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.
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!
We’ve been treated to some stunning moonlit nights up here for a change! You don’t realize how seldom you see the moon until it just appears one night. We’ve sure enjoyed it, but the big tides that come along with a full moon have a more dramatic effect.
Late August salmon fishing is typically divided between hunting along the rocky shores and kelp beds for big Chinooks or exploring the offshore tidelines for schools of migrating Coho. The Chinooks prefer the protective cover and like to feed during the slack periods around tide changes or they’ll often cruise the current seams and tidelines picking off baitfish getting pushed around by strong tidal flows. Tide swings of up to 16 feet this week have definitely provided those conditions! But our guides and guests have been quite successful at finding them – the Tyee Bell has been fairly noisy in celebration! QCL guest Spencer A found a big beauty over at Slab Rock yesterday with guide Tristan O’Brian, who quickly taped the Tyee out to 43-pounds before releasing it to continue its journey to the river. Tim G landed a similar prize off Bird Rock 1 which tipped the scale at an even 40. Jeremy K released a 37-pounder at the Mazzaredos last week with guide Ryan Borschneck and Mike A boated a 35 with guide Colten Mochizuki off Parker Point. Nico B didn’t make any mistakes battling his first big salmon on the weekend and celebrated at the Bell Ringer with his friends and guide Logan Allen, joining the QCL Tyee Club with a stunning 42-pound Chinook.
Offshore fishing has been no less productive, though the large number of Pink salmon passing through lately has certainly kept anglers out of their seats! Coho have been found mainly out over the Pinnacles and on the halibut grounds. We’re finally starting to see some of those larger, chrome bright Cohos that many of us get so excited about! Bottom fishing times have to be carefully planned during these big tides and our guide team have that schedule very well dialed. Most everyone manages to get their limit of halibut, and many are finding some of the larger “overs” in the 25-50 pound class, which is quite a thrill, and a serious workout! We haven’t been finding as many “barn doors” in the past couple of weeks but that will change next week when tide swings mellow to just 6 to 7 feet.
With September just around the corner, keep in mind that we’ve extended our 2021 season by 2 trips – adding a Monday-Friday trip – September 6-10 and a final weekend trip September 10-13. There’s been so much demand this summer – everybody is loving the opportunity to escape and kick back up here at The Lodge! If you can find a way, you should seriously consider jumping on one of these September trips – it’s absolutely the best way to finish the summer!
QCL anglers have enjoyed the best of both worlds recently with a return to our traditional summer westerlies but avoiding those big water days that can restrict access to the fishing grounds. The salmon action has been quite consistent with anglers fishing all their favourite spots from Green Point all the way back to the Mazzaredos. Bigger tides over the past week have helped to turn on “the bite” at various times of day and our guests are having good success with Chinook catches inshore. While we’re still seeing lots of teen-sized feeders there have definitely been more twenty-somethings and Tyee-class fish in the mix. The stretch of awesome Virago Sound shoreline from “the Mazz” around to Bird 2 has turned out a lot of good fish this season, especially over the past 10 days. Tim C, with his QCL guide Shawn Breau, did the dance with a powerful big Chinook at the Mazz last night before Shawn was able to get the net under it and finally have a good look. Tim knew this fish had to get to the river and easily decided to let him go. A couple of quick pics and Shawn soon had this beauty back on its way. Great work guys – Congratulations Tim!
The Tyee bell has certainly been noisy this week with quite a few big fish being celebrated, some released and some coming back to the dock. Reports of huge halibut catches are down recently with the bigger tides being a factor, but everyone is getting out to pick up some nice keepers to take home. The average is still around 15 pounds but we’re seeing several chunky ‘buts between 30 and 60 pounds on the scale every trip. Coho fishing has come on strong in the offshore waters and it doesn’t take long to pick up a few nice ones. We’re finding them from the 100 foot line all the way out to the Pinnacles and 250+ feet of water, fishing down 40-60 feet seems most consistent. Coho in the double-digits are becoming more common now and Scott N boated a beautiful 14-pounder last week, so those amazing & feisty Northerns are starting to show up. They have a huge fan club and we can’t wait to see more!
With the morning light just starting to dawn, my guests and I decided to leave the dock as early as possible. But we weren’t alone and one quick boat steered towards our fishing spot of choice. Fortunately they changed their minds and we got there with the spot untouched. With a purple dawn barely broken and not a breath of wind disturbing the waters, a magic hour was upon us. Our lines not yet in the water, we knew the bite was going to be swift upon us. “First boat, first pass!” I said to my guests. The first salmon we hooked immediately but she slipped the hook after steaming sideways next to the boat. We reset our lines and although there was a wait, we boated two nice Chinook salmon! Streaks on the sonar, calm water and the laughter created by the odd salmon biting our gear set the tone for the day. Excited to capitalize on our time on the water, we took advantage of a to-go order on the lunch boat, the M.V. Driftwood. Loaded with hot burgers cold beverages on the boat, we fished the day away, enchanted by the surrounding trees, waves, and rocks offered by the northern coast of Graham Island. Don’t worry, we topped the day off with a sighting of orcas dipping and fishing their way eastbound along the coast.
Every angler has their favourite time to go fishing… “Anytime” is the answer for most! But there are a lot of QCL guests who just love August. Maybe it’s the warmer weather, the bigger Coho, the later starts… certainly there all kinds of reasons. For this year, we’re now at the halfway point of our season, due to the late start on July 2nd, and we’re happy to report that everything is ticking along very nicely.
On the fishing front, we’re currently seeing a nice bump in the number of larger Chinooks, with the Tyee bell getting a workout each evening. Big fish are especially celebrated and those over 40 pounds are revered. On the weekend, self-guided guests Sasha and Brandi spent some quality time at Klashwun Point with a beautiful big Tyee that they taped out to 42 pounds before carefully sending it back on its homeward journey. Nicely done you two! Jeff F and his buds had a pretty fine day fishing with QCL guide Tristan O’Brian, with Jeff boating a chunky 46-pound halibut and releasing an awesome Chinook that scored 34 pounds. We saw a couple of big chrome beauties on the dock this week with Tom S boating a handsome 47 lb. Tyee with guide Craig Wensel and Taylor H, fishing with his Grandad, caught the fish of a lifetime in a 43-pounder with guide Noah Crumb at the helm.
The light southerly winds have continued to provide easy and comfortable access to the offshore waters and every angler is getting lots of opportunity to get down for some nice halibut and lingcod. We get reports of several big hali’s over 100-pounds hooked each week but most everyone is having a good time pulling up some nice keepers between 15 and 50 pounds. Getting over the pinnacles to catch your first lingcod is generally an easy feat, while finding that spot again for a second one is the bigger challenge! That’s why we call it fishing!
While we’ve been enjoying a lot of calm water over the past couple of weeks we are looking forward to a general shift to westerly winds for the coming days. We find that southerlies tend to disperse the feed, and the fish, while west and northwesterlies bring everything back closer to shore and concentrates the salmon fishing noticeably. We’ll soon see if that rings true in the early days of August! Stay tuned!
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!
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!