I guess we could call it the height of our summer! The past few days of brilliant sunshine delivered some of those iconic deep colours that say it’s summer at the lodge! The fishing effort was largely focused on the waters from Yatze east to the Mazzaredos and the salmon action was quite steady overall. Anglers were busy reeling in lots of nice Coho mixed with a bunch of Pinks; punctuated by a chunky Chinook every so often! We managed to find a few Tyees in the mix, between 30 and 36 pounds – and lots of those amazing 20-somethings, the top target of our salmon anglers! We caught a break on Thursday and the winds died right off to send the entire fleet offshore to load up on halibut and lingcod, which they did quite successfully.
Seeing as it’s already August 13th (or Foggust as many call it) we’ve been really lucky to avoid much fog in the area so far. But a big bank rolled in late Thursday; we usually watch it creep in from the north and settle over the east side of Naden Harbour. Combined with a brilliant super-full-moon, it made for another dramatic visual this week.
I hope you enjoy this eclectic collection of photos that pretty much describe how the week went! But don’t worry, the weekend, so far, has been different! Tune in next week for the update!
A classic northwesterly system is bringing us big blue skies this week – the staff are enjoying our version of beach life and our guests are doing the great drift on the seas rolling down from Shag Rock past Cape Naden. While there are excellent opportunities hunting for Chinooks that lurk around the kelp beds at Yatze, the Bird Rocks and Parker Point, the offshore drift along the 120-foot line is usually quite productive and fairly unpredictable in these conditions. Depending on your depth you can hit good numbers of Cohos and Chinook, but you can also find lots of action from Pink and Chum salmon along the way. Bottom fishing will have to wait for Thursday when we will be able to access the offshore waters again.
We’ve seen some great Chinook action this past week with a number of big Tyees in the area. Normand B masterfully brought a huge Chinook to the net for his guide Alex K on Thursday… after a measurement and a quick pic Alex carefully revived the big beauty to watch it pull away with a few strokes of its massive tail. She scored at 49-pounds and was cause for some serious celebration at the Bell Ringer on the final night of the trip! Great job guys and Congratulations!
On the weekend Myron N was able to follow suit, releasing a stellar 33-pounder with his guide Chris M. Bill G celebrated a 31 on the dock on Sunday along with a nice 32-pounder for John M to cap off a terrific weekend of salmon action. We also had outstanding lingcod catches on Friday when Mo N returned to the dock with an impressive 32-pounder, only to be upstaged by his fishing partner Scott N, who weighed a 42 – the largest of the season so far! Kudos to their angling skills – and those of their guide Alex!
The mid-summer stretch is treating QCL guests to some really excellent fishing adventure these days! Very favourable weather conditions have added some icing on the cake – some of us are wearing t-shirts! We even had 3 guests go for a dip off the lodge beach before enjoying the hot tub! Life is good!
It was especially good for veteran anglers Joe H & Brad R as they first set their gear at Green Point Tuesday morning. Joe’s rod had the twitch before Brad even managed to get his in the water! But together these fellows would share an epic battle with a massive salmon that they’ll remember for a long time. Brad finally slipped the net below the big beauty and when they lifted it aboard, they were super thrilled! Finally returning to the dock last night, the scale at the Bell Ringer revealed a weight of 52 pounds! Cause for celebration for sure! Nice fish boys!
While big Tyees over 50 pounds aren’t as common as they used to be, we’ve certainly seen a nice bump in the big fish department recently with several Tyees kept or released. Jeff W released a 33-pounder on the weekend and Jason N boated a 38 on Saturday, followed by a 30 on Sunday! Zack J followed up with nice 31-pounder and Ryan O returned to the Bell Ringer with a stunning 14 lb Coho, the largest of the season so far! When we have the right tide and wind conditions the halibut grounds are a wonderland! On Saturday we saw lots of nice keepers land back on the dock but the Tyee Bell was ringing big-time with released giant halibut reports! Richard K released an 87-pounder, Janet B recorded a 69-inch halibut that scored 168 lb and Clint C turned back a full-on barn door that measured 75-inches to score 220 pounds! Amazing! Coho catches remain very strong with the average size creeping up around 8-pounds now so everyone is enjoying the awesome salmon action on the water.
Light to moderate winds wavering from southwest to northwest are to continue right into next week with very little precipitation and the odd sunny period – so we have pretty perfect conditions to look forward to. Peak tides will return around the 12th when we’ll see 17-foot swings, so hold on for that one! Stay tuned!
As we crest over the midway point of our summer season here at QCL, we find ourselves knee deep in Coho. There appears to be no sign of slowing to the arrival of the acrobatic white gums. As the flow of fish continues to increase, we have begun to see an increase in size as well. Fish stretching into the double digits are becoming more and more common every week. Yesterday a 14-pounder arrived at the Bell Ringer! What a fish!
At the same time, I felt that Chinook fishing had been slower than usual last week. But there has been no lack of quality when you do find a pocket of black gums! Though the hookups on Springs have been hindered by the relentless hammering of Coho, the fish that are being caught are often up into the twenty-plus class and put up quite a battle for our visiting anglers!
This past week my guests and I were fortunate enough to connect with a trio of gorgeous Chinooks at Cape Naden. On three consecutive passes we managed to find an eighteen pounder, followed by a fat 23-pounder. Not much later, on our third tack through the shallow bay that divides Cape Naden and Hanna Bay, the portside rod popped off and began to strain from the heavy head shakes of what would turn out to be a stunning 37-pound Chinook! After an exciting battle, punctuated by many long runs, the 27”x 38” chrome missile was carefully landed onto the deck of our 22’ Bridgeview. After a quick measurement, this big beauty was successfully released to continue his long Journey home!
While we’re enjoying big blue skies and bright, sunny conditions this week, northwesterly winds blowing 15 to 25 are keeping anglers down inside the shelter of Virago Sound. Salmon fishing continues to be productive with consistent catches of Coho and Chinooks in the near-shore waters. An 11-foot morning flood tide moving with the westerlies provides decent opportunities to get offshore far enough to pick up some bottomfish, before the ebb starts and the sea gets a bit lumpy for comfort!
Given good conditions, QCL anglers do very well on halibut and lingcod while they’re here. Modern Navionics and depth sounders have mapped the undersea world to the point that guides are able to navigate an amazing world down 200-300 feet below. With the right skillset and some creative planning, they’re finding excellent catches of tasty lingcod and halibut. Challenges enough remain to keep it a very interesting exercise for anglers to put a few in the box! But those rewards are some of the finest fish dinners they’ll ever have!
Lingcod are very common and plentiful in the area and are carefully managed by Fisheries & Oceans. Anglers may retain 3 lingcod per day so the possession limit on a trip is 6. They can be found in less than 100 feet of water near shore but we typically fish for them offshore among pinnacles at depths of 200-300 feet. They are extremely structure-oriented so anglers must work hard to get on the structure long enough to present the jig/bait before drifting off with wind or tide. Lots of repositioning of the boat, lots of reeling and, lots of reeling! But the medium-firm, moist, and flavourful white flesh of lingcod is well worth the effort!
Lingcod can live 20-25 years and females mature at 3-5 years of age at an average length of 24-30 inches. They spawn in nests / crevices from December into March, and the males guard the nests until the eggs hatch. That’s why lingcod season is closed mid-November thru April 1st – they guard aggressively and are extremely vulnerable to anglers. Lingcod are highly susceptible to overfishing so they are closely managed from the Aleutian Islands all the way to Baja California!
It’s hard to believe but we are officially at the halfway point for the 2022 season up here at QCL! After an unseasonably late start to “summer” in June, the past 2-3 weeks have been pretty awesome! Lots of fish, better than average weather and so much fun on the water and back at the lodge. We’ve enjoyed very healthy numbers of what we’d call “feeder salmon” in recent weeks. Lots of Chinook salmon in the low-mid-teens and hungry Coho in the 6-8 pound class are keeping anglers busy throughout most of the fishing grounds. The presence of larger Chinook has been increasing steadily with regular catches of those stunning twenty-somethings, and the Tyee Bell is ringing every night now in celebration of Tyee-class fish either kept or released. Everything is feeling more like a “normal” fishing season, just a little later this year.
We started off this week’s trip with a bang on Monday night at the Bell Ringer with David H cracking the bell four times after releasing a big beautiful Tyee that taped out to 43-pounds before guide Alex K carefully returned it to the water. Roger P celebrated releasing a 30-pounder with his partner and their guide Colton M and Dan B was turning heads with an impressive 42 lb Chinook that came back to the dock with guide Dan R. We’ve been very fortunate to find solid salmon fishing off most every point of the fishing grounds, at the right stage of the tide, which have been especially large this week with ranges up to 18 feet!
However, nice calm seas on Monday thru Wednesday provided perfect conditions for any angler’s preference! Halibut fishing is very reliable on most days and this week was no different with many anglers finding impressive fish over 30-pounds and some tangling with the proverbial “barn doors” out on the grounds. Finding that magic number where it’s “not too little but not too big” is a challenge that definitely comes with fishing and Dan S pretty much maxed out his opportunity, bringing a 55-pounder back to the Bell Ringer! Lionel W turned back a 5-foot-long halibut that scored over 100 pounds and Matt C hauled up a 75-incher which scored 230-pounds! But the big catch this week went to Josh P who battled an 87-inch behemoth that would weigh about 273 pounds if you could get it in the boat! While not every angler wants to work that hard, there are endless possibilities out there for those who dream of catching a fish larger than themselves! Up here we seem to do that every week.
This weekend the large tides will start to diminish and we’re enjoying light winds and a comfortable mix of cloud and sunshine… with the occasional shower tossed in for good measure!
Now in my early 60’s, I can honestly say I have almost seen it all on the water. Starting as a guide in Campbell River when I was 13 in the early 70’s until today guiding at QCL when I get the chance, I can see how much things have changed. And for the better I might add!!
As a guide you are a jack of all trades. First, but not most importantly, you know how to fish. The mechanics, the theories, and the techniques. When I was a young guide, that was all there was. Use your skill to catch as many, and as big a fish as possible. Make yourself look good and beware to the guest that lost the big one or could not learn how to set the hook! Looking back now, it was all about the guide and not the guest.
Thankfully that is changing. A great guide asks more and talks less. He finds out what a guest wants out of their experience and then strives to match that expectation. A guide becomes a teacher and instructs as much or as little as the guest wants. A guide does not yell at or intimidate his guests. If he does, he leaves the rest of the day with the guest feeling uneasy, inadequate, paranoid or just sad or angry. None of these emotions are conducive to a fun environment on the boat. The magic is quickly lost and it is oh so difficult to find again.
If the highlight of the trip is to see a Humpback or Killer Whale and the guide ignores the Fishmaster or another guide when they see whales, and doesn’t offer to take the guests to catch a glimpse, then the guide is not doing his job. There is lots of time to fish and to miss maybe that one chance is almost unforgiveable. The great guides know what is important and how to deliver. Throughout the day the guide effortlessly applies his fishing skills and simultaneously looks for any and all things that he can add to the day to increase guest’s enjoyment. It could be a bit of Haida history and culture, pointing out a jellyfish, or explaining how a halibut’s eye moves across their body as they grow. (They really do!) Each one is a little thing, but taken as a whole, so much is added to the day.
To work at QCL as Vice President Sales is extremely rewarding. But to spend a few days on the water and have the opportunity to reconnect to my guiding roots is the highlight each summer. You can never get too much of watching a person catch their first or biggest salmon, see something that Mother Nature has on display each day in Haida Gwaii, or simply know that you have made someone’s day. As a guide you get to do that. I guess I have the best job in the world. Fun to think of one’s self as the Old Man and the Sea and watch the guiding profession at QCL transitioning to what guiding should all be about.
Two weeks of steady, moderate and predictable northwesterly weather has been an unusual treat up here! Looking ahead, it appears that we’ll see light variable winds start on Tuesday and carry on towards the weekend. The good weather has provided consistent fishing throughout the grounds with abundant salmon in a mix of all 5 species. Anglers are enjoying lots of action, often provided by scrappy 10-12 pound Chinooks, 5-9 pound Cohos and Chum, and large, hungry Pink salmon! The larger Chinooks are there and we’re getting the occasional Tyee but anglers are thrilled to see one of those 20-plus beauties alongside the boat! Productive Chinook fishing has been around the usual haunts between Cape Naden, Parker Point, Bird 2, Yatze and Green Point. We’ve been able to fish the east side comfortably on the morning flood tides and Cape Edenshaw has produced its share of nice Spring salmon on most mornings.
The offshore jigging action has been equally reliable with great results for both halibut and lingcod. Many anglers are enjoying the ability to retain two halibut in one day; a couple of teen-sized fish provide lots of beautiful 1-pound portion-pacs to enjoy with friends and family. But quite a few guests are finding one of those “overs” (20-70 lb) and happily settle for just one. Our portion packing service sure comes in handy to preserve all of your precious catch right through to next year. (if you can resist eating it all up sooner!)And while you’re out there on the hunt for your big catch, you just never know who you might bump into! QCL guests especially enjoy the almost constant presence of so much wildlife in the area. Humpback whales, in particular, are feeding constantly in the same waters where we fish and frequently come around the boats, bringing thrills and chills to excited anglers!
We hope that your Canada Day was as fantastic as ours was up here at the lodge! We welcomed an excited new group of guests on Friday morning and they enjoyed a productive day of fishing in glorious sunshine here in Haida Gwaii… it felt like July! (in a 13-degree C kind of way!)
Last night we all joined in a rousing rendition of Oh Canada in the dining room around 9:00… but then we had to persuade everyone to stay up until it was dark enough to launch the fireworks! That finally came at 11:15… but it was worth the wait and our Operations Team did a great job of delivering an authentic Canada Day display for all of us! And today… another beauty!
It’s hard to believe… but June is almost over! It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, with full house trips right off the bat and a “green but keen” new crew to bring up to speed in a hurry. But we have to say, it’s been a great start to the season with tons of memorable experiences and stories being created.
We’ve seen an unusually solid streak of moderate northwesterly weather in the latter half of this month, bringing lots of sunshine, but still cool temperatures. Fishing in general had a slower start with delayed spring runoff from the mainland river systems and cold water, but by mid-June the migratory salmon were showing up in numbers and we’ve been catching all 5 salmon species ever since. Lots of teen-sized Chinooks have dominated the catch and we’re seeing more 20-plus fish and Tyees reported every day. Mark N boated a nice 32-pounder on the weekend with guide Nick R and Daniel T had an awesome trip, combining a 30-pound Chinook with a 32-pound lingcod! Most anglers are going home with several “other” salmon, mostly a tasty combination of Coho and Pinks these days.
Our bottom fishing has always been outstanding out on the grounds with anglers’ favourite spots marked at depths from 175 to 325 feet! But some know there are places where, at the right stage of the tide, large halibut are regularly caught in as little as 30-feet of water! Just ask Brian M who boated a 49-pounder just a few minutes from the lodge or Desmond F who pulled a 55-pound halibut right out from beneath the Driftwood at Bird 2! Sometimes in life, an in fishing, it helps to think outside the box! Good work guys!