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June 13, 2023 Bre Guolo2

So far there are few surprises with our early season fishing.  As you would expect this time of year, the fishing grounds are flush with large numbers of aggressive feeder Springs.  These are not the migratory spawners that we see through much of the summer but young fish in their ocean phase, bulking up on the incredible shoals of needlefish and herring in these northern waters.  There certainly is a lot of bait around, evidenced by multiple Humpbacks feeding in the area. There’s lots of amazing eagle action; we’re sometimes seeing dozens of eagles circling over boiling bait balls, swooping down in turn to grab fistfuls of wriggling needlefish and eating them in mid-air.  It’s really quite a spectacle. The shallow basin that is Virago Sound is especially productive for needlefish or Pacific Sand Lance.  This year they seem to be especially abundant and all of their predators know it!

Salmon action in the past week has been consistent throughout the fishing grounds. Anglers are finding no shortage of feisty, teen-sized  Chinook salmon and occasionally they get a surprise when a 20-plus pounder goes screaming off the rigger.  It’s great to find relatively steady salmon action with a good shot at a bigger fish at any time.  Plus, we’re already seeing several Coho, Chum and Pink salmon in the catch log every day.

QCL anglers are still encountering halibut while trolling inshore, sometimes huge ones!  Over the weekend there were several flatties boated around Capes Naden and Edenshaw.  Long time QCL guest FJ certainly got more than he bargained for while trolling an anchovy along the shoreline from Eagle Rock to Green Point with his guide Jon Landry.  What certainly felt, initially, like a big strong salmon went screaming down the shoreline in 75 feet of water. By the time FJ and Jon were able to get the boat over it they sure knew why this fish could pretty much do what it wanted!  A massive halibut lie alongside the Grady and they called the Fishmaster for assistance.  Using a salmon rod as a yardstick, they concluded FJ’s catch was a 78-inch halibut!  That works out to about 254 pounds – caught on a salmon rod with and anchovy!  So we continue to be in awe of the wonders of these amazing waters – You just never know what could happen next!

We’re experiencing some classic northwesterly conditions this week with our anglers fishing the west side below Klashwun Point.  Last week’s big tides are easing and after today we’ll enjoy light to moderate west to southwest conditions, providing easy access to the full fishing grounds.  Look for more news from the offshore fishery in the next report!

Fishmaster


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May 31, 2023 Bre Guolo0

We’re almost a full week into the new season and things are ticking right along.  Our crew has settled in and the 2023 summer is off to a perfect start.  

Typical island weather has provided the full range of conditions, often all in one day!  Beautiful sunshine, grey and wet, dramatic and flat… we’ve seen it all, but have had no big winds and very comfortable seas.  The whole of the fishing grounds has been open and we’ve been exploring most of it!

Early season fishing has really been very good.  While our guests and guides all have their favourite spots, this week we’ve focused a lot on Cape Edenshaw, Cape Naden and Bird Rock 2.  There’s been a ton of bait around since mid-May with so many whales, eagles and seabirds gorging themselves continuously.  It’s mostly needlefish and we’re finding plenty of feeder Chinook pushing that bait around and stirring things up.  The tides have been moderate with only 5 to 9 foot swings so the bite tends to last longer when everything sets up. 

Chinook salmon ranging from 12-18 pounds are most plentiful, though we’re seeing fish over 20 pounds every day and we’ve had the Tyee bell ringing a few times this week. Last weekend, Driftwood guest Todd M was fishing solo off Cape Naden and boated a beautiful 37-pounder.  Sam and Alana G are fishing with QCL guide Seb this week and have 21, 26 and 31 pound Chinooks on their cards so far.  Jose C boated a 27 and Matt F found a 29-pounder on Tuesday.  On Wednesday John S joined the Tyee Club with a nice 30 lb Chinook, fishing with guide Jeff G.  First thing Wednesday morning, Dan K was fishing off the point at Bird 2 and found a salmon that seriously tested his fishing skills before he managed to get the net under it.  The big, bronze-coloured male was quickly taped out to 42-pounds, and Dan was mighty proud when he felt that big Tyee swim out of his grip with strong sweeps of its tail!  It’s nice to see those amazing big fish continue their journey back to the river.

Halibut fishing in early season often requires a bit of guesswork!  We generally find a lot of halibut move inshore in May to feed on needlefish and crab larvae but return to deeper haunts by mid-June.  It’s quite common for QCL anglers to pick up their halibut limit while they’re trolling for salmon!  In that mix we’ll see some larger fish and this week Arnold A boated a 30-pounder, Ron C kept a 31 while Drew B hooked a 36 and Glorija T boated a 46-pound halibut. 

Prospects for the weekend trip are looking great with light winds out of the south and west with continuation of these really mixed up skies!  Tide range will continue to grow through Saturday’s full moon and peak on Monday with a 17-foot swing.  Hang on!


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May 26, 2023 Bre Guolo0

We’ve had the whole QCL ‘23 team onsite for the past week and this place is buzzing. They’re in full reunion mode, settling in, catching up and meeting new friends. A solid training week is certainly the key to a successful season up here; there’s much to learn and share, and the enthusiasm is infectious. This will be our 33rd season and what a summer it’s going to be.

Our guide team has been in “guide school” – both in the “classroom” and on the water – checking out the fishing grounds. Veterans are sharing the fine points with some new additions to the team, ensuring they are entirely up to speed with the QCL fishing program.

Staff fishing is another critical part of training week. After all, those guides need to have anglers in their boats, right? So, there’s an amazing opportunity for our staff to experience fishing first class before we officially open!

They found lots of fish, mainly scrappy feeder Springs in the 12–18-pound class. Cape Edenshaw is often the most productive location in early season, and it’s been true to form. We’ve enjoyed lots of sunshine with moderate NW winds this week, so the crew has found very productive water on the west side. On Wednesday we started to see some larger Chinooks around.

The first Tyees of the season!

Fishing Cape Naden on the ebb tide Wednesday morning, Driftwood Captain Dan got his fishing buddy onto a very fine Spring salmon, working down 40-feet on the rigger with his signature “Magic Roller” herring setup. After 30-minutes they boated a stunning Tyee that tipped the scale at 37-pounds.

Right around the start of the flood, another boat worked the edge of the busy water at Klashwun Point, down 33-feet with an anchovy, finding another big chrome beauty. They taped this one out to 32-pounds before sending it back to continue its journey to the river. We’re thrilled to see good numbers of Chinook salmon feeding heavily in the area right now! There’s lots of bait around, with whales and birds everywhere… Heaven.

A number of boats have been out to target bottom fish, and they’ve done just fine. As usual, we often find lots of halibut feeding shallow in May; they’ll hit a spoon trolled slow along the kelp and really take you by surprise!

One big surprise for QCL guests this year, (actually, there are 10 of them) will be our new set of Coho Class boats at the dock this season. These deluxe Bridgeview 22-foot units will be available for both self-guided and fully-guided anglers.

Perfectly set up for 2 guests plus guide, these beauties are in a class of their own – Coho Class – and they’re quickly becoming a favourite.

Tides will be light this opening weekend with swings of only about 4 to 7 feet. Perfect conditions for halibut & lingcod fishing offshore!  Winds are forecast to be light to moderate westerly on Friday, easing to light southerly on Saturday, and returning to westerly again Sunday afternoon.  Sunny periods on Friday will give way to clouds and occasional showers for the balance of the weekend. Temps are cool… a solid 10 degrees on the water every day. We look forward to an awesome start to Season 33 at QCL!


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May 3, 2023 Bre Guolo0

And just like that, April has gone by in a flash!

Every spring, as the winter storms end and the days get longer, a small group arrives to Naden Harbour to awaken the Lodge. While this time of year doesn’t nearly have the glitz and glam of on-season, it certainly has all the hustle and bustle.

It’s during this period that operations crew, joined by a group of skilled contractors, begins to take on several maintenance and construction projects that have been in the works for months. Everything from paint touch ups and appliance maintenance to major infrastructure projects are undertaken every year to ensure the QCL guest experience is constantly improving.

This year alone our rig up crew, in addition to general maintenance of the property, has taken on log replacements of both the Main Lodge and famed Totem House. They have repaired storm damage and walkways, rebuilt the heli pad, installed new generators and have done major water and septic system upgrades. Perhaps most importantly, our off-season crew has complete key maintenance projects on our docks, breakwater and fleet of premium Bridgeview boats, outfitted with Mercury motors.

It is often overlooked that our team must also put all our marine infrastructure into place during this time as it is all stored away over the winter. A small old, QCL red tugboat, lovingly known simply as “The Tug”, must tow our 4 concrete floats from the opposite side of Naden Harbour back to in front of property. One float at a time “The Tug” hooks on to the buildings and starts to tow; the quiet drone of its old diesel engine humming along slowly until each float is back in place. Heavy equipment and boats are then used to reinstall more than 700’ of walkways and fingers, which are all stored on land over the off-season. Lastly an entire crew of people are needed to pull our water, power and fuel lines down the dock in preparation for the arrival of our gorgeous fleet. The Lodge is almost unrecognizable to most before this infrastructure is in place.

It truly is magical to watch the Lodge come alive every spring. The feeling of butterflies start to kick in knowing we’re just weeks away from the low “whoop-whoop-whoop” sound of a Sikorsky 76 helicopter coming over the horizon and crackling through the radio “QCL, QCL this is Tango”. That first helicopter doesn’t just signify the opening of the season after a hard-fought Rig Up but a meeting of new friends and returning family. It brings with it memories that will last a lifetime and fish tales bigger than your wildest dreams could have imagined. There truly isn’t a place like it anywhere else on earth.


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April 19, 2023 Bre Guolo0

Haida Gwaii – An archipelago located off the northern coast of British Columbia, known for its pristine natural beauty and rich culture. A popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Haida Gwaii is home to some of the best salmon fishing grounds in the world. QCL offers guests the opportunity to this incredible corner of the world and fish its abundant waters.

One of the most important factors to consider when fishing on the ocean is the vessel in which you are fishing. The ocean is a vast, ever-changing environment and ensuring you are in a boat created for safety and ease of fishing is essential. With over 30 years of experience fishing Haida Gwaii waters, we know what works, and what doesn’t.

With that, we are excited to announce some updates to our on-water program for the quickly approaching 2023 season – A new series of boats! Ten custom-built boats will be introduced to our fleet, arriving shortly, to replace a grouping of boats that we have elected to retire.

Built in Prince Rupert by industry leading professionals who understand the demands of our marine environment, our new 22’ boats are state-of-the-art vessels, fitted with the latest equipment and technology. They feature comfortable seating, ample storage space for gear and tackle, and are equipped with AIS, GPS, and fish-finding technology. The boats are also equipped with brand new engines, enabling guests to reach their desired fishing destinations safely and quickly.

In addition to the practical features of these new boats, they are aesthetically pleasing, with sleek designs. Featuring the classic QCL red, our guests will glide through the waters of Haida Gwaii in style.

Whether you are an experienced angler or a beginner, these boats will provide the perfect platform for exploring the waters and catching some of the best salmon and bottom fish anywhere in the world.


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April 10, 2023 Bre Guolo0

The countdown to the 2023 season started as soon as the 2022 season wrapped and as this summer draws nearer (less than 8 weeks to go now!), our excitement grows daily.

Personalized 2023 Trip and Travel Information packets are being sent out, and you’ll soon know you’re your packing potential is limited to 25lbs. This limit is possible because our team works hard to make your trip as simple as possible – We have many of the items that you would normally consider travelling with, already at the Lodge.

We understand that visiting somewhere for the first time, and knowing how to pack, can be intimidating. What is the weather like? What will I need on the water? What is the dress code for dinner? These are all questions that pop into mind when planning for a new adventure. Worry no more, we’ve got you covered.

When it comes to fishing, each guest is provided a rainsuit, fleece sweater, boots, personal flotation devices, fishing gear and tackle. We strongly recommend you bring clothing that can be layered. The weather on the water can fluctuate throughout the day. We recommend a good base layer, our favourites being Mon Royale or Icebreaker, underneath sweatpants or fleece pants. We encourage each guest to bring wool socks (we recommend Kombi), a toque (or a beanie for our American friends), and light gloves for comfort. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and your sunglasses; they are a must!

For your time spent off the water, we recommend bringing what you are comfortable in. Casual pants or jeans, shirts, and shoes. Evenings can cool so a warmer sweater and/or windbreaker is ideal to pack. With amenities such as hot tubs, saunas, and a fitness center, you’ll do well also bringing a bathing suit and workout gear.

While each room features amenities such as shampoo/conditioner, soap and hairdryers, you should bring all other personal items – toiletries, prescription medications, etc. If it interests you, bring a camera to capture your catch, the wildlife and well, all the QCL memories you’ll be making!

Don’t forget, meals are included and an incredible selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, sundries and of course, souvenirs, are available for purchase at the Lodge.

Get those bags packed and ready to go! We’ll see you at QCL soon enough!


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March 28, 2023 Bre Guolo0

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.


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February 20, 2023 Bre Guolo0

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.

 

 


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January 16, 2023 Bre Guolo0

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!

 


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August 29, 2022 Duane Foerter0

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.

Until next year,
Captain Christopher