There are a lot of important qualities involved in being a successful angler, and among some of the most important are patience and positivity. I maintain the belief that fish will only bite hooks that are attached to a vessel with positive attitudes on board, and if you ever fish with me then you will probably hear me say that at least once or twice throughout the trip.
Fishing isn’t always easy; it can often test us. We all love those days where you can barely even sink a line to 45 feet without a Chinook ripping it off the clip on the way down! On those days positivity is easily achieved! The thing is, in order to reach those action-packed days an angler may need to work through some days that are not so action-packed. Fishing can be slow, but to be successful on those slower days patience and positivity are needed. There could be torrential rain, big winds, and kelp as far as the eye can see, but if you possess a positive mindset and believe that if you keep working your tacks effectively and roll some tight ‘chovies or mean cut-plugs then results will eventually come your way.
A bite can turn on like a flick of a switch. One simple switch from an ebb to a flood, or a slight change in water depth, gear colours, or maybe even a switch from country radio to classic rock. Sometimes just cracking open an ice-cold silver bullet could bring an angler the bite they’ve been searching for all morning! They just have to believe that it will happen. Hope, visualize, and work hard to make it a reality. Patience will be rewarded in some way, shape, or form and positivity will help those rewards flourish. I guarantee it.
Light winds from the west and a generous dose of sunshine really delivered some summer vibes for our guests this week. It certainly helped that the fish were around, and everybody had their chances at some really nice salmon and groundfish. The average Chinooks are still in the low to mid-teens but we’re definitely seeing more fish in the twenty-plus class and the Tyee Bell gets to sing most every night for some of those larger salmon, halibut and lingcod. This week we saw all five salmon species on the dock which is always a good sign of things to come. Some of the outstanding catches were 33-pound Chinooks for Andy B (guide Alex) and Paul C (with guide Anton) last trip. While there were no giant halibut released last week, QCL anglers managed to find lots of keepers in both the “under” (<90 cm) and “over” (90-133 cm) classes. Several anglers found impressive fish between 30 and 46 pounds, which always draw some attention at the Bell Ringer.
The weekend saw some blustery northwesterlies on Saturday but the salmon really seemed to like it… because the action from Klashwun Point down to Parker was very good on the ebb tide. Solid numbers of teen-sized Chinooks were taken, with a surprising number of Coho, Chum and Pink salmon mixed in. Curtis L landed a fine 31-pound Tyee with his buds and veteran QCL guide Derek P in those lumpy seas on Saturday so he’s got a great story to tell! Sunday flattened right out to pancake seas for Father’s Day and we scattered over the whole fishing grounds to pick up limits of halibut and lingcod. Jim M released a big halibut that taped out to 180-pounds & Brian H turned back a 92. First time angler Erin R battled her first halibut, which just happened to be an 82-pounder (Wow!) and veteran QCL guest Dana B released a 77. This week is shaping up nicely with a busy Bell Ringer last night, celebrating several nice halibut and lingcod in the 25 to 40-pound class. While we didn’t see a Tyee Chinook yesterday there were several in the mid-twenties so we’ll see what today’s effort brings! We’ve got light to moderate northwesterlies all week with daily doses of sunshine, so everyone is enjoying beautiful Haida Gwaii weather through the weekend.
One of the more common questions I get asked by my guests during trips is how I got into fishing and more so, how I got into guiding. For me it’s a two-part answer that blends into one.
From a very early age, before I can remember, my parents always spent time taking my two older brothers and myself on camping and outdoor trips that always had river, lake or ocean fishing involved. This set me on a course to always have a passion and love for the outdoors, nature, fishing, and everything in between.
My Dad spent a lot of his life ocean fishing around Vancouver Island and as I got older, into my late teens, I knew I wanted to spend a lot more of my time ocean fishing as well. In a way I was following in his footsteps but in a more professional and serious manner. That’s what led me to be a fishing guide in Haida Gwaii at QCL.
This past week I was fortunate enough to have my Mom and Dad visit QCL for the first time for a fishing trip, a 4-day trip guided by me! I was able to show them, more than ever before, my passion for the outdoors and for fishing, as they had done for me in my early years.
Fishing has a unique way to create a bond between fathers and sons, mothers, daughters, grandparents, siblings, friends and really, everyone. I hope all of you who enjoy fishing, regardless of type or level of ability, are able to spend time with someone that you care about this Father’s Day weekend, enjoying the outdoors, as I was able to do this past week.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father figures out there. Happy Father’s Day Dad…Thank you. Love you always.
After what felt like the longest wait ever… we were absolutely thrilled to welcome our first QCL guests of the 2022 season on Friday. And it felt so good! While every guest who popped out of a helicopter was wearing a mask, once they took it off, the smiles were a mile wide. Many of our guests this season booked their trip in the summer of 2019! And finally, they’re here. An awesome crew of talented and enthusiastic staff have just come through training week with flying colours and they’re looking forward to the next 100 days, working together here in Naden Harbour.
Our first group of guests found pretty typical early season angling with good numbers of teen-sized Chinook salmon sprinkled with a bunch of twenty-somethings to keep them on their toes. Our first Tyee of the summer arrived on the dock on Day One when Fred M and his guide Gerritt put a 31-pounder on the scale. While effort was well distributed around the fishing grounds, Cape Edenshaw was where we found most of the action on the weekend. Early season halibut are commonly found in close to the kelp and this May weekend was no different with several nice flatties picked up while trolling bait close to shore. But we did see quite a few come in from the usual haunts, with some larger-sized fish among them. Top “keepers” were a 37 for David R, a 39 for Patrick M and an impressive 63-pounder for Myles M! Of course, there are always halibut out there that are just too big to keep! Michael J released a 73-pounder on Friday, Lauren D turned back a 92 on Sunday and Carole T battled a “barn-door” halibut that taped out to 180 cm for a score of 188 pounds! Those are some impressive fish for sure! Well done!
Our culinary team under the direction of Chef Chris Green have outdone themselves once again this season with exciting new menus in the Main Lodge dining room as well as in the Totem House and Charlotte House. First impressions have been awesome so our guests should look forward to memorable dining to compliment their incredible experiences out on the water this summer!
Well, that was Season #31… it took a little while to get going but when our guests arrived it was all systems go! The delayed opening this summer found us moving our staff onsite a full 2-weeks before opening day on July 2nd – but that extra week of training and preparation provided a crew whose huge enthusiasm was only matched by that of our excited guests.
So that’s why we want to send out a huge Thank You to our 2021 Crew for coming through for us this season, despite all the uncertainty and delays, they totally brought their A-game and gave it all this season at QCL! We all appreciate you!
By any measure it was a great summer – the weather was above average, the fishing was good overall and the wildlife viewing opportunities were exceptional. Along with the “normal” daily humpback whale sightings, this summer there was a sizeable pod of northern resident Orcas traveling and feeding back and forth between Rose Spit and Langara Island; with viewing opportunities lasting all summer long. No matter how often we see whales, it just never gets old!
Our talented culinary team delivered an exciting new menu this summer featuring many of the delicious products available through our Taste of B-Sea program. Of course, our guests will be keen to try these dishes at home with some of the amazing fish going back in their own fish boxes! But keep in mind that throughout the winter you’ll still be able to order local specialties like smoked sablefish, BC spot prawns and albacore tuna loins!
Our Covid-19 protocols were highly appreciated by both guests and staff, easing some of the uncertainty that we’ve all been dealing with. We want to say a big Thank You to all for getting on board and supporting our efforts to keep everyone safe. Working together is the best way forward and we appreciate all your help.
With progress on vaccinations and easing of restrictions we were able to host guests from across Canada on opening day and on August 9th we could welcome vaccinated visitors from the USA. Interestingly, by the end of this abbreviated season we had hosted more British Columbians than in any other year! That’s fantastic!
Now the key priority is coming back in 2022 – there are lots of guests with reservations for next summer who booked their trips in Fall 2019. But they couldn’t visit in 2020 or 2021, so they’re extra keen to get up here in 2022! Certainly, the calendar is looking pretty crowded! So if you haven’t secured your dates for next summer we can’t overemphasize the need to get on that as soon as you can, because they’re going fast! Avoid disappointment, have a look at our Dates & Rates page and give us a call. You’ll be glad you did!
Thursday September 30 is the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour the survivors of Canadian residential institutions and those who never made it home. We all know people in our community who live and struggle with the sad legacy of these schools. We all have a role to play in reconciliation. We can all listen, learn, and support the healing needed to address the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system. Reconciliation is not just the responsibility of government–it is a responsibility that belongs to all Canadians. The QCL office will be closed on September 30 in recognition.
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!
Getting away and doing something fun and exciting (or relaxing) with friends and family this summer has been the biggest goal of most of our guests. Seeing them leaving the helipad and having their first good look around is priceless… Off comes the mask, revealing a big smile, and the holiday has begun. (Not that we don’t still abide by the Covid rules – we have those too) But being in a beautiful, wild place with wide open spaces and abundant, fresh cool air is pretty exhilarating this summer!
So here we are at the end of August with the end in sight; the days are shorter – off the dock at 7 am just feels weird! But we’re enjoying some really fine weather and exploring the fishing grounds in search of fish and wildlife and adventure. Chinook salmon are still turning up inshore with opportunities to tackle a Tyee, ever-present off our favourite points. Fishing with her husband and their guide Jake off Bird Rock, Nadja M boated a nice 32-pounder on Wednesday as did Leesa A with her husband and their guide Tristan at Parker Point. Anthony C landed a stunning 33-pounder on Tuesday and his wife Mimi followed suit with a 32 on Thursday, fishing with their guide Colten – quite an achievement!
Jaxon R turned eleven on Tuesday. We were thrilled that he celebrated here at QCL with his Dad, his Grandfather and his Great-Grandfather! We are very fortunate to host family groups up here all the time – they’re a huge part of our guestlist every week. But even for us, it’s rare to see four generations all in a boat together! So the opportunity to get that photo to mark the occasion just couldn’t be missed! Jaxon provided the key to putting it all together – catching a nice shiny Chinook salmon on his birthday and the moment was preserved! We know you’ll remember it fondly Jaxon!
And late on Thursday, Marli J was still working the kelp beds off Yatze with her sister and her Dad, with guide DP at the helm. A year ago, they had an epic encounter with a big salmon over at Cape Edenshaw and Marli was able to catch & release a beautiful Tyee. You never expect these moments to repeat themselves but, sure enough, DP lured a big Chinook out of the kelp and it was Marli’s turn at the rod! Her deft touch was still there and with some effort they managed to boat another Tyee Chinook together. This one couldn’t be revived, as sometimes happens, but the group shared another momentous fishing experience that they’ll never forget. Whether you keep a fish, release it, or even lose it, there’s always a story that goes with it; to be shared (and maybe embellished!) with friends for years to come, and that’s one of the things we really like about fishing that never gets old!