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Fishing in the Queen Charlotte's (Haida Gwaii)

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Sep 24th, 2011, 08:05 AM
  #1
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Fishing in the Queen Charlotte's (Haida Gwaii)

In mid August, a party of five travelled from Vancouver to the Queen Charlotte Lodge for a 3 days fishing adventure. Departing from the South terminal at Vancouver airport, the experience was nothing but top notch. We checked in with the lodge and received all of our information and fishing licenses. Be forewarned, the baggage limit on what you can take is strictly adhered to. The terminal is small, but well equipped with a small restaurant/cafe that served breakfast and beer! Our flight was about an Air North jet and 103 of us boarded in anticipation of excellent fishing ahead. The flight attendants were friendly and provided complimentary soft drinks and snacks. The flight north (about 600 miles), was pleasant and the view of the mountains on the way up spectacular. We landed in Masset, a VERY small community with an even smaller airport terminal and runway. We were warned the brakes would be applied heavily upon landing!

From the airport terminal, we waited while helicopters took us for about a 10 minute flight to our lodge - Queen Charlotte Lodge. Nothing much to see on your way, but when the lodge comes into site - it is quite a site to see! The red roofs of the buildings make it very visible from the air, and you quickly realize how remote you are. Upon arrival, you are met by the owners and staff and hustled up to the dining area for a quick breakfast (it is an early morning flight) and debrief on how things operate. The eggs benedict were great and lots of food available. We were assigned our guide for the trip, had a chance to check out our room, get dressed in warm clothes and head out on the water by 1:00.

On the floating dock we were fitted for our survival outfits, filled up our cooler and went to find Bobby, our guide. He was a young gentleman who was an avid fisherman and by the end of day 3, we had fast become friends with many laughs behind us! He quickly welcomed us on the Grady White (although there were 5 in our party and the guide, we were all boatpeople, so knew how to manover without getting in each other's way). We took off to the fishing grounds - about a 1/2 hour boat ride away. The first day of fishing wasn't fruitful although we did catch quite a few fish, we decided to return them to the fish gods in hopes of catching larger ones in the next two days. By 2:30 we headed to the mainship which anchors out in the fishing area and provides fishers with a hot lunch, cold beverages and washroom facilities. Everyday there was a barbeque on the top deck, together with chili, soup and sandwiches. We ended our day around 5:30 and headed back to the lodge, where we were welcomed with hot towels, escorted into a warming room, and treated to a cocktail while we watched the other fisherman (and women) come back with their catches. The floating dock had a great bar/kitchen where each night, upon a long day of fishing, Gin (the chef) would cook up some tasty treats (halibut, salmon, calamari, etc.) and we would ooh and ahh over the large fish being weighed on the dock. That night, the dining was buffet style with everything you could imagine. The QCL had its own red wine which was to die for! It was an early night for all of us in anticipation of a full day of fishing.

The next morning, the weather wasn't supposed to cooperate, so only four of us went out. Although wet, it wasn't as rough as we had anticipated. We had a great day of fishing having caught my first 17 pound chinook! That evening, the chef entertained us with a fabulous meal (I chose lin cod which was excellent) and again, it was an early night for the 5 of us!

Our last day fishing brought us a calm morning with warmer temperatures. By afternoon we had shed our coats in favour of long t-shirts and a warm, breeze. The water had large swells, but it was truly pleasant. We went halibut fishing in the am, and managed to catch our limit and then tried to fish for the big one all afternoon. One person in our party hooked something big, but lost it. The largest salmon caught that week was a 85lb on a catch and release. Our day ended, our catches weighed and headed for processing and a final meal at the lodge was bittersweet.

So much to tell about this fabulous place. I would definitely return even if just to say hi again to the helpful, friendly staff! Everything was first class!
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Sep 24th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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Tanya,

Thanks for reporting on a part of Canada that most visitors never see. Sounded like an experience of a lifetime! Daniel
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Sep 25th, 2011, 03:55 AM
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Daniel, it truly was an experience I will never forgot. The remoteness of the Islands, the ability to see Alaska, the wildlife and just the calmness of it all was amazing. Not to mention the delicious fish we brought home with us. Nothing like fresh halibut! The salmon isn't bad either

The Lodge is yet another experience! Each night when we would return, deer would be grazing on the lawn. Seals would wait in anticipation for the fish to be filleted so they too could enjoy our day's catch. Rainbows filling the sky as we departed in the early morning. Yep, I would go back tomorrow!
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Oct 10th, 2011, 05:37 PM
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This sounds great. How much fishing experience do you need to do this (I guess Im saying if you have none is that okay?)
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Oct 12th, 2011, 08:30 PM
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I've fished QCL in the past and while the Big Deluxe Lodge experience isn't for everyone QCL is one of the better operations in the area.

No experience necessary if you want a guided trip but dressing warm/having a sense of humour and a certain amount of forbearance are a must-it's a wild and faraway place and the sometime wild weather rules.
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