What a wrap to the 2018 season! While it might have been a bit of a slow start (by our standards) to the season this year, the past month has been cracker jack! Good weather and tons of fish around has sent a lot of smiling faces home in recent weeks. It’s taking some getting used to but the offshore fishery has been incredible. We’re finding offshore trolling tacks that are producing great results at depths from 55 to 75 to 95 feet and deeper. This is producing reliable catches of gorgeous Coho to 16 pounds, quite a few hefty Chum in the mid-teens and Chinooks to 20 pounds. Halibut catches are virtually instantaneous when you touch bottom; but you do have to weed through somme chickens to find the turkeys! All good fun.
Our inshore fishing for Chinook salmon requires a different approach but it’s no less rewarding. The Tyee catch has been pretty consistent this month with several beauties in the low to mid-thirties coming to the boat every trip. And, just to keep everyone on their toes, there have been enough huge Chinooks around to reward the most dedicated Tyee angler! And it’s surprising how it can happen! Last week, on the first drop of the trip with his guests Bill and son Robert, veteran QCL guide Derek “Demo” Poitras started out at Parker Point. The herring must have landed right on its nose but before they had the second line in the water Robert was onto a heavy fish! After a serious tug-o-war, Derek slipped the net beneath a huge chrome buck and it was high-fives all around. Wasting no time they did a quick measurement and this “king of salmon” was back in the water and on its way again. Taped out to 47-pounds it was one of the largest fish of the season. Fantastic catch Robert! Well played and kudos to you for choosing to let him go!
On the next day Jason A was on board One-Fifteen with guide Lance Mercer. Cape Naden has been especially productive this summer and Lance had “that feeling” when they decided to drop in there first thing. It didn’t happen right away but after an hour of teasing an anchovy along the kelp they were rewarded with a big hit and a screaming reel. Jason worked the heavy fish masterfully and Lance was able to keep them out of the kelp. This big beauty taped out to 44 pounds and Jason never hesitated to send it back in hopes that it’ll return to its home stream! Congratulations guys and well done!
August fishing… oh boy! It seems that everything really comes together by the time August rolls around. Certainly the catch board would say so! The inshore fishery, mainly focused on Chinooks, has turned out lots of beautiful big salmon every day. Those brawny 20-something pounders are the backbone of the action but there always a few surprises lurking in the kelp! The Tyee bell gets a workout every night with a couple big Chinooks caught and/or released. Lately the median-sized Tyees have been in the low to mid 30’s with the occasional giant making an appearance. Last week we were thrilled to see 3 of our largest salmon of the season caught – and released – at 3 different locations.
Working a herring along the wall at Bird 2 has to be one of the most effective ways to find a Tyee anywhere on the west coast! QCL guide Brett Towers was doing it right the other day, as the pressure was on! He had his Dad on board with a couple of friends. Making the turn along the kelp, deep in the bay, that herring worked its magic and Don was onto the fish of his dreams! It took them on a bit of a hayride but in the end, Brett was able to get the net under it and lift it into the boat. With a quick photo and a measurement, they had the silver giant back in the water. Taped out to 47 pounds, it was the largest Chinook we’ve seen this season and cause for some serious celebration back at the Bell Ringer that night! Fantastic work guys! Well done Brett!
A couple of days later, Driftwood guest Stan T was over at Cape Edenshaw with his guide Mark Kasumovich when they also teased a big slab away from the shelter of the kelp. Nice and vigourous when they got it in the net, Stan chose to send it back as well. This one scored out to 45 pounds and was yet another proof of Edenshaw’s reputation for holding big fish under the right conditions. Nice work guys and Congratulations to you Stan! Not far away, on the very same day, Dave R was fishing Cape Naden on board 97 with guide Jackson Jane, when they connected with a big Tyee. As Jackson reported in his post, it took the bait trolled on the back rod and gave them quite a workout before coming to the net. David was quick to choose releasing this beauty and it swam off with strong strokes of its tail after measuring out to 46 pounds! Amazing fish!
When these Chinooks aren’t bleeding and are properly revived, the survival rate is apparently very good. So it’s quite an extraordinary feeling to watch a big Tyee swim out of your grip and return to the depths. We have always believed that big fish breed big fish, and while we fully respect the angler’s right to choose, we try to ensure that they make an informed choice. Many anglers dream of having that opportunity and we support anything that can help to ensure those opportunities continue in the future.
Things are still going strong here at QCL, with a good assortment of fish spread across our fishing grounds. Daily catches have ranged from Coho, Chum and Chinook action offshore to the odd Tyee-class salmon being picked up at some of our well known inshore points. Our best success inshore has certainly come as a result of the “stick, stay, make it pay” method of fishing, in order to catch the random snap bites that take place throughout the day. Fortunately, we have also had the privilege of extremely calm waters over the past week, which always gives some of our hotspots a real “fishy” feeling.
On Thursday morning at Cape Naden that “fishy” feeling was certainly in the air. As we made our way onto the fishing grounds I overheard some radio chatter about a few fish already being picked up Bird 2. Yet as we cruised past Naden something told me I should probably stop in for at least a pass or two.
That pass or two turned into an hour and a half at Naden with no bites, yet all four of us on board were optimistic that something was going to happen. Finally, around 9:30am, the screaming sound from our back rod interrupted a peaceful morning on the water. My guest, Dave R grabbed the rod, with no hook set needed, as the fish already had the Islander reel sizzling. We immediately cleared our other two rods, as we knew we were in for a battle! After a long first run that seemed like it may not end, Dave was finally able to slowly work the fish to the boat for our first look. At that point it was pretty clear we had a Tyee on the line and off it went for another powerful run. After a lengthy tug-o-war with this large specimen, we were finally able to put it in the bag! After some high fives and a few loud cheers, we brought the fish into the boat for a measurement and a few quick photos. This fish was then released to continue its migratory journey to its home river. This big silver beauty taped out to 46 pounds! Congrats Dave! Thanks for choosing to let it go!
Later on at the Bell Ringer things were buzzing, as there was also a 45 caught and released at Cape Edenshaw that morning, along with a few more Tyees caught at various spots on our western fishing grounds. Things are shaping up well for a great end to yet another season in Haida Gwaii!
Tight lines and silver smiles!
What a week it’s been! With easy access to the whole fishing grounds, QCL anglers last week enjoyed one of the fishiest trips of the season. Working the inshore sweet spots from Green Point all the way around to Cape Naden, our guests found their share of chunky Chinooks, many in the 21 to 28 pound class, with lots of high-teeners and enough Tyees to keep it interesting!
It was certainly a good trip for Saskatchewan angler David S, visiting the Lodge for his 8thtime, when he joined the QCL Tyee Club, boating a beautiful 37-pound Chinook with his guide Mark Kasumovich and fishing buddy John P. Andy S came from Washington state to enjoy some great QCL fishing and was rewarded with a 41 pounder with some help from his guide Tristan O’Brian. Gary V, fishing with his wife Janice and veteran QCL guide Nick Mercer, returned to the Bell Ringer with one of the season’s largest salmon, a stunning Tyee that tipped the scale at 45 pounds! For a lot of first-timers, seeing some big salmon up close is pretty inspiring, hopeful that they will get a chance to tangle with one like that someday!
When our guests chose to move offshore they found it pretty easy to “double-up”on their efforts. Halibut fishing has been a breeze lately, with many boats investing a whole 30-minutes to pick up a couple of nice “chickens”for the freezer. While they’re out there they spend more time trolling for Coho and they’re finding really nice fish. We’re seeing 12-13 pounders every day now and the occasional 14-15. The second half of August will be pretty exciting!
Last Saturday was one of those days when you talk yourself into going fishing. Breezy southeast conditions were predicted, the Driftwood was anchored at George Point and every boat would be trolling the shorelines around Cape Edenshaw. As the day wore on, boats would gradually make their exit and return to the lodge for some cocktails and a nice dinner. But often that’s when the determined angler utters those magic words…“Just one more pass”!
Working the kelp line inside Piggy Bay late in the afternoon, Tim & Karen D, hosting their newlywed daughter and son-in-law, lined up the perfect tack at the perfect time and the stars aligned. The inside rod dipped and Derek was there on the double. The telltale power of a heavy fish had the crew frantically clearing all the gear while Derek held on for quite a ride! Avoiding the safety of the kelp, this salmon was headed for open water.
Over the next 30 minutes they were gradually pulled about 500 metres offshore, away from the relative calm of the leeward shoreline. But patience and a deft touch on the gear eventually saw Tim ease the net beneath a big silver slab in the rock & roll seas. No blood and with lots of kick left in him, they chose to get a quick measurement and release this beautiful Tyee. Fishmaster Trevor Harris was alongside to witness the battle and take a few photos, then revive the big Chinook for a few minutes before it swam away with strong and steady strokes of its tail.
Congratulations were in order! Scoring out to 44 pounds, Derek and family released one of those legendary fish, the one that every angler wants to catch. Hopefully good fortune will see this salmon find it’s natal stream and it’ll spawn successfully. Certainly there will be lots of anglers 4 or 5 years from now who will thank Derek for giving it the chance!
With a little over a month left in the season the memories of the good times are starting to build. Every morning that I wake up I am wondering how the day will unfold. Action has been found at all of the major points, and big fish are being caught on a daily basis. I am excited to get on the water tomorrow morning and see what will unfold, and to find the fish.
The other morning, we were off the dock at 8 AM and decided to head directly offshore. High slack tide was at 12 PM and the plan was to go catch our Coho, then be inshore for the tide change to target Chinook. On our way out we were cruising through the flat calm water and noticed tidal rip had formed off of Cape Naden. We decided to stop here and ride the tide line with the ebb current to shag rock. After about 20 minutes we had a couple Coho in the boat and released some smaller sized Chinook. Something then caught my eye as a killer whale spout blew off my port side. We decided to pull up our lines and watch the show. This was amazing just like we had chosen to fish the tide line a pod of resident killer whales were hunting along the rip searching for Chinook salmon.
After watching the whales cruising through the tide line and feeding on salmon we decided to head inshore and look for some Chinook. We planned to go to Green Point for the low slack and then do the “Haida drift” with the flood tide towards Bird 2. We dropped in close to our western boundary and rode the flood tide towards Green. Before hitting the point … BOOM! A fish hit the ‘chovie and was off the clip screaming line. After a few big runs we landed the fish which ended up weighing 33 pounds.
I am looking forward to what the day will hold tomorrow. There has not been a 50 Lb Chinook caught yet this year, however I know within the next two weeks some lucky angler, or angler’s will have the opportunity to real in one of these unicorns.
Looking forward to seeing everyone on the dock,
Northwesterly winds have definitely set the tone over this past week, directing the fishing effort to the sheltered shorelines south and east from Klashwun Point. Fortunately we’re finding some pretty nice Chinooks while combing along the kelp beds and rocky points. There have been opportunities to get offshore and pick up some Coho and Halibut as well, but some sizeable tide action can make that a challenge much of the time. The odd twist is that we usually enjoy a pile of big blue sky with these winds but that’s been pretty spotty most days too!
The Tyee bell was getting some action on most nights last week with several Chinooks and halibut tipping the scale over that magic 30 mark. John R kicked the party off with a 30-pounder, repeating his Tyee Club appearance from last year. Brian K added a 30 on Wednesday along with Jordan C who boated a 32 and Laurence H who’s 37-pounder was the big salmon of the day. Matt C came close, however, with a 34 lb Tyee, but he seriously proved his skills with the 41 lb halibut that he weighed right after that! That’s a nice day on the water!
The winds let up nicely on Tuesday and the halibut fishers responded! We saw lots of flatties on the dock with several perfect specimens ranging from 30 to 42 pounds. Rob G missed the cutoff however with a big one that taped out to 86 pounds!
Thursday proved fruitful for salmon hunters with more Tyee catches recorded. John P shared the thrill of the Tyee with his 2 sons, boating a stunning 31-pound Chinook. Makenna C got the day off to a great start at Bird 2 when she caught & released a beauty that taped out to 36 pounds! Fishing with his guide Trevor Harris, Clark H worked the shoreline religiously and was rewarded with two fine Tyee catches – at 31 and 33 pounds! And off the outer face of Bird 2 at afternoon slack, veteran QCL anglers Carol H and her husband Andy connected with the big salmon of the week, a hefty Tyee that thrilled the Bell Ringer crowd at 42 pounds! The average size is creeping up steadily for both Chinook and Coho salmon over the past couple of weeks, and we’re really pleased to see so many chunky Coho in the 10-12 pound range! Let’s see what happens this week!
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…
One of the coolest things about being a fishing guide in Haida Gwaii is the unknown of what each day will bring. No two days are ever the same, as the sea conditions, weather, and fishing are always different. Although we like to plan our day out and try to predict what might happen on each tide change, our plans are often altered due to the various scenarios that take place on the water. Today was no different.
With the first tide change not happening until around 10:30am, my longtime QCL guests John R. and Dan S. decided that we wouldn’t leave the dock until 8. My plan was to fish salmon a couple hours through the tide change, go out and grab a couple of Halibut, and then stop for lunch. The first part went according to plan; we set up shop for a couple of hours at Cape Naden with only 1 feeder spring to show for it that we ended up turning back. With not much happening through the slack tide I suggested we do one more pass and then run out for Halibut. On that pass we hooked another little feeder that popped off by the boat. A couple minutes after that I said, “Okay, let’s go grab some Hali’s”. Dan responded, “Come on, one more pass!” Sure enough, right near the end of that pass John had something pop the clip and then it was game on!
After a great battle we bagged a bright chrome Chinook that tipped the scales at 30.0 lb back at the Bell Ringer. Of course we weren’t going to leave now! Before we could even get a third line back in the water, John again has something smash his bait but it quickly popped off. Within a few seconds our back rod started sizzling line and this time Dan was tied into a beauty! After an even longer fight than the first fish we put another one in the bag that weighed in at 26 lb. After a few more passes with no luck it was time for lunch at the DW.
Although the afternoon was not quite as eventful, we grabbed a couple decent chickens, did some Coho fishing offshore, and then finished the day back at Naden. During our final couple hours we were greeted with some rain showers, followed by blue skies, and calm waters, followed by strong gusts of wind out of the west. In addition, the flood tide brought in waves and waves of kelp that made it nearly impossible to keep all lines in the water at once. Once again, on one of our “last passes”, Dan was into another dandy. After a lengthy first run this fish managed to tangle the line into various large pieces of floating kelp. I thought numerous times that this fish was gone but today the fish gods were on our side. While I was steering the boat, John was able to use the gaff to unhook all the weeds from the line, which finally gave me an opportunity to slide the net under another beauty. It was a great team effort and a great way to finish off another adventurous day in the Gwaii!
Until next time, goodnight from Naden Harbour!
Jackson “Wacko Jacko”