Cape Edenshaw yesterday was bang on the money. It didn’t blow quite so hard as we’d feared but it blew. All is well.
Guests on our third trip of the season were treated to beautiful days on Friday and Saturday and they sure made the most of it! Greasy flat water, skies just sunny enough and hungry fish everywhere. We’re starting to see the salmon species mix coming –we saw only Chinooks last week but now we’re getting some Coho, Chum and Pink salmon as well. The Tyee count continues with a 31 for Richard M, and a 34 pounder for Chris M on Friday.
Robert N caught and released our third 40+ Chinook while fishing with guide Tristan O’Brian at Yatze, taping the big beauty out to 42 pounds! Way to go Robert! Nice to see those amazing big Chinooks swim away from the boat! Five more Tyees on Saturday included yet another giant released! QCL guide Kylie Tokairin was working the legendary structure of east bay Parker Point when her guest Andrew M set the hook on a solid fish. Twenty thrill-filled minutes later Kylie was releasing a gorgeous big Chinook that they’d just taped out to 44 pounds! That makes four over forty in the first eight days of the season! Sure is nice to see! Congratulations to all involved and we’ll hope these big spawners find their way safely back to their home streams this summer!