While visitors to the lodge can enjoy a range of experiences while they’re here, certainly the big thrill comes with “going fishing.” For most of our guests, their trip to our remote fishing lodge in Haida Gwaii is a major highlight of their year, and we’re thrilled with that. There was a time, many years ago, when the typical lodge guest called themselves a “fisherman” and their days spent up here were just the favourites of many fishing days on their annual calendar. As a fishing destination there’s certainly a consensus that this is “the place to be.”
Nowadays, for many of our guests, this is the only fishing they will do all year. They’re not so likely to consider themselves “anglers” or “fishers” or even “fishermen.” But they wouldn’t miss their annual visit to QCL for anything! That “QCL Experience” is a special recipe that combines a wealth of different ingredients that they’ve come to love.
Getting out on the water, immersed in nature, away from the all the noise and scramble of “normal” daily life, is a real treat. Catching a fish – getting your own food – is a connection to our instincts, with our distant past. The ability to take some fish home to share, proudly, with family and friends is every bit as exciting as catching it. What we’ve discovered with our guests over the years, is how important that connection is. With every vacuum-packed portion that you take from your freezer to share at your table, there’s a story that comes with it. It could be the people you shared the catching with, the weather or the scenery at the time, or even the wildlife that tried to take the fish away from you! All of those ingredients come together to make each fish you take home a very special part of your adventure. And we are so pleased to have some small part in that. Thank you for choosing to share that adventure with us!
After an opening week with classic summer northwesterlies, QCL guests have enjoyed the last 10 days with mostly light winds from all around the compass. That’s given us full opportunities to explore the fishing grounds and our guests have certainly taken advantage of that!
Salmon hunters have been really spoiled – they never have to wander more than a few metres from the beach! Through all of July we’ve seen huge volumes of feeding Coho and Chinooks inshore, from the eastern boundary to the west. Many QCL guests have their own favourite spots to fish and these days they’re happily hanging out, being productive, in their favourite waters. With so many salmon in the area, there is a healthy mix of teen-sized feeder Chinooks swimming with the more mature, migratory stocks on their journey towards the river. Anglers are pleased to land those 16-20-pounders that provide the ultimate filet for the dinner table. And there are enough of the beautiful big Tyees in the area to get a serious chance at one of those. The big fish this weekend was a gorgeous Chinook that taped out to 47 pounds for veteran QCL angler Roy J, fishing with his guide Clint, over at Cape Edenshaw. Our guides are making an extra effort to handle the fish as little as possible if their guest wants to release it. Guest Kyle B chose to release his big Chinook that was taped out to 37 lb by his guide Tegan and self-guided anglers Jordan and Tara elected to release their chrome silver Tyee that scored 34 pounds at the Mazzaredo Islands. It’s great to see some of these awesome fish get a second chance. On the Coho front, the numbers in the area are substantial with the average size currently around 6-8 pounds. We’re seeing some 9’s and 10’s so that number will climb quickly in the coming weeks.
Of course, these light variable winds give perfect opportunities for bottom bouncing and everyone is getting out there to jig up some tasty lingcod and halibut. While most anglers are picking up a pair of “unders” 12-19 lb, (do-able in one day, this season) there are always some who find those big “turkeys” in the 30-50 pound class. This weekend Paul T hauled up a 59-pounder, Roger R a 45, Derek S a 45 and Neil S released one that scored 48. Last week we got into some big ones with 5 halibut taping out to more than 140 pounds each… lots of excitement in those boats! The great mystery of bottom fishing is so appealing because you just never know what you’re going to pull up from the deep! But we do know that getting out on the ocean to enjoy the marine world and seeing all that it has to offer is something very special. And when we can get some tasty fish to bring home and share with family and friends, it’s an adventure that just can’t be beat! Thanks for coming up! We totally know where you’re coming from!
It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into the second half of July! Our 5th group of guests arrived today, keen and excited to get out on the water. A significant change in our arrival program this summer is being very well received. Arriving guests enjoy their brunch in the Bell Ringer café, after having met their guide and getting a brief orientation. Once they’re off the helicopter, the top priority for most guests is to get in a boat! So, our new program is a huge step in the right direction. Plus, our departing guests can enjoy a nice, relaxed breakfast in the lodge without the inflow of new guests arriving. It’s a real win/win for everyone.
Out on the water, an excellent fishing season continues. Coho and Chinook salmon are feeding heavily on both herring and needlefish in Virago Sound. We’re also finding pinks, chum and even the odd sockeye in the mix. Humpback whales have been feeding continuously in the area and anglers are loving the occasional acrobatics as they lunge feed, tail slap and sometimes, explode from the depths in a full breach. Northern resident orcas have been in the area quite a bit as well this month, taking advantage of the concentration of bait and salmon. Experiencing the presence of these whales while we’re out on the water is really the definition of “awesome.” It truly leaves visitors feeling a special appreciation for the natural world around us.
And here we are! So excited to be in Naden Harbour and be open for our 31st season! With all the uncertainty of the past 15 months it certainly feels wonderful to open the doors and welcome our friends back the The Lodge. We want to send out a huge wave of thanks and appreciation to our guests and friends who have demonstrated amazing support and patience throughout that time. We know that this pandemic has been a shocking and sobering experience for many on so many levels. But if people are now able to venture back out into the world to enjoy some of their favourite things, we feel very fortunate that so many want to get back up here!
With opening day as a moving target, our whole staff enjoyed the benefit of a full two-week training period! But Wow! What a great two weeks it was! The level of excitement on Opening Day was off the charts as our first guests arrived and everyone fell into their roles so well. And our guests? They are just so thrilled to finally be here… we know it’s going to be an awesome season, already!
July 10th Report
One week in and I gotta say, it’s so great to be back! We’ve had a few days of nice sunny weather and the usual northwesterlies that come with it, but the fishing has been on fire. Through most of the past week we’ve been fishing the prime stretch of water from Klashwun Point down to Cape Naden. But a lot of our guests love working the quiet water around Brown’s Pile down to the Mazzaredos. Loaded with a healthy mix of Chinook and Coho, anglers have enjoyed terrific action inshore. Average Chinooks right now are generally in the mid-teens, mixed with a good dose of 20-somethings and enough Tyees to keep everybody really interested every time the reel goes off!
Often in midsummer the Coho are feeding offshore but these days we’re finding lots of them in close, swimming with the Chinook. And they’re feeding aggressively on both needlefish and herring in the middle of the water column. Coho size has bumped up in the past couple of days and we’re seeing some 9 and 10-pounders, but the bulk of them are still 6 to 8…beautiful feisty fish all the same.
The NW winds settled back to light variable in the past 3 days, giving easy access to the rest of the fishing grounds. Many of our guides love fishing Cape Edenshaw and they were not disappointed when they finally got over there this weekend. The steady push of several days of westerlies tends to move a lot of bait in that direction and that brings in the salmon. It’s a favourite place to hunt for the big ones!
But Bird 2 and Parker Point have been rewarding dedicated anglers with some great action and some spectacular fish. We’ve welcomed our first new member of the 50-Pounder Club for 2021 already this week when Brian M brought a stunning fish to the boat that taped out to 56-pounds before it was carefully released from a cradle by guide Marcus M. Ellen D and her husband Patrick teased a big beauty out of the kelp at Cape Naden on Tuesday that got everyone at the Bell Ringer super excited when it tipped the scale at 38-pounds. Nice work!
Guide Marcus was at it again on Friday, with new guest Daniel N, who showed his fishing skills, reeling a big chrome beauty to the boat. It was quickly taped out to 44-pounds in the cradle before revival and release back to the wild. Congratulations all! Wonderful fishing experiences and precious salmon filets add up to memories to savour for a lifetime.
Flat calm days like today are a treat for those who love to fish the deep water. Off the north shore we find some spectacular underwater terrain that holds massive stocks of halibut and lingcod. Anglers have done very well out there this week, bringing impressive catches back to the Bell Ringer. Of course, every day there are some fish caught that are simply too big to bring back. On the last trip, Craig A, fishing with Ray P out at HaliWood, pulled a huge halibut up alongside the boat that they were able to measure out to 74-inches in length for a weight score of 215 pounds! Seth K released one at 128 lb., Chuck H and Sean G each measured giant “butts” out to 121 pounds! Happily, they all managed to find some nice keepers in the 20-30 pound class.
This weekend, QCL anglers have been exploring the full breadth of the fishing grounds, enjoying perfect conditions on the water and catching some very nice fish to take home and share with friends and family. They’ve been thrilled by the presence of several humpback whales feeding in the area, especially when they decide to launch themselves from the depths and breach the surface with a massive splash. All these moments add up to create amazing stories that our guests go home with – to share with their friends. It’s our privilege to play some small part in that and we all look forward to doing it again and again!
For a lot of salmon anglers, the month of July is their favourite time of year. Here in the north it’s when we see the full menu; all 5 species of salmon are in our waters, in all shapes and sizes! In one morning you could run into a bunch of those perfect 22 pound Springs hanging around the kelp beds, a big school of migrating Coho offshore and down deep or, somewhere in the mix, a bright silver Chum, 15 or 16 pounds in its prime, homing in on one of our local streams. And, of course, it’s when you may have a chance at that fish of a lifetime… the giant Tyee Chinook in the range of 40, 50 or 60 or more pounds! They’re all here.
QCL anglers are out there giving it their best shot! And having so much fun doing it! The fishery so far this season has been great and fair weather has provided full access to the whole grounds. This past week we’ve seen several Tyees and many of them have been released. Cape Edenshaw provided a good share of them last week along with the Mazzaredos, Cape Naden, Parker Point and all the way around to Green Pt.. Daffyd C became the newest member of the 50-Pounder Club, releasing a beautiful Chinook that taped out to 51-pounds with QCL guide Derek P. Geoff N turned back big Chinooks that scored 45 and 34 pounds and Adam S released a nice 41-pounder! Our teenage anglers are doing a great job too with Thomas A releasing a 37 on the first day and Callan N sending back a 32-pounder. Those are awesome fish guys and it’s always nice to see them get another chance to find their way back to the river!
Sometimes C&R isn’t possible and we saw some of those too. Tim K had quite a battle with a big Chinook that tipped the scale at 49 pounds on Thursday right after Ryan T weighed in a stunning 39-pound Tyee. Matthew H had an amazing week fishing with his Grandpa and they shared one of those epic moments on Wednesday when Matthew landed a handsome 40-pound Tyee with veteran QCL guide Jeff S. Congratulations!
While these big fish are on the bucket list of many anglers, it’s the catch of all those “average” fish that are shared at dinner with friends and family and create the moments when stories are told of experiences shared. Telling the tales of how they happened is more than half the fun!
Getting in a boat and spending time out on the water is just the best medicine. It’s so easy to lose track of whatever was on your mind – whether you want to or not! Surrounded by all the natural wonders that we find here, you can’t avoid the purity of it. Soak it up whenever you can!
QCL guests were definitely enjoying all of that this week with some great fishing, pretty nice weather and lots of nature. A nice pair of Sitka Blacktails waded / swam their way over to big rock on Cape Naden for a little outing which we seldom see. Several feeding Humpbacks and a travelling pod of resident Orcas added plenty of distraction to the collection of boats fishing off the top side on Sunday.
Fishing has been solid – most everyone is getting their share of salmon and halibut over the course of the trip and there are enough big fish out there to keep an angler on edge; you never know when one will show up! Reg L. likes to celebrate his birthday with us every year and this time around he received an especially nice present – a 37 lb. Tyee! Congrats Reg! Joel A. released a 30-pound beauty on Sunday but the big fish of the trip, despite efforts to release him, had to come to the scale, where Jeff L. weighed him in at 48 pounds! A wonderful fish Jeff! Sometimes it just goes that way. Lots of medium-sized Coho around now, ranging 5 to 8 pounds but we’re starting to see 9’s and 10’s as well. They’re all exciting to catch and they’re amazing on the plate!
Weather this week is all westerlies and we’re seeing the sun for the first time in a while! Big tides dictate the fishing schedule this week with last night’s new moon producing a 17.4 foot high tonight and a 0.7 foot low tomorrow morning!
QCL guests have been enjoying the full fishing grounds this week with just light west and southerly winds most days. As a result, the fishing effort is well distributed and they’re finding fish everywhere. Everyone has their favourite spots but Parker Pt., Bird 2 and Klashwun Pt are the faves for Chinook hunting this week.
While there are lots of nice Springs in the mid to high teens, most anglers are getting to tangle with some in the twenties and of course, the Tyee Bell gets noisy every night for those over-30’s. The big salmon of the trip was a fine 42-pounder landed off Green Point by Andrew K, returning for his 32nd visit to QCL in the past 30 years! Congrats Andrew!
Moving offshore the Coho numbers are strong over the Pinnacles and, as usual, picking up a couple of nice halibut is an easy way to enjoy this delicious fish in the coming months.
Our guests are sure enjoying the terrific new boats we’ve added and when they arrive back to the lodge at the end of a beautiful day on the water our culinary team is waiting to wow them with goodness!
Looking ahead to next week we’re going to finally see a little dry spell and some sunshine! We may even break the 20-degree mark! Wow!
We’re just nicely into our second trip of the season and are happy to report that everything is coming together quite well. Our staff are settling into their positions and really enjoying having guests around to look after. The Chef’s pantry is full and the wine list is looking good!
We are working hard to provide a quality QCL Experience during your stay at the Lodge. At the same time, we are trying our very best to ensure the health and safety of our guests and our staff. We want you to relax and enjoy all the wonderful things you come here for, but we ask that you remember, this is not 2019. This is different, and we need to do some things differently.
At the lodge we have adopted, by necessity, a number of measures that you will be very familiar with by now. Physical distancing, wearing face masks and using hand sanitizer frequently are all part of everyday life here; much like you experience at home. Everyone will appreciate that you continue to be vigilant in protecting yourself and others against this coronavirus. That said, we have created spaces for you to safely enjoy dining and partying and fishing and telling stories. We want you to have fun! But we need everybody to pull together and take care of one another.
Now let’s talk about fishing… with less boats on the water there are even more opportunities to find your own favourite spot! We’ve had a lot of southerly wind systems in the past week and it looks like that will continue for at least another week. Light to moderate winds swinging between southeast and southwest find us in sheltered water most of the time. As a result, we’re fishing the full grounds from Green Point all the way over to Cape Edenshaw. Chinook action inshore has been pretty steady with lots of feeder Springs in the mid-teens mixed with enough of those twenty-somethings to keep you holding out for something bigger. There are some Tyees in the mix as well; we released a couple of 40-pounders in training week and on opening weekend the biggest Chinook was a beautiful 39-pounder for Gary W. On Tuesday we saw a pair of 30-pounders come to the scale, one for Cecil D, celebrating his first ever Tyee, and one for Sean B. who’s enjoyed catching several big fish in recent years. Congratulations Guys!
We’re seeing Cohos (6-8 pounds) and Pinks in solid numbers, mostly offshore, over the Pinnacles in 150-200 feet of water. The halibut fishing is always reliable and several anglers have been rewarded with some very nice fish! Last week the bar was set pretty high when Dr. James C. ventured out with veteran QCL guide Derek “Demo” P. and promptly hauled up a giant that they taped out to 76 inches (235 pounds) before releasing it. Great work! What a way to kick off a fishing season! On the weekend Bob M was trolling for salmon inshore between Parker Pt and Cape Naden with guide Jordan F. – they brought a perfect 30-pound halibut to the boat – but that was after catching and releasing two much larger halibut that measured 96 and 104 pounds! You just never know what you’ll catch out there! Great work guys. The Tyee bell has rung for several other chunky halibut weighing between 30 and 50 pounds this week as well.
Wildlife has been abundant out there too. Besides the usual collection of feeding Humpback whales and giant black bears foraging on the beaches, we’ve had several transient Orca cruising inshore – maybe they’re hanging around because we’ve also seen a few more sea lions than normal so far this summer.
Stay tuned – right here – for more updates as the 2020 season rolls on!
It’s been a long time coming but we’re finally ready to open the door for the 2020 season! We’re so excited about the excellent crew that we’ve assembled this summer. Training week has been a breeze with so many talented and enthusiastic young people looking forward to welcoming our guests. Last night our culinary team presented a delicious and varied new menu for the dining room that we’re sure will have you asking for some recipes!
Waterside, the action has been hot and heavy on the fishing grounds with plenty of bright chrome Chinook and Coho salmon in all the usual places… and yes, the Tyee bell has been ringing! Continuing our fleet replenishment, we have five brand new boats this year including the first three 21-footers which, I gotta say, are really sweet units!
All of our transportation this summer will be via direct fights between Prince Rupert and Naden Harbour. We have taken this extreme measure to ensure the safety and security of all the citizens of Haida Gwaii. In compliance with provincial regulations we’ve implemented protocols throughout the property to ensure everyone’s health and safety this summer.
The weekend weather is for light to moderate winds swinging between SE and SW with typical island weather… “a mix of sun and cloud with 40 percent chance of showers. High 15.” No matter how much things change, some things never do!