Thanksgiving, whenever you celebrate, is absolutely the perfect time for reflection. As we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving it’s wonderful to share some of the stories and the memories of the year that is coming to an end. And in reflection we’re reminded to be thankful for those memories. Our lives are so rich and we often forget how very fortunate we are. At QCL we feel that our guests and staff all have something very important in common… our experiences at the Lodge in Haida Gwaii and especially our stories.
We feel especially privileged to be able to share a few days with our Queen Charlotte Lodge family each summer. Thank you all for allowing us that privilege.
For the past 29 years Queen Charlotte Lodge has helped to create those memories for adventure seekers of all generations. Families and friends make up a large part of our guest list on virtually every trip of the summer. With all that experience, we make it really easy for you to come visit!
As our American friends celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s the perfect time to start planning one of those escapes! We still have some space available for next summer but people are talking and planning and select dates are filling up. Explore around our website to learn more and feel free to give us a call to enquire.
QCL Moments is our new slideshow series featuring the many memorable experiences that QCL guests enjoy every summer. It could be fishing, dining, wildlife or wild life! It’s all about the QCL Experience – every day is a new day at the Lodge! You never know what’s going to come your way.
Well that’s a wrap… literally, for the 2019 season. While our last guests departed over a month ago, along with almost all of our staff, a devoted group of lodge operations people form the Rigdown Crew. They work in small teams to carefully put the various parts of the lodge to bed for the winter. The hospitality and food services teams need about a week to complete the inventory, do a final cleanup and store everything away. The fishing ops group need a bit more time as they have to completely decommission their floating dock operation and move everything to safe storage on land – after all the counting and cleaning.
Once they’re done the property crew can finally start to make the big moves! Disconnecting all the services to the marina – water, power and communications lines – they all need to be pulled ashore. The four separate floats that comprise the marina have to be winterized, boarded and tarped from the weather before they are each towed across the harbour to their winter anchorage; a job that can only be accomplished when the weather and tides are just right.
And the boats! That’s a major project in itself. All of the smaller aluminum boats come ashore where the engines are removed, the rigging is checked and they’re lined up on land. All of the big boats, Gradys and Bridgeviews, are moved to an indoor storage facility down at Sandspit on Moresby Island. So that’s a run to Masset, and a trailer trip down island to the ferry at Skidegate, enroute to storage at Sandspit. It’s a big project but it allows us to work on all of those boats through the winter.
Back on land, most of the buildings have to winterized as they’ll be empty and cold until April. The exceptions are the log buildings which are all heated via central boilers and/or heat recovery systems running off the diesel power plants. Then there’s the exterior protection – the famous tarping of the lodges. Winter weather in Naden Harbour comes primarily from the southeast – that’s pretty much straight onshore for us! That’s a lot of rain and wind coming at the buildings, usually sideways! For protection we’ve developed a system of using tarps and strapping that covers the windward face of the lodges, preventing the driving rain from penetrating. Together with a little central heating we’re able to keep these facilities in really great shape.
So, the Rigdown Crew has been busy! But they’re all done now and all except two have returned south for a well-deserved break! Over the next few months there are always a crew of 2 or 3 onsite, watching over the property and attending to lists and lists of off-season tasks outlined by each manager before they left. There’s a shortlist of available crew who share a stint in Naden Harbour over the winter – an assignment that’s not for everyone but just great for a select few! And, before we know it, it’ll be time to unpack and start it all over again!
QCL and the rest of the Sport Fishing Industry were notified in mid-September that one of our major competitors were suspending operations. This was definitely a shock as they have hosted thousands of guests since opening their doors in 1994. West Coast Resorts operated two lodges on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, so we know that their customers will miss fishing at Englefield Bay and Hippa Island.
QCL estimates that 2000 or more avid WCR clients will be looking for a new home in Haida Gwaii. It would be an understatement to say that our phones and Sales Executives have been busy since this announcement. As the dust starts to settle and we review our 2020 bookings we see that we are just now over 70% booked for 2020. Another way to look at things is that we only closed our doors for the 2019 season 30 days ago and we are already almost three quarters full.
We are excited to be booked to this level as the 2020 season is still almost a year away. We are happy with this up-turn in business, however, we are also worried about our existing, loyal guests. We have made every attempt to reach out and let folks know about WCR and the effect this has had on our available space. We want to make sure our existing QCL clients have a chance to reserve their preferred space so we urge you to reach out to us and let us know what your thoughts and plans are for 2020. After a great 2019 fishing season we want to see you make it back up to QCL in Haida Gwaii for another amazing trip next year. Help us help you! We strongly suggest you call us soon at 1.800.688.8959
The bears have moved to the streams and the sound of the geese staging in the estuary rings across the harbour…Autumn has arrived. Our lodge guests have been home for a while now, sharing their tasty fish dinners with friends and family, spiced with lively stories of how they managed to catch such wonderful food. Another summer of fishing, friendship and fun has concluded at QCL, for the 29thyear!
It’s amazing how each season unfolds. As familiar as it is to those of us fortunate enough to be here every year, there is always some mystery in how it will all turn out. The weather and the fish are the obvious wildcards…cross your fingers on that! But the parts that are within our control are what we have the most fun with. It’s thrilling to roll out a new program each season and see how everyone likes it. Sometimes it’s a facility change, like the beachside sauna and hot tub or Smoke & Oak –our whisky and cigar retreat on the hill. Last year we launched a Steak & Lobster dinner at The Bell Ringer. This season we introduced an exciting fleet of 8 beautiful new boats to help bring our guided fishing program up to where we want it. Next summer…who knows?
Certainly, we hope that our guests enjoy our programs and facilities; and by all accounts we think they do, but it’s the hospitality of our people that they appreciate the most. We feel that our QCL staff truly enjoy being here, helping to create a memorable QCL experience for all of our guests. At the end of the day, and at the end of the season, that’s what matters most. Thanks ever so much to all of our guests who joined us in Naden Harbour this summer and to all of our staff and management who made it all come together! We hope to see you next year!
It’s crazy realizing you are in the good old days. That these times here in beautiful Haida Gwaii will someday be just a fond memory. Tomorrow I leave this place after a great season with new scars, memories, pictures and fish – none of which can do it justice. This is a place full of endless adventure, almost untouched wilderness and 140 like-minded co-workers to experience it all alongside. When you come here you take a step back from reality and the hustle and bustle of concrete and traffic. An amazing escape that keeps people coming back year after year. As somebody once said to me, this is not the real world it’s the “reel” world.
Well just when we were bragging about how great the weather has been this summer, we’ve had a couple of “rock ‘n roll”shows this week! On the weekend, some good old-fashioned northwesterly winds bumped up the energy level a notch and we discovered that fishing is really good inshore! From Bird 2 all the way past the Mazzaredo Islands and over towards Inskip Point, QCL guests found loads of terrific salmon action. Admittedly we didn’t see so many halibut but everybody was busy!
One exception on Friday was a stunning big Tyee, hooked up at Eagle Rock by guest Larry C, fishing with guide Nic Rasovic in the 102. It might have been some good luck that Nic’s Dad was aboard as Larry’s fishing partner, but after an epic battle Nic slipped the net beneath a big chrome beauty that he quickly taped out to 48-pounds before getting it back in the water! It took Nic a while to revive the huge Chinook but with some assistance from Fishmaster Trevor Harris they were thrilled to see it swim away with nice strong strokes of its tail. Congratulations Larry! Well done boys! Always amazing to see this caliber of fish and thanks for sending her back!
The fishing has been steady through the weekend and into Monday as well. Here’s a few shots of the kind of action we’re enjoying… No napping in the boat these days!
The tides of August have been generous so far and QCL anglers have certainly enjoyed the benefits! The salmon action has been outstanding, particularly for beautiful strong Chinooks in the 15-25-pound class. We’re getting them inshore in all the favourite places too. Coho action has been productive but more widespread, with anglers generally targeting waters a little farther offshore in 150-225 feet, fishing from the surface down to around 60-feet. The numbers are there but the bulk of Coho are still averaging under 10-pounds, a little lighter than normal for this time of the season. But no one is complaining with these chrome-silver bullets providing tons of exciting action wherever we find them! Down at the Bell Ringer, the sound of the Tyee Bell is pretty common each evening with a few over-30’s being either reported or weighed-in every trip.
This week our two largest Chinooks, both scoring out at 42-pounds, were released. Fishing with veteran QCL guide Tegan Baxter, Ray P turned back a stunning fish on Monday and on Thursday an equally impressive Tyee was released by Odon D and his guide Kyle Bell. Great work guys and thanks for choosing to release those amazing fish!
With only 5 trips left to go for the 2019 season we’re super-thrilled to see such consistent fishing and particularly good weather! There’s no space left this year but we’d certainly encourage anyone hoping to come up next summer to make plans now as most everyone is talking about their return trip in 2020!
Moderate northwesterlies through last week gave way to light variable conditions through the weekend, but we’re expecting another week of westerlies to start on Wednesday. All this means is that the fishing has been fantastic and should remain so. There’s lots of bait inshore now and we’ve seen excellent volumes of Coho as well as Chinooks move inshore with it. Lots of really feisty 18-24 pounders are in the current mix. As a result, more anglers are fishing the usual rocks and kelp beds, leaving the offshore and pinnacles turf for bottom fishing. Moderate tides this week are extending the productive fishing periods around points like Cape Naden, Parker, Klashwun and Eagle Rock.
It’s been a great week for Tyees with lots of bell ringin’going on down at the dock. Gorana B was the queen last week, releasing her first Tyee over 40, a chrome beauty that was taped out to 41-pounds by veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras. Marie G did just fine as well, boating 30 and 31 pounders with guide Jeff Smirfitt on Monday and Tuesday. Deborah B completed her mission on Thursday, releasing a solid 31-pounder with her guide Nic Rasovic. The guys weren’t left out…we had several fish in the low-30’s, some kept and some released. Josh K returned to the Bell Ringer with a nice 36 lb Tyee and Taylor R turned back a 34. The most noise at the bell was made by Keith B who hauled up one of those barn-door halibut, this one scoring out over 200 pounds!
The weekend catch was no less impressive… with Devon W releasing a beautiful 45-pound Chinook at Cape Naden on Sunday morning, fishing with guide Neil Wood. Saturday saw Don T release a 40-pounder with his son Brett on the net. That was the encore to the 33-pounder they released on Friday! And the annual Tyee derby between brothers Conrad, Gerhart and Willy saw 31, 32, 33 and 32 pounders caught and released with their guides Kylie Tokairin and Danny Hollins. That means a lot of action down at the Bell Ringer! Great job folks!