This week members of our sales team are attending the annual Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup; look for Roger, Craig and Kevin at Booth #621. We’ll be at the Pacific Northwest show in Portland on February 5-9. At the same time we’ll be in Reno for the big Safari Club International show. Remaining spaces for the 2020 season are going even more quickly now with show season in full swing. If you haven’t reserved your dates for this year you’d best not delay any longer!
Happy 2020! While the lodge is buttoned up for a long winter’s nap, we’re busy with plans to make our 30th season the best one ever! As we look forward to an exciting year ahead, we’re most thankful for the great relationships we have with all members of what we call the QCL family. Sharing time and experiences together up at the Lodge is a privilege that we truly appreciate.
The 2019 season was a very good one at QCL with memorable fishing, wonderful guests, terrific staff and mostly favourable weather. We’re well into the serious preparation phase for the 2020 season and the excitement level around here is definitely ramping up. Judging by the fantastic return bookings and the volume of new guests already committed to visit us this season, we’re going to have a very busy summer!
Members of our sales team are currently attending the annual Safari Club Convention in Dallas; look for Roger, Craig and Kevin at Booth #962. We’ll be at the Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup later this month as well as the Portland show in February. At the same time we’ll be in Reno for the big Safari Club International show. Space for 2020 have sold notably faster than “normal” so if you haven’t reserved your dates for this year you’d best not delay any longer!
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!
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!
So it has been a busy start to the 2019 season in the food program for special events and derbies. We have had amazing guests in the private houses and I have enjoyed cooking and coming up with some new dishes. Now in my fifth season at the lodge, I’m thrilled to see so many returning guests and this year I get to share the experience with my husband Mark Ross. This place has changed our lives. Every day of every trip, we have the opportunity to create something new and exciting on the culinary front!
Our first big event was the Appy Walk to start the season with a bang. We built 3 action food stations offering flaming prawns, a grill station, and a raw bar with many other tasty treats along the Totem House walkway. Even little projects like a breakfast smoothie bar for groups using the conference center are a source for personal satisfaction.
For the White Gold Derby we smoked a whole 50-pound pig for 20 hours, then plattered and walked it all the way from the main lodge to the dock for the wrap up party. It was a huge hit.
For some groups we bring in fun ingredients and create new dishes and “show food”stations for nightly events.
No matter whether I am cooking an intimate dinner for eight in Totem House or 16 on the lawn at the Charlotte House, there is an amazing culinary team with me. We enjoy collaborating to deliver memorable dining events to enhance the fishing and adventure activities our guests are here for.
I love hearing about guest experiences on the water and get excited for all who get to catch the big one. This place is something special for both guests and staff to create a unique and special experience. I am so excited for the months ahead with so many groups left to cook for!
An escape to this remote corner of the world is on the wish list for a lot of people, and for good reason! It’s definitely an angler’s paradise; those gorgeous chrome-bright salmon sure make an impression on you! The wilderness seascapes of the fishing grounds are literally overflowing with an abundance of life –both above and below the surface. Sharing a breath of salt sea air with a feeding humpback whale just a rod’s length off your boat is a sure testament to that – especially while you’re reeling in a nice lingcod off the other side!
Guests staying with us this week got to experience all that and more. Among our guests we were thrilled to host Kevin Costner and his family who were able to enjoy the QCL Experience with us. We’re so pleased that we were able to show them some beautiful BC wilderness along with some warm QCL hospitality. While they’re returning home with a nice box of fish we hope that their whole family takes along many fond memories of their visit here.
June fishing continues to be very productive with good numbers of Chinook salmon in all weight classes. Sixteen lucky anglers got to ring the Tyee bell over the past 4 days, celebrating what most would consider the fish of a lifetime. But like we always say, there so much more to it than just fishing!
Well here it is, September already, and once again we’re making the annual fall migration south to “the real world.” Gone are those beautifully casual 5-minute commutes down the beach to the lodge or to the dock. (You don’t want to hear what the alternative is like!) The early morning light is now delayed past 7:00 and it’s coming later and later every day. (Fun fact: In June we enjoy 17 hours of daylight… in December it’ll be just over 7 hours!)
The 2018 season will be noted for exceptional Coho fishing (offshore), a windy July, smaller Chinooks, Steak & Lobster in the Bell Ringer, friendly medical doctors onsite 24/7, more GPS hotspots on the map, quick & easy halibut, fresh sushi on the deck and a 4th beautiful big red boat on the water! QCL guests returned home with more varieties of fish in their boxes and many of them opted to add some tasty BC specialties like smoked sablefish and spot prawns. It seems we saw fewer whales overall this summer and the same 5 sea lions were roaming around the grounds much of the time.
The staff this summer was outstanding. We had the benefit of several leaders returning in key positions to maintain consistency in training and operations. And it’s always exciting to watch the stars emerge from the ranks of new staff as the season gets rolling. Some of the most memorable moments come when we welcome the return of a guest who was here 10 or 20 years ago. Their impressions of the “new QCL” are pretty wonderful and their recollections of “how it was” are heartwarming. While we’ve made a lot of changes to the program and marked improvements to the facility, we’ve tried very hard to maintain the quality and the style of service that we built our reputation on. That will always be priority #1.
Well it’s early August and our new guests arrived in bright sunshine and blue skies this morning, excited and smiling at their good fortune. With a forecast of light variable winds and favourable tides, they know they could be in for something very special this week. We’ve recently experienced some ups and downs weather-wise and have certainly seen how it can affect the anglers’success. Fortunately our track record is pretty solid and it’s very rare to get a “bad”weather day without getting a “good”one in return.
Our two most recent trips are good examples. Last week moderate to strong northwesterlies limited access to some of the fishing grounds over the first couple of days and the catch record confirmed it. But along came Thursday and everything changed. We got out early and enjoyed a full day of fantastic fishing, enjoying the whole of the grounds and catching lots of fish. Everyone picked up some Chinooks and got into some nice Coho offshore. Most had managed to get one halibut earlier in the week and practically everyone got out to get a second on Thursday. There was a buzz in the dining room that night with the energy provided by a banner day on the water.
Overnight the winds swung to southeast and threatened to corner everybody at Edenshaw for the weekend. Our new guests arrived and headed out, prepared for what Mother Nature was about to serve up. Friday weather turned out to be pretty moderate and we saw a very respectable catch on the dock that night. Saturday was definitely the test and the eastern grounds were not rewarding us with many treasures. Oh, there were fish caught, but there was considerable time between bites. At dinner we shared a favourable forecast for Sunday and surely everyone went to bed with their fingers crossed!
At 6:00 am, dawn broke with a patchy blue sky and just a light breeze. It was a quick breakfast for sure and everybody was on their way. Once again, easy access to any of your favourite spots feels fantastic and every guide had a plan. Tides were moderate but still a factor to plan around, whether fishing for salmon inshore or bottom fishing on the outside. Over the course of the day the Fishmaster reported decent catches going on practically everywhere; not much chatter on the radio, everybody was busy!
The beautiful sunny weather and great fishing saw most anglers lingering on the water right until the 8:00 pm call. Meanwhile, back at the Bell Ringer, the totes were lined up out the door. The atmosphere down there was electric with cheers, jeers and high-fives going off all the time. We didn’t weigh any monsters last night but the bell was ringing pretty steadily for some 30-something Chinooks, teen-sized Coho and a few halibut just too big to bring home! The last fish hit the scale at 10:34 pm and the dining room was busy well after that!
In most of our daily lives we’ve created a world with few limitations; we can get pretty much anything we want when we want it. Part of the appeal of the fishing adventure is that lack of control. Just being out in a wild place and experiencing everything it has to offer –“good”and “bad”- is a huge attraction for many of us. And here at the Lodge, we’re privileged to watch that story unfold day after day!