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.
Well just when we were bragging about how great the weather has been this summer, we’ve had a couple of “rock ‘n roll”shows this week! On the weekend, some good old-fashioned northwesterly winds bumped up the energy level a notch and we discovered that fishing is really good inshore! From Bird 2 all the way past the Mazzaredo Islands and over towards Inskip Point, QCL guests found loads of terrific salmon action. Admittedly we didn’t see so many halibut but everybody was busy!
One exception on Friday was a stunning big Tyee, hooked up at Eagle Rock by guest Larry C, fishing with guide Nic Rasovic in the 102. It might have been some good luck that Nic’s Dad was aboard as Larry’s fishing partner, but after an epic battle Nic slipped the net beneath a big chrome beauty that he quickly taped out to 48-pounds before getting it back in the water! It took Nic a while to revive the huge Chinook but with some assistance from Fishmaster Trevor Harris they were thrilled to see it swim away with nice strong strokes of its tail. Congratulations Larry! Well done boys! Always amazing to see this caliber of fish and thanks for sending her back!
The fishing has been steady through the weekend and into Monday as well. Here’s a few shots of the kind of action we’re enjoying… No napping in the boat these days!
The tides of August have been generous so far and QCL anglers have certainly enjoyed the benefits! The salmon action has been outstanding, particularly for beautiful strong Chinooks in the 15-25-pound class. We’re getting them inshore in all the favourite places too. Coho action has been productive but more widespread, with anglers generally targeting waters a little farther offshore in 150-225 feet, fishing from the surface down to around 60-feet. The numbers are there but the bulk of Coho are still averaging under 10-pounds, a little lighter than normal for this time of the season. But no one is complaining with these chrome-silver bullets providing tons of exciting action wherever we find them! Down at the Bell Ringer, the sound of the Tyee Bell is pretty common each evening with a few over-30’s being either reported or weighed-in every trip.
This week our two largest Chinooks, both scoring out at 42-pounds, were released. Fishing with veteran QCL guide Tegan Baxter, Ray P turned back a stunning fish on Monday and on Thursday an equally impressive Tyee was released by Odon D and his guide Kyle Bell. Great work guys and thanks for choosing to release those amazing fish!
With only 5 trips left to go for the 2019 season we’re super-thrilled to see such consistent fishing and particularly good weather! There’s no space left this year but we’d certainly encourage anyone hoping to come up next summer to make plans now as most everyone is talking about their return trip in 2020!
Moderate northwesterlies through last week gave way to light variable conditions through the weekend, but we’re expecting another week of westerlies to start on Wednesday. All this means is that the fishing has been fantastic and should remain so. There’s lots of bait inshore now and we’ve seen excellent volumes of Coho as well as Chinooks move inshore with it. Lots of really feisty 18-24 pounders are in the current mix. As a result, more anglers are fishing the usual rocks and kelp beds, leaving the offshore and pinnacles turf for bottom fishing. Moderate tides this week are extending the productive fishing periods around points like Cape Naden, Parker, Klashwun and Eagle Rock.
It’s been a great week for Tyees with lots of bell ringin’going on down at the dock. Gorana B was the queen last week, releasing her first Tyee over 40, a chrome beauty that was taped out to 41-pounds by veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras. Marie G did just fine as well, boating 30 and 31 pounders with guide Jeff Smirfitt on Monday and Tuesday. Deborah B completed her mission on Thursday, releasing a solid 31-pounder with her guide Nic Rasovic. The guys weren’t left out…we had several fish in the low-30’s, some kept and some released. Josh K returned to the Bell Ringer with a nice 36 lb Tyee and Taylor R turned back a 34. The most noise at the bell was made by Keith B who hauled up one of those barn-door halibut, this one scoring out over 200 pounds!
The weekend catch was no less impressive… with Devon W releasing a beautiful 45-pound Chinook at Cape Naden on Sunday morning, fishing with guide Neil Wood. Saturday saw Don T release a 40-pounder with his son Brett on the net. That was the encore to the 33-pounder they released on Friday! And the annual Tyee derby between brothers Conrad, Gerhart and Willy saw 31, 32, 33 and 32 pounders caught and released with their guides Kylie Tokairin and Danny Hollins. That means a lot of action down at the Bell Ringer! Great job folks!
Here it is…August! It’s prime time for many fisheries on the coast with all salmon species on the move. Last week we had a “Salmon Grand Slam”–Audrey C came all the way from Quebec and during her weekend stay she caught all 5 species of Pacific salmon! Surprisingly we don’t see that very often, mainly because we don’t catch many sockeye.
Our salmon fishery has been outstanding this summer, with solid salmon populations feeding and moving through Virago Sound. The last 3 weeks of July were dominated by light variable and mainly southerly winds so the days on the water have been especially comfortable! Those conditions do tend to let the bait drift out into the open water though and our efforts have definitely been rewarded out there. More than half the salmon catch in July was taken out where we would traditionally fish for halibut. We’re finding lots of Coho in the top 60 feet as we would expect but Chinook fishing has been especially productive in the same areas, just down deeper at 100 to 140 feet.
The classic inshore fishery for Chinooks has really turned on lately. Anglers working the kelp beds and the rocky points are finding beautiful Tyee-class fish at all the favourite spots. Cape Naden, Parker Point and Bird 2 have probably been the most consistent spots but we’re also seeing big fish coming from Cape Edenshaw, B1, Yatze, Eagle Rock and Klashwun Point. No surprises there! The Tyee Bell has been ringing most every night with a mix of big Chinooks in the 30’s and 40’s recorded. Each trip we’ve managed to release a number of these big beauties and lots of anglers are discovering how great it feels to watch a huge salmon swim away with strong sweeps of its tail! This week Mark A. released a 46-pound Tyee at Parker Pt. with guide Jake Harach and Dick R. turned back a stunning big female that taped out to 47-pounds with guide Kylie Tokairin. Last week John M. released a 40-pounder with guide Tristan O’Brian and Chris P., fishing with Kevin Clough, also released a real nice 40-pounder at Bird Two. Congratulations All!
So far we’ve seen only a few of those hook-nosed “Northern”Coho come through and as we move into August we’re sure to encounter lots more of them in the coming weeks. But there’s certainly no shortage of nice fish out there to stock up the freezer with some nice filets and portion-packed chunks!
We’re just coming off a period of huge spring tides with last week’s new moon –18.0 foot high and 0.3 foot low –and we’ve got 6-7 days of moderate northwesterlies going on right now. So it’s all coming together for some epic salmon action as we head into the second week of August –already! Stay tuned!
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 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!
The sound of my alarm clock marks the beginning of another day in Haida Gwaii. Before I can turn off my alarm salmon are already on the brain. What are the tides doing? What is the wind direction? Where were they “gettin’ em” yesterday? I meet my guests on the dock and brimming with excitement we head back out onto the fishing grounds. With a great first days catch under our belts were feeling confident and can’t wait to do it all over again. We come around the corner of Naden and realize the flat calm water of yesterday has been replaced with rain, wind and waves but we don’t let it dampen our spirits and my guests are already into the beers. Out of nowhere a humpback launches itself clean out of the water and we are all left speechless. Not long later the reels are screaming and we’ve hooked our first Chinooks of the day. Four great days and countless fish later the trip is over and my guests return to their lives surely never to forget their time up here. What a job, I can’t believe they pay me to do this. Another trip for the books and I crash back into bed…
Beep* Beep* beep* beep*
What will today hold? I don’t know but I know it will surely be incredible.
Another beautiful day in the Gwaii. With light winds forecasted we make our way onto the grounds and fish our favourite spots with ease. Fishing may not always be easy, but when you hear the release measurements of another healthy Tyee, you always get a good feeling. While fishing in shore has been on and off, the ones who “stick n’ stay, make it pay” have been rewarded. The morning bite has been especially productive for the early bird, just as my Papa taught me. For those that prefer a little more consistent action, off shore fishing has produced a variety of fish coming from all depths. Halibut and other bottom fish have been productive on both the ebb and the flood tides. In the case you decide neither are up to par, the MV Driftwood whips up a mean burger and chowder. Looking forward to seeing you in Area One. Tight lines!
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!