June 2009

June 2009
June 2009
June 2009
June 2009

SOOKE

Popular spots between Sooke and Victoria that frequently produce good catches include right in front of the Sooke Harbour entrance to Sooke Bluffs, Possession Point, Secretary Island, O’Brien Point, and the “Trap Shack.” Productive areas in June are Otter Point and northwest along Gordons Beach to Sheringham Point. Not many anglers fish for salmon past Sheringham, but Point No Point can be good at times, and because it is fairly remote you won’t have to worry about crowded conditions. Weather is a serious consideration if you plan on going that far, because once past Otter Point there isn’t anywhere handy to put in if water conditions turn nasty.

Virtually everyone uses downriggers for the big Chinooks, and while flashers are most predominant there are times during June when dodgers are quite productive. Although increasing numbers of anglers are experimenting with bright-coloured hoochies, probably 90 per cent of the fish are still taken on anchovies, whole herring or herring strip. When big Chinooks arrive in the spring, try an anchovy 50 to 72 inches behind a red-trimmed green Hot Spot, O’Ki or Gibbs flasher. Recommended action heads include Krippled Anchovy, O’Ki JDF, and Rhys Davis Anchovy Special in Clear, Green, Glow, Purple Haze, Watermelon, Bloody Nose, Mint Pearl, and Chrome Purple/Black.

Try downrigging close to bottom along the 18- to 40-metre ledges. Popular baits are whole herring, herring strip, or an anchovy in a Rhys Davis Anchovy Special or O’Ki Juan de Fuca. Hoochies in colours and sizes to match those of the squid or shrimp that are present are also good choices. Flashers are more popular than dodgers, with glow-in-the-dark finishes preferred by most anglers.

The accepted norm for sockeye and pink salmon is to use small pink, red or orange lures or hoochies behind a small silver or pearlescent white flasher trimmed with pink, red or orange. Brian Lacroix advises whenever targeting sockeye, to always keep one line close to the surface.

Although some stick with downriggers while offshore, they shorten leaders to 18 to 24 inches so the lures work faster. Many switch to flatline trolling with sinkers ranging from 2 to 8 ounces, and run lures about 30 to 60 feet behind the boat. It is not uncommon to hook coho on lures and hoochies meant for sockeye and pinks, but you can hedge your bets by running a green/white hoochie behind one flasher.

Conversely to the offshore action, some anglers do quite well on Chinooks, coho and pinks while casting lures from various rocky points and beaches. Gordons Beach is one such popular location. As the water there is quite shallow, avoid using heavy drift-jigs in favour of somewhat lighter spoons like Krocodiles, Gators and Deadly Dicks. As large Chinooks are occasionally hooked from the beach, ensure that your reel has a good line capacity -- 200 yards minimum -- better yet 300 yards.

By mid-September anglers are fishing the tail end of the pink run, but the coho run is building. By the end of September coho fishing is usually good and some winter Chinooks have started showing up.
There is a large reef off the south side of Secretary Island. Try trolling from there out to the shipping lanes, but be aware that tide rips might drag you along in their current. The north side of Secretary -- referred to as “The Gap” -- has a reef off the island and another off Possession Point, which can make for tricky downrigging. Also bear in mind that this area is best avoided during rough water conditions.

There is a reef off the south side of Possession Point, another off the west side, and several pinnacles farther out that rise from 100 feet to 60 feet. Located between Possession Point and the mouth of Sooke Harbour is a very dangerous unmarked rock that is visible during lower tides. As it can’t be seen during higher tides, check your marine chart.

West of Possession Point, the Sooke Bluffs are relatively flat and have lots of kelp beds. This is the general area where Juan De Fuca currents meet with Sooke Harbour tides, which can produce great fishing but also some very rough water conditions.

There are quite a few harbour seals in the area encompassing Secretary Island, Possession Point and Sooke Bluffs, and they are notorious for grabbing hooked salmon. When this is the case, think about heading down toward the “Trap Shack” or up toward Otter Point, where there are fewer of these pests.
Otter Point is considered the safest and most popular place to fish. The only reef is right off the point, so there are no other surprises. Baitfish get pushed in close to the shoreline in this area, which attracts Chinooks, especially during floods and ebbs. Troll along the wall to Gordon Beach, but watch the current in close to the point or you might find yourself trolling backwards.

Orveas Bay is located between Otter Point and Sheringham Point, but most locals call it Muir Creek, which flows into the bay at its midway point. There is a drop-off from 12 to 48 metres along there, so monitor your depth sounder closely to prevent hanging up. The dense kelp beds in there hold a lot of baitfish, which tends to attract more Chinooks than other salmon species.

There are dangerous rocks and reefs at Sheringham Point -- right in front of the lighthouse and to the west. They are exposed at the lower tides, so you should always be aware of them. Sheringham is usually the least crowded place to fish, but even it can turn on if word of good fishing gets out. Some anglers favour it because it gives them the first crack at new runs as they arrive.

By the time you are at Sheringham Point it’s about 15 km back to Sooke Harbour mouth, so if an easterly wind starts coming up it’s time to make tracks for home -- now, not later.


AVAILABLE MARINE CHARTS
3461 Juan de Fuca Strait, Eastern Portion
3462 Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia
3641 Albert Head to Otte
 

Huxley’s Run: 

I’ve waited for this summer for over a decade and June will decide if it was worth the wait.

the early 1990s the summer-run Steelhead Enhancement Program ended. It used brood stock from the Tsitika River, but returns to that river dropped below the 200 mark and the taking of brood stock was ended.

If you never experienced that fishery, it was like having the Dean River in your back yard. There were hundreds of fish with some in the high teens. And they had a propensity for taking a dry fly. It was called one of the most successful hatchery programs on the coast at the time.

Combine that with it being Roderick Haig-Brown’s home river and you had all the ingredients for magic.

So when the program ended, there were a few years that summer steelhead returned. But the gravel in the mainstream river had been depleted to only a fraction of its former amount. Eventually they stopped coming. For years I endeavored to get the program re-started in some form or fashion. But nothing happened. Nothing, that is, until a different approach was taken. Instead of brood stock, steelhead fry were taken, grown out and used for brood.

Three years ago the first smolts – about 17,000 – were released into the Campbell. The next year there were about 20,000 released and expectations for this year is a little more than that.

Last year the first two-year ocean fish came back. Estimates are that anywhere from 30 to 75 fish returned. For the first time in over a decade summer steelhead were being caught in the Campbell River.
This year will be the return of two- AND three-year ocean fish. And everyone will be watching – including me.
I’ve done a lot of work in the past on woody debris and gravel “stuff.” But I, and many others I know, got tired of it. We wanted something that would create fish and a fishery. So for three years we have raised the money for the program and I believe it will be well worth the effort.

Unlike the past, the Campbell River is now quite healthy. Extensive gravel was put in the mainstream and vital canyon waters. A guaranteed flow regime also opened that long stretch of canyon to spawning and rearing alike. Millions have also been spent on the estuary and on spawning and rearing channels.

The hope is that the program will become self-sustaining and there’s no obvious reason why it shouldn’t. And the program would not be possible without the great work of the BC Freshwater Fisheries Society.
But the work continues to raise money and to keep this program going. If you go to the Campbell and you experience what I believe you’ll experience, please stop in at the tackle stores and ask what you can do to help keep the fishery alive. (Money is good!)

First fish usually arrive in May, then June, July and into September. Bright, fresh, strong steelhead. Haig-Brown would be smiling. Hopefully I will be too.
 

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