January 10, 2018 Duane Foerter2

Everyone buys a fishing trip with the idea they are going to “SMASH” them while on their fishing adventure.  All hoping their arms are sore from fighting fish, hands and fingers are sore from hooks and tying leaders and shins are sore from continually bashing them on gaff that is sticking out of the gunnel.  Oh the joys of fishing!

I personally have fished for salmon since I was two years old.  From the days of Grandpa raking herring and dumping them in the boat for his 2 year old Grandson to try and grab for the bait tank.  To the days of jigging herring, to fish from my 10 foot dinghy with my 2.5hp “Big Block” Mercury.  Now to my spoiled life at QCL and the dock staff preparing my boat for fishing daily.  Although the adventures of fishing with Grandpa and in my dinghy were great, the QCL experience is second to none!

44 years of salmon fishing, 18 seasons with QCL and the number one question asked over that period of time is without doubt, “When is the best time to go fishing?”  As the old adage says…”if I had a dollar…”

Rob, quit with the soliloquy and answer the question!  When is the best time to go fishing?

Well my favorite answers are always a bit cheeky:

  • “Last week was the best! You just missed it!”
  • “Next week is the best! You are a week early!”
  • “Right now is the best! Are you not getting them, maybe you need a guide?”

In all honestly, with every cheeky answer there is a truth.  Each river that holds Chinook or King salmon, from Alaska to San Francisco has a prime time of stock return, or when the majority of the species return to the river.  That timing varies from late March to late October with the bulk of the returns happening late April through October.  The return for Coho or Silvers varies but the bulk of these fish return mid-June through late October.

After being cheeky, usually I get to the true answer!  In all likelihood I stole my answer from someone but it accurately describes the truth when asked the question of best time to fish.  Here is my answer:

QCL has roughly 100 days of fishing during a season.  From year to year we have 12 to 15 of the greatest days of fishing one could hope for.  We also have 12 to 15 poor days of fishing when everyone second guesses themselves!  The issue is, I cannot tell you when either of these days are going to happen but what I can tell you is they will happen.  The rest of the 70 days are productive and success is varied.  Calling them average would make Grandpa turn over in his grave, he would have died for an “average” QCL day down on the south coast!

I know most of you were hoping for an exact window, an exact time as to when the fish are guaranteed to be there and biting, if I could tell you that my name would not be Rob, it would be Fish God!  What I can do is help you with how to pick a fishing adventure and the timing of it.  Here is the list:

  1. Choose QCL – If the fish aren’t biting, the service and people are amazing! They have 135 staff to deal with your every need.
  2. Call QCL and ask what dates are available. Remember, any date could have 1 of “those” days, good or bad!
  3. Continue to book the same date or close to the same date, year after year, you will run into one of “those” days eventually.

Two Examples of people who have gone on the same date year after year are below.  One of them produced the greatest day of fishing and one produced the lodge record at QCL:

When our family purchased the Lodge in the year 2000, my best buddies Bryan and Jason Killins were on the first trip of the season, May 29th to June 1st.  They continued on this trip for many years with varying success.  Some years’ crazy amounts of fish, some years, lots of empties in the boat.  On June 2nd, 2015 we got our regular early start, off the dock at the crack of 10am!  Being last off the dock has its advantages…um NO!  But this day did, we were approaching “The Maz” and we saw a massive bait ball with birds feeding on the surface.  We stopped to give it a “try” and 6 hours later, we had landed 76 Chinook with 14 double headers!  The greatest day of my fishing career!

One of the most memorable days for the lodge came in late August 2011, August 20th to be exact.  When our guest Mr. Chris Lewis caught and released an 84 pound Chinook with guide Derek “Demo” Poitras.  Chris has continued to fish this timeframe over the years and as luck would have it, they were graced with another monster of 49 pounds with his son Josh!

Any day can be your day, it can be on your first trip or your 30th trip, but if you don’t book, you will never know!  Hope to see you at the lodge this summer.  All the best and Happy New Year.


Rob “Fish God” Clough

(Kind of catchy…might have to drop Red Baron!)


August 25, 2017 Duane Foerter

QCL Coho SalmonLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experienceLast week we were talking about “special combo” fishing and the great variety of fishing experiences there are to be had up here. Well this week we had a father & son angling team at the lodge that really took it to heart! Ronald and Dan R not only found the variety but, with the help of their QCL guide Jake Harrach, they found the quality as well!QCL Lingcod Fishing

Over the past 4 days they managed to catch the largest fish of the trip in each of 3 species and the 2nd largest in a 4th! On Tuesday Dan caught and released the big halibut of the trip, a big slab that taped out to 163 pounds. On Wednesday Ron boated a nice big lingcod that tipped the scale at 35 pounds which, in most weeks would be the big one! But he came second to a 50-pounder landed by Lino P! That’s only 6 pounds short of the lodge record! Congrats Lino! On the same day Ronald caught the largest Coho of the week, coming in at 16-pounds – a beautiful fish for sure! Then on Thursday, making that famous “just one more pass” at Cape Naden on the way in, Dan hooked up with a big Chinook that really put him to the test. After a twenty-minute tussle, Jake slipped the net beneath the chrome beauty and they knew there would be some more Bell-ringing back at the dock that night! At 39-pounds, this big Tyee would add to Dan’s record of success as the largest Chinook of the trip. Congratulations guys! That’s an amazing catch report! It’s a good thing you’re going home for the weekend to get some rest!QCL Tyee Salmon

The weekend forecast is for more southerly weather and calm seas (with a regular dose of liquid sunshine.) The inshore Chinook fishing has certainly picked up in the past week with the best action during the first and last hours of the day. Offshore the Coho catch remains strong and we’re seeing more of the larger Coho coming to the scale. Bottom fishing has been getting easier with the tidal range diminishing every day since Monday’s new moon. QCL anglers released 6 halibut over 100 pounds this trip and we’re still seeing nice 30-plus fish at the Bell Ringer every night. These are great days to be fishing at QCL!


August 22, 2017 Duane Foerter0

This past weekend trip was full of good times, as there were some fish around to be caught and the Bell Ringer was quite lively on a nightly basis. The fish coming in consisted of a combination of nice Chinook, Coho, and Halibut. Many boats decided to spend a good majority of their days offshore, targeting Coho with the odd Chinook and Pink salmon in the mix out there as well. This style of fishing certainly produced the most consistent action for anglers. Inshore, the waters surrounding Cape Naden and Bird Rock 1 produced some nice Chinook for those who chose to “stick, stay, and make it pay”, particularly through the afternoon low slack tide. This fishing was quite interesting at times, as it was often a race to sneak the fish in past a couple of hungry sea lions.

QCL Salmon FishingToday we had a new group of guests come in for our weekday trip and they were all very excited to get out on the water! While on our way out, my guests and I decided that today we were going to stick inshore in hopes of hooking into some large migratory Chinook salmon. After making this decision, I knew exactly where I wanted to drop the lines. A few minutes later we had three lines in the water at Bird Rock 1. As the day passed by, boats would come and go, with many choosing to make their way offshore in search of Coho and Halibut. After a slow start we decided to grab some lunch at the MV Driftwood. Then, following a short discussion, we decided to keep sticking it out inshore and back we went to Bird 1. Shortly after, we managed to put a nice 20-pounder in the box. With the low slack tide approaching I had a feeling that this was a sign that something good was about to happen. All of a sudden, right on top of the slack tide, our back line had a hard hit and my guest Dale was hooked into a real screamer. While clearing the other 2 lines we hooked a second fish that hit while I was popping the line out of the downrigger clip. Both of my guests were now into a couple beauties, with one screaming line off the bow and the other off the stern. After a couple of fun filled and chaotic fights this father-son duo managed to land their double header. In addition, Dale’s fish ended up being a 34 lb hawg! Although he had every intention to release any Tyee that he might catch on his trip, this one was hooked far too well for that to be a possibility. Regardless, he and and his group members were quite excited later on back at the Bell Ringer!

We are all looking forward to the remainder of the trip!

Tight Lines,

“Wacko Jacko”

QCL fishing adventure


August 5, 2017 Duane Foerter0

August has roared in with the welcome return of some northwesterly winds and it’s marvelous! What we generally think of as the prevailing summer winds have been strangely absent this year. Weeks of southerlies – swinging from southeast to southwest – have made for nice gentle seas and easy access to the expansive fishing grounds. But northwest winds serve to drive the bait to the northern shores of Haida Gwaii and into our home waters of Virago Sound in particular. And we all know that where there’s bait… there’s great fishing! Of course we won’t sneeze at the gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures that are mighty uplifting for all of the staff around the lodge as well!

QCL salmon fishingAs a result we’re quite happy to report that the fishing has turned on quite nicely this week. Chinook action has moved back onshore and QCL anglers are finding lots of nice chunky salmon in all the traditional haunts – Bird 2 has seen some nice hot bites in recent days, the waters from Cape Naden to Bird 1 have produced some Tyee action and the kelp beds in front of Yatze bay are providing pretty steady results, especially on the flood tides. Derald W boated a stunning big Tyee while fishing with veteran QCL guide Ryan Winger on Tuesday. He always tries to release his big fish but unfortunately this one couldn’t be revived and at the Bell Ringer it tipped the scale at 42 pounds. We also saw several nice Tyees in the 30-plus range on the board this past week. We’ve been trolling up Coho all over the offshore waters recently but are now seeing decent numbers showing up closer to shore. The average size is still 7-9 pounds but we are getting some beauties over 10 pounds starting to appear, as we would expect for this point of the season.

QCL halibut fishingThe halibut fishing continues to be a nice reliable part of the experience and lodge guests have been happily picking up some nice “chickens” for the fish box while releasing a number of big females over 60 pounds. Andre C released a giant that taped out to just over 100 lb., Eric S. reeled up a 134 and Haydn S. got a serious workout pulling up an 82 pounder followed by a bigger one that taped out to 123! Lots of great fish stories go along with these catches to be sure.

Looking ahead, the northwesterlies are forecast to continue right through next week so we’ll keep the sunscreen on the table and be ready in the Bell Ringer to celebrate many more great catches! Stay tuned!


August 3, 2017 Duane Foerter0

You never fully know what you are driving out to as you exit the harbour, heading for the fishing grounds, which always makes dropping your lines for the first time of the day exhilarating.

Today my guests and I started our morning off at Klashwun Point. The flat calm seas made for a quick drive and the blue skies had everyone smiling.

I had just finished explaining to my guests how to pop the line out of the downrigger clip when both lines started peeling. No need to pop the clip when fish hit that hard!  My guests landed a beautiful 21 lb. and a 19 lb. double header, which was not a bad way to start the day!  Following our exciting start we looked up and saw a boat getting pulled offshore as they fought a fish – this fight resulted in a Tyee release! The day continued with consistent Chinook action off the face of Klash, followed by some quick Coho bites in the tide lines around Shag Rock.

It’s exciting not fully knowing what’s coming down the pipe for tomorrow – I look forward to wetting the lines and finding out!

Ryan “Horsehoe” Winger


July 23, 2017 Duane Foerter0

This past week the trend of calm seas continued, which made for an enjoyable week of fishing. So far this season we haven’t seen any particular spot out produce the rest, which has resulted in boats being distributed throughout the fishing grounds. On most days, the best successes often come by picking your favourite spot and sticking it out using the “stick, stay and make it pay” method of salmon fishing.

Much like last season, I have continued to spend many hours each day working the kelp beds around the waters of Cape Naden. This past week my guests and I chose to spend nearly our entire days working Naden, with the occasional break to do some bottom fishing. We all felt that it looked really “fishy” and at times we enjoyed some great Chinook fishing with the odd Coho in the mix. On Thursday afternoon we decided to mix it up and give Parker Point a try after lunch. Although there were a couple fish around at Parker, we decided it was only fitting to finish the trip back at Cape Naden. Upon returning to Naden we watched another boat hook up on a couple of fish, but not much was happening for us. With only a couple of passes left, my guest was telling a funny story as we were trolling past the kelp bed off the point. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the rod tip dip down and then yelled “fish, fish, fish!!”. My guest grabbed the rod, set the hook, and the battle was on! This was the fish we had been looking for at Naden all trip…a real sizzler! After a few lengthy runs we tired the fish out and finally managed to put this 38lb Tyee in the bag to conclude a week of fishing.

Back at the dock there were a couple of other Tyees that came in, with a 45lber being the largest of the day and of the trip. Let’s hope this trend continues and we continue to see some nice Chinook rolling through!

Until next time,

“Wacko Jacko”


July 21, 2017 Duane Foerter0

The Tyee Bell was ringing last night in celebration of a couple of the season’s largest catches.  We just love celebrating at the Bell Ringer!

Joe & Ruth H spent some quality time on the halibut grounds this week with their guide Jake Harach… and they made the most of it!  Ruth boated a perfect “over” at 51 pounds but Joe had to contend with some serious heavy lifting.  He got his 30-minute workout wrangling a massive fish that taped out to 71 inches in length for a calculated weight of 187 pounds.  A few quick photos alongside the boat and a measurement and then she was gone with a splash!  Eighteen cracks of the bell on Thursday night and presentation of a gold halibut pin capped a great week of fishing.

Ten-year-old Hayden B returned to the lodge this week with his Grandpa Sam and his Aunt & Uncle to share their annual fishing adventure.  Hayden was learning to use the single-action salmon gear that we use on the BC coast and he was making good progress, albeit with a few bruises and mixed success.  On Thursday morning their veteran guide “Rainman” Dan chose to “turn right” to fish the kelp beds past Cape Edenshaw and they hooked up with “a real good fish.”  It was Hayden’s time.

And he was up to the task – kept the tip up and didn’t lock up on the Islander!  Twenty minutes of tug-o-war and Dan slipped the net beneath a very sizable salmon.  Here was one excited young man!  Of course he was dying to know how big his fish was but managed to stay out all day.  When his turn at the scale came at the Bell Ringer last night there were lots of bets on the size of Hayden’s fish.  “Rainman” hoisted the big beauty onto the hook and covered the numbers while the scaled settled.  Seconds later he lifted his hand… 45-pounds was the weight!  Welcome to the Tyee Club Hayden!  That’s a marvelous catch and quite an achievement for a young angler.  Congratulations!  With a little boost from his guide he gave the Tyee Bell four good dings to a huge round of applause from the crowd, a moment that we’re sure he’ll remember for a very long time.


July 18, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Mixed fishing catch at QCLIt was another gorgeous day in Haida Gwaii as my guests and I drove out on flat calm waters to one of the spots that has been fishing really well known as “the Nursery”. As soon as we dropped in we noticed multiple boats around us had fish on. It didn’t take long before one of our rods doubled over… Fish On!  We kept busy for over an hour with a mix of Chinook and Coho pushing needlefish in just 50 feet of water. After playing lots of smaller Chinooks we finally hooked into a better one. Seeing it jump a few times right away, I knew this was a good fish and after a 10 minute fight it was in the boat. There was no doubt it was a heavy fish but wasn’t sure it was quite a Tyee. But when we returned to the dock my and got it on the scale, first-time guests were ecstatic when it went 30.0 lbs, a real Bell Ringer!

Big Coho at QCLWith lots of what we call “cookie cutter” Chinook and the odd bigger fish around it makes for a fun day. The offshore Coho fishing has been producing really well, with guides often trolling in from halibut fishing and getting limits of coho, with the odd spring mixed in too. It’s shaping up to be another awesome week!

Tight lines. Kashes Redfern




July 11, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Today was a spectacular day to be fishing in Haida Gwaii, better known on the west coast as the “Mecca” of salmon fishing.  With a fresh push of fish entering the grounds, we knew we were in for a treat today!

With the anxious feeling to fill tags behind us, it was time to do some hog hunting!  Today we decided to fish tight to the structure of “Brown’s Pile”. The action was consistent for the better part of the day but unfortunately the size wasn’t there.  At the 11th hour we decided to troll down to the Mazzaredo Islands.  With time winding down on the final day of our fishing trip… Boom! We were onto a good one.

This big Chinook took a naked anchovy at 37 ft. The fight was heavy and lethargic, but the fish jumped multiple times in desperation to shake the hooks.  Fortunately, we were able to keep the pins in it long enough to get him in the bag. We had high hopes of releasing a fish of this caliber, but due to the hook placement he wasn’t going to make it.

Looks like he was coming back to the Bell Ringer with us after all!  This one turned out to be a 41-pounder, a great way to finish the day and an unforgettable trip at QCL.

Until next time, tight lines!

Ryan “Horseshoe” Winger


July 8, 2017 Duane Foerter0

Rolling over into July, we’ve been very happy to see strong numbers of mid-sized Chinooks showing up along the kelp beds this week.  They’re widespread, from Cape Edenshaw all the way to Green Point.  Through June we’ve done the bulk of our salmon “catching” a little offshore, along the 130-foot line.  Much of the current catch is coming from a little closer in, often from depths 18-28 feet.  The Tyee Bell has been ringin’ for sure.  Mark S boated a big 40-pounder at Cape Edenshaw with his guide Nick Mercer on Tuesday while Liam N released a barn door halibut that taped out to 104 pounds today.  Long time lodge guest Jim B also landed a 40-pound Tyee, fishing self-guided with his partners Andrew and Jay.  Veteran QCL guide Ryan Winger celebrated a career benchmark yesterday with his guests Greg and Chris.  Green Point turned out some big fish for these boys and they didn’t waste the opportunity.  Chris landed a pair of 31 pounders while Greg started with a 30 and capped it off with a stunning fish that tipped the scale at over 47 pounds!  As if that wasn’t enough, they spent a beautiful calm afternoon offshore and boated 35 and 31-pound halibut! That’s an amazing day of fishing by any standard!

We’ve been spoiled by light variable winds this week and the offshore grounds have been the perfect spot to hang out and jig up some halibut and lingcod.  Flatties in the 30-pound class have become pretty normal for us this year and QCL guests really appreciate the excellent GPS/Sounder units installed on every boat.

Between the offshore jigging and the inshore trolling we’re find increasing numbers of Coho spiced with the occasional Chum salmon.  These early Coho are generally in the 5-8 pound range and they provide a nice compliment to all the other tasty treats in the box!

The weekend is shaping up really well with light winds from the west and moderate tides. We have a full slate of guides on the water this weekend so expect to see some great catches on the books!  Will keep you posted!

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