Fishing Report April 21, 2017
Welcome to the 2017 version of the Harbourside Lodge Chronicles.
It has been a very cool and wet winter that has transitioned directly into our spring. As I am writing this though, the sun is actually shining and thoughts of Bamfield summers where glints of light reflect radiantly off chrome bars of salmon are making me twitch just a little bit. It is almost upon us.
Fishing in the area is still spotty. There are, however, fish to be had. And just like wearing a very comfortable pair of slippers, it’s good to know that our usual haunts are still producing some very nice fish.
Early season salmon fishing in Barclay Sound is all about finding bait and keeping gear close to the bottom. Places like the Wall, Kirby, Flemming and Austin / Cree / Mears are worthwhile spots to drop the gear and find some early season springs. There has been some great new gear that has come on the market and is perfect for the early season salmon fishery that Bamfield offers.
Try a variety of the new glow and moonjelly flashers such as the Salty Dawg, Green Onion Glow, or the Yellow / Green Kinetic. Top spoons such as the new Pescas in glow green with blue or black trim. Irish Cream, Homeland Security are terrific down deep and off shore.
I can’t give up my favorite, purple haze flasher with a 3.5 or 4 inch purple spoon. This rig was absolute money for us last season. Troll these outfits at 2.5 to 3 mph for best results. Bait is always effective though when trolling deep it is so hard to detect little bites and nips. Spoons and hootchies give you a much better chance of keeping your gear in the water.
Early season halibut is really prime time for flatties. Spring sees a more consistent bite with the likely hood of bigger fish than later on in the summer. That said if this fishery is anything like it has been over the past few years we can expect a strong halibut fishery deep into September. All the usual spots will produce. As many readers know I love to fish the humps off shore between 10 and 14 miles off. Check your charts and locate your boat in and around humps that come up on the bank between 190 and 215 feet. An anchor system definitely will put you at an advantage but drifting and back trolling can still be effective. We mix things up between salmon bellies and extra-large herring. Somedays the bellies knock them dead and some days it’s all about the herring. Octopus can also be very effective and certainly stays on the hooks solidly.
We are so very much looking forward to see all of our regulars this summer as well as welcoming newcomers to the Harbourside experience. Aussie John and Tom will have things up and running for opening early June. I will be up to the lodge by mid June. At this point we are already filling up prime spots, that said we do have accommodations still available in prime time. It would be prudent to book now. Tom has added another Grady to the fleet so we have more options for charters and larger groups. All booking enquiries can be made through Aussie John via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then we will keep you posted on all things fishy here in Barclay Sound.
Coach… (aka Jonathan…)
This is it! We are now in prime time and Barkley Sound is showing us her finest! Fishing has been very solid. We just finished up 4 days with the Ludemann group. 8 guys and three boats. We started last Friday at Beale where things had been hot. It wasn’t. We had a tough day Friday, guides Tom and and Joe managed some quality fish but I was 0 for. Yikes! My purple uv spoon was no longer popping off (sigh…). We changed things up a bit and fished the rest of the three days at Swale Rock and Harbour Entrance. We found fish running a bit deeper than we usually fish, 35′ to 55′ on the down rigger. White hootchies fished behind green flashers were the order of the day. Joe knocked them dead with anchovies in bloody nose teaser heads. We got into some very nice quality springs but added bonus has been the coho fishing. Gorgeous fish between and 10 and 14 lbs just smacked the gear. Tom limited his group out Sunday with 10 coho for five guests all over 10 lbs!
We are still waiting for Kirby and Flemming to go off. They have had moments but not anything really consistent. There has been great coho action off of Sandford. Again pretty much same depths, 35′ to 50 ‘. The Wall is producing as she should. It’s never a waste of time there and such an easy troll.
Offshore has been difficult as the seas, once again, have been high. They are up over 2 meters today and they are calling for 3 meters and more as the week progresses. Hopefully it begins to settle down as hali hunts have had to wait and they might have to wait more yet. It’s such a shame as the hali fishing continues to be great. Once again for us it’s all been about sitting on the humps that come up on the bank between 12 and 14 miles out from Beale. Anchoring out is such an effective way to fish as most often the fish eventually they come to you. If you do not have an effective anchoring system, drifting can still produce. Pick your tides so you can effectively drift with your gear as straight up and down as possible. Salmon bellies and extra large herring are still our best set ups. Fish them off spreader bars. Dog fish are around but usually we only have to wade through a few before the halibut come knocking.
It’s certainly getting busier here at Harbourside. Please call re: moorage, accommodations and charters as we will do our best to fit you in. As per usual the gas dock is a busy place. Lots of ” dock talk” about the best fishing hot spots and gear that’s working great. Coffee is always on at the shop and we are well stocked with tackle and such. Hope to see you soon!
Coach ( Jonathan), Aussie John and Tom…
I just finished up three days with Mike from Vernon and his buddy Cory from Langley, both ardent and talented anglers. We fished the inside reaches of Cape Beale (Little Beale to the locals). Running our gear at 27 and 33 feet was the magic depths for us. We ran anchovies fished in uv purple haze bullet roll heads behind uv purple flashers on one side and continued running our uv purple haze 3.5 inch spoons behind matching flashers on the other side. Both combos were very successful. I continue to be amazed at the success I am still having with this small purple spoon. Cory bagged a beautiful 33 lb tyee on Monday afternoon on the spoon at 27 feet. We were fishing tight to structure. Most of our hits came at the eastern edge of Little Beale directly across from Spike Rock. It’s an easy landmark to get one’s bearings as it rises like a spike or dagger 20 feet off the shore. It has been a crowded fishery especially in the mornings but afternoon tide changes saw a small handful of boats making for a much less stressful troll. We also spent a day offshore hali hunting and once again were rewarded with some beautiful flatties. It took a while for the bite to turn on but the humps between and 12 and 14 miles out continued to deliver. We picked up 3 halis, 40, 28 and 20. Two on extra large herring and the larger fish on salmon bellies. All fished off spreader bars. What a great summer it has been for hali fishing!
I spent yesterday on dock duty, which I actually enjoy. It’s great getting to chat with fisherman and hearing what’s happening on the water. This is the first week I have really felt that our fishery is back to normal. Yesterday, Tuesday August 9, fish were coming in from Flemming, Edward King, Beale and of course the local standby , the Wall. We saw some great springs but also some lovely coho in the 10 to 12 lb range.
Offshore salmon fishing still has it’s mediocre days. Fish tend to be somewhat smaller out there though it seems boats are getting their limits now. Fish deeper than inshore. Start at 90 and maybe 130 feet then go from there. Boats are also fishing right on the bottom and doing well. Glow white hootchies and spoons that light up down deep are the order of the day. Pulling plugs is working well now too. I like the tomic 602′s and 530′s in 6 inches. Fish them way back off your ball, 50 pulls (yeah I know but I’m not kidding!). Troll quick at 3.5 miles per hour. The plugs will cover tons of water whipping back and forth. Wait for the hit and hang on, the springs like to smash them hard. It’s such a blast to fish this way without flashers.
We are receiving a new order of fishing gear tomorrow so we will be well stocked for the mid August run. If you haven’t tried them yet come by and pick up one of the uv purple haze King Fisher spoons by Silver Horde. You’ll be glad you did!
Lots of bait in stock, salt ice, drink ice and of course fuel both gas and diesel.
It’s happening now folks, this is the time of year we dream about come late January. Don’t miss out on the fun.
Get out here soon. We’ll leave the light on for you…
Coach (aka Jonathan, Aussie John and Tom…
Well it seems the doom and gloom maybe lifting a bit. If, of course, we are talking fish reports.
Yes it has been a difficult season so far. My previous blogs certainly reflect that and it seems reports from other various coastal areas are eerily similar. Has it been an ecological disaster ( ok perhaps a but dramatic)? Here are what I suppose really are rumours. Based on some DFO reports apparently the big herd of Columbians ( of which many stop in an around Barkley Sound to fatten up for their continued journey south) are hanging out 50 miles off shore. Along with them are whales, dolphins and tuna after masses of pilchards ( sardines ). Pilchards are an amazing nutrient dense food source for all manner of sea life including, of course, spring salmon. So it seems the fish have not disappeared but have taken a detour that has left us in the lurch so to speak. As I stated earlier this is more rumour than confirmed fact. It does seem to make sense though. The good news is now we are into August, our fish, which have to travel though Barkley Sound, should be on the way.
Ok here’s the skinny as of Saturday August 6. Best bet at this point is fishing Cape Beale and the shoreline exposed to the offshore. Once again the depths on your downrigger haven’t changed, 25 to 35 feet is deep enough. We are continuing to have success with purple on purple. Anchovies in uv purple teaser heads fished 6 to 7 feet behind uv purple flashers has been our ” go to ” number. Many guys are using green teasers and flashers, bloody nose teasers and blue / white glow. Fish them at 2.5 to 3 miles per hour speed over ground and you will be in the hunt. Kingfisher by Silver Horde uv purple spoons in the 3.5 inch are still producing surprisingly well. Keep your gear in the water an hour or so before and after tide change. Only move after then. The bite comes on usually fast and furious and dies very quickly. Give yourself the best chance possible. Use the gear we have talked about at the depths mentioned above. If you aren’t hooking up it’s not your gear. Stay the course. You number will come up.
Offshore is still very sporadic. The usual fish guarantee at the Big Bank, Rat’s Nose and other off shore locales has not been ” money ” by any means. We are starting to see a trend to more consistent catches though. It looks like we are going in the right direction.
Halibut fishing may have slowed some but since it had been on fire most of the summer it stands to reason that it would have to slow down at least a bit. That said, good gear, the right location and persistence leads to punching your hali card almost every time. The humps located between 12 mile and 14 mile have been very good and still are. Extra large herring and salmon bellies continue to be your best bet for bait. Our very own Captain Tom has limited out each and every time aboard Aqualady this summer. So if you are thinking about an upcoming hali charter, just sayin…
As per usual the store is pumping our a nice bubbly red that goes great with fishing boats. We have bait, ice, tackle and lots of laughs down at the store. By all means stop in for a coffee and a chinwag.
Coach ( Jonathan ), Aussie John and Tom…
It seems that any news to do with Barkley Sound fishing reports have been doom and gloom lately. In some ways that’s been understandable when considering some tough fishing combined with much larger than normal seas. All of that said, it looks like we are on the mend and the fish are on their way.
We have been finding fish starting to show at some more recognizable spots. Kirby, Flemming, the Wall and Austin and Cree are now starting to produce. We are kind of in flux as small spoons are still productive but we are now seeing more fish taken on anchovies and whole herring.
Keep to what works best out here during late July and August. Gear should be shallow and presented tight to structure. We suggest 24 to 36 feet on the down rigger. 27 has been the magic number for me. If the seas are cooperative fishing outside structure still seems to be where most if the fish are staging. Outside Cree, Beale, Keeha and Pachena have been quite productive though it looks like hardy stomachs might the order of the day for this August long weekend as big seas are forecast. Friday afternoon could produce 4 meter swells. Doesn’t the Wall sound like a nice afternoon troll. Yikes!
I’ll be dragging anchovies on one rigger and a 3.5 uv purple haze spoon on the other. 6 feet leaders are the order if the day. Glow white hootchies are very productive if fishing down Keeha and Pachena Bay.
Hali fishing continues to be so very productive. Last time out with guests Randy and Jim we managed a 30 and a 63 lber. Unfortunately hali fishing might be in the back burner this weekend if the swells turn out to be what’s forecasted.
This weekend is Bamfield’s Annual Fireman’s Derby. . It’s going to be so much fun. Can’t wait to see Harbouside guests Doug and crew from North Van, Orphan Dave and Mikey from Langley, Kelly Funk from Nanaimo and a host of others joining us for this great weekend of fun and fishing.
I am lucky enough to have the weekend off and get a chance to fish with my lovely Makiko and my brother Chris. Can’t wait to get out there.
Aussie John is handling things down at the dock. We have lots of salt ice, tackle and of of course fuel. Tom will be in for the weekend and I’ll be around for any fishing tips and advice on where to go. It will be sunny and warm. Just add some fish and the weekend could turn out epic!
Coach, ( aka Jonathan), Aussie John, Tom, and Joe.
Salmon fishing has been tough lately. No doubt about it, gotta tell the truth. It’s been a real struggle out there for folks wanting to tussle with mature spring salmon here in Bamfield. Our usual haunts have not produced and we have been in search mode for the first few weeks of July. Even the reliable off shore banks such as the Rat’s Nose, Turtle Head and South Bank have been spotty at best. The last 7 days have seen some fish move in but not to where we usually find them. Kirby, Austin and Cree, the Wall, Whittlestone and Beale have all been very slow, Beale perhaps being most productive. We have been fishing Seabird Island Rocks the past week and have managed to scrape up a few quality fish. The bite has been sporadic but worth the time put in. Purple is still the hot colour. Kingfisher silver Horde 3.5 inch spoons have by far been the best producers. Fish tight to the rocks and kelp keeping a sharp eye on your gps and sounder. We have been most successful at 27 feet on the down rigger.
Things can change with the next tide so we are hoping that our season starts to go off very soon.
Ok that’s the bad news. Let’s talk about the good stuff. Halibut fishing has been the best I have seen it in 20 years. It’s been fast and furious with some quality fish taken every trip. Salmon bellies ( if you are luck enough to have them) and extra large herring rigged with spreader bars have been the ticket. I am a big proponent of circle hooks as they really only ever hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This prevents gut hooking and has allowed us to release larger oversize halibut without harm. We have had to release 6 oversize (133 cm and up) fish so far this season each of which were well over 100 pounds. Very important to not damage the breeding stock of these amazing fish.
Aussie John has the store all stocked with the best of what you need for a productive day on the water. Fuel, ice and bait are all readily available. I’ve been on the water every day but am always around in the evenings if you want to stop in for advice on gear and current hot spots.
Hope to see you all soon,
Coach (aka Jonathan), Tom and Aussie John.
Bamfield Fishing Report June 27th
As we progress into late June, both the weather and the fishing continue to improve here in Bamfield and Barkley Sound.
Off-shore is still the most productive of our fisheries at this time. That said don’t be fooled , there are some very fishey spots safe from the ocean swells in Barkley sound that are producing some great fish!
Sunday June 26 we had a later start to the day and set out to Austin and Cree Islands for a morning fish. High tide was at 5:00 am and we had the gear in the water at close to 6:30 am. We fished an anchovy in a purple haze teaser head behind a purple uv. Farr Better flasher at 65 feet on the downrigger. On the other side we fished a purple Silver Horde 3 inch spoon also 6 feet behind a purple uv. Farr Better flasher at 90 feet. We had a decent hook up right away on the spoon that shook off after a good run then minutes later our anchovy hooked up but also didn’t stick.
As we continued our troll in the slot between the reefs at Austin we passed a boat with a salmon rod bent low to the water. These guys were playing a large hali that took their salmon gear! They were on that fish for a good 30 minutes. Unfortunately we didn’t see if the boated it but they were sure having a ton of fun with it!
We hooked and released 5 small springs in the 5 to 7 lb range, all on the spoon. Shortly after 8:00 am or so the bite turned off. We continued our troll toward the next tide change in hopes of the bite turning on and were not disappointed. Right at 11:00 am both rods bucked and we were into two lovely coho. One of these gorgeous fish was pushing 10 lbs! (a great fish for this time of year). It bodes well for the rest of the summer.
Time constraints did not allow us to fish the rest of the tide change although we did see boats with nets out as we were packing up our gear.
The off-shore report is per usual, as to be expected. Big Bank, South Bank, 12 mile and the Turtle Head have all been productive. Keep your gear deep. UV glow spoons and white hootchies are the ticket off-shore.
Halibut fishing had been very productive. 7 mile humps and the 12 mile humps are all producing some great fish. Don’t forget this year’s over / under new regs. A max size of 133 cms can be tagged but your next hali in your possession must be under 83 cms. We strongly recommend using circle hooks for these amazing creatures as they almost completely eliminate a “gut hooked” fish. Even if you need to cut the line on an oversized fish, a circle hook left in the corner of the mouth will not do a lot of damage to the fish and survival is almost a guarantee.
Our tackle store is up and running an we are stocked with fuel, bait and salt ice. Make sure you drop in to say hi and find out the latest in fishing news, or just come by for a coffee and a chin wag.
Tom and his beautiful and better half Leslie are running the show at the lodge this week. I’ll be up for the summer as of June 30th and Aussie John makes his first appearance July 4th.
Can’t wait to see all of our Harbourside family!
Tom, Aussie John and Coach (aka Jonathan).
Bamfield Fishing Report June 1st
They’re baaack…. And so are we! Not to compare Harbouside Lodge with Steven Spielberg’s iconic horror film Poltergeist but… it seemed somewhat appropriate.
The springs are back and so is Harbourside for the 2016 summer season.
We have been up Bamfield way the last two weekends getting boats and accommodations ready for what promises to be a banner year.
Early forecasts show that this summer could show the strongest spring salmon returns in the last 20 years! With river systems to the south of us, along with predictions of this summer’s Barkley Sound fish, showing numbers twofold last year’s returns, one can only tingle from the possibilities.
Alrighty let’s get to it.
The usuals are still the spots to go to first. The wall all the way down to Sarita is a great place for a first of the year troll. Keep your gear deep as even mature fish at this time of year tend to feed close to the bottom. Start with one rigger at 90’ and run the other just off the bottom. Pay close attention to your sounder and double back on bait balls you find along the way. Try and keep your gear 10’ to 15’ above the bait showing on your sounder. Same rules apply to Kirby Point, Edward King and over at Meares, Ausitn and Cree. Spoons are the hot ticket. I recommend the gold star 3.5’ and 4’ purple and silver. It’s really produced well for us early in the season. I find this rig out fishes bait as late as 3 weeks into July. Fish it 4’ – 6’ behind a purple haze flasher. As per usual you can’t go wrong with glow white hootchies. Green spatter back hootchies have been very productive also. Bait is always a good choice. Anchovies in purple haze, glow green and bloody nose teasers are also effective.
Off-shore has been the more consistent bet when the wind and swells have allowed the sport fleet to safely leave the confines of Barkley Sound. Turtle head, 12 mile bank and of course the “Rat’s Nose” at Big bank have been very productive for springs to 25 lbs. Most keeper fish off-shore have been in the 10 – 18 lb range but that will change as we head later into June. Coho have been showing up in good numbers already. I talked to one fisherman, who verified with pictures, a lovely 11 lb coho. What an awesome fish this early in the season!
Halibut fishing has been terrific. The flatties have moved in right into the sound. Anchor up just east of Folger in 200” or find the 160’ hump just south east of Meares. Salmon bellies are a sure thing but octopus, herring and mackerel are good choices also. My favorite spots are humps that come up on the 12 mile bank. Look for rises coming up to 180’ and anchor in an around them. Drifting can work too but it’s so much easier to keep your gear in the strike zone when you can sit on the hook.
If you are prefer old fashioned jigging, tip a 24 ounce mudraker with a salmon belly or chunk of octopus and bounce it along the bottom. It’s surprisingly productive.
I’ll be up at Harbourside more consistently come the middle of June as I finish up teaching for the school. Tom will be running the show most of June and Aussie John will be on board by the first of July. Please feel free to call the lodge or email us regarding accommodations and charters. One of the three of us will be sure to get back to you asap. It’s early and we do have prime time spots left for charters, lodge stays and moorage. Book it now as the word is going to get out on how great the fishing is going to be this summer and things will fill up very fast.
Till then, Tom, Aussie John and Coach (aka Jonathan) are out.