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January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter1

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 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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June 20, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Breaking barriers through fishing!

With the Kingfisher Derby wrapped up Sunday evening it’s back to business as usual for the guides at Queen Charlotte Lodge.  With that comes working just as hard at putting our guests on to fish as well as having great shared memories on the water with old and new friends. So really not much is different for us.

What my guests for the derby weekend and my new guests for this week’s trip have in common is that they’re all French Canadians, all residing close to Montreal.  Another similarity between two of them involve Tyee Chinook. Meeting my guests Monday morning for the first time I quickly found out that both Denis and Steve are from Quebec and that there would be a bit of a language gap for the three of us. Either way we had the same goal, to enjoy our time out on the water and make memories to last a lifetime. Fishing the grounds at QCL was going to break the language barrier and we were going to make it work.

Rounding the dolphin on changeover Monday, we headed straight to Cape Naden in Grady 114.  It’s just a twenty minute drive so we were able to get the lines in the water in short order. The afternoon still proved to be fairly tough fishing inshore as was the theme over the weekend, with a few Chinook averaging 10 to 15 lbs.  But with the evening tide change approaching the lure of hogs lurking in the depths kept us motivated to keep on grinding the kelp and structure. With an hour before low slack we were fishing tight to the kelp and rocks when the inside rod popped the clip and my Islander started screaming line. Denis C was up to bat and although never having fished for salmon before, he instinctively knew to carefully grab hold of the rod without touching the reel and let this big slab of a fish sizzle line. The battle was on and we knew we had a good one. Long runs and sounding on the bottom had this fish tiring itself out quickly. This Chinook was looking for a fight as it kept charging my boat like a bull, with us as the matador. Careful maneuvering of the boat had this “bull” in control.  The language barrier we had experienced throughout the day vanished as Denis and I now were on the same wavelength. He seemed to know what suggestion or tip I was going to give him next as he was already doing them. Nothing needed to be said because he was already doing exactly what I was guiding him to do. Twenty minutes later the Chinook was in the net, 33 lbs… not too bad for a first timer. Congrats Denis!  Looking forward to spending the rest of the week with you and Steve.

Just another day in the life of a guide. You never know what’s in the stack of cards you’re dealt. All part of why I love this “job”.

Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.

Jeff “Smurf”


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June 17, 2017 Duane Foerter0

It’s another year in mid-June and it’s time again for Queen Charlotte Lodge’s annual Kingfisher Derby.

Anticipation and excitement among guests and guides was high for the shotgun start at Cape Naden. At 12 noon the horn went off and all participating boats raced to their favourite fishing spot between Cape Naden and Klashwun Point. Between my four guests from Quebec and myself we decided to fish Bird Rock One, a spot that doesn’t get hit hard and gets looked over by many. On the first pass we hit a shaker, a small feeder Chinook.  Over the first couple of hours the radio was fairly quiet, with only a few radio calls to the derby weigh boats. After a quick lunch break on the Driftwood the leading C&R fish was scored 28.9, a respectable leader for the early start of the 3-day trip.

With no boats at Bird Rock we went back and scraped the wall and worked the east bay. With an hour before the tide change Bird One was looking fishy and setting up really nice. After a few passes along the wall the outside rod went off, popped the clip and line started sizzling off of the reel. My guest Mathieu Savard was on the rod playing his first ever Chinook salmon and he was into a good one. Long screaming runs had the boys quiet as the concentration and focus was intense.  A lengthy battle ensued and after a 25-minute fight the big Chinook was in the bag.  After a brief discussion we entered the fish as a release, it scored 32.01, a solid fish to take the lead for Day One.  Shortly afterward a call to the weighmaster from another boat which scored 35.07 resulted in Mathieu’s fish getting bumped to second overall at the end of Friday.  Well done Mathieu, that was a fun ride to be a part of!

Best of luck to all derby participants over the rest of the trip…enjoy your time out there!  Keep your tip up, line tight and hang on for the ride.

Jeff ‘Smurf’


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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!

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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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August 16, 2016 Duane Foerter0

60814334_wAugust has proven to be a jackpot on the fishing grounds!  The arrival – maybe a little later than “normal” – of large numbers of salmon feeding on an abundance of baitfish just slightly offshore, has treated QCL anglers to more fantastic fishing.  While it’s still fishing, and not always “catching”, the opportunities out there are keeping guests pretty busy!  The makeup of this fishery includes all five species – with Chinook dominating, Coho and Pinks filling in, plus some random Chum and even Sockeye showing up!  Here’s hoping that they don’t move through to quickly!

60814039_wMeanwhile, back near the rocks and all the usual fishing holes, we’re still getting a good supply of Tyee-class Chinooks that keeps the party going at the Bell Ringer every night.  Twelve-year old Jake L was the rockstar last week with two 31-pounders and he released a massive Chinook that taped out to 67 pounds!  Congratulations Jake!  That’s our largest salmon so far this season!  These fish and a number of other nice Tyees were caught over at Cape Edenshaw, a most productive destination after a week of prolonged northwesterly winds pushed so much bait onto that shore!  Luke “Skywalker” and his guest Ron R found a nice 44-pounder over there, Bill G released a beauty that taped out to 43 lb., Kevin H sent back a 32 and his Dad Tom released a 37 just 2 hours before!

60814371_wBack on the west side of the grounds, Parker Point, Bird One and Cape Naden continued to produce big Chinook action on the weekend.  Several nice Tyees in the 30’s were taken and a number were released.  Conrad H was back up for the annual fishing derby with his brothers Willy and Gerhart, and they all got some very nice fish.  These guys always release their Tyees but for the first time, 60814378_wout of more than 200 Tyees caught over the years, they were unable to revive a nice 39-pounder.  We’re sure this salmon will be enjoyed by many friends and family this winter! Congrats!  Fishing with guide Kingsley, Emery B did manage to release his 39-pounder, caught out in 170 feet of water on a small 2 ½ inch spoon!  You just never know where the big ones are going to turn up!  Fantastic fishing guys!

The big salmon of the weekend was a stunning 44-pounder caught by Leanne R with guide Gaelan off Bird Rock.  The Tyee bell was ringing mightily on Saturday night when that one came to the scale.   However it may have been slightly overshadowed by the 20 clangs of the bell when James J showed up to declare his monster Halibut that was taped out to 203 pounds by his guide Matt Burr!  Not far behind was Willy H who released a 34 lb Chinook and a 185 lb. Halibut on the same day!  So many great memories shared up here at the Lodge!


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August 12, 2016 Duane Foerter0

The northwest winds have subsided and have left us with an abundant supply of Chinook. The schools of herring have been moving inshore as well. With this the salmon have showed up in large numbers.  Deeper waters have been producing steady 14-25 pounder Chinook action as well as big Coho. The Chinook fishing these past 3 days has been unreal!

Tyee time for John!With the Northwest winds you will usually have an influx of baitfish and salmon being blown into Cape Edenshaw. Because of this, we decided to go there today. It is always a gamble going to Edenshaw as it’s a little far from our western fishing grounds and If the fishing is not good it is a long run back to our western grounds. This proved to be a successful morning at Edenshaw as several large Chinooks were hooked throughout the fleet.

C&R Tyee ChinookWe were doing laps by “Slab Rock” all morning, waiting for the Tyee bite. We had caught several fish in the high teens but were patiently waiting for the big one. It finally hit and the bite was so big the fish visibly moved the downrigger line as we heard a powerful “thud.”  It was on, and we quickly cleared our lines and chased after this beast. After a nice fight that took us offshore we landed a beautiful fish. What a battle! But it yielded a stunning 44 LB Chinook – ALRIGHT!  There were a couple other large catches within the area we were fishing as well.  What a day!

C&R ChinookTomorrow, I think we’ll be back to Cape Naden where the action has been consistent.  We want to fill up the Coho tags and the Coho bite has been consistent there.

It’s great to see the fish showing up in large numbers and I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow morning! There is going to be calm waters with plenty of fish being caught by everybody.

Skywalker


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August 11, 2016 Duane Foerter0

The steady northwesterlies that we fished through last week have slackened off nicely and our guests are enjoying the bounty of the full fishing grounds once again!  We’ve discovered masses of salmon just slightly offshore from our “normal” fishing haunts along the rocky shoreline. Eager anglers are quick to move out a little further into water depths of 150 to 200 feet.  Tons of baitfish are attracting schools of both Chinook and Coho salmon to the grounds between the Mazzaredos and Bird 2.

It’s nice to see the Coho numbers up again after a bit of a slow period; typical catches are in the 8-11 pound class right now with some stunning 12-14 pounders in the mix.  While we are getting them in the upper reaches of the water column (where we expect to find them) anglers are also hooking up at depths from 45 – 75 feet!  (where we don’t expect them!)

Big Tyee at QCLThose “perfect for keeping,” 18-22 pound Chinooks are turning up in numbers as well in the offshore zone.  We’re generally getting them down 25-35 feet on anchovies, herring and spoons.  They don’t seem to be too fussy!  But the BIG fish are still found in the traditional spots around our favourite structure.  Cape Naden was the place to be for a number of anglers last week.

Big Tyees at QCLLong time QCL fan Tom R and his wife Sydney were fishing the Cape with Roger Baker when Tom hooked up with a big fish.  Tom’s version of the story is fantastic to hear but the short story was of a terrific 41 pounder in the boat!  Nice fish Tom, well done!

Aaron B boated a beautiful 43 pound Tyee, Axel K lit up the Bell Ringer with a 43 and out on the Driftwood Big Tyees at QCLPaul F put a 44 on the scale!  The ladies at the lodge were proving a force to be reckoned with as well.  Liz M was just beaming after she landed a striking 42 lb Chinook with her husband Phil and guide Isaiah Dahl.  Sheila B proudly displayed her chrome-bright 40-pounder alongside her husband Bruce and guide Coady Delesalle.  Fantastic catches all around!


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August 2, 2016 Duane Foerter0

Late July, early August… favourite dates for many QCL anglers and they’ve been finding some stunning fish this week!  Moderate northwesterly winds bring blue skies and warmer temps and tend to drive the bait into the sheltered waters of Virago Sound.  And that’s where we are, ready for the salmon that follow the huge masses of needlefish and herring that fatten them up through the home stretch!

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C&R TyeeChinook action has been best along the classic fishing points, with anglers trolling anchovy and herring baits down 35 – 45 feet to find them.  Cape Naden is a steady producer with Klashwun Point, Bird 2 and Parker Point doing just as well on most days.  Linda S was thrilled to return a fish of a lifetime to the water this week after landing a stunning Tyee that taped out to 44 pounds.  Guide Kingsley Brice carefully revived the big beauty off Klashwun Pt. and away she went!  Fantastic work Linda!

64 Pounder C&R64 Pounder C&R64 Pounder C&R

50 LB ChinookTerry H shared this experience with a 40-pounder on Monday when his guide Coady Delesalle sent back a big Chinook for him.  The Tyee bell has been ringing loud on many nights with some stellar catches coming back to the scale.  Ralph S weighed in a 50 lb. Chinook on Tuesday while Jamie R was unable to revive his huge chrome Tyee that came in at 52 lb..  Greg E was more successful releasing a 44 pounder at Klashwun Pt. with his guide Jordan Grames on Wednesday.

52 Pounder for Jamie52 lb ReleaseCatch & Release Trophy at QCL

Fishing without a guide this week, Kent H and his bud John W hooked up a monster Chinook in the busy water between Shag Rock and Klashwun.  After a 25-minute battle John scooped the massive salmon.  They quickly measured and released a contender for big fish of the season, a heavy shouldered Tyee that scored 64 pounds!  And what a beautiful fish it was!  Fantastic work guys!  Finishing the trip with another awesome release was Daryle A who connected with a bruiser off Bird Rock on Thursday, his guide Brett Clarke taping the trophy fish out to 52 pounds before releasing it into glassy calm water, all captured in 4K video!  Beautiful work gentlemen!  Congratulations!

Tomorrow… the halibut report!


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July 21, 2016 Duane Foerter1

Southerly winds have given QCL guests some glassy calm seas to enjoy this week and they’ve certainly taken advantage of them!  Having lodge boats scattered all over the fishing grounds confirms every time that there are just so many great options out there for the adventurous angler!  The guides have identified numerous favourite spots in the offshore zone where they’re finding excellent opportunities for halibut, lingcod and yelloweyes.   Improved sounder technology has helped us “see” structure down 200+ feet that we never knew was there!  Now that we’re releasing all those big breeding halibut over 70 pounds we’re catching more of the prime 25 to 45 pounders that are so perfect for the freezer.   It’s especially good when they go home in beautifully vac-packed 1 lb. chunks from our licensed fish processing facility!  Our guests enjoy quality packed fish all year long.

But it’s mighty exciting when you drop your jig down 220 feet and quickly hook up to a fish the size of a door!  That happened to Alan J and Edison K while fishing yesterday with veteran guide Jackson Jane.  Sharing turns on the rod through a 45-minute battle they finally got “eyes-on-the-prize” when a massive halibut came alongside the boat.  With some effort they were able to tape the huge female out to 192 cm for an estimated weight of 230 pounds!  That’s more than 6-feet long!  And the beauty of it is that they swim away with such vigour!  Most of them make sure you get a good soaking in the process!  Well done lads! (Stay tuned for pics!)

Ted's 51-pound Tyee at QCLChinook salmon fishing has turned up the volume nicely this week with some very impressive catches recorded at the Bell Ringer.  We’ve added 3 new members to the QCL 50-Pounder Club in the past 3 days!  After first-timer Danny B started his QCL experience with a a 50-pound beauty on Monday, long-time QCL angler Ted W landed a 51 on Wednesday morning.  Ted likes to release his big fish but unfortunately this one had damaged the gills and guide Jordan Grames had to keep it on board.  What a gorgeous salmon guys!  Congratulations Ted!  50 pound Tyee for Gabrielle

And on Wednesday evening Gabrielle K had better luck with her release of another beautiful Tyee that taped out to just over 50 pounds, watching it swim away with nice strong strokes of its big spotted tail!  Awesome!

Happiness!


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July 19, 2016 Duane Foerter0

Having a case of the Monday blues? Not here in Haida Gwaii – what a fishy week it has been so far! With the heavy weekend winds settling down to 5-10 mph, QCL guests and guides started the week out right – with lots of sun, loaded fish boxes, and big smiles to match!

With the mid-season approaching, QCL staff are definitely in the rhythm of the game – getting to enjoy some sunny weather and staff fishing charters is putting everyone in great moods!

Coho are still running rampant through the fishing grounds, with some beautiful 10-12 lbers coming through to the scale. It’s easy fishing if you’re looking to limit out on these Silvers!

While 15-20 lb feeder-sized Chinook are also consistent throughout the grounds, the real action this week began on Monday with four Tyees caught by our QCL guests!

QCL 50-PounderWe don’t mean to brag (well, just a little), but the following anglers were nothing but winners at the weigh scale! Guest Jim T. was lucky enough to land a beautiful 37 lb Chinook – Adam D. caught and released a 45 pounder – Guest Danny B. landed a stunning 50 pounder (on a Tiger Prawn  spoon!) with his guide Kyle Hedican – and last but certainly not least – Santiago C. scooped up a nice 41 lb Chinook to take home! Congratulations and well-done to these fishermen!

We’re looking forward to seeing the rest of the Catch from this trip! Tight lines!


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