Fishing Report May 30 2017
Both the weather and the fishing has seen some significant improvements over the past few weeks. Summer is just around the corner and Bamfield is beginning to hum.
Aussie John has landed and is sorting out all that needs sorting in preparation for all of you. We now have the lodge up and running and are ready to welcome folks to the wild west coast and all that Bamfield has to offer.
Ok let’s get to the good stuff. What is happening on the water? We are seeing very typical early spring and summer fishing. Spring salmon have been showing up in all of the usual haunts. We are now seeing some mature salmon mixed in with the feeder springs that call the western reaches of Barkley Sound home. When this starts to happen it can be confusing as to what depths to ply your gear. Typically for feeder springs we like to bounce our cannon balls along the bottom at depths pushing 200 feet but with larger mature fish arriving, it pays to keep some gear shallow where they like to hang.
My favorite place to fish at this time of year allows your gear to target fish without trolling to deep. Effingham is a beautiful spot to fish, stays in the lee of summer nor’westerlies and allows you to fish your gear relatively shallow through the water column. I very much enjoy the tactical troll at the west end of Effingham towards Austin and Cree Islands. Drop your gear to 55’ and 65’ and troll through the pinnacles tight to Austin and Cree. At 65’ your gear may bounce the bottom as you pick your way through, but for the most part you are looking at around 90’ of water under your boat. Watch your sounder closely as the rocky pinnacles just south and east of Austin come up very quickly. The pass through fishes well on either the flood or the ebb tide as the flow will push bait fish into the pass where the feeding springs lie in ambush.
My first time fishing this area I picked up 4 beautiful springs in 30 minutes and pretty much ordained myself as Skipper of the Year. The very next day I returned ready to box another 4 springs. Within the same time period of 30 minutes I managed to lose 3 cannon balls on the pinnacle ledges and limped back to Harbourside a much more humble fisherman. If you haven’t given this area a try, stop in at our gas dock and ask Johno or myself to show you where on the map one should fish. Chart your course on your GPS and watch your sounder closely. Once you have a couple of slug trails recorded on your GPS, you should be good to go. This area often picks up at the tide change so don’t pull up your gear until at least an hour after slack water. In early June and July, I fish an anchovy off one rigger and then a purple 3.5’ spoon on a 6’ leader behind a purple uv haze flasher. Last year I actually began fishing the purple spoon off both riggers as they far out fished the anchovy. Towards the end of July and into early August it seems anchovies begin to take over but early summer spoons rule!
Other areas that hold fish this time of year are really the same ones we fish late into August. We just fish a little bit deeper in early summer. The Wall has been productive when bait is showing. Both sides of Flemming have been very good. Typically we really only fish the north side of Flemming but the Bamfield side has been quite productive this spring. Aguilar Point all the way west to Cape Beale has produced fish, as has Kirby Point and Edward King.
Offshore fish have started migrating down the Banks and are now feeding at various hot spots along along the coast. Big Bank and the Rat’s Nose have started to turn on and if the weather and waves are good it can be a very rewarding troll.
Spoons and hootchies are the order of the day off shore. I like glow white hootchies and spoons with glow green and white. These are deadly off shore combos. Spread your gear out depth wise until you have dialed it in. I typically start at 90’ on one rigger and 130’ on the other one. Then it’s just a matter of playing from there.
Hali fishing is what it is, and that means if you are in the Barkley Sound area it’s time to get your flatty on! These tasty denizens of the deep are active and eager to chow down in early spring and summer. As many of our readers know, I love to fish halibut off the banks south west of Barkley Sound between 10 and 14 miles out. I am looking for gradual rounded pinnacles that come up just a bit off the banks. In short, get on the banks in about 225’ of water. Now search for a hump that comes up from 185’ to about 215’. If you are outfitted for it, drop your anchor and set your lines out on the bottom. If you don’t have an anchor system you can back troll and or drift over the hump. Once you past 215’ I’d pull your gear and then backtrack and drift once again. If you are drifting, you will want 2lb to 3lb weights on your spreader bars. If you are anchoring up I like to stagger my weights. I’ll drop 1lb weights out the back of the boat and 1.5lb out the sides. This keeps a nice spread and reduces the chances of tangling up gear.
We pretty much stick to spreader bars, salmon bellies and or extra-large herring when hali fishing. Salmon bellies are much more resilient in the water and stay on the hook much longer. Herring are easily picked off and are tasty tidbits for dogfish so that sometimes can be a big pain. That’s said? Hali just love herring so I tend to make sure I have at least one rod rigged with herring on each trip. It’s often worth the hassle.
Circle hooks are also a good way to go when hali fishing.
Circle hooks eliminate gut hooked fish. They will always hook fish in the corner of the mouth. Once a circle hook is in, it’s locked down. A fish will not shake it if the line stays tight. If a fisherman gets a chance to tangle with an oversize fish (133cm for a legally caught halibut) a circle hook will allow the fisherman to release the fish with little more than an annoying pull in the side of the mouth. Even a large fish released with a clipped line and the hook left in will be able to fend quite nicely as the hook erodes away reasonably quickly.
The draw back for circle hooks is the “take”. You can’t rear back and set the hook. Leave the drag loose enough so you can pull line with your bare hand. When a hali hooks up, let it take line. When the first run slows, gently tighten the drag and reel. When you feel head shakes and weight, you are hooked up! Then let the fun begin.
Once again should you be a hali novice or are new to the area I’d be happy to chart some hot spots for you.
Come look us up Harbourside’s gas dock and tackle store. The gas dock and store will be up and running come the first week of June. All the gear we carry in the shop is the same gear our guides use on a daily basis. We won’t be selling you gear that we ourselves wouldn’t use with guests in our own charter boats.
We are booking fast but still have some spots left for charter dates, lodging and boat moorage. By the way if you have never fished Bamfield in July you have been missing out. The weather is spectacular, it’s uncrowded and the fishing can be superb!
Coffee is on and we are looking forward to seeing old friends and welcoming new ones to the Harbourside experience.
Till then, tight lines and full boxes…
Coach (aka Jonathan…)