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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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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!

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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