QCL offers access to some of the most sought-after salmon fishing grounds in the world. It’s the northern Haida Gwaii waters that home a rich salmon population due to a combination of the remote wilderness and geography.
After hatching, salmon spend time growing in and around the rivers before venturing out into the open ocean. Once in the ocean, their search for prey such as herring and squid leads them north. After years of growing, they begin their journey south to return to the river they hatched in, for spawning.
Geographically, our fishing grounds are the prime spot for fish making their journey south. Situated along the north coast of Graham Island, salmon on their way to spawn, must pass through these waters. For others trying to gain their last few pounds of weight before beginning their trek, our healthy kelp beds and unique shorelines provide shelter for many of these fish to rest.
As the fishing grounds are the first stop for majority of southbound salmon, this creates multiple advantages for our guests. The first being that we are among the first to encounter these fish, giving us first pick. Fish are fresh and energetic when they arrive, providing some of the best battles an angler can experience with a wild salmon. As they have not traveled far, they are still focused on feeding, creating the perfect fishing scenario! At this point in their migration, salmon have not become accustomed to boats or fishing gear which allows us to fish where they like to hide. Without the threat of spooking them, we can approach shallow depths around kelp beds and rock structures close to shore.
Of all the advantages, the best may be that we have access to all salmon genetics. All salmon of one species do not share the same genetics. Many of the Chinook salmon that spawn in northern rivers in BC are genetically bigger than many of the Chinooks that spawn in the southern rivers. Our location has us perfectly positioned to have the best shot at some of the largest Chinook Salmon swimming in the Pacific.
Everyone’s reasons for taking a vacation or quick getaway vary. However, we recognize that over the last several years there are certainly common themes we can all relate to. From isolating due to the pandemic, long work hours, refreshed desire to try new things or simply because living in a connected world leaves no time to truly disconnect and reunite with our passions.
There are so many options for one to consider when planning a getaway. Everyone’s reason why and what they define as a dream trip is unique but maybe QCL will tick a few of those required boxes of interest.
Each year, thousands of guests venture to the remote Lodge that is QCL, in one of the most beautiful locations in the world – Haida Gwaii. The Lodge and associated fishing grounds have attracted anglers for over 32 years.
While QCL previously attracted fisherman and women from across the globe for a world-class fishing experience, QCL is now being recognized for so much more. Located in the lush oasis of Haida Gwaii, this archipelago is sometimes referred to as the Galapagos of the North – A destination for nature lovers to take in the natural beauty of the rugged coastline and exceptional wildlife. Our guests have the opportunity to experience this all with friends and family, creating endless memories and enhancing a sense of connection.
Imagine watching the sunrise over Naden Harbour while hearing the screech of bald eagles as they feast on their freshly caught fish. Heading out to the fishing grounds with a coffee in hand and seeing a humpback whale breach in the distance. Picture your crew yelling “Fish On!” before you set the hook and play the salmon of your dreams. Think of returning from your day on the water and being met with a hot towel before joining the crowd celebrating their day in the Bell Ringer. All before relaxing in the hot tub as you watch the local deer graze and ending your day around the dinner table indulging in an exceptional menu.
The QCL Experience, wilderness, and wildlife of Haida Gwaii provides memories one will treasure forever.
From the moment you step off the helicopter upon arrival, to waving goodbye, you will feel that whatever decision brought you to QCL was the right one. Peace, exhilaration, or connection – no matter the feeling you were searching for, we hope to provide it for you. Maybe QCL can be your Perfect Adventure.
The beginning of a new calendar year always feels like something new is about to happen. Whether that’s true or not, it’s always a little bit exciting.
Here at QCL it creates a buzz; but it’s not like at the start of a race… it’s more like the final leg! We’ve been working on our 2023 season since September; a lot of plans have been made, and now it’s time to execute. Opening Day is officially in sight!
We have some practice at this… it will be our 33rd season! And over those years, how things have changed! In the early days of fishing lodges on BC’s north coast, it really was all about the fish. Transportation was a challenge, comforts were few, food was often basic, but the fishing was good! Potential guests would tell us: “As long as I have a good boat and lots of bait, I would sleep in a tent!” The success of their trip was mostly defined by the number of pounds in their box. But as word spread and more folks wanted to check it out, we soon discovered that they would be much happier in a well-appointed log cabin with a warm fireplace! So, that’s where we started.
Over time, we’ve made many changes and have come a long way. New and varied accommodations have created a range of venues offering something for everyone; from the extraordinary opportunity to stay right on the fishing grounds aboard the MV Driftwood, to enjoying the convenience of a comfortable room in the Main Lodge to private, tailor-made luxury in the Totem House. We’re constantly upgrading our boat fleet to provide the best on-the-water experience for our guests and offering more and improved options in fish processing. On the hospitality side, we now offer dining in at least seven different venues and work with several BC suppliers to deliver top quality groceries to our QCL kitchens every week.
Huge strides in our transportation program let us deliver a full complement of guests from Vancouver to the Lodge in less than 4 hours and have them out fishing within 30 minutes of arrival (if they like)!
While the scale and scope of QCL has certainly grown and evolved over the past 30+ years, we’ve worked very hard to retain the most important ingredient in our recipe. Back when we had only 48 guests and half that many staff, we always regarded visitors to the Lodge as our guests. They were never customers or clients. They were our guests in our house and every one of our staff understood that, treating them accordingly. If there is one rule that dictates our relationship with our clientele, that is it. These days we certainly have more guests and ample more staff but that connection between them is paramount. It has grown and evolved to create something that we call the QCL Experience, a very exceptional combination of friendship, adventure, wilderness, comfort, and fun in a truly unique and magical part of the world. Many people first come here for the fishing, but it’s the QCL Experience that brings them back.
And the fishing is still a big deal! Being in the gateway to the north Pacific always has the unique benefits of favourable ocean currents, abundant food supply, major migration routes for salmon and year-round habitat for groundfish. QCL anglers continue to enjoy excellent angling opportunities and most always go home with as much fish as they want.
However, we recognize that the earth is in a state of constant change that affects everything we do. The health of the oceans and of the lands adjacent are part of a delicate balancing act that we all have a part in. In recent years we’ve seen increased awareness and interest among our guests, who have come to love these places immensely and are concerned about them. We have many more conversations about the food chain, ecosystems, the life cycles of salmon, and the abundance of whales and herring. It’s great to see this engagement in what’s so important to us all. We encourage our guests and staff to learn more, to get involved and support organizations working to preserve habitat and rehabilitate species. The local Haida people are also engaged in this area, and we will be working with them more in the future to learn, to educate and practice good stewardship of the local ecosystems and environment. Raising awareness among people who have been part of the QCL Experience is the best first step in preserving it. Remember, we’re all in this together!
We look forward to seeing you back in Haida Gwaii this summer. The countdown to opening day is on!
As the season progresses at full speed towards the metaphorical finish line known as Labour Day, I find myself getting more nervous, almost disappointed, rather than excited. A lot of people would probably assume I am ready to go home, ready for a change of scenery, ready to do anything other than go fishing. But a lot of people don’t know what it’s like to be a fishing guide at QCL.
Being a fishing guide, to me, means a lot more now than it did 4 years ago when I started. It’s not just about the fishing. It’s about the atmosphere, the surroundings, the laughter and entertainment amongst the crashing waves. The people you meet over the course of the summer and the connections that are created are irreplaceable, even if they are short lived. The most cherished memories that I take away from this experience always seem to revolve around the people first.
With the beautiful weather, bountiful coho catches and Tyees still coming in every trip, I can find excitement knowing that there are still three trips left in the season. This past week, the DFO increased the halibut retention limit to three fish, if they are all under 90 centimetres in length or one fish between 90 and 133 centimetres in length. The opportunity to take an additional halibut home is a significant bonus for an angler. It’s another great example of why fishing later in the season is never a bad idea up here at QCL.
The abundance of humpback whales breaching, sunfish sightings and big Chinooks lurking by the kelp beds are just a few of my favourite takeaways from the 2022 season. As unsettling as it may be to see my QCL summer come to an end, I am thankful for this experience and know that it will live with me for years to come. I also need to keep reminding myself…
The memories can’t start until the experience ends.
Amazing August! QCL guests have enjoyed so much epic adventure up here this summer that it’s hard to see how it could get any better. But these past weeks have delivered that “trip of a lifetime” experience for many. The fishing overall has been steady… the big fish are not as plentiful as we’ve come to expect, but the action is consistent, and anglers aren’t spending too much time in their seats! Going home with a nice box of beautiful wild salmon, halibut and lingcod is a precious treat that will be shared and savoured for months to come.
Small tides and light winds in the past week have really opened the door all day to bottom fishing, so our guests are really getting their fill of jiggin’ the deep! It’s yielding outstanding catches of halibut, lingcod and Pacific cod. This coincides nicely with a recent regulation change from DFO allowing sport anglers to retain a third halibut under 90 cm if they don’t have one larger than 90.
While most of our guides are still committing some part of their day to fishing inshore in search of big Chinooks, they’re finding good success on all salmon species while trolling offshore in 200-240 feet of water. That’s typical for late season salmon and the results have been good! We’re finally seeing more Coho in the 10-plus class, mixed in with powerful 16-20 pound Chinooks. Every so often a big, bright Chum hooks up and delivers that outstanding battle that they’re known for! Back at the Bell Ringer the Tyee bell is ringing every night for a wide array of big catches – from 40-50 pound halibut, to 30-pound-plus Lingcod and, of course, Tyee Chinooks over 30-pounds, some retained and some released. There’s always cause for celebration down there!
August weather has been particularly warm and dry, so long days spent out in a boat are pretty sweet… especially with a nice social lunch break at the Driftwood to catch up with friends and compare notes. With only 3 trips remaining in this 2022 season after Friday, we’re thankful that the fishing and the weather continue to cooperate and all of our guests, some of whom have waited since 2019 to get here, are getting the QCL adventure experience that they were hoping for!
Before most fishing was done by downriggers and trolling, boats would go out and motor mooch for salmon. The fisherman would make a cut-plug herring and thread it on to hooks and a leader. The leader would then be tied to a 4 or 6 ounce weight and then the weight was tied directly on to the main line. This was the BC standard for fishing for Chinooks and Coho.
One day in the early 1990’s I had a chance to introduce a husband and wife to the fishing up in Haida Gwaii. We made our way from the dock out of Naden Harbour to fish at the famous Bird 1 hotspot. There had been quite a few very large Chinooks taken over the last few days so I was very excited to see how this brand new fisher couple would make out. The tide was soft and the seas were calm – ideal weather and water for fishing with newcomers to the game. They watched as I cut the herring and rigged it up. They listened carefully as I explained how to let the line out and put the rod in the rod holder. I demonstrated how a mooching single action reel works and I drilled them on what to watch for and do when the inevitable strike comes. After a little bit of Q&A they were ready to go. The wife saw it first. The almost imperceptible first pull by a Chinook on the herring. Almost before she could say anything, the rod took a strong downward bend as the Chinook was beginning to panic and feel the hook. She was like a coiled cobra as she sprung to the rod… a natural. She reeled down to the fish and struck it hard. Line screamed off of the reel and the line angled up as I knew we were going to get a good look at this fish. Sure enough he swirled distant from the boat and I could see his wide gold green back. Eight inches across and all of 50 pounds or more. I was the only one that saw the fish and I was surely not going to further compromise the first few minutes of the fight with a description of how large the fish was. For now, this was information for me to keep to myself.
The fight waged for more than 45 minutes. Long, strong runs were followed by deep sulking. She had, by that point, developed her routine of pumping up the rod slowly, when the fish would give ground, and then franticly winding to pick up line and keep pressure. There was very little chatter as it seemed appropriate to let the wife focus on the giant Tyee salmon. Forty-five minutes stretched into an hour and I could tell the fish was quickly tiring. The pumping became easier, the runs not as strong and purposeful, becoming more panicky and weak.
Then it happened. Right at the top of the pump the rod went slack. Clearly this Chinook had found a way to rip the hook out of its mouth. As always, I encouraged the fisher to wind quickly to see if the fish had simply turned and we needed to catch up with it. I knew it was gone but we had to try. Just as I was about to say that the fish was gone the rod started to twitch and shake and the line came in easily. In an instant I knew what had happened. The big fish was truly gone. As the lady reeled in the empty hooks a small 12 inch Coho juvenile salmon had raced after my red hooks mistaking them for krill shrimp. He was now hooked and coming quickly to the boat. Before I could explain anything, the exhausted lady angler had brought the tiny salmon to the side of the boat. She looked down in disbelief and exclaimed that if a 12-inch fish could fight that hard she did not think she would be able to land a really large salmon!
I guess we could call it the height of our summer! The past few days of brilliant sunshine delivered some of those iconic deep colours that say it’s summer at the lodge! The fishing effort was largely focused on the waters from Yatze east to the Mazzaredos and the salmon action was quite steady overall. Anglers were busy reeling in lots of nice Coho mixed with a bunch of Pinks; punctuated by a chunky Chinook every so often! We managed to find a few Tyees in the mix, between 30 and 36 pounds – and lots of those amazing 20-somethings, the top target of our salmon anglers! We caught a break on Thursday and the winds died right off to send the entire fleet offshore to load up on halibut and lingcod, which they did quite successfully.
Seeing as it’s already August 13th (or Foggust as many call it) we’ve been really lucky to avoid much fog in the area so far. But a big bank rolled in late Thursday; we usually watch it creep in from the north and settle over the east side of Naden Harbour. Combined with a brilliant super-full-moon, it made for another dramatic visual this week.
I hope you enjoy this eclectic collection of photos that pretty much describe how the week went! But don’t worry, the weekend, so far, has been different! Tune in next week for the update!
A classic northwesterly system is bringing us big blue skies this week – the staff are enjoying our version of beach life and our guests are doing the great drift on the seas rolling down from Shag Rock past Cape Naden. While there are excellent opportunities hunting for Chinooks that lurk around the kelp beds at Yatze, the Bird Rocks and Parker Point, the offshore drift along the 120-foot line is usually quite productive and fairly unpredictable in these conditions. Depending on your depth you can hit good numbers of Cohos and Chinook, but you can also find lots of action from Pink and Chum salmon along the way. Bottom fishing will have to wait for Thursday when we will be able to access the offshore waters again.
We’ve seen some great Chinook action this past week with a number of big Tyees in the area. Normand B masterfully brought a huge Chinook to the net for his guide Alex K on Thursday… after a measurement and a quick pic Alex carefully revived the big beauty to watch it pull away with a few strokes of its massive tail. She scored at 49-pounds and was cause for some serious celebration at the Bell Ringer on the final night of the trip! Great job guys and Congratulations!
On the weekend Myron N was able to follow suit, releasing a stellar 33-pounder with his guide Chris M. Bill G celebrated a 31 on the dock on Sunday along with a nice 32-pounder for John M to cap off a terrific weekend of salmon action. We also had outstanding lingcod catches on Friday when Mo N returned to the dock with an impressive 32-pounder, only to be upstaged by his fishing partner Scott N, who weighed a 42 – the largest of the season so far! Kudos to their angling skills – and those of their guide Alex!
The mid-summer stretch is treating QCL guests to some really excellent fishing adventure these days! Very favourable weather conditions have added some icing on the cake – some of us are wearing t-shirts! We even had 3 guests go for a dip off the lodge beach before enjoying the hot tub! Life is good!
It was especially good for veteran anglers Joe H & Brad R as they first set their gear at Green Point Tuesday morning. Joe’s rod had the twitch before Brad even managed to get his in the water! But together these fellows would share an epic battle with a massive salmon that they’ll remember for a long time. Brad finally slipped the net below the big beauty and when they lifted it aboard, they were super thrilled! Finally returning to the dock last night, the scale at the Bell Ringer revealed a weight of 52 pounds! Cause for celebration for sure! Nice fish boys!
While big Tyees over 50 pounds aren’t as common as they used to be, we’ve certainly seen a nice bump in the big fish department recently with several Tyees kept or released. Jeff W released a 33-pounder on the weekend and Jason N boated a 38 on Saturday, followed by a 30 on Sunday! Zack J followed up with nice 31-pounder and Ryan O returned to the Bell Ringer with a stunning 14 lb Coho, the largest of the season so far! When we have the right tide and wind conditions the halibut grounds are a wonderland! On Saturday we saw lots of nice keepers land back on the dock but the Tyee Bell was ringing big-time with released giant halibut reports! Richard K released an 87-pounder, Janet B recorded a 69-inch halibut that scored 168 lb and Clint C turned back a full-on barn door that measured 75-inches to score 220 pounds! Amazing! Coho catches remain very strong with the average size creeping up around 8-pounds now so everyone is enjoying the awesome salmon action on the water.
Light to moderate winds wavering from southwest to northwest are to continue right into next week with very little precipitation and the odd sunny period – so we have pretty perfect conditions to look forward to. Peak tides will return around the 12th when we’ll see 17-foot swings, so hold on for that one! Stay tuned!
As we crest over the midway point of our summer season here at QCL, we find ourselves knee deep in Coho. There appears to be no sign of slowing to the arrival of the acrobatic white gums. As the flow of fish continues to increase, we have begun to see an increase in size as well. Fish stretching into the double digits are becoming more and more common every week. Yesterday a 14-pounder arrived at the Bell Ringer! What a fish!
At the same time, I felt that Chinook fishing had been slower than usual last week. But there has been no lack of quality when you do find a pocket of black gums! Though the hookups on Springs have been hindered by the relentless hammering of Coho, the fish that are being caught are often up into the twenty-plus class and put up quite a battle for our visiting anglers!
This past week my guests and I were fortunate enough to connect with a trio of gorgeous Chinooks at Cape Naden. On three consecutive passes we managed to find an eighteen pounder, followed by a fat 23-pounder. Not much later, on our third tack through the shallow bay that divides Cape Naden and Hanna Bay, the portside rod popped off and began to strain from the heavy head shakes of what would turn out to be a stunning 37-pound Chinook! After an exciting battle, punctuated by many long runs, the 27”x 38” chrome missile was carefully landed onto the deck of our 22’ Bridgeview. After a quick measurement, this big beauty was successfully released to continue his long Journey home!