July 2012

July 2012
July 2012
July 2012
July 2012
July 2012

A PASSION FOR PINKS

Smallest of the Pacific salmon family, pinks are easily identified, even in their bright silver oceanic condition. They have tiny scales, large black spots on the back, and dark, elongated oval marks on the tail. The inside of the mouth is white but the gums are black, and the tongue lacks any teeth. As pinks draw closer to spawning, their silver sheen dulls and fades beneath mottled brownish-green blotches, a transformation which is less pronounced in females. A prominent hump begins forming on the back of a male, and a pronounced hook with large canine teeth develops on its snout. Depending on location, pinks spawn relatively close to saltwater, usually from late September until early November. The young emerge the following spring, and after reaching the fry stage migrate almost immediately to the sea. Thus, at two years of age, pinks have the shortest life cycle of the Pacific salmon.
Around 1957, commercial trollers developed a method for taking pinks on artificial lures. This attracted recreational anglers, and the most productive tactic to evolve — which works coast-wide — is to slowly troll in a straight line at depths ranging from subsurface to 100 feet. Use small hootchies or lures in various shades of pink or red, trailing them 22 to 28 inches behind a Hot Spot, O'Ki or Gibbs flasher trimmed with red or pink.
Whether lure-tossers or fly-flingers were first to get in on the fun by fishing from shore is a moot point. Their eventual findings were to use small offerings of any colour as long as was some shade of pink. More important — anglers started realizing that pinks provide fast-paced fishing action on light tackle, and when properly cared for, make excellent table fare.
Flies proved more effective than lures because they can be manipulated more efficiently in the shallow water. A lure will plummet to bottom unless forward momentum is maintained, but a fly, being light in weight, can be twitched along quite slowly, or even stopped dead for short periods if desired.

TACKLE AND TACTICS
If fishing saltwater for the first time, be aware that it does strange things to some tackle — none of it very nice. If your reel and the metal components of your rod are anodized, there is nothing to worry about; if not anodized, they will corrode. Quickly. The safest procedure is to faithfully rinse off rods and reels with fresh water as soon as possible after fishing.
The most-used fly rod required is an 8-weight, and some anglers go as light as 5-weight. Lighter tackle is fine as long as you don't encounter larger-than-average fish, say an eight- to 10-pound pink, or a roving coho or chinook.
This is when a longer rod — 10 to 12 feet — is a good choice, generally in a 7- or 8-weight. However, if offshore winds are a problem — as they often are — a nine-foot rod will be a better, less tiring choice for punching out line against it.
When selecting a reel, bear in mind that most pinks will probably never run more than 100 feet, but some may keep going until the backing is gone and the leader parts. Choose a reel with an adjustable, butter-smooth drag, and an exposed rim for added pressure when required. Its minimum capacity should be a full length of line — usually 90 feet — plus 200 yards of backing.
Salmon aren't leader shy; however, a fly line slapping down loudly on the surface might well spook an entire school out to deeper water. Generally, if you stick with a standard nine-foot tapered leader, you should do well. As for tippets — 8-pound test premium nylon monofilament should handle any pink spawned, and provide a margin of error should a chinook or coho happen onto your fly.
When it comes to fly selection, sticking with "pink for pinks" is a good rule of thumb, but bear in mind that nuances of shade can make a dramatic difference, as can overall size. Generally, a single pattern will serve for all situations, but only if tied in a range of pale to vibrant pinks, in hook sizes No. 10 through 2. For gear fisherman again anything that is pink.
Pinks seldom hit hard. Rather than a solid take, it is often soft, almost like encountering a weed. Thus, at the least sign of resistance, set the hook — but gently — for pinks have a fairly soft mouth.

RUN ABUNDANCE AND TIMING
Vancouver Island have pink salmon runs mostly during odd-numbered years, what continues to fluctuate is the timing of runs, which may vary by two weeks — usually later rather than earlier than "normal." Whether caused by weather, water temperature or food availability has never been determined, but anglers planning a fishing vacation around a specific pink run should build in a fudge factor.
In northern areas like upper Queen Charlotte Strait, some pink vanguards might arrive as early as mid to late June, but July and August are considered the prime months. As they migrate southward, pinks move inshore toward home estuaries like the Quatse, Keogh, Cluxewe and Nimpkish rivers. Within a week or two, this is repeated elsewhere all along the eastern shoreline of Vancouver Island. Wherever there is easy access to estuaries with shallow, gently sloping beaches, anglers armed with spinning tackle or fly casting outfits are usually there to greet the pinks.
You have two choices: look for the fish, or wait for them to come to you. If you know fish are in the general area, find a comfortable log or rock on which to sit, and then scan the water for jumpers.

SOME POPULAR SPOTS 
Although pink salmon are found pretty well everywhere along the coast, often spawning in everything from tiny trickles to large rivers, when it comes to fishing for them off the beaches the key words are "ease of accessibility." This makes the east coast of Vancouver Island a "best bet" as Highway 19 — the Island Highway — more or less borders the seashore from southeast to northwest, for some 540 km from Sidney to Port Hardy.
The area that attracts the most consistent angling action is from Royston, south of Courtenay, to Campbell River.
Pink salmon along the Royston and Comox waterfronts usually appear about mid to late July, but anglers never know where the action will be. Unlike other areas on Vancouver Island's east coast, salmon may school around the old shipwrecks forming the breakwater at the booming grounds near Royston, across the mouth of Comox Harbour in the shallow bay behind the long finger of Goose Spit, or along the waterfront from Comox Marina to the Courtenay River mouth. Although scarcely 3 km across the water from Royston to the inside of Goose Spit, it's a 13 km drive by road.

 

July 2012
July 2012
Huxley’s Run: 

One thing I have always liked about Larry Stefanyk, the publisher and founder of Island fisherman, is his dedication to fishing. Especially when it comes to kids or newcomers. He is so caring and understanding and will actually interrupt his own fishing to lend a hand where a hand is needed.

I think it is because he realizes how important angling can be the development of a person, especially when they start out at a young age. And, I guess, that’s just the kind of person he is.

Not long ago I wrote about a fishing trip with my friends Ken Enns and Rick Schmidt and his two sons Brent and Steven. The boys at that time were, well, boys, and making their first overnight fishing expedition with their dad to one of his special places.

Earlier this year we made an anniversary trip back to that spot and Steven and Ben came along. To say they have changed is an understatement. The young boys I had helped release fish for years ago had grown up. Both are around six foot something and around 190 to 200 pounds. But what didn’t change was the look on their faces as they fished and caught fish. They had the same smiles of joy on their faces, only they were a couple of feet higher.

And they are true gentleman. Whether they knew I was due for a knee replacement or not, both were quick to help carry my heavier gear from the boat to the campsite and vice versa when we left.

Both played for the Cambpell River Storm hockey team and last year Steven played for the Powell River Kings and Ben played for the UBC Thunderbirds. While fishing was probably only a part of their upbringing, I can’t help but believe it also aided in turning those young boys into fine young men. (No doubt Rick and wife Brenda had a lot to do with it too!)

They didn’t even complain when I forgot buns for the hamburgers!

Anyway, I include before and after pictures of Rick and and his boys and yours truly and urge all you anglers out there to get young people involved. It’s good for them, for you and for this wonderful pastime of ours.
 

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