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October 30, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Mark the Date!  May 28 – June 1, 2018

Last June we held our first ever fishing derby targeting only bottom fish – halibut and lingcod specifically – and it was a resounding success!  Where salmon has been “king” for decades, we’re certainly seeing our time divided among lots of different fisheries.  The early season in Haida Gwaii has proven to be an excellent time to go after large-size lingcod and halibut.  They have voracious appetites and feed quite aggressively.  QCL guests have really taken to exploring the offshore waters and have been jigging up a storm!  New and improved depth sounder and GPS technology have added a whole new dimension of experiences to a QCL fishing trip.

The 2017 Derby produced some impressive catches last June.  John F took the prize for largest Lingcod with a 37-pounder while the largest halibut to the dock for the derby weighed in at 55 pounds for Kyle Q.  Anglers in the derby probed around all sorts of structure on our fishing grounds to find a wealth of fantastic bottom fishing.  Released halibut were not part of this tournament so some most impressive catches were carefully turned back to swim again.  Alan S released a 100-pounder on Wednesday and on Thursday we recorded halibut releases by Keith B – 115 lb. and Jeff F – 118 lb..  A forty-five minute battle concluded early Thursday morning with the measurement of a 78-inch halibut caught by Dana A which translates to 255 pounds!  His guide Mark Kasumovich was able to get the proverbial “barn door” stretched out peacefully at the surface long enough to get some accurate numbers along with photos and some video.  All in all, it turned out to be a fantastic week.

The 2018 Jig-a-Pig Derby is set for Monday May 28th thru Friday June 1st.  Many of this year’s participants are booked to return and they’re bringing friends!  If you’d like to get in on this fun and exciting event be sure to contact us soon!


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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!


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August 19, 2017 Duane Foerter0

QCL Fishing AdventureIt’s “Special Combo” fishing at QCL these days!  The return of more southerly weather has sent many QCL anglers offshore to enjoy a totally mixed bag of fishing adventures.  While we’re still finding some nice Chinooks inshore, the angling opportunities found out in water depths over 200 feet are amazing.  We’ve put quite a lot of effort into mapping these offshore fishing grounds in recent years and we’re certainly seeing the results.

QCL Fishing AdventureWe’re blessed with a huge selection of underwater structure out there.  We’ve discovered that they it not only holds traditional bottom fish like halibut and lingcod, but tends to help anglers target on the migrating schools of salmon species as well.  Underwater “hills and valleys” provide reference points that we use in trolling at a range of depths – generally from 50 to 120 feet down – and QCL anglers are finding all 5 species of salmon.  The traditional target fish for our offshore trolling has been coho but down a little deeper we’re getting into beautiful 15-25 pound Chinooks as well.   And while we’re out there, it’s so easy to just take a little break from trolling and drop a jig down on one of these hilltops for nice halibut, rockfish and lingcod.

QCL Fishing Adventure


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August 3, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Halibut fishing has become more popular than ever at QCL and with good reason.  “Back in the day” most of our guests picked up a couple of random halibut while mooching for salmon and they were happy with that; not going offshore to jig for halibut meant more time for catching salmon!  With the introduction of GPS mapping of the fishing grounds many anglers have found their own favourite fishing holes and return to them year after year.  Releasing all of those big breeding females over 75-pounds has been a good thing too.  As a result, many QCL guests make fishing for halibut and lingcod a priority during their stay.

We know that there are some big fish out there; some really big fish.  It’s not unusual for us to see a number of halibut in excess of 100-pounds released every week.  And sometimes they are massive – over 6-feet in length.  Well last week, working with some largish tides, lodge guest Derek Benson and his father spent some time in a couple of boats with friends, fishing offshore in the hunt for a big halibut.  They tried out a few of our favourite waypoints but found their best luck over a hump 215 feet down.  There was a fair bit of excitement when they returned to the lodge and shared their many photos and videos of the results!

Derek tells the story pretty well!

“We pulled up to our GPS mark at “Hali-wood”, knowing we were in a good spot from the sizable halibut lost there the day before.  Dropping back down to the same spot, my Dad hooks up.  Thirty minutes later we are cheering over the 254 lb. halibut lying alongside of the boat.  I had laid my 7-foot rod down to her and it was 6” short of the tip.  After a quick release, I reset on the GPS mark and dropped the same jig back down.  The fight started as I was adjusting the Lowrance sounder with one hand and jigging the rod with my other.  After 15 minutes of not raising the halibut up an inch, I asked my Dad to get the boat in gear and start circling around her.  My plan was to get momentum on the halibut to help angle her up, rather than trying to lift her straight up, with the boat in neutral.  An hour later (and 30 corkscrews later!) we gasp in disbelief at the width and length of this fish.  Again I laid my 7-foot rod on top of the fish, and there was still nearly a foot of fish extending past the rod!  It then took another 30 minutes to unhook it and 3 more times to the surface.  I was using my Shimano Teramar rod and Shimano Talica 16 2-speed, a tuna setup but multi-purpose.  Measuring out to 94 ½ inches it converted to 474 lb. on the IPHC chart.  This was definitely the fish of a lifetime, and I’m happy to say, it was safely released.”

Congratulations to Derek and his crew on a great angling achievement!  Two years ago we recorded a fish for Bruce Severson and George Best that measured out to 90 inches in length for a score of 405 pounds and we doubted that we would ever see another fish in that league.  This one certainly is and we’ll be happy to add Derek’s 474-pounder to the QCL record book!  We’ve seen a lot of great fish up here and we’re always in awe of the quality of our fishery!  Every time a new record is set, we’re happy to celebrate it!

QCL halibut 474QCL Halibut recordQCL Halibut 474QCL halibut record 474QCL Halibut Record


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July 18, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Mixed fishing catch at QCLIt was another gorgeous day in Haida Gwaii as my guests and I drove out on flat calm waters to one of the spots that has been fishing really well known as “the Nursery”. As soon as we dropped in we noticed multiple boats around us had fish on. It didn’t take long before one of our rods doubled over… Fish On!  We kept busy for over an hour with a mix of Chinook and Coho pushing needlefish in just 50 feet of water. After playing lots of smaller Chinooks we finally hooked into a better one. Seeing it jump a few times right away, I knew this was a good fish and after a 10 minute fight it was in the boat. There was no doubt it was a heavy fish but wasn’t sure it was quite a Tyee. But when we returned to the dock my and got it on the scale, first-time guests were ecstatic when it went 30.0 lbs, a real Bell Ringer!

Big Coho at QCLWith lots of what we call “cookie cutter” Chinook and the odd bigger fish around it makes for a fun day. The offshore Coho fishing has been producing really well, with guides often trolling in from halibut fishing and getting limits of coho, with the odd spring mixed in too. It’s shaping up to be another awesome week!

Tight lines. Kashes Redfern

 

 


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June 16, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Heading into one of the more exciting weekends of the summer, today we kicked off our 15th Annual Kingfisher Derby and it’s the biggest ever!  Sixty-four anglers are vying for $128000 in prize money.  This is a catch & release derby where all Chinook salmon entered are officially scored, revived and released by derby weighmasters.  The 3-day event concludes on Sunday at 7:00 pm when the prizes will be awarded for the three largest salmon released, plus daily winners and a single $10000 prize for the largest killed fish.  Stay tuned for the results!

The past few days have been consistent with last week’s fishery – lots of feisty feeder springs in the 130-foot line offshore and the occasional larger fish showing up in the mix.  The big fish this week was a stunning 36-pounder for first timer Trista B – a particularly good omen in this instance as Trista answered her boyfriend Andrew’s proposal with a resounding YES!  It’s truly a celebration Tyee!  Congratulations!

QCL salmon fishingQCL salmon fishing

 

 

 

 

 

Our halibut fishery continues to be especially rewarding, whether you’re seeking some perfect “chickens and turkeys” for the table or you love the challenge of finding “Wally” the barn door out there.  We’ve got it all in that department… the waters of Virago Sound provide lots of perfect structure for halibut and other groundfish.  Several big keepers kept the Bell Ringin’ each evening.  Joining the venerable 100-Pounder Club this week were Kevin C who managed to haul up a 110 and a 120-pound halibut!  Brad H released a 148, Mike N battled a 122 pounder to the top and David C called up some real grit to raise a monster alongside the boat that taped out to 76 inches in length for a calculated weight of 234 pounds!  It’s often amazing to go jigging because you just never know what you might hook up with down there.  Well done David and Congratulations to you and your guide Jeevan for such an awesome achievement!

Naden Harbour in Haida GwaII


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June 12, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Up here in Haida Gwaii we’re fortunate to have such a long productive fishing season.  While the makeup of the fishery changes as the weeks go by, we generally have pretty consistent action in comparison to most other locations.  We refer to these waters as the gateway from the open North Pacific through which pass so many different runs of salmon on the return journey to their natal streams.  Potentially every day we see salmon on their way to different river systems and the differences in strains can be noticeable.  These days, in the early season, we commonly see lots of “feeder Springs” – powerful fighters and aggressive feeders, they’re generally in the 12-18 pound class.  But it’s rarely just one run coming through at a time.  This weekend we noticed an increase in the number of fish in the low twenties and we’re getting the odd Tyee (over 30) as well.  And to top it off, really huge salmon can pass by anytime.  In 26 years we’ve literally caught a 50+ pound salmon during every trip of the season.  Every day we head out on the water we’re eager to discover just who’s swimming our way!  With access to so many runs, we never know.  That’s just another part of what makes fishing so exciting!

While most anglers manage to get their fill of salmon it was the bottom fishing that garnered all the recognition this weekend.  Several nice halibut and lingcod showed up at the dock and the Bell Ringer was rockin’ every night.  Quite a few halibut in the 30-50 pound size were taken and notable releases were a 77 pounder for Andrew M, a 90 for Curtis L and a 121 pound prize for Remo T.  The big halibut this week scored 148 lb and Aubrey C was the successful angler, receiving her gold halibut pin and a place on the QCL Halibut Club board along with Remo.  Lingcod are a popular catch for QCL anglers as well and we saw some wonderful 20-pound-plus fish at the scale on the weekend with the largest being a 32 for Anita A.  Well done!  We enjoy hosting derbies for many of our groups and this weekend saw the top salmon prize for the Annual Legends Cup go to Ken K for his stunning 33-pound Tyee, caught while fishing with guide Isaiah Dahl.  Congratulations Ken!

Looking at the week ahead we’ve got a mixed bag of weather in the forecast, winds west to south to southeast to east and back to west by Friday.  Tides are moderate with swings of 7-12 feet.

QCL fishing for halibut and salmon


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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

 


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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.


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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


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