Well, as much as we enjoyed (what feels like a record) 8 days of light variable winds and flat, flat water, it’s nice to get a little back to “normal”. Southerly winds flanked the islands on both east and western shores leaving a giant flat zone on our northern coast. The fog and glassy water were interesting but we like a little wind to move the bait around and concentrate the salmon. And that’s what happened this week as the inshore salmon fishing improved steadily every day. There are some big Chinooks in the water these days and QCL anglers enjoyed tangling with quite a few of them! ( In the photo above, angler Will K celebrates briefly with QCL guide Nic Rasovic before they release a gorgeous 43-pounder! ) Cape Naden, Bird One, Parker, B2 , Klash…every point has turned out some beautiful Tyee-class fish this week. Along the kelp we’re finding them fairly shallow at 25-35 feet much of the time, especially on this week’s morning ebb tides. Offshore the pinnacles are seeing a lot of traffic as big schools of Coho are making their way through the grounds. Trolling deep between 70 & 120 feet we’re picking up those nice silver bullets, with enough 15-20 pound Chinooks mixed in to really make things interesting!
Halibut action has been busy but there are so many “chickens” out there it’s taking some effort to weed through them to get those treasured 30-pounders! And of course, in the middle of all that, we find some giants. Young Jarret C was jigging with his Dad and veteran QCL guide Derek Poitras when they hooked onto a monster that eventually taped out to just over 6-feet long, more than 200 pounds! That makes quite an impression when you’re 12-years-old! And for some anglers, winning a tug-o-war with a big ‘but is something of a fixation! Such was the case for Roxy S this week. For 17-years she’s been coming up to the Lodge and has certainly caught her share of big fish. But the one prize that’s eluded her was the 100-pound halibut. Well this was the week…on Monday, the eighth glassy calm day, Roxy coaxed her partner Cal out to the halibut grounds to give it another try. She had to pull quite a few fish up from 200-plus feet but ultimately was rewarded with the one she was looking for. With some help from the Fishmaster they taped the big fish out to 60-inches, scoring at 109 pounds, and Roxy had finally achieved her goal. Congratulations Roxy! That gold pin looks mighty fine on your shawl!
Fishing with family is always fun. This past weekend I had the pleasure of guiding my father, Ross, and my great uncle, Pat. With flat calm water forecasted for the weekend we had only one thing on our mind, catching a Tyee. We’d had a couple of good days on the water but before we knew it, Sunday morning came and although fishing had been productive, we still hadn’t found what we were looking for. We decided to head to my “office”, Yatze Bay. The water was flat, and a low fog hung in the trees; perfect weather for a hog. We dropped in at slack tide and our rods were bouncing immediately. Over the next hour we released many mid-teen-sized Chinooks and put a beautiful 18 pounder in the box.
Eventually, the tide started to push, and there was a short lull in the fishing. But it didn’t last long, as we tacked along the kelp our inside rod popped off and started screaming out line. This was the fish we were looking for. A few hard runs later, it was in the net. We taped it out to 31 pounds, snapped a quick photo and quickly had it back in the water. Watching a Tyee swim away with strong strokes is always an incredible moment, but doing it with family was really something special.
Tight lines and tips up,
It’s another beautiful June day in Haida Gwaii and guests David, Ariel and myself have formulated our game plan for the day. We’re headed to Bird Rock One excited to ‘stick and stay and make it pay’. As we run out to the fishing grounds the blue sky pokes its head through the clouds, weather is warm, drinks are cold and we’re excited. Dropping in on the west side of Bird One to fish the eddy forming in the bay we look around to see we are the only boat; however we are not quite alone as we are greeted by a big black bear combing the beach beside us. While watching the bear enjoy the beautiful beaches along the fishing grounds we drop our gear and begin trolling. First pass through and we hook into our first fish of the day, a nice 15 pound chinook! The boys get the gear back in the water quickly and we drop in for another pass. Shortly after working along we hook into our second fish of the day. This time we were able to land a nice and very scrappy 25 pounder! Spirits and excitement are even higher now as we drop in again to troll between Bird Rock One and Cape Naden. This time it takes a little longer but the fish hits and takes off running! After peeling 100 feet of line three separate times we are able to get this fish closer to the boat and get a look at it… and it’s a good one! Dave keeps his cool playing the fish as Ariel and I look at each other with excitement. After a long and well fought 10 minute battle, the fish is in the net and the Tyee beers are being cracked in celebration of this beautiful 32 pound Chinook!
As the tide begins to slack off we decide to go out halibut fishing and head off shore. After some hard work jigging at a few hundred feet the boys land two nice halibut and it’s off to the Driftwood for lunch. They’d worked up quite the appetite! Once refuelled and recharged we head out hunting for that last chinook. Working along the face of Parker Point we are able to get a couple bites but nothing stuck right away. However, we resort back to our stick and stay plan and after an hour land our fourth and final Chinook. Next stop was back to the Bell Ringer to celebrate another great day out on the water full of many laughs and some great fish! While there’s no such thing as a bad day out on the waters of Haida Gwaii, this one was definitely a day to remember!
The winter season is often spent pre-planning tactics, tying leaders, and thinking of the memories that previous season have left imprinted within my memory. Now that the season is well underway these preparations have become invaluable. Leaders are used on a daily basis and I am eager to run the newest spoons, flashers, and hoochies that I have purchased.
The new moon has brought large tides to Area One and with these tides Chinook salmon have arrived as well. Numerous 40 pounders have already been hooked by keen anglers fishing the coastline of Graham Island. The Tyee bell has been sounding on a regular basis each night and the June fishing this year has started to remind me of the old days. Cape Naden has been my favorite point to fish this year. Tidal rips will form along this point bringing in baitfish and packs of Chinooks to follow. I have experienced sizzling lines still in the rod holder and can say that these fish are hard fighting and hungry. My excitement is growing each morning to get out onto the water and see what the 011 can produce. Haida Gwaii is known as the land of plenty and the start of this year is proving this to be true. I look forward to seeing familiar faces walking down the dock this summer and making dreams become reality.
Luke “Skywalker” Wagner, Lead Guide
After a crackerjack opening weekend we’re happy to report that the fun just keeps on coming! QCL guests are enjoying fair weather and exploring the full fishing grounds, finding lots of great rewards!
The salmon fishing continues to be very good, especially in all the usual places. There is a significant quantity of 20-pound-plus fish in the mix with the usual teen-sized feeders we expect to see at this time. And we’re seeing a few Tyees every day so it’s pretty exciting to get out there and try your luck. Hangin’out at the Bell Ringer weigh scale in the evening is a biologist’s candy store; so many variations on a species – different sizes, shapes and colours of Chinook salmon, obviously coming from a range of river systems up and down the coast.
Andre T. and Chad B. each boated 35-pounders on Sunday while Chad’s partner Sonya released a beauty that taped out to 32 pounds. Jordan W released our first 100-pound halibut of the season and we’ve seen others tagged at 70, 78, 80, 82 and 85 pounds. This week we’re hosting the QCL White Gold Derby, focused on lingcod and halibut so it’ll be interesting to see how the numbers stack up by Friday.
With only a couple days left to go before we open up for the 2019 season, you can imagine that we’re a pretty busy bunch around here! While the lodge staff and the kitchen crew are shining up their programs, it’s the guides that most people want to hear from right about now!
The weather has been stunning this past week and we’ve had boats on the water every day. The guides are treating the staff to some quality fishing time and everybody comes out a winner. Moderate northwesterlies come with all this sunshine so the water has been a little choppy at times. We’ve focused on the western grounds from Cape Naden to Klashwun Point, working the inshore tacks around the rocks as well as the offshore zone…doing the Haida Drift between the two points.
Most boats are getting into a few Chinooks; feisty feeders in the mid-teens are making up the bulk of the catch. We’ve seen a few in the twenties but haven’t found a Tyee yet! It’s only a matter of time! Anchovies and spoons are producing but so are the guys running herring. There was a 21 and a 25 on the dock last night so we’re finding the usual mix for this early in the season. It’s worth noting that we have not fished any prime time, no morning or evening fishing, and only for 4-hour blocks of time in mid-day. So the guides are keen to get started fishing full-time this weekend and really see what’s out there!
Tides will be moderate this weekend with swings of about 12 feet on the morning floods. These westerlies will give way to just a few hours of southerly weather on Friday (showers and very light wind) before returning to moderate west for Saturday and fading out to light variable on Sunday. Temperatures will be cool, just 12-14 degrees. Perfect fishing weather!
At Queen Charlotte Lodge we have a saying, “You come as a guest, leave as a friend and return as family!” Two of our longest lasting QCL family members are Cal and Roxy Speckman, who bring their group to QCL on an annual basis. Within the group are many returning family members and with their attendance and others, the lodge feels like old home week!
July 17th marked a special day on the calendar for our owner. Paul Clough, had his first grandchild (Jordan) born on this day 16 years ago. Cal was here to celebrate that occasion with Paul, and Cal bought champagne for the entire resort to enjoy the occasion. As luck would have it this week, Jordan was at the Lodge to see his Grandpa and his Dad, Rob Clough. On Tuesday night, with short speeches from Paul, Cal and Jordan, the lodge enjoyed a nice toast of champagne again…this time Paul returned the favor, a great night!
Most people that read our blog are looking for fishing information, a fishing story or anything to do with what’s going on so let’s not deprive you anymore!
As the week started a light Northwest wind came into the area and we waited for more bait to move in and cover the grounds. Northwest winds are the best for bringing bait and fish into the QCL fishing areas. The only issue is there were some huge tides to finish the weekend and start the week. Huge tides bring bait in and flush it out just as quickly. When tides are large you should organize your fishing days based on the tides and fish them hard, at LEAST one hour before and one hour after. Tides and water movement might come early or late, so be in your favorite spot and be ready to fish the tide.
As a guide for 20 years at QCL, I am often asked where to fish on a particular tide. Although the answer can usually be, wherever you think the “Big One” sits, the reality is every guide has a theory. I have never shared my theory until Ryan Ashton, QCL dock manager (Guy Fieri look alike), suggested people would love to hear it directly from you. Tides, theories and fishing strategies are often a secret but at QCL, we encourage all guides to share their knowledge. The more people that know, the more they will become hooked on fishing, and that’s good for QCL! Anyway, here is my theory.
Before I start you need to know what an Ebb and a Flood is and what I mean by those terms. Masset Inlet gives you a great reference point so you know which way the water should be moving. An Ebb tide is when the water is moving OUT of Masset Inlet and going from a HIGH slack to a LOW slack tide. A Flood tide is the exact opposite. The key is to think about the bays around a point. Klash has a large bay to the east of the point and the 3 large protruding rocks. When the tide swings from an Ebb tide to a Flood tide (slack) the water starts to move out of the bay, along the rocks and pumps everything that was in the bay out. This is the time for the fish to feed, the easiest way possible. It’s like going to a McDonalds’ drive thru for the fish and the Big Mac and Fries, Super-Size are on the way…oh yeah, don’t forget the Hot Apple Pie! As the water flows out of the bay, position the boat right on the edge of a pronounced “ripline”, try to hold the position just outside the last rock as long as you can, eventually something has to show up! Stay patient, often it takes up time for this type of fishing to pay off. Once you drive through the ripline, circle back to the end of it, and drive back up it, all the way back through and repeat until you hit one or two or 10!
There are no guarantees this is going to work, that’s the beauty of fishing. As an example on Monday I was fortunate to have my wife, son and daughter join me at the resort. Monday and Tuesday we went fishing as a family using my “theory” and it worked…um ok that is a fish tale, it didn’t work at all! 2 Coho only and no other bites, zoikes, I suck! We come back to the dock and most of the guides are dragging in nice totes of fish to the Bellringer and now I am second guessing myself. Tuesday night we celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday and I have a little chat with him about the next day. He wants to go fishing at 5am! Mom and Makenna decide to take a pass for a sleep and a workout. We get up at 4:30am and are on the water as the sun is rising. Scott and Henry guests of the DW are already fishing Bird 2 and have a fish in their net! So we stop and Jordan and I give it a try. The Ebb is just starting at Bird 2 and the water is pushing nicely off the point. Jordan puts on his favorite anchovy teaser head and puts it down. BAM, fish on! 3 passes and 7 Chinook later we are giggling and laughing! More boats are now showing up and Jordan resets his line, 41 feet. As we are still sitting in the rip and his line pounds off the clip and starts peeling. A nice one for sure, a beauty fight, a beauty play and the best morning as a Dad with a son you can imagine. Jordan lands a 32.2 pounder to show Mom and sis! Back to the dock by 11am for lunch with the family and grandparents!
Now Makenna is fired up and wants to go early to catch the early tide the next day with her brother! We decide we better head back to Bird 2 and see if we can find another. We fish the ripline at Bird 2 and pick one up early, then a Coho, then a second smaller Chinook. Not as hot as the morning before. The boats are out way earlier and the fishing seems to die off for about an hour. We continue and are persistent fishing the rip. We fish it hard but nothing is happening so we are sure to scrape the wall at Bird 2. We do this about 10 times and in the back corner of Bird 2, right off the bow of the Driftwood we nail a good one. 20 minutes later, the 13 year old young lady lands an awesome fish measuring 36 pounds! We release the fish back into the wild and the day feels complete. So we troll from Bird 2 back to Naden hitting all the points. We hit Parker and see Hawgfather with Clark, his guest. Trevor and Clark had a beauty morning, 31 and 33! We pick up 5 more fish on the drift out and decide it’s time to go meet Mom again for lunch at the Main Lodge. As a guide, my theory was validated but only 2 of 4 days. As a Dad, the greatest day of my year fishing with my kids! (Love you Tricia, Jordan and Makenna!)
Fishing is currently hot and cold all in the same day and trip. Persistence always wins! Look forward to seeing you at the resort! Until next time…
It is the last day of June in Haida Gwaii. The morning sun is peeking through broken clouds and lighting up the glassy water while eagles call from the shore. The smell of fresh sea air wakes my excitement for another day of chasing trophy salmon in the most beautiful place on earth. After getting a full box of Coho and nice mid-sized Springs offshore on Day One, we are in a good spot to take a gamble and spend a day fishing in tight to shore, looking for a big one. And that’s what we decide to do.
My guests, Matthew and Daibidh and I are alive with anticipation when we drop in at Parker Point an hour before the morning tide; everything is setting up perfectly. After 5 hours without a touch I am starting to second guess whether we picked the right spot but we are determined to stick with the plan and stay optimistic. Then finally, after 6 hours, things start to pick up. So we work the east bay with a newfound enthusiasm and our luck really starts to change. On our next pass the inside rod goes off and Daibidh is into a good one! After the second tide comes to an end our work seems to have paid off and we are high fiving over two beautiful fish, a 23 and a 25 lb Chinook. But we decide to take one last lap to see if we can’t still find that monster we are really after, and then it all happens. Ten hours after we first set our gear the outside rod buckles and the reel starts to burn. “That’s the one!” I shout and start clearing the lines as Matthew takes the rod and the fish keeps accelerating towards Alaska. After the most nerve-racking 30 minutes we are marveling at a magnificent 32 lb Tyee Chinook, a real trophy! We take a few moments to take in its beauty as it regains its strength and then watch it swim off back into the depths. What a perfect way to end the day. There is no better feeling than to be rewarded for a hard day’s work. The level of excitement on the boat is unreal as we head back to the Bell Ringer, this was the perfect end to another amazing month in heaven!