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June 7, 2019 Duane Foerter0

With the departure of our second group of guests this morning we’re feeling pretty darn good about the weeks ahead.  We’ve been treated to favourable weather and productive fishing.  The trend has been toward light northwesterly winds and as result our salmon fishery has been most productive inshore along the rocks and kelp beds –“where they should be”as our guides like to say!  All the favourite points are turning up salmon action, with a variety pack of sizes served up every day. Craig H and Sean C both hooked up with beautiful 30-pounders on Monday while Paul S boated a 33 on Tuesday.

QCL salmon fishingQCL guest Eugene Knuttila, staying aboard the Driftwood with his son Jeff, had the ultimate salmon experience while fishing off the bay at Yatze with QCL guide Liam Longacre.  On their second tack in glassy calm water Eugene’s rod dipped and he was soon onto a solid fish.  The battle lasted about 20 minutes with lots of jumps and some tug-o-war from the bottom.  But when the fish came to the boat and they saw that big head & shoulders, they knew this one was going back. After a quick measurement it was back in the water and only took Liam a few minutes to revive before it swam away with good strong strokes.  It taped out to 46 pounds and proved to be the fish of a lifetime for Eugene, who was thrilled to experience such a moment with his son. It was definitely a high point for Liam as well –great job guys!   Newlyweds Julia and Isaiah shared a similar experience when they tempted another big Chinook out of the kelp at Yatze, this one measuring out to 35 pounds before retreating to the shelter of the weeds after reviving.  Beautiful fishing everyone…  and Congratulations!
QCL salmon fishingThis week marked the first edition of the White Gold bottom fishing derby with prizes for largest halibut and lingcod. Tide swings of 16-plus feet made for challenging conditions but determined anglers prevailed and a number of good fish came to the scale.  A 37-pound lingcod took the top prize for John F while Eric H claimed the cash for halibut with a 33-pounder.  There were several big halibut caught and released this week – a 78 for Syd C, an 80 for Raymond P, a 100-pounder for Justin C and a 160 for John S – but the derby is for keeper fish only and that sweet spot between 50 and 60 pounds was elusive this week.  Good fun guys and we’ll maybe look for smaller tides for the next edition!

For this weekend light northwesterlies will prevail thru Saturday before we get a 10-hour dose of southeast that will steer us over to fish Cape Edenshaw on Sunday.  Tides are moderating nicely so we should see much easier bottom-fishing today and tomorrow.QCL Haida Gwaii


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July 24, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Family Tyee fishing trip!Northwesterly winds have definitely set the tone over this past week, directing the fishing effort to the sheltered shorelines south and east from Klashwun Point.  Fortunately we’re finding some pretty nice Chinooks while combing along the kelp beds and rocky points.  There have been opportunities to get offshore and pick up some Coho and Halibut as well, but some sizeable tide action can make that a challenge much of the time.  The odd twist is that we usually enjoy a pile of big blue sky with these winds but that’s been pretty spotty most days too!

Chinook salmon action at QCLThe Tyee bell was getting some action on most nights last week with several Chinooks and halibut tipping the scale over that magic 30 mark.  John R kicked the party off with a 30-pounder, repeating his Tyee Club appearance from last year.  Brian K added a 30 on Wednesday along with Jordan C who boated a 32 and Laurence H who’s 37-pounder was the big salmon of the day.  Matt C came close, however, with a 34 lb Tyee, but he seriously proved his skills with the 41 lb halibut that he weighed right after that! That’s a nice day on the water!

The winds let up nicely on Tuesday and the halibut fishers responded!  We saw lots of flatties on the dock with several perfect specimens ranging from 30 to 42 pounds.  Rob G missed the cutoff however with a big one that taped out to 86 pounds!

Tyee Chinook salmon at QCLThursday proved fruitful for salmon hunters with more Tyee catches recorded.  John P shared the thrill of the Tyee with his 2 sons, boating a stunning 31-pound Chinook.  Makenna C got the day off to a great start at Bird 2 when she caught & released a beauty that taped out to 36 pounds!  Fishing with his guide Trevor Harris, Clark H worked the shoreline religiously and was rewarded with two fine Tyee catches – at 31 and 33 pounds!  And off the outer face of Bird 2 at afternoon slack, veteran QCL anglers Carol H and her husband Andy connected with the big salmon of the week, a hefty Tyee that thrilled the Bell Ringer crowd at 42 pounds!  The average size is creeping up steadily for both Chinook and Coho salmon over the past couple of weeks, and we’re really pleased to see so many chunky Coho in the 10-12 pound range!  Let’s see what happens this week!


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June 24, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Chinook salmon fishing at QCLYou can feel the excitement throughout the entire lodge right now.  The past few days have included some steady winds from the northwest, which has brought the entire fishing grounds to life.  The birds are everywhere, having a hard time deciding which bait ball to dive on.  Humpback whales are working together, scooping up massive mouthfuls of fish as they move across the grounds.  On top of all this, the fishing has picked up significantly.

The past few days have seen some of the best chinook fishing of our season so far.  It appears as though a new wave of fish has started to push its way across our grounds. Multiple Tyee’s are starting to be caught, and we just had the first 40 lb Chinook caught of the season.  Fish are still being caught offshore in the deeper water, but the inshore fishing has really improved over the last couple of days.  Most of the salmon are still being picked up around the slack tides; however, as the tidal differences continue to decrease, the fish seem to be biting a little more consistently throughout the day.  On top of all this, the Coho have started to show up in little pockets scattered across the halibut grounds.

Halibut fishing has also been getting better and better.  The smaller “chicken” halibut have been plentiful as always, but some absolutely massive halibut have been caught on the grounds as of late.  Some of them have even been found in some pretty unexpected places. Last trip my guests and I were trolling around Cape Naden looking for a chinook.  We were working in tight to the kelp bed when all of a sudden the back rod started to scream out line. It wasn’t long into the fight when my guests and I realized something fishy was going on. After the initial “run”, the fish just stayed down on bottom.  Every time we gained a couple of yards of line, it took them right back with a single pull.  Finally, after about a 30 minute fight, we got it to the surface.  QCL salmon fishingIt measured out to a 100 lb halibut.  The thrill of seeing a fish that big never gets old, and to reel it up on a salmon rod with 30 lb test makes it that much more impressive!

You really never know what you are going to see each and every day up here.  We truly have the coolest office in the world.

Until next time – Keep your rod tip up!

Nick “Mighty Oak”


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June 20, 2018 Duane Foerter0

All this blue sky is a little overwhelming to most of us up here!  The temperature hit 21 degrees yesterday and we can hardly stand it!  (But I’m sure we’ll adapt!)  As we hoped and expected, the northwesterlies have been pushing bait into the sound and our salmon fishing is picking up noticeably every day.  Although it’s been a slow start throughout the north coast of Haida Gwaii, we’re seeing an abundance of herring and needlefish and the Chinooks are coming along.  Finding them is a test for many anglers though.

Halibut & Lingcod a PlentyToday Parker Point lit up nicely during the early flood tide with some nice mid-twenties Chinooks picked up.  But at the same time, guides are finding feeders offshore in 150-250 feet of water, fishing anchovies down 50-80 feet.  Sporadic salmon action but usually productive for the persistent!  A beautiful 28-pounder was released yesterday by Christopher D while fishing with guide Tristan O’Brian.  That’s a nice fish boys, well done!

We’re starting to see all the other salmon species showing up now with some mid-teen-sized Chum hitting the dock and reports of Pinks and a couple of Sockeye.  Every once in a while you get a surprise and that happened to day for guide Luke Wagner when his guest Nicole landed a stunning Coho that tipped the scale at 12-pounds!  A nice big one for so early in the season!

QCL Chinook Salmon fishingOur 16th Annual Kingfisher Derby wrapped up on Sunday with the usual suspense.  With an additional 7 anglers signing on at the last minute the purse grew nicely and the grand prize for largest Chinook released bumped up to $55,000!  Phil Mudge, fishing with guide Kevin Clough at Bird 2, was leading after Day 2 with a nice Tyee that scored 31.36.  But we knew there were more Tyees hanging around out there.  Sunday morning broke and around 0800 Randy Rognlin, fishing with guide Matt Burr at Cape Naden, registered a beauty that scored 32.91, taking the lead.  Later in the morning a non-derby angler held up a nice big Tyee at Parker Point that was even bigger, just a reminder that no one was quitting before the final bell at 1900 on Sunday night.

Salmon fishing at QCLIn the end however, Randy’s Tyee held to take the top prize and the Bell Ringer was rocking!  Derby Master Mike Reading presented cheques to all the winners with Phil Mudge getting $30000 with his 31.36, Chris Waters got $15000 for a 27.42 and 4th prize of $7000 went to Mike Lane for a Chinook scoring 26.8.  Interestingly the largest killed fish also scored 26.8 to take the $10000 prize for that category.  Another $7000 was awarded in day prizes.  A big thank you to all participants for coming up and we’re happy to hear that most of them are planning to return next year to try again!  It’s always a fun and exciting weekend!


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June 15, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Yay!  A shift in the winds to northwesterly this week is bringing some welcome sunshine and the promise of great fishing for the next couple weeks.  We’ve been able to get offshore regularly to check out our favourite halibut holes and are happy to report that all is well in that department!  But while we’re out there we’re seeing significant amounts of bait –big herring and mature sandlance –that persistent NW winds tend to drive south into Virago Sound and our inshore fishing grounds.  The Chinook fishing has not yet ramped up to “normal”but it is improving steadily.  Guests and guides are putting some time in at all the favourite haunts now and we’re seeing some nice fish come to the boat.  Another Tyee yesterday, a 31-pounder for veteran QCL guest Matt A was a nice addition to the chorus of Tyee bell ringers on the dock. Matt was joined by his son Trevor who was thrilled to haul up a chunky halibut that taped out to 60 pounds before being released.

A bit of novel news from this week is the success of two boats who chose to avoid some gnarly weather on Tuesday Chinook salmon fishing at QCLand fish inside the harbour.  One boat, guided by Sam Johnstone, was jigging for halibut and connected with a good fish alongside the deep channel leading north out to sea.  After a 20 minute tussle they discovered a big hali alongside the boat that they taped out to 100 pounds!  Congratulations to Mike N on a big catch in a little spot! Meanwhile, guide Kylie Tokairin was trolling along the same drop with guests–her own Dad and his friend, when they also hooked up with a big halibut, but on a salmon rod!  They got pulled around for over an hour but finally managed to coral the giant at the boat, taping it out to 62 inches length, scoring 121 pounds!  Way to go Brad!

QCL Grady WhiteThe 16thAnnual Kingfisher Derby kicked off today with $120,000 in the pot!  This annual Catch & Release derby attracts a strong following who compete every year for the largest released Chinook salmon.  With new bait and new fish moving into the sound it’s bound to get very interesting!  Stay tuned!


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June 8, 2018 Duane Foerter0

Our first week of the new season has been a terrific introduction of new programs, some new staff and many new guests to QCL. It’s been exciting to watch it all unfold; guests and staff alike are having lots of fun.  Steak & Lobster dinners in the Bell Ringer, hand rolled sushi while you wait in the Kingfisher Lounge, and after dinner treats at the campfire while watching all the activity on the dock, are some of the little details that we’re enjoying this summer.

QCL Bell RingerOn the water, the fishing action has been well distributed around the grounds, with early morning salmon bites at Cape Edenshaw and offshore bottom fishing around the slack tides.  While salmon action is improving steadily and we’ve seen our first Tyee of the summer ( a nice 30-pounder for Larry D.) we’re still waiting for the volume and size of fish we are accustomed to at this time of year.  They’re starting to get them on the west side now with several teen-sized Chinooks coming from favourite points like Bird 2, Eagle Rock and Yatze.

But the big story this week was bottom fishing, with the 2ndAnnual Jig-A-Pig Derby QCL Halibut fishinghappening.  Not a C&R event, the largest halibut available could measure no longer than 115 cm, so there was a lot of effort from participants to get close to the magic number!  They found several fish that were too big, 3 of them over 100 pounds and quite a few between 50 and 100.  But the winner turned out to be a fish scoring 113 cm and weighing 39.2 pounds for Doug W, fishing self-guided with his partner Scott P.  Lingcod are plentiful on our fishing grounds as well and there are a number of keen veterans who love to bounce a jig around the deep water (200-300 ft) structure out there.  They found good quantities of teen-sized and twenty-something lingcod but a toothy giant that weighed in at 40.4 pounds for Eric H. was the fish that took the prize, with a little help from his fishing partner John F and guide Mark Kasumovich.

Lingcod at the Bell RingerA big thank you goes out to all who QCL Jig-a-Pig Derbyparticipated and to those who came out on top, Congratulations!  The excitement of jigging in 250 feet of water and never knowing for sure what’s going to come up is addictive and we’re happy to see such enthusiasm every season!  We look forward to seeing everyone back again for some fun in 2019!



April 9, 2018 Duane Foerter0

With less than eight weeks to go before Opening Day there’s lots of excitement around here!  Are you ready?

Every day on the water is an adventure at Queen Charlotte Lodge! It might the fishing, or the magnificent environment, the good friends on board or the crazy stories you shared. But it’s something we all treasure and we love to do it at QCL!


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January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter2

Everyone buys a fishing trip with the idea they are going to “SMASH” them while on their fishing adventure.  All hoping their arms are sore from fighting fish, hands and fingers are sore from hooks and tying leaders and shins are sore from continually bashing them on gaff that is sticking out of the gunnel.  Oh the joys of fishing!

I personally have fished for salmon since I was two years old.  From the days of Grandpa raking herring and dumping them in the boat for his 2 year old Grandson to try and grab for the bait tank.  To the days of jigging herring, to fish from my 10 foot dinghy with my 2.5hp “Big Block” Mercury.  Now to my spoiled life at QCL and the dock staff preparing my boat for fishing daily.  Although the adventures of fishing with Grandpa and in my dinghy were great, the QCL experience is second to none!

44 years of salmon fishing, 18 seasons with QCL and the number one question asked over that period of time is without doubt, “When is the best time to go salmon fishing?”  As the old adage says…”if I had a dollar…”

Rob, quit with the soliloquy and answer the question!  When is the best time to go fishing?

Well my favorite answers are always a bit cheeky:

  • “Last week was the best! You just missed it!”
  • “Next week is the best! You are a week early!”
  • “Right now is the best! Are you not getting them, maybe you need a guide?”

In all honestly, with every cheeky answer there is a truth.  Each river that holds Chinook or King salmon, from Alaska to San Francisco has a prime time of stock return, or when the majority of the species return to the river.  That timing varies from late March to late October with the bulk of the returns happening late April through October.  The return for Coho or Silvers varies but the bulk of these fish return mid-June through late October.

After being cheeky, usually I get to the true answer!  In all likelihood I stole my answer from someone but it accurately describes the truth when asked the question of best time to fish.  Here is my answer:

QCL has roughly 100 days of fishing during a season.  From year to year we have 12 to 15 of the greatest days of fishing one could hope for.  We also have 12 to 15 poor days of fishing when everyone second guesses themselves!  The issue is, I cannot tell you when either of these days are going to happen but what I can tell you is they will happen.  The rest of the 70 days are productive and success is varied.  Calling them average would make Grandpa turn over in his grave, he would have died for an “average” QCL day down on the south coast!

I know most of you were hoping for an exact window, an exact time as to when the fish are guaranteed to be there and biting, if I could tell you that my name would not be Rob, it would be Fish God!  What I can do is help you with how to pick a fishing adventure and the timing of it.  Here is the list:

  1. Choose QCL – If the fish aren’t biting, the service and people are amazing! They have 135 staff to deal with your every need.
  2. Call QCL and ask what dates are available. Remember, any date could have 1 of “those” days, good or bad!
  3. Continue to book the same date or close to the same date, year after year, you will run into one of “those” days eventually.

Two examples of people who have gone on the same date year after year are below.  One of them produced the greatest day of fishing and one produced the lodge record at QCL:

When our family purchased the Lodge in the year 2000, my best buddies Bryan and Jason Killins were on the first trip of the season, May 29th to June 1st.  They continued on this trip for many years with varying success.  Some years’ crazy amounts of fish, some years, lots of empties in the boat.  On June 2nd, 2015 we got our regular early start, off the dock at the crack of 10am!  Being last off the dock has its advantages…um NO!  But this day did, we were approaching “The Maz” and we saw a massive bait ball with birds feeding on the surface.  We stopped to give it a “try” and 6 hours later, we had landed 76 Chinook with 14 double headers!  The greatest day of my fishing career!

One of the most memorable days for the lodge came in late August 2011, August 20th to be exact.  When our guest Mr. Chris Lewis caught and released an 84 pound Chinook with guide Derek “Demo” Poitras.  Chris has continued to fish this timeframe over the years and as luck would have it, they were graced with another monster of 49 pounds with his son Josh!

Any day can be your day, it can be on your first trip or your 30th trip, but if you don’t book, you will never know!  Hope to see you at the lodge this summer.  All the best and Happy New Year.

 

Rob “Fish God” Clough

(Kind of catchy…might have to drop Red Baron!)


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