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September 7, 2021 Duane Foerter0

It’s fair to say that most anglers who travel to Haida Gwaii on a fishing trip dream of catching a big Chinook salmon, what we call a Tyee or, as our American friends like to say, “a big Kang”!  It’s easy to understand why.  In these cold northern waters, they are the kings, the royalty of the fish world!  Sleek and powerful and bright chrome silver, a large Chinook salmon over 30 pounds will certainly test the angler and their tackle.  And it’s never over until they’re lying in the bottom of the boat!

But if you ask these same anglers what fish they prefer on the dinner plate, the answer will often be halibut!  It might be the nice meaty texture, the brilliant whiteness when it’s cooked or the subtle, non-fishy flavour and aroma of fresh-cooked halibut that holds so much appeal.

In our early days when we used smaller boats and engines, we had no technology like depth sounders and GPS.  The halibut tackle was pretty light duty, and most anglers didn’t want to spend much time hunting for halibut.  In fact, many halibut were caught as bycatch while mooching with a weighted rod for salmon!   We’ve always been spoiled in Virago Sound, the halibut fishing is never too far from shore and anglers would make a quick run out to the “chicken coop” on the 180-foot line. They’d drop a herring down to the bottom and, in short order, they’d have their two fish limit – enough to keep a promise to their partner at home – and then it was back to working the kelp beds for that big Chinook.

But how the world has changed!  We used to use very rough triangulation to remember our halibut holes – line up that big old spruce snag with that point over there and stay even with that big rock on the beach, and you should be close to “the spot!” Well… maybe!

Nowadays we’ve planted so many X’s on the water that pretty well everyone has their own, favourite halibut hole!  Modern depth sounders synchronize with apps on your smartphone to actively upload depth and structure data to the cloud.  The detailed maps created of the seafloor have revealed a whole new underwater world, out beyond the kelp beds.  Sea mounts, pinnacles, rock piles and gravel benches provide habitats for all different species of fish and affect the tidal currents and feeding areas for baitfish.  What was, not long ago, a great, invisible, underwater mystery, is now a seascape for exploration and discovery.

We have lots of guests up here every trip who are quite happy to spend most of their time offshore doing just that.  We have larger, safer and more comfortable boats and tackle that can handle the proverbial “barn door” halibut.  We’re also able to find other species like lingcod and Pacific cod.  All of these fish are well managed and the limits are kept low to prevent overfishing of the stocks. And, of course, just because you know where they should be, doesn’t mean you’re going to catch them!  Afterall, it’s still called fishing… not catching!

All that being said, here’s a good fish story…

On Saturday morning, Curtis, Jen and Colin were salmon fishing, self-guided, near the Mazzaredo Islands. This is a location, well inside Virago Sound, where the water depth ranges between 30 and 70 feet.  It’s been very productive salmon water for much of the summer, so they were trolling for Chinook salmon with cut-plug herring.  Curtis had just rigged a new herring and tossed it into the water to set up the downrigger.  As the herring started to sink, he noticed some movement below it and leaned over to have a better look… just in time to see the dark shadow open up to reveal a huge white mouth that inhaled his shiny herring!  The shadow moved alongside the boat and then back down, flipping a wide brown tail that had to be 18-inches across!  In shock, Curtis grabbed the rod from the holder and hung on.  The sounder said 32-feet, so the giant fish couldn’t sound too far!  But the hook was in its mouth and the 11-foot mooching rod was soon arched over in a half-circle with the line singing tight.  Typically, a battle with a halibut is a weight-lifting exercise, with a short, 6-foot pool cue of a rod that bends a little at the tip.  It’s often a straight lift with lots of give and take and usually happens in 200-300 feet of water, so there’s lots of lifting to do!  In such shallow water Curtis’s fish had nowhere to go but out, so he held on as best he could while his boat-mates stowed the downriggers and made ready to chase down this sea monster.  Fortunately for them, the tug-o-war was over in about 15-minutes as Curtis was able to maneuver the huge halibut alongside their boat; quite a feat considering the noodly salmon rod!  They used another salmon rod as a measuring stick and after several attempts concluded that this giant was about six and a half feet long – 79 inches in length!  It was in no mood to have anyone poking around in its mouth to retrieve the barbless bronze salmon hook so they cut the line after taking a few photos and the giant halibut disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived!  A look at the IPHC Halibut Chart revealed that this big female weighed about 265 pounds!  Considering where halibut usually live, Curtis’s opportunity to witness this giant take the bait was a rare occasion indeed.  While it’s not unusual for us to catch halibut, even big ones, in close to shore like this, we’ve never seen one this big actually brought to the boat.  Well done Curtis, Jen and Colin!  Surprises like this keep us all interested and excited to get out on the water any chance we can!


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August 5, 2021 Duane Foerter0

Every angler has their favourite time to go fishing… “Anytime” is the answer for most!  But there are a lot of QCL guests who just love August.  Maybe it’s the warmer weather, the bigger Coho, the later starts… certainly there all kinds of reasons.  For this year, we’re now at the halfway point of our season, due to the late start on July 2nd, and we’re happy to report that everything is ticking along very nicely.

On the fishing front, we’re currently seeing a nice bump in the number of larger Chinooks, with the Tyee bell getting a workout each evening.  Big fish are especially celebrated and those over 40 pounds are revered.  On the weekend, self-guided guests Sasha and Brandi spent some quality time at Klashwun Point with a beautiful big Tyee that they taped out to 42 pounds before carefully sending it back on its homeward journey.  Nicely done you two!  Jeff F and his buds had a pretty fine day fishing with QCL guide Tristan O’Brian, with Jeff boating a chunky 46-pound halibut and releasing an awesome Chinook that scored 34 pounds.  We saw a couple of big chrome beauties on the dock this week with Tom S boating a handsome 47 lb. Tyee with guide Craig Wensel and Taylor H, fishing with his Grandad, caught the fish of a lifetime in a 43-pounder with guide Noah Crumb at the helm.

The light southerly winds have continued to provide easy and comfortable access to the offshore waters and every angler is getting lots of opportunity to get down for some nice halibut and lingcod.  We get reports of several big hali’s over 100-pounds hooked each week but most everyone is having a good time pulling up some nice keepers between 15 and 50 pounds.  Getting over the pinnacles to catch your first lingcod is generally an easy feat, while finding that spot again for a second one is the bigger challenge!  That’s why we call it fishing!

While we’ve been enjoying a lot of calm water over the past couple of weeks we are looking forward to a general shift to westerly winds for the coming days.  We find that southerlies tend to disperse the feed, and the fish, while west and northwesterlies bring everything back closer to shore and concentrates the salmon fishing noticeably.  We’ll soon see if that rings true in the early days of August!  Stay tuned!


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July 31, 2021 Duane Foerter0

As we flip the page on July, we’re well into a typical midsummer fishery with the bulk of our Chinook salmon found in closer to shore and feeding schools of Coho ranging throughout the offshore grounds in water depths of 120-250 feet.  Depending on the day and the light, we’re finding the Coho anywhere from the surface down 100 feet or so.  While the typical Coho is still in the 7-9 pound class we’re starting to get some over 10 and that will continue to increase through September.

Our Chinook fishery in July was dominated by large numbers of feeder Springs feeding in close along with the other 4 species of salmon.  It was a total jackpot, and you never knew what was going to hit your gear.  But with no significant winds in the area for about 10 days now, the fish and bait have dispersed widely throughout the grounds.  The flat calm seas have enabled anglers to venture out to find the fish and they’ve been quite successful.

Tides have also played a significant role and guides are religious about picking their favourite points and fishing them hard through the slack.  And the rewards have been significant!  Cape Naden turned out the top fish this week with a stunning big Chinook caught by Nicole C that taped out to 50 pounds before being carefully released by her guide Len!  Nice work you two!  Tuesday was a big day with a pair of 41 pounders arriving in the Bell Ringer.  One was boated at first light by veteran angler Mike C, fishing with QCL guide Ken Lepage.  The other big beauty was landed by Frances D at Cape Naden at the end of the day with his senior QCL guide Ryan Kelly.  “Just one more pass” does it again!  Congratulations!

The big halibut keep on coming each trip and this week was no exception.  Dominique P hauled up a nice chunky fish that scored 116 pounds and Mark L had a good closeup look at a 180-pounder.  Driftwood anglers David L and partner Ken K did their best to measure an absolute giant that David successfully hauled to the surface.  At 200 cm in length their proverbial “barn door” scored 263 pounds!  Now that’s a workout!  Great fishing guys!

We’re ready for the return of some steady northwesterly weather that tends to push the bait, and the fish, back onshore.  But there’s none in the forecast for the coming week – a little light westerlies and then some southeast.  Fortunately, we’re still finding pockets of bait out there and QCL anglers are having a great time tracking down some awesome fish to take home.  Stay tuned!  August is almost here!


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July 19, 2021 Duane Foerter0

After an opening week with classic summer northwesterlies, QCL guests have enjoyed the last 10 days with mostly light winds from all around the compass.  That’s given us full opportunities to explore the fishing grounds and our guests have certainly taken advantage of that!

Salmon hunters have been really spoiled – they never have to wander more than a few metres from the beach!  Through all of July we’ve seen huge volumes of feeding Coho and Chinooks inshore, from the eastern boundary to the west.  Many QCL guests have their own favourite spots to fish and these days they’re happily hanging out, being productive, in their favourite waters.  With so many salmon in the area, there is a healthy mix of teen-sized feeder Chinooks swimming with the more mature, migratory stocks on their journey towards the river. Anglers are pleased to land those 16-20-pounders that provide the ultimate filet for the dinner table. And there are enough of the beautiful big Tyees in the area to get a serious chance at one of those.  The big fish this weekend was a gorgeous Chinook that taped out to 47 pounds for veteran QCL angler Roy J, fishing with his guide Clint, over at Cape Edenshaw.  Our guides are making an extra effort to handle the fish as little as possible if their guest wants to release it.  Guest Kyle B chose to release his big Chinook that was taped out to 37 lb by his guide Tegan and self-guided anglers Jordan and Tara elected to release their chrome silver Tyee that scored 34 pounds at the Mazzaredo Islands.  It’s great to see some of these awesome fish get a second chance.  On the Coho front, the numbers in the area are substantial with the average size currently around 6-8 pounds.  We’re seeing some 9’s and 10’s so that number will climb quickly in the coming weeks.

Of course, these light variable winds give perfect opportunities for bottom bouncing and everyone is getting out there to jig up some tasty lingcod and halibut.  While most anglers are picking up a pair of “unders” 12-19 lb, (do-able in one day, this season) there are always some who find those big “turkeys” in the 30-50 pound class.  This weekend Paul T hauled up a 59-pounder, Roger R a 45, Derek S a 45 and Neil S released one that scored 48.  Last week we got into some big ones with 5 halibut taping out to more than 140 pounds each… lots of excitement in those boats!  The great mystery of bottom fishing is so appealing because you just never know what you’re going to pull up from the deep!  But we do know that getting out on the ocean to enjoy the marine world and seeing all that it has to offer is something very special.  And when we can get some tasty fish to bring home and share with family and friends, it’s an adventure that just can’t be beat!  Thanks for coming up!  We totally know where you’re coming from!


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July 11, 2021 Duane Foerter0

July 3rd Report

And here we are!  So excited to be in Naden Harbour and be open for our 31st season!   With all the uncertainty of the past 15 months it certainly feels wonderful to open the doors and welcome our friends back the The Lodge.  We want to send out a huge wave of thanks and appreciation to our guests and friends who have demonstrated amazing support and patience throughout that time.  We know that this pandemic has been a shocking and sobering experience for many on so many levels.  But if people are now able to venture back out into the world to enjoy some of their favourite things, we feel very fortunate that so many want to get back up here!

With opening day as a moving target, our whole staff enjoyed the benefit of a full two-week training period!  But Wow!  What a great two weeks it was!  The level of excitement on Opening Day was off the charts as our first guests arrived and everyone fell into their roles so well.  And our guests?  They are just so thrilled to finally be here… we know it’s going to be an awesome season, already!

July 10th Report

One week in and I gotta say, it’s so great to be back!  We’ve had a few days of nice sunny weather and the usual northwesterlies that come with it, but the fishing has been on fire.  Through most of the past week we’ve been fishing the prime stretch of water from Klashwun Point down to Cape Naden.  But a lot of our guests love working the quiet water around Brown’s Pile down to the Mazzaredos.  Loaded with a healthy mix of Chinook and Coho, anglers have enjoyed terrific action inshore.  Average Chinooks right now are generally in the mid-teens, mixed with a good dose of 20-somethings and enough Tyees to keep everybody really interested every time the reel goes off!

Often in midsummer the Coho are feeding offshore but these days we’re finding lots of them in close, swimming with the Chinook.  And they’re feeding aggressively on both needlefish and herring in the middle of the water column.  Coho size has bumped up in the past couple of days and we’re seeing some 9 and 10-pounders, but the bulk of them are still 6 to 8…beautiful feisty fish all the same.

The NW winds settled back to light variable in the past 3 days, giving easy access to the rest of the fishing grounds.  Many of our guides love fishing Cape Edenshaw and they were not disappointed when they finally got over there this weekend.  The steady push of several days of westerlies tends to move a lot of bait in that direction and that brings in the salmon.  It’s a favourite place to hunt for the big ones!

But Bird 2 and Parker Point have been rewarding dedicated anglers with some great action and some spectacular fish.  We’ve welcomed our first new member of the 50-Pounder Club for 2021 already this week when Brian M brought a stunning fish to the boat that taped out to 56-pounds before it was carefully released from a cradle by guide Marcus M.  Ellen D and her husband Patrick teased a big beauty out of the kelp at Cape Naden on Tuesday that got everyone at the Bell Ringer super excited when it tipped the scale at 38-pounds.  Nice work!

Guide Marcus was at it again on Friday, with new guest Daniel N, who showed his fishing skills, reeling a big chrome beauty to the boat. It was quickly taped out to 44-pounds in the cradle before revival and release back to the wild. Congratulations all!  Wonderful fishing experiences and precious salmon filets add up to memories to savour for a lifetime.

Flat calm days like today are a treat for those who love to fish the deep water.  Off the north shore we find some spectacular underwater terrain that holds massive stocks of halibut and lingcod.  Anglers have done very well out there this week, bringing impressive catches back to the Bell Ringer.  Of course, every day there are some fish caught that are simply too big to bring back.  On the last trip, Craig A, fishing with Ray P out at HaliWood, pulled a huge halibut up alongside the boat that they were able to measure out to 74-inches in length for a weight score of 215 pounds!  Seth K released one at 128 lb., Chuck H and Sean G each measured giant “butts” out to 121 pounds!  Happily, they all managed to find some nice keepers in the 20-30 pound class.

This weekend, QCL anglers have been exploring the full breadth of the fishing grounds, enjoying perfect conditions on the water and catching some very nice fish to take home and share with friends and family.  They’ve been thrilled by the presence of several humpback whales feeding in the area, especially when they decide to launch themselves from the depths and breach the surface with a massive splash.  All these moments add up to create amazing stories that our guests go home with – to share with their friends.  It’s our privilege to play some small part in that and we all look forward to doing it again and again!


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July 15, 2020 Duane Foerter0

We’re just nicely into our second trip of the season and are happy to report that everything is coming together quite well.  Our staff are settling into their positions and really enjoying having guests around to look after.  The Chef’s pantry is full and the wine list is looking good!

We are working hard to provide a quality QCL Experience during your stay at the Lodge. At the same time, we are trying our very best to ensure the health and safety of our guests and our staff.  We want you to relax and enjoy all the wonderful things you come here for, but we ask that you remember, this is not 2019.  This is different, and we need to do some things differently.

At the lodge we have adopted, by necessity, a number of measures that you will be very familiar with by now.  Physical distancing, wearing face masks and using hand sanitizer frequently are all part of everyday life here; much like you experience at home.  Everyone will appreciate that you continue to be vigilant in protecting yourself and others against this coronavirus.  That said, we have created spaces for you to safely enjoy dining and partying and fishing and telling stories.  We want you to have fun!  But we need everybody to pull together and take care of one another.

Now let’s talk about fishing…  with less boats on the water there are even more opportunities to find your own favourite spot!   We’ve had a lot of southerly wind systems in the past week and it looks like that will continue for at least another week.  Light to moderate winds swinging between southeast and southwest find us in sheltered water most of the time.  As a result, we’re fishing the full grounds from Green Point all the way over to Cape Edenshaw.  Chinook action inshore has been pretty steady with lots of feeder Springs in the mid-teens mixed with enough of those twenty-somethings to keep you holding out for something bigger.  There are some Tyees in the mix as well; we released a couple of 40-pounders in training week and on opening weekend the biggest Chinook was a beautiful 39-pounder for Gary W.  On Tuesday we saw a pair of 30-pounders come to the scale, one for Cecil D, celebrating his first ever Tyee, and one for Sean B. who’s enjoyed catching several big fish in recent years.  Congratulations Guys!

We’re seeing Cohos (6-8 pounds) and Pinks in solid numbers, mostly offshore, over the Pinnacles in 150-200 feet of water.  The halibut fishing is always reliable and several anglers have been rewarded with some very nice fish!  Last week the bar was set pretty high when Dr. James C. ventured out with veteran QCL guide Derek “Demo” P. and promptly hauled up a giant that they taped out to 76 inches (235 pounds) before releasing it.  Great work! What a way to kick off a fishing season!  On the weekend Bob M was trolling for salmon inshore between Parker Pt and Cape Naden with guide Jordan F. – they brought a perfect 30-pound halibut to the boat – but that was after catching and releasing two much larger halibut that measured 96 and 104 pounds!  You just never know what you’ll catch out there!  Great work guys.  The Tyee bell has rung for several other chunky halibut weighing between 30 and 50 pounds this week as well.

Wildlife has been abundant out there too.  Besides the usual collection of feeding Humpback whales and giant black bears foraging on the beaches, we’ve had several transient Orca cruising inshore – maybe they’re hanging around because we’ve also seen a few more sea lions than normal so far this summer.

Stay tuned – right here – for more updates as the 2020 season rolls on!


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July 11, 2019 Duane Foerter0

QCL salmon fishingMid-season fishing is living up to expectations with the arrival of plentiful Coho salmon offshore to augment the Chinook action we’ve enjoyed off the kelp beds.  Though we’re seeing some big ones up to 13 pounds, they’re averaging about 6½and we’re getting them from the surface down to 120 feet so it’s an adventure hunting for them!  Most anglers are seeing success on Chinooks in closer to shore in all the favourite spots.  Cape Naden has been productive, fishing shallow through the ebb tide, QCL guests have done very well there recently.  Likewise, the busy water in the rip between Klashwun Point and Shag Rock has turned out some really good Chinook action – with all the challenges that come with fishing a rip!  In the past week we’ve seen quite a few nice Tyees in the high 30’s and some in the low 40’s come to the boat.  These are such stunning fish and we’re especially happy when a guest elects to turn them back in hopes that they’ll return to their home streams.

QCL Halibut fishingHalibut fishing has been reliable as always with most anglers taking their limit home.  The regulation change for this season is going over very well –anglers can choose to take either – two fish under 90 cm length or one between 90 and 126 cm length.  That’s a maximum halibut size of roughly 55-pounds for those who like the big ones!  We’re still seeing a few of those 100 pound-plus giants alongside the boat this summer –loads of excitement whenever that happens!

Talk about exciting, how about doing battle with a sea lion over a 75-pound halibut!  That happened to Nancy & Tim L while they were fishing off the Little Peanut last weekend.  Nancy had hooked a pretty big halibut and almost had it to the boat.  They knew it was oversized and were prepared to release it when a sea lion grabbed it by the tail before they got it to the boat!  It was literally a tug of war with the sea lion pulling the halibut around by the tail and Nancy reeling away on its lips!  This went on for a few minutes; the halibut was too big for the sea lion to do his usual damage, especially with Nancy yanking it away every time he released his grip.  Unbelievably they eventually boated the halibut; it was quite alive and the teeth of the sea lion had not even penetrated the skin!  They had to release it but there was no way they were giving it back to the sea lion.  So they put the boat in gear and drove off a few hundred yards in hopes of eluding the hungry sea lion.  But he was right there with them.  Luckily the Fishmaster was close by so they recruited him to distract the sea lion and they were able to release it!  Great job you two! Hopefully the free-swimming halibut got away okay. Crazy stuff happens when you’re fishing!


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June 29, 2019 Duane Foerter0

Hey everyone it’s Kraig “Konezone” Coulter here up in the Charlottes at QCL with a fishing update.  The bottom fishing has been very consistent for the great tasting Pacific Cod in the past week!  Of course there have been some nice-sized halibut released and some nice turkeys coming in to the dock as well.  As for the salmon there are good numbers of feeder Chinook offshore along with a few Coho. There are Tyees coming to the dock every day.  All in all fishing has been very consistent in the last week which indicates to me that July fishing up here is going to be dynamite.

Tight Lines everyone!

KoneZone.


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June 21, 2019 Duane Foerter0

Barn Door Halibut at QCLAs we roll into the weekend fishing trip we’re happy to report that all is well in the Gwaii!  The usual mixed bag of weather has given QCL guests plenty of opportunities to explore the fishing grounds and discover all that they offer.  The Chinook numbers are growing steadily with a continuous variety of sizes and strains. Most guests are getting 3 or 4 to go home with and the average size is running in the high teens these days –perfect filets for those 1-pound chunks!  The Tyee bell is still ringing every night, celebrating those larger salmon, halibut and lingcod catches.  We saw a couple more 40-pounders this week and several in the mid-thirties.  It’s been nice to see some hefty lingcod on the dock these past few days with some keen jigging-anglers working around the pinnacles, pulling up tasty fish in the mid to high twenties. Halibut action saw an uptick this past trip as well with 5 fish measuring out to more than 100 pounds.

The BIG story however is the proverbial “barn door” halibut pulled up by California angler David Machinski, fishing with veteran guide Ryan “R”Kelly.  This one taped out to 81 inches in length for a calculated weight of 291 pounds!  That’s a lot of work but the view when she comes to the top is amazing!  Fortunately David managed to find a 32-pound keeper later on the next day!  Well done boys!

QCL salmon fishingThe 17thAnnual Kingfisher Derby wrapped up on Sunday with $100,000 in prize money up for grabs.  With all the Tyees we’ve seen this month we knew it would shape up to be a great derby and they didn’t disappoint.  In the end the $50K first prize for largest Chinook salmon released went to Randy Rognlin (again!) for his 35.42 scoring Tyee. Following closely to claim 2ndprize was Jordan Smith with a 32.92 and 3rdwent to Dmitri Brunislav for a 32.72.  So so close!  Congratulations guys and a big Thank You to everyone who came up to participate!  This derby is always a highlight of our season.