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!


August 12, 2017 Duane Foerter0

After a really nice stretch of northwesterly weather – sunny skies and some lumpy seas – QCL guests have been enjoying some pretty fine fishing action this week. Both bait and salmon moved back in closer to shore where we’re accustomed to finding them and the results showed up on the catch board as very good numbers of chunky twenty-something Chinooks.  While the Tyee bell hasn’t been ringing quite as often as usual, the fish boxes going home are nicely packed with those QCL portion-cut vac-pacs for our guests to share over the coming months!

Awesome QCL Coho FishingBeautiful calm seas on Friday found many of our boats fishing offshore again in the 130-200-foot zone, and having a blast hooking up with lots of aggressive Coho mixed with enough Chinooks to keep them on their guard, all in the top 50 feet.  Of course we’re starting to see the “silver princes of August” – those stunning teen-sized Coho that often smash the bait as soon as it hits the water.  Some nice 14-15 pounders have shown up at the Bell Ringer to grab everyone’s attention!  Of course we’re also weeding through a ton of Pink salmon as well this season – one way to ensure your bait is always fresh!Awesome QCL Coho Fishing

This weekend we’re on the flipside of the weather with moderate southeast & southwest winds, along with the rainfall that usually comes with.  The outlook for next week is light southerly winds going to moderate southwest by Thursday.  Tides are moderating with changes of only 8-10 feet.


QCL salmon fishing action


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!


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


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”


July 8, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Rolling over into July, we’ve been very happy to see strong numbers of mid-sized Chinooks showing up along the kelp beds this week.  They’re widespread, from Cape Edenshaw all the way to Green Point.  Through June we’ve done the bulk of our salmon “catching” a little offshore, along the 130-foot line.  Much of the current catch is coming from a little closer in, often from depths 18-28 feet.  The Tyee Bell has been ringin’ for sure.  Mark S boated a big 40-pounder at Cape Edenshaw with his guide Nick Mercer on Tuesday while Liam N released a barn door halibut that taped out to 104 pounds today.  Long time lodge guest Jim B also landed a 40-pound Tyee, fishing self-guided with his partners Andrew and Jay.  Veteran QCL guide Ryan Winger celebrated a career benchmark yesterday with his guests Greg and Chris.  Green Point turned out some big fish for these boys and they didn’t waste the opportunity.  Chris landed a pair of 31 pounders while Greg started with a 30 and capped it off with a stunning fish that tipped the scale at over 47 pounds!  As if that wasn’t enough, they spent a beautiful calm afternoon offshore and boated 35 and 31-pound halibut! That’s an amazing day of fishing by any standard!

We’ve been spoiled by light variable winds this week and the offshore grounds have been the perfect spot to hang out and jig up some halibut and lingcod.  Flatties in the 30-pound class have become pretty normal for us this year and QCL guests really appreciate the excellent GPS/Sounder units installed on every boat.

Between the offshore jigging and the inshore trolling we’re find increasing numbers of Coho spiced with the occasional Chum salmon.  These early Coho are generally in the 5-8 pound range and they provide a nice compliment to all the other tasty treats in the box!

The weekend is shaping up really well with light winds from the west and moderate tides. We have a full slate of guides on the water this weekend so expect to see some great catches on the books!  Will keep you posted!


June 24, 2017 Duane Foerter0

The past few days have consisted of ideal water conditions, with calm seas being the norm. This has made for great days on the water, as whale spouts and other wildlife can be spotted from miles away. In addition, these conditions have also allowed us work the points and kelp beds extra hard in search of big Chinook salmon. Although not hot and heavy, each day has seen many nice Chinook taken on the afternoon ebb and low slack tide. This has resulted in a couple of Tyee-class fish being caught on a daily basis. On the other hand, boats have been getting into better numbers of teen-sized fish when working the offshore tack at Green Point and and the waters around Cape Edenshaw. There have also been some schools of Coho starting to show up off of some of the offshore pinnacles. With all of this in mind, there are certainly many salmon fishing options to choose from right now.

Today I had to thank fellow guide Ryan Winger for some helpful insight. After lunch, my guests and I went out to the Hali grounds and pulled up a couple nice chickens. We were then looking to head back to the salmon grounds to finish off the afternoon. I gave Winger a call on the radio and asked him if he has at Parker Point or Bird Rock 2. He replied that he was at Parker and that it might be worth a shot. I started my tack from “Chucks Corner” and worked in tight towards the Point. With my inside rod only a few feet away from the kelp it dipped down and we had a sizzler on the line. After two long runs, we bagged a nice 18 lb fish. After a few more tacks we managed to pull in one more, smaller Chinook that ended up concluding our awesome day!

Until next time,

Jackson “Wacko Jacko” Jane


June 7, 2017 Duane Foerter0

After a few days of steady southeasterly winds that kept us around Cape Edenshaw on the east side of our fishing grounds, QCL guests were happy to get over to the west side and try something different!  This morning they were scattered everywhere!  Quite a few moved offshore to pick up halibut and lingcod while many others focused on their favourite salmon fishing holes.  Salmon action has been most productive fishing a little offshore in 120-140 feet of water and running anchovies at 60-80 feet.  While most of the salmon catch are those feisty early season feeders, we’ve seen the number of fish over 20 pounds increase steadily.  Tyees aren’t common yet but it’s only a matter of time!

Descending Devices

If you’ve enjoyed catching Halibut before, you’ve probably caught some other scary looking fish from the bottom. One of these species is the Yelloweye Rockfish, sometimes incorrectly referred to as red snapper. When these fish are reeled up quickly from the bottom, their swim bladder expands and protrudes through their mouth. It kind of looks like a big tongue. Barotrauma is physical damage to body tissues caused by changes in air pressure and affects rockfish caught in deep water and brought to the surface. These old fish are declining in terms of population numbers and limits have been reduced this year. We are trying to preserve this species and help with conservation efforts. However, it is very difficult to release these fish and reverse the pressure effects. Each of our guides are now equipped with a descending device. A rockfish descending device is a tool intended to lower a fish back into the water at a slow rate in order for the swim bladder to decompress to a normal state. Our guides have already been able to test the devices and have seen great results. During your trip, you may be able to see the descending device in action and know that we are doing our part in conservation efforts for this species.

Fishmaster Chelsea



May 18, 2017 Duane Foerter4

Enjoy Miracle On Hali-Hill…  this wonderful fishing story from FJ Hurtak, one of our long time friends and a Driftwood guest.

In June of each year, I look forward to my salmon fishing trip to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). For about ten years now I have been booking with the Queen Charlotte Lodge. I have tried other lodges in the area and some are very good, but QCL offers me exactly what I want, that being a converted tugboat called the MV Driftwood, which is anchored right on the fishing grounds in one of the quiet bays. This boat accommodates up to 12 guests on board, and all of us who are fortunate enough to stay there, enjoy the longest fishing day on the coast. Like the QCL 5-Star main lodge it also features a private chef, but the Driftwood has a crew that are such characters, they remind me at times of the cast on the old tv series Gilligan’s Island. Always friendly, always helpful, but just a tad bit off the wall. The fact they are like that is probably why I, and so many others who stay there actually fit right in. It’s the perfect place for the keenest of anglers with a sense of humour, who just can’t bear to leave the water after a great day’s fishing.

The fishing is always good but depending on the various runs of salmon and when they are passing through, some years have been better than others. It’s never ever boring though, even on days when the fish are not biting very well, because on any given day you are going to likely have up close and personal visits from killer whales, Humpback whales, eagles, sea lions, and a myriad of different kinds of sea birds. Some days the sunsets are spectacular as well. For me, every day spent there is an adventure and I have acquired many fond memories over the years, one of which would be impossible to forget, because the chances of it happening again are pretty much 0 and none. This is the story of the Miracle on Hali-Hill.

On a dead flat calm morning, my fishing guide, Lance Mercer, suggested we try for halibut at a place the locals call Halibut-Hill. It’s quite a distance from the preferred salmon fishing grounds, but on days when the water is calm and the weather is nice, it is usually only a 25-30 minute boat ride from where the Driftwood is anchored. Fish 75 to 150 lbs are not uncommon, and according to Lance, this was THE place we had our best chance to hook a monster. Water depths range from 250 to 300+ feet so when fishing with a heavy weight and a spreader bar set-up it can be quite tiring just to reel the line up from the bottom repeatedly. The guides here back-troll and drift this spot trying to avoid snags on the bottom, but the bottom and subsequent structure, is where large halibut spend much of their time feeding, so it’s worth taking the chance. The possession limit in this region for halibut is 2 and only one of the two halibut in your possession may be over 83cm in length, and the maximum length for retainment of a fish is 133cm. The previous day in another location I had already boated my ‘under 83’ so today we were looking specifically for the ‘over’. We had plenty of action almost immediately and I caught a beautiful 11 lb. red snapper (delicious eating fish) and we hooked several smaller halibut in the first hour. We were using two heavy halibut rods and had one out on each side of the boat. We had just elected to drop the baits close to the bottom, and put the rods in the rod holders to give us a break from constantly holding the rod and jigging. Suddenly, the front rod right behind Lance was hit with a solid bite. “Fish on Lance… Grab the rod!” I shouted. Lance had just set the hook and said it felt like a heavy fish. Without warning, I almost instantly heard a loud crack on the back rod right beside me. I turned quickly, just in time to see my rod and reel leaving the boat as the apparent bite was so hard it had snapped the rod right out of the holder and tilted it downwards. In an effort to save the tackle, I dipped my arm into the water and took a wild swipe at the rod, narrowly missing it, as it plunged to the ocean bottom.

Lance looked at me and said, “Don’t know what might have hit that bait but whatever it was it had to be huge, but let’s not cry over spilled milk. Take this rod and reel this one in.”  I was still in a state of shock from losing some very expensive tackle but I complied and was soon battling another fish. Several times the reel’s drag screamed out line and as every fisherman knows that’s music to the ears because it’s very likely of the large variety. The standoff continued for several minutes but I was gradually making progress and I knew I was winning and tiring this fish out.  As the minutes ticked by it became basically a dead weight with not much fight left in it.  As is so often the case though, the really big fish do a final run for freedom once they spot the boat so I was careful.  Slowly but surely I continued reeling with the rod tip up and I allowed no slack in the line. Then we finally saw it! It was over 5 feet long! Both our jaws dropped in amazement! BUT it was NOT a fish, it was none other than the rod and reel I had lost 15 minutes earlier, and I had it hooked on the line just below the rod tip.  Both fish had somehow gotten off, and even though we had drifted at least 1 to 2 km across the open ocean I had managed to somehow snag the line in the process and get all my tackle back. Both of the rod’s baits were stripped clean. Lance ‘high fived’ me and chuckled “You got your over today F.J.”

Just another day on the magic waters of Haida Gwaii.



F.J. Hurtak is the author of the books ‘Elk Hunting in the Kootenays’, and ‘Hunting the Antlered Big Game of the Kootenays’, and is also a very avid fisherman.


September 6, 2016 Duane Foerter0

Well, this morning we said goodbye to our last group of guests for the 2016 season.  It’s been a whirlwind for sure!  Our busiest season ever and it was fantastic!  Sure we had to work a little harder for the fish at times this summer but our guests and guides made the most of it.  At the end of the day there were lots of fish to go around.  On Sunday, our final fishing day was one for the books; greasy flat water with just a hint of breeze, bright overcast skies and fish catching opportunities all over the place.

QCL Lingcod catchThe bulk of the action recently has been offshore and we’ve enjoyed exploring the tidelines and contours in the 200 to 500-foot zone.  We’re finding loads of beautiful 10 – 15 pound Coho and the occasional Chinook out there, from the surface down 60 feet or so.  And while we’re out there, we get lots of little surprises like random feeding humpbacks popping up alongside the boat or pods of Dall’s Porpoise zipping around below.  We’re always discovering great underwater structure that harbours awesome lingcod, halibut and cod fishing opportunities.  We set a new record for the number halibut over 100 pounds this season and with a little help from some enthusiastic jig anglers we’ve established a very healthy lingcod fishery.  Even in this past week we saw halibut released scoring 102, 102, 115, 134, and 160 pounds with several nice ones in the 30 to 60 pound “keeper” class.

Coho fever at QCL!

Inshore fishing for Chinook salmon turned on nicely this weekend with some snap bites coming on with the morning tide changes at Cape Naden and Parker Point.  There weren’t a ton of them but certainly enough to get everybody interested, even a couple of nice Tyees in the mix!   Now we crunch the numbers and we’ll be back with a bit of a summary very soon!  Stay tuned.

Tyee Chinook at QCL

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Keep up to date with QCL Newsletter for the latest fishing news and updates from Queen Charlotte Lodge.