Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the Courtenay-Comox area on North Central Vancouver Island. Tips, best practices, places and the go-to lures are just a sample of what you’ll find in our fishing report.
Although the tail end of the extended summer fishing season offers the best chance at some coho action, there can be some feeder Chinook fishing once the Cape Mudge finfish closure is lifted. Coho start arriving during the summer months and peak in September, and you can fish for them right up until December; pick your speed at 1 1/2- to 2-mph and fish shallow at 60-feet (18-m). Bucktails work great on a light rod combined with favorite colours in green, blue, purple, grey and white. Also try any 3-inch lures with the best colours being blue and white, pink and white, and polar.
It’s September and the salmon are getting ready to start heading up the rivers, so hit the beaches and open rivers. Fly fishers and gear anglers should have some amazing opportunity for good river fishing with yarn flies in colours like bubblegum, chartreuse and blue. Fly fishers should use a fast-sink line with a relatively short leader to get their fly down to the fish.
Fishing off the beach for coho with light spinning gear or a fly rod is easy to do and can be very effective. One does not need to be a fly caster to be able to participate; a half-decent casting rod and reel setup will do just fine, plus you’ll need a pair of waders and wader boots. There are numerous spinning and casting lures that can coerce these fish into biting, or you can simply suspend a fly and some split shot or pencil lead beneath a foam plastic dink float. It’s a good idea to tie in a swivel under the float and then a leader testing lighter than the mainline. That way, should you hang up on the bottom all you lose is a few cents worth of yarn, lead, and the hook, rather than a pricey float.
Here are just a few access points to help you find the fish: Spindrift Road (just past Union Bay), Deep Bay Shoreline, Shoreline Drive, Buccaneer Beach Road, Sunny Beach Road and many other public beach accesses along the shoreline.
As we head into the last months of summer (with sunshine and hopefully light breezes instead of howling winds), we find an abundance of salmon in our local waters. This is the time to start hitting the beaches with your spinning rod or fly rod. The pinks will be showing up and the early cohos will be getting shallower and cruising the beaches before they head up the local rivers. It is a great time for getting the kids out and catching one’s own dinner. The Chinook and coho have been very productive offshore too, with many over 30 pounds caught.
Maybe you’ll get one of the elusive 40-pounders-plus that are out there. Green gear seems to be hot this year with green and shine in flashers, spoons and hoochies catching many of the fish. But don’t forget the bait such as anchovies, and the new Batrix Strip is catching many of the larger fish. You’ll be able to shallow up your gear a bit and catch more of the coho, or drop it deeper and keep trying for the halibut that are still hanging around.
On the days where one wants to get away from the crowds, be sure to consider one of the many lakes that surround us in the Comox Valley. As the waters warm, many of the nearby lower lakes will find the fish getting sluggish. But for many of the higher altitude and glacier-fed lakes, you’ll find the cooler water temperatures keep the fish perky and hungry longer into the season. A nice drive into the mountains and one may stumble upon a lake long forgotten and therefore abundant with fish. Worms and power bait are sure to attract even the laziest of fish this time of year to make for a day full of fishing, family and fun.
2017 is already proving to be a fantastic year for sport fishers. Many local reports of abundant early season fish are making their way into the tackle shop. Chinooks up to 20 pounds have already been pulled aboard, with many fish in the mid to high teens coming from the waters around Denman and Hornby Island.
The numbers and size of fish this early means good news. As we move through spring and into early summer, the majority of these early feeders should be well above the 20-pound mark, and will continue to grow throughout the year.
If you aren’t sure what to use, try out a cedar plug from Best Lure, a Luhr Jensen Flash Fly, or one of the new sizes of spoons from AP tackle. Early season colours usually consist of UV purple, UV white, and the good ol’ green and glow. May sees the opening of rockfish and lingcod retention, just in time for better weather to come along. Bait such as herring and octopus works great early on, but becomes problematic once dogfish move in mid-summer. Not to fear, Mac Deep, Savage Gear and Mega Bite swimtail jigs all work great as well, and are less likely to attract unwanted attention. If the last few years have been any indication, we should expect yet another fantastic coho fishery. Blue backs (juvenile coho) are already turning up as by catch from targeting chinook.