Saturday, March 5, 2011

Summer Trip Planning - Where & When To Fish

One of the best reasons to go cruising is to catch some fish and have fresh fish for dinner - nothing is better.  I like to go "catching" versus "fishing."  So I'll do whatever it takes to catch fish versus spending time and money and fishing.  Over the 20+ years of cruising "up coast" to British Columbia I have come to recognize that you've got to know the tides and currents if you want to catch fish.  Not knowing the tides and currents will have you doing a lot of fishing and not catching.  Also important is to understand which fish to fish for during which tides and currents.  For example, you're not going to be very successful fishing for halibut or springs (King salmon) when the current is really running hard, but you can fish for coho salmon.  Secondly, you need to know the rules and regulations.  No use fishing if the area has a restriction.  Or buying a 5 day license when the best times to fish are all at night.  Thirdly, you need to know where to fish for what you are fishing for.  Your chance for catching halibut will be low if you are slowly trolling along the steep shore of a narrow inlet.  And finally, you need to consider the weather for the location you plan to fish.  No use fishing Taylor Bank in Queen Charlotte Strait if there's a 20+ knot westerly blowing - you'll be miserable and lose lots of gear.

Nice 12 lb. chicken halibut
My favorite fish to catch is halibut.  Halibut can range is size from 15-20 lb. "chickens" to 200 lb plus "barn doors."  I enjoy "chicken" halibut the best because they're easily to handle, easy to clean, easy to catch, and don't always contain parasites like the big, old ones do.  I also think they're better tasting.  One popular place you can try catching a halibut is Taylor Bank in Queen Charlotte Strait. (You didn't think I would give you my secret fishing holes did you?) You'll want to pick a day and time when there's very little current and the wind is not blowing.  Now, we can't predict what the weather will be that far in advance but we can predict the tides.  You'll want to pick a date where the high and low tides are not too extreme.  A few "good" dates are July 24 through July 26.  That means you could start fishing around 8 AM and finish before the usual afternoon winds begin to blow. (Want to read a great book on how to catch halibut?  Go to and enter "How to Catch Trophy Halibut."  It's written by a friend of mine and there's a well worn copy aboard the MV Independence.)
Tides for Blunden Harbor, BC approx. 7 nm away from Taylor Bank for 7/25 & 26

If you're interested in catching springs (King salmon) a good place to fish for them is in and around Cordero Channel (just NW of the Yuculta Rapids and Desolation Sound).  Looking at the below tides, the best time would be in the evenings just before dark from July 24 through July 26.  Again, there's not too much change in the tide between high and low.  You'll want to very slowly troll or even mooch along steep underwater drop offs with a plug or herring, or jig.
Tides for Shoal Bay, Cordero Channel, BC for 7/24 & 7/25

If your interest is still for salmon but you don't want to go out in the evening, you could try catching coho salmon on the same mornings when the tide is running stronger.  I learned from experience to troll in only one direction, that is don't troll against the current because you really won't move anywhere but troll with the current.  When you are trolling, vary your speed and look for small tide rips and troll or mooch along the edge of these currents.  When you get to the "end" of your fishing area, pull up your gear and quickly motor back to where you started fishing,  Try varying depths from 30'-80' and troll a flasher and a hoochie (squid looking thing). You could also mooch with a cut plug herring.  (You can find all sorts of salmon lures - plugs, hoochies, flashers, and more at

Small 15 lb. spring salmon
As to weather, I used to be a fish biologist long ago and I can tell you there is some truth to the saying, "fish bite better during rain."  It's a fish physiology "thing." When the barometric pressure is low there is less pressure on the water and so the transfer of oxygen in the water across the gills in fish is easier and the fish are more active to feed.  If the pressure is high, the transfer of oxygen from the water across the gills is tougher and so the fish are less active to feed.  So, watch the barometer if it's way high your chance of catching fish is less than if the barometer is low. 

Remember you cannot fish in any area that is marked as a "Rockfish Conservation Zone."  When fishing for salmon you must have a salmon stamp on your license and use barbless hooks.  Always carry the current sportfishing pamphlet with you along with your license, and take the time to read the regulations for the area you are fishing.  If you meet up with DFO they will tell you that ignorance is not an excuse.  (You can buy your Canadian fishing license online, goto "")

I hope you do more "catching" than "fishing."

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