Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the French Creek area on 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.
French Creek Marine Map
French Creek Marine Weather Forecast
French Creek Fishing Report
We are having a great salmon fishery this year, and September presents good opportunities. Most of the Chinook returning to the Big and Little Qualicum Rivers will be staged in front of their respective river mouths waiting for the river water to rise. Hopefully, we’ll get some much-needed rain to help them up, as the snowpack is severely low. Since these Chinook aren’t feeding at this stage, you need to get their attention with bright colours and shorter leaders. Try using a Bubblegum Pink mini plankton hoochie (32″ leader), with a green/silver flasher. Keep in mind these Chinook are the salmon of tomorrow; it doesn’t hurt to limit your catch rather than catch your limit. Jiggers do well at this time of year, too— a 21⁄2-oz Mac Deep or Lil’ Nib jig should do the trick.
Coho start to make their way closer to the beach in the fall, giving the beach fly and gear fisherman good opportunities. Bottom fishing closes September 30, so now is the time to get a few of these tasty fish to enjoy over the winter months. A 21⁄2-oz jig bounced off the bottom on a rocky, “shelfy” ledge in 40′ to 120′ of water should do the trick.
For the hardy fisherman, winter-run Chinook (2- to 3-year-old resident salmon) will hold in our area. They tend to be deep, so keep the downriggers just off the bottom, and troll a bit faster than usual (21⁄2–3 mph) as well. Covering lots of water is key, as these salmon are on the move looking for food. Brighter- coloured 4″ spoons in neon glow/pink strip (48″ leader) with a Crushed Ice/ glow flasher work well. Now is the time to try bait again—anchovy, herring, herring strip—as the dogfish have moved out seeking warmer water. These salmon are some of the best eating; with cooler water temperatures, they have more fat content and beautiful red flesh. Prawning is usually more productive over the winter months as well.
The best way to winterize your boat is to use it a few times over the winter! Add some fuel stabilizer to your gas tank, keep the lube points on your engine well-greased, and keep your boat moving.
Then, in the spring, do your big engine/ boat service. Also, pay a visit in the fall to the Big and Little Qualicum Salmon Hatcheries to watch all the returning salmon completing their journey. It really is an amazing spectacle.
August truly is the month saltwater anglers in our local waters await with greatest anticipation, and finally getting the word from DFO on Chinook retention was most welcome! You may retain either one wild Chinook (adipose fin attached) or one hatchery Chinook (adipose fin missing) per angler per day, and the slot size limit is 24 1⁄2″
to 31 1⁄2″ (62 to 80 cm) from July 15 to August 31. On September 1, the limit goes up to two Chinook (wild or hatchery) per angler/day with just a minimum size of 24 1⁄2″ required.
Mature Chinook heading for the Big and Little Qualicum Rivers will provide all sorts of excitement for trollers and jiggers alike. In early to mid-August, these Chinook will move into our area looking for lots of food to store energy for their spawning migration. Good areas to try include out front of French Creek Harbour on the The Humps, Ballenas, and Gerald Islands. A trip over to Lasqueti Island can also be productive, and Finnerty and Sangster Islands are also good areas to try. Make sure to check the marine forecast for the day before heading over to Lasqueti Island. When targeting Chinook that are still feeding, try using an Army Truck hoochie (42″ leader) with a red/silver flasher, or a black/white spoon (60″ leader) with a green/silver flasher.
At this time of year, the dogfish have moved in, and using bait (anchovy, herring, herring strip) is pretty tough.
In mid- to late August, things start to really heat up when these mature Chinook start to mill around the mouth of the Big and Little Qualicum Rivers. These salmon won’t be feeding at this time, so the gear choice changes dramatically. Try using a Bubblegum Pink mini plankton hoochie (32″ leader) with a green/silver flasher. My personal favorite is a Bubblegum Pink mini plankton hoochie inserted into a Purple Haze hoochie with a Purple Haze flasher. Small 31⁄2″ spoons in Bubblegum Pink (36″ leader) with a green/silver flasher work well too. You’re usually fishing in water depths of under 100′, keeping the gear 20′ to 80′ on the downriggers. Jiggers do well at this time of year, too. A 21⁄2-oz. Mac Deep or Salmon Slayer jig near the bottom should do the trick. The bite really seems to take off at dusk, so make sure all your navigation lights are working properly to ensure a safe trip home.
If you’re looking for pink salmon, this should be the year for it! The big Fraser River run of pink salmon is odd-year prominent, hopefully making 2021 a banner year. Some consider pink salmon less desirable, but try it fresh on the BBQ or have it made into candied salmon and you’ll be pleasantly surprised! For families with young anglers and people just starting out, pink salmon fishing keeps the excitement level up, as the action is usually steady. The Area 14 pink salmon size limit is 12″, four per angler/per day, and retention is open all year long.
Targeting pink salmon is really quite simple—any fishing gear with some pink on it will usually do the trick! Bring one downrigger up to 120′ and the other up to 80′. Also try using a green/glow spoon (60” leader) with a green/silver flasher, which is a good setup for all local salmon. Keep your hooks good and sharp as well. Pink salmon have softer mouths; you want your hooks to be at their best. Keep some ice on board to keep your catch nice and fresh.
We truly are having a great year for Chinook fishing in local waters too, with the most productive area being out front of French Creek Harbour on The Humps, which is less than a mile from the boat launch! We should be getting a Chinook retention opportunity starting July 15. As we wait patiently for our Chinook openings, keep in mind that we’re open for catch-and-release now. It’s also more important than ever to support the small businesses associated to our local saltwater fishery. When Chinook retention opens again, I highly encourage you to participate in the Salmon Head Recovery Program. The more data that gets collected could help us with more fishing opportunities in the future.
We have such a great fishing community here, and if you haven’t joined some of our local fishing groups, I encourage you to check some of them out. Also, if you haven’t tried salmon or bottom fishing out of French Creek Harbour, we welcome you to give it a go. I bet you’ll be back for more!
Darrell Jobb “Capt. D”
Western Star Charters
French Creek, BC
For a lot of recreational fisherman, June is the time of year when the salt chuck adventures begin. Now is the time to look over the fishing gear before your first trip out. Replace old monofilament mainlines, tie some new leaders on your “lucky” lures, sharpen hooks, and shine up your flashers. Then spend your time on the water fishing and not fixing!
Coho salmon usually start to show up in Area 14 in early June. Targeting coho is really quite simple: Use your go-to Chinook gear and bring one downrigger up to 110′ to 150′ and the other up to 70′ to 110′. I have caught coho trolling as deep as 200′ on the downrigger, but generally they’re more abundant in the 150′ range and shallower in our local waters. Try using a black/white spoon (60″ leader) with a green/silver flasher, or Army Truck hoochie (42″ leader) with a red/silver flasher. One of the better areas last year was right out front of French Creek Harbour on the humps—it’s really accessible and small boat friendly.
You can usually tell when you have a coho on your line, as they tend to make your rod tip pump up and down vigorously. As they get closer to the boat, you will notice their gaping mouths when they surface. This is a good time to watch for the white gums to make sure it’s indeed a coho. The next thing you want to try and do is bring the fish carefully alongside the boat for a closer look. If the tail is squared off and silver with a few scattered spots, it’s a coho. Now try and determine if it’s a hatchery-raised coho (adipose fin missing), or a wild coho (adipose fin attached) preferably while keeping the fish in the water. Lastly, if you need a closer look, use a rubber mesh, which will greatly improve the survival of released fish. With a little practice you can release salmon with relatively little harm done. The Area 14 coho size
limit is 12″, two hatchery (adipose fin missing) per angler/day. Coho are open from June 1 to December 31. In my experiences last year, the ratio seemed to be about 75% wild to 25% hatchery.
On your way out to the fishing grounds, make sure to get your French Creek Tyee Club Challenge ticket ($35) at the French Creek Harbour Store. All the proceeds go towards local salmon enhancement! There will be random prize draws throughout the season, with a monthly main prize for all tickets sold. You can find some more information on our Facebook page.
Darrell Jobb “Capt. D”
Western Star Charters
French Creek, BC
Non-retention means you can catch but must release in a safe manner. Area 14 is open to Chinook for catch & release only at this time. With that in mind, use smaller single barbless hooks (3/0), avoid tandem hooks, and release your fish from the water using a gaff or pliers when possible. If you have to net a fish, the use of a rubber mesh net is essential for its survival.
In May, you’ll start to see migrating Chinook from the north coast traveling through our inside waters en route to their home rivers. These different runs of Chinook have their own unique characteristics when it comes to size, shape, and flesh colour. These fish travel where the bait is, so trying different areas can be the key for your success. Ballenas Islands, Gerald Island, and out front of French Creek Harbour on the humps are good starting areas to fish for salmon. Try using a black/white or green/glow 4″ spoon (60″ leader) with a green/silver flasher right off the bottom. Another standby is the Spatterback hoochie (42″ leader) with a green/silver flasher. Also try fishing with bait (anchovy, herring, herring strip) at this time of year; with the water temperature still cool, the dogfish aren’t here in full force yet. I usually run my bait holder 60″ to the flasher.
Bottom fishing opens May 1 through September 30 as well. Find yourself a rocky, “shelfy” ledge 40′ to 120′, and drop a 21⁄2 to 5-oz jig down to the bottom, reel up a bit and bounce the bottom. The Area 14 lingcod size limit is 26″, one per angler per day. Larger lingcod are often the female breeders so you may consider taking a picture and keeping the smaller legal size for the dinner table. Lingcod survive well when released, even if they’re caught in deeper water. Rockfish have no size limit, and you can keep one rockfish per angler per day. When bottom fishing for rockfish, you must have a descending device to ensure a safe release.
It never hurts to set a crab trap on your way out to the fishing grounds. Find a flat sandy bottom in 50′ to 100′ of water; salmon heads/carcasses work well for bait. The Dungeness crab size limit is 61⁄2″, with four (male only) per angler per day. Check your crab trap on the way back in, and chances are you’ll have a tasty snack waiting for you to cap off another great day on the water.
Make sure to check out the French Creek Tyee Club Challenge on Facebook. It’s a great fundraiser for local salmon enhancement!
Darrell Jobb “Capt. D”
Western Star Charters
French Creek, BC
With all we’ve been through this past year, it’s nice to have something to look forward to, and our local fishery should help! The start of this year has shown some promise for another good year for Chinook salmon in our local waters. On a couple outings in January, I’ve witnessed big schools of herring, with lots of bird and sea lion activity. This will definitely keep the salmon interested in sticking around.
The local herring spawn plays a key role in our salmon fishery. Last year we had an abundant herring spawn, and it seemed to set the stage for a productive 2020 salmon season. Let’s hope 2021 follows suit. Winter Chinook will hold in our area providing there’s some bait (usually herring) for their hearty appetite. I have caught these salmon from November well into and past April. Good areas to try for early season salmon include out front of French Creek Harbour on the humps and around Ballenas Islands.
In May and June, we should have great fishing as migratory Chinook pass through our waters heading for their native rivers such as the Columbia. Hopefully we’ll see more coho in our area through the summer. In 2021, we should see more pink salmon as the bigger runs tend to happen in odd years. We’re expecting the same retention limits as last year, so it’s really important to practice safe catch-and-release techniques. It’s always a good idea to check with DFO on retention limits for the area you’ll be fishing prior to heading out.
In August, our resident Chinooks start to make their way home for some final feeding in preparation to head up both the Little Qualicum and Big Qualicum rivers. When these Chinooks start to stack up near the end of the month, it’s quite a spectacular fishery for trollers and jiggers alike. We’ll round out September with some great late-season Chinook fishing, and the coho will start to stack up along the beach as well.
Not to be overlooked is the steady bottom fishing for lingcod and rock cod, open from May 1-September 30. Crabbing and prawning is also productive in our area.
Darrell Jobb “Capt. D”
Western Star Charters
French Creek, BC
Wow, what a summer it’s been here in French Creek! There has been some of the best salmon fishing I’ve ever seen, including lots of big ones, so there’s no need to travel very far from here.
It really doesn’t seem to matter what you use. Everything is working, from spoons such as Irish Cream Skinny Gs to hoochies, bait, and plugs. Plugs are my favourite right now, as there’s nothing like fighting a big fish with no flasher drag. Try the 5″ UV Tomic plug; the pink one seems to be absolutely killer at the moment, but the green one is also hammering fish. The Humps, or what I like to call the hog trough, are producing some really nice Chinook and coho. When in doubt, fish in the mud for those really big lazy Chinook. You’ll even pick up coho down deep. Sangster Island is also producing some really nice slabs, and the same gear is working there—try the good ol’ Army Truck. Be aware, the bottom comes up very fast, so pay attention to your depth. We’ve also gotten really good reports coming in from Hornby Island area. Try the old faithful gold Betsy flasher with an Irish Cream or Cop Car Skinny G spoon.
The boat launch has been crazy, so remember: Have some patience and help one another out. It’s always a good practice to have your boat ready when you pull up to the launch. We are all out there to have fun and good times, so be respectful of one another. If you see a guy struggling at the launch, give him a hand.
Fishing has been excellent out front of the marina, where there are some great coho to be had at the moment. Anglers have been catching some real beauties the 10- to 12-lb range, with lots of hatcheries in the mix. Fish are shallow, like 60′ to 80′, but they are also down deep. A variety of spoons such as the Coho Killer and Kingfisher are producing well. So is bait, but bait can be a bit of a hassle, as there are a lot of dogfish around. If you’re catching lots of dogs, try speeding up.
The daybreak bite has still been the best. Chinook fishing has been absolutely insane! There seems to be an abundance of Chinook around with the average weight being 15 to 20 lbs, but there are also some really big brutes hanging around in to the high 20s. I recently released a tank that measured 39″.
A variety of gear is working. For spoons and hoochies, Pacific Net and Twine has some awesome plugs that are absolute must-haves; go see Nathan or Rob, tell them I sent you, and they will set you up.
So get out there and enjoy yourself in this awesome place that we call home. Just remember to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the weather.
Have you been fishing French Creek lately? You should—it’s been great!
Anglers are catching a ton of fish. The average size is about 10 to 15 lbs, but there have been some “brutes” in the high 20s! It really doesn’t seem to matter what you use, as the fish aren’t being too picky at the moment. Not to brag, and remember I’m not a fishing guide, but whatever I use—hoochies, spoons, plugs, bait—it all works in July. The last time out, I decided to switch it up a bit and run some old-school gear— the Kripple K and the old Tom Mack spoon. They absolutely hammered the fish! Just do yourself a favour: Start shallow at first light, and go deeper as the day progresses.
Serious texts and calls are coming in from the Ballenas area with some ridiculously big fish being caught and mostly released (bravo)! Spoons and hoochies seem to be the ticket there. Try experimenting around with different depths until you find the fish, and watch your fish finder for the bait.
Sangster Island is also on fire as I write this. There are some Godzilla fish being caught, and I I’ve gotten reports of a few Tyees. Most of the big guys seem to be coming in on bait and plugs. For bait, the slow roll is the ticket.
French Creek fishing in July can make even the first-time fisherman feel like a pro—it’s just that good. Fishing has been best on the slack tides, but the fish still seem to continue to bite throughout the day. Get here and get some now! Remember to pay attention to the weather and your surroundings, and wear that life jacket—it’s not going to do much good as a seat cushion.
There sure are some fantastic fishing opportunities happening right now at French Creek. The first light bite is fast and furious. Most of the time I can’t even get the second rod in the water before the first rod goes off.
The hot lure for me has been the Irish Cream Kingfisher spoon at 180′ behind the gold Betsy flasher; I’ve caught and released some absolute hogs on this setup. Glow white and small pink hoochies have also been hammering fish. Sangster Island has been on fire. Running bait has been the ticket there, shallow and tight to the pinnacles. Be careful, and pay attention—the bottom comes up fast, but it’s well worth it. Keep a good eye on the weather or you’ll take a beating coming back, and that’s no fun. Ballenas is also producing some really nice fish into the high teens. Spoons such as the Gibbs Skinny G in a variety of colours are the ticket there, but don’t forget to try a plug or bait.
Andy Lancaster and I are running a French Creek Tyee Club derby. It’s a season-long derby, and tickets are only 25 bucks per person. All proceeds go to the Marion Baker Fish Hatchery. Tickets are available at the French Creek store, and details can be found on the French Creek Fishing Reports Facebook page and the French Creek Tyee Club Facebook page. Remember, it’s all about getting out there and making some fantastic memories. But if we can generate a little help for the hatchery, they’d sure appreciate it, too!
Tight lines and good luck.
French Creek Fishing Report Archives
Fishing has been pretty good out on the humps at the low slack tide, and there have been some reports of some really nice fish coming in. Army Truck hoochies and the good old Irish Cream Skinny G or the Irish Cream Kingfisher spoon are super choices.
This time of year, I like to run bait. Bait, bait, bait! Sure, it’s a hassle, but well worth it. Any purple or green teaser heads have been working well for me, especially when fished in the mud. Experiment with leader length until you find what works for you; the speed will depend on what the tide is doing, so I don’t bother watching my tachometer. Ipay attention to the angle of my downrigger cable at 45 degrees.
Keep your hooks sharp, and I mean razor sharp—this can mean the difference of hooking that big fish or not.
As many of you know, I religiously run the gold and green Betsy flashers with great success. Make sure your barbs are pinched. Insert the hook in to a piece of clothing; If it slides out, it’s good to go.
We’re also getting great reports out of Ballenas, with some real beauties in the high teens caught on hoochies and spoons. Cop Car seems to be the ticket. As always, Sangster Island has been producing some really nice fish as well. Green Spatterback or Army Truck hoochies are my weapons of choice there. Watch the bottom; it comes up fast there. I am also hearing some really good reports coming in from Hornby Island area. Tribune Bay is producing some nice fish with the same colours as we’re using at French Creek. The daybreak bite is always the best for me, and there’s just something about being on the water as it starts to get light—the anticipation of that first hit is absolutely incredible!
Fishing has been decent if you’ve been able to get out between any wind storms. There have been good reports coming in from Hornby Island, and if you are thinking of giving it a try, fish the dawn. There has been some really nice fish coming in, up to the high teens, caught at depths 160′ to 240′ on hoochies and spoons. Try different speeds and depths until you find the bait. Stay on it, and you will have success. French Creek has been hit and miss, but we’ve seen some real beauties being caught out on the humps. Spoons like the Coho Killer, Skinny G, and Kingfisher have all been producing. Army Truck hoochies and the dark green Spatterback have also been doing really well. And of course, don’t forget to try a plug—fish deep and experiment with leader lengths; I usually start with three and a half times the length of a flasher, with results! Speed will vary depending on what the tide is doing.
I am also hearing really good reports in the Ballenas area, but watch your depth as the bottom comes up fast. Some guys seem to consistently catch fish, so watch what they are doing. It could be something as simple as trolling across the flow of boats. When you do finally get the big one in, it’s very important to get your gear back in as soon as possible—there are most likely more hogs in the area. Chinook typically travel together in small groups. Red, green, and silver flashers work well; the green resembles the greenish backs of schooling herring while red can resemble a ball of krill. It’s important to note that as you fish deeper, the colours will fade in to grey. When I fish below 100′, I like to run a silver or gold flasher. Most of the 30-lb Chinook caught on my boat have been caught with the green and gold Betsy flasher and the Irish Cream Skinny G or the Irish Cream Kingfisher spoons at depths from 200′ to 250′ on my rigger. Make sure to check your gear regularly. I like to check mine every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure there are no weeds or tangles and to make sure that the gear is fishing properly. Keep a good eye on the weather as it can change fast, and be prepared at all times. If you see me out there, make sure to say hi!
French Creek fishing has been absolutely spectacular! What a great summer of coho and Chinook fishing we have had, even with all the regulation changes this year. As we move into fall fishing, most of the salmon have reached their home rivers, but there are still some excellent fishing opportunities to be had.
Chum start to show up in our local waters, mainly off the mouth of the Big and Little Qualicum rivers, and they primarily feed on plankton and small squid. These fish can be hard to get to bite, but once you’ve figured it out it can be non-stop action. Chum react well to purples, greens, and pinks, and you want to troll slow. I run a dodger rather than a flasher, because you’ll want the side-to-side action as opposed to the rotation produced by a regular flasher. I run a pink and purple hoochie with about a 2- to 3-ft leader length. The top 100 ft of the water column is where you’ll find the most action. Pay attention to your fish finder. I have had mixed success when targeting chum in the French Creek area, but give it a try! There’s nothing like having the ocean to yourself on a brisk fall day—just make sure to pay attention to the weather.
There will still be late Chinook and some coho around as well, and as we head into November and December, we will see a decline in the action, but this is when the winter feeder Chinook will be around. These fish typically weigh in at 6 to 8 pounds with the odd “teenager” mixed in. Always fish on the bottom for these guys. Spoons, hoochies, and Betsy and Purple Haze flashers are favorites. Enjoy yourself out there, and don’t miss a chance to enjoy some beautiful fall and winter days on the water. It’s too spectacular not to. Good luck and tight lines!
Good luck and tight lines.
Fishing out front of French Creek has been absolutely incredible, and there’s been an abundance of fish around this summer!
This is a pink salmon year, and so we are all hopeful! However, sometimes there are so many that they can be a bit of a nuisance if you are not specifically targeting them. But they can be very aggressive and super fun to fight on light gear, so try downsizing a bit and try running a little 8-in white flasher with a pink hoochie or a little pink squirt. This classic setup has always worked well for me, and generally speaking, anything pink seems to work well. They can also be caught on a variety of spoons. When I’m targeting pinks at dawn, I usually run shallow in the 20- to 30-ft range and go deeper as the day gets brighter. Pinks are not a bad table fish, and I find if you bleed them and get them on ice right away, they taste pretty good.
Coho fishing is also doing extremely well, with a good mixture of both clipped and unclipped fish. Average size is about 4 to 6 lb, with the odd 10- to 12-lb coho being landed. Spoons such as Irish Cream Skinny G and the Gibbs Outfitter have been producing very well anywhere from 40 to 140 ft. I have also caught them as deep as 220 ft on the rigger, so keep an eye on your sounder. Army Truck hoochies and Green Spatter Backs are also producing consistently.
Chinook fishing has also been very good, with the bite at first light and on the tide changes. There are lots of big Chinook around at the moment, and there are steady reports of some really big fish being caught—I know of three Tyees so far! These big fish are feeding very aggressively as they migrate closer towards their home rivers. Anything seems to be working, from anchovies to spoons and hoochies. Here’s a hint: Fish deep!
Remember to respect each other out there and be aware of your surroundings. Always check the regulations, carry your licence, and don’t forget your descending device. Most importantly, have a blast—I know I will!
Good luck and tight lines.
The fishing out of French Creek has been absolutely fantastic, with good numbers of coho and Chinook being caught. It seems anything green has been the hot colour; lures and hoochies have been the most productive, but we are seeing some really good results on plugs, too. Try running just out of the marina and dropping your gear in 80 ft of water. This has been very productive for me and a few of my fellow anglers. The humps are still producing some really nice fish in the mid- to high twenties. Coho have to be hatchery clipped in order to keep, and Chinook still have to be released as quickly as possible.
We’ve also had some good reports coming in from Sangster Island and around Hornby Island.
There are some really big fish around at the moment, so be prepared—that little bite could be a monster.
Cod fishing has also been extremely good, with most of the action taking place around Sangster Island and around Texada. Buzz Bombs and bait seem to be the best bet.
The dogfish are also starting to show up, and the best way I found to avoid them is to pick up your speed a bit and check your gear frequently to avoid dragging one around when the bite’s on. Remember, you’re out there to have fun—catching the fish is just a bonus. This time of year, the boat launch can be a bit crazy. Just be patient; you’ll get your rig on the water. Help each other out down there to speed things up a bit.
Tight lines and good luck!
Fishing out front has slowed a bit, but it’s still good if you know where to look. There have been reports of some really decent salmon being caught and released. Most of the action has been out on what us locals call The Humps. Fishing deep with plugs and spoons has been the ticket. Remember, there is zero retention for Chinook salmon until mid-July, so please handle all salmon with care and release as quickly as possible.
Coho fishing has been hit and miss lately, but they are certainly starting to show themselves sporadically; some days they seem to be there and other days they are elusive. I always prefer that golden hour at daybreak which always seems to be the most productive for me—”first light, first bite.” Be sure to watch for breaks in the winds, and plan your day before you go. Try around Sangster Island, but be aware of the rapid depth changes, as they can make for tricky fishing and lost gear. There have been good reports coming in from around Ballenas Islands as well, so plan some time there. All the usual gear is working; experiment around with leader lengths to find that magical length. A nice combo is a Lemon-Lime flasher and an Irish Cream spoon at about 40″ if you are targeting coho, and a longer leader around 60″ for catch-and-release Chinook.
Lingcod fishing has been really good; try finding lots of structure on the bottom anywhere from 80 to 150 ft. For jigging, I like a herring with a banana weight, tight to the bottom. Several really big bucket mouths have been caught lately. Call me crazy, but it’s not entirely impossible to run into a halibut—what a rare treat that would be!
Tight lines and good luck!
This spring has started out with excellent fishing right out in front of French Creek Marina. There have been several fish caught in the high 20-lb range, with the average size being in the low to mid-teens.
With the new sportfishing regulations the DFO has implemented, keep in mind that May will be catch-and-release fishing for Chinook, as coho don’t open up till early June. If you are going out to sharpen your skills and enjoy a day on the water, always make sure to properly handle your fish, and try to release it as quickly as possible. For coho, try running the Irish Cream Coho Killers behind a Purple Haze flasher, and run shallow and a bit faster than you would for Chinook—coho respond very well to crazy, fast, erratic prey. Always pay attention to what the tide is doing, and experiment with techniques like trolling across the tide instead of with it, or against. I find that a zigzag pattern works well for me.
One of my favourite all time lures is the Gibbs Skinny G Irish Cream spoon. This sweetheart seems to work for all species of salmon. Try running it behind a gold and green Betsy flasher. I typically run about 3 to 5 feet from my flasher to lure.
Chinook are usually found deep out front of French Creek. Big Chinook are lazy; I find they don’t like to chase a fast-moving lure, so try running really slow. I typically fish the bottom anywhere from 200 to 240 ft on my rigger, with a 20-lb cannonball. I also run the Gibbs Cop Car Skinny G behind a gold and green Betsy flasher, but I’m sure any flasher color will work. Also try running Army Truck hoochies, and don’t forget the good old Cop Car Apex—a staple!
Keep a good eye on the weather, as it can blow up very fast out there. Be prepared at all times with safety equipment, and make sure to have your life jackets on. Go out, have fun, and be safe. If you spot me, be sure to wave! Good luck and tight lines.
This 2019 season has started out very well out front of French Creek, and we’ve seen many happy anglers. Fish have been coming in in good numbers 10- to 15-lb range, as well as the odd bigger one. At this time of year the spring tend to be in the 200-ft or deeper range, but are well worth the battle. Fishing usually slows down in the second half of February and into March as the herring move in to spawn along the shores of our area. This event can be spectacular to watch, and it provides some great opportunities to stock up on bait for fishing. You can use a simple herring rig that can be cast from the shore and twitched back, usually bringing in a few herring each cast—be sure to check local regulations and limits.
Don’t give up hope on fishing for springs; they may be full on herring but can be fooled into biting with some fresh-cut strip or anchovy in a teaser head. Try varying your leader lengths—shorter for faster roll on bait or longer to slow the roll.
Prawning has been amazing this year, out front and various other places like Lasqueti Island, Mistaken Island, and the Nanoose area, as well as around Deep Bay. There have been lots of boats heading out to these areas setting the prawn gear and salmon fishing while the traps soak—what a way to spend a calm sunny day. Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as it can change quickly in the strait this time of year. Crabbing has been slow so far, though every now and again someone gets lucky and gets a couple of keepers. This year seems promising so far. Be safe on the water and enjoy.
Another great year has come and gone, but it was full of fun sun and great memories. September can be very productive at the Little Qualicum and Big Qualicum Rivers, with springs waiting to get up into the rivers. Fishing off these areas is a lot shallower than off of French Creek. Small pink hootchies tend to work well at the rivers, as well as many plugs. Fishing is usually in the 30- to 50-ft range at the rivers–troll slow and make gentle turns to vary the depth of your gear. Lots of the fish are starting to turn darker, but there still is the odd nice bright silver fish for the taking. Coho stocks have been great this year and should remain around into October, allowing some great beach fishing at French Creek as well as in other surrounding areas. Lingcod and rockfish should remain open until the end of September, but watch the regulations for early closures. Crabbing has been less than stellar again this year; everyone is hoping next season or the winter will be better. Don’t be afraid to try some late-season spring fishing—usually they are deep and well worth the time.
As for freshwater fishing, once the lakes have cooled down, the trout will become more active and take just about anything offered up to them. Horne Lake can be great in the fall, whether you’re fishing off the shore or from a boat. Try trolling the area close to the campground or where any stream comes in to the lake—these areas can offer up some nice trout on just about any gear. Spider Lake can remain good until the weather turns colder; try trolling a leech close to the bottom or a willow leaf with wedding band tipped off with a bit of worm.
That’s it for this year. Get out and try winter fishing, and thanks to all for a great season.
This summer has been truly amazing, with springs and cohos showing up in big numbers, so let’s hope it carries on. Near the end of August the springs will start moving towards the river mouths, and fishing off the Little Qualicum River is very popular from mid-August into September. Try fishing with a small pink hoochie and a flasher; a variety of plugs may be effective, too. Fishing at the river is kind of a treat, as you don’t have to fish deep–50 to 60 feet usually does the trick. Once the salmon start moving in and around the river mouth they start to change colours, ranging from an almost coppery colour to jet black, but don’t get me wrong: there is some nice silver salmon at the mouth of the river. Make sure you check your regulations for any in season changes.
Beach fishing for coho starts in late August and goes into September; the most popular spots are Nile Creek and here at French Creek off the rock in the bay. Try casting small lures such as Buzz Bombs, small orange spoons, or little minnow-like lures such as L’il Nib. Fly fishing is another popular way to try and catch coho; some people wade out while others prefer to use pontoon boats or belly boats.
The lakes are generally fairly slow for trout this time of year, and your best bet will to fish deep in deeper lakes. Early morning and evening may bring some feeding trout to the surface, and you may just be lucky enough to get one on the fly. River fishing with flies or spinners is a great way to relax. You can simply grab your favorite rod, a pair of shorts, and some shoes, and wade the river in search of trout.
August can bring lots of great fishing opportunities. Get out and enjoy a day on the water. Take a kid too–they will love it.
Calm waters, kids out of school, and great fishing opportunities–does life get any better than this? Summer is in full swing here at French Creek, and so is salmon fishing. If you are fishing early morning, start shallow and work your way deeper as the morning progresses. The faithful Army Truck, Cop Car, and Purple Haze hootchies should do the trick, but don’t be afraid to try something different, such as Blood and Bones Lemon Meringue or some sort of spoon like Skinny G or Coyote. You’ll never know what else will work if you don’t try different gear every now and again. Fishing bait this time of year can be frustrating, as you will catch many dogfish.
Here at French Creek we have lots of folks that would rather mooch for salmon than troll. It is a great way to spend a morning or evening honing your technique with the right lure such as Buzz Bombs, Mac Deeps, Zzingers, Zeldas, etc. When you manage to hook up on a nice salmon you don’t have the extra drag of the flasher, making the fish more fun to fight.
The boat launch ramp tends to get very busy in the summer months. Patience is somewhat important, as the person ahead of you may not have the skills or the same ability to offload or load their boat as you do. Sometimes offering to help out a fellow boater goes a long way. It also speeds up the process.
This time of year, the lakes can still offer some good fishing. If you are trolling, you may have to fish a little deeper than normal if the weather is hot. Fly fishing is a good bet this time of year. Watch for where the fish are rising and what kind of insects they are eating, and you should do all right. Lakes are often best fished early morning or toward the evening.
Don’t forget about the local rivers. There are many good fishing opportunities on the Little Qualicum, Big Qualicum, and the Englishman if you are fishing flies or chucking your favourite spinner.
Enjoy this time of year! Get out and fish, have fun, and relax. The season is never long enough.
June already. Wow! Here we go again with another summer of great fishing. We head into the month with our rod tips held high and much excitement in the air. If this year is anything like last year, it will be another amazing season here at French Creek.
This year we are seeing many new faces at the harbour launching their boats and heading out on a new fishing adventure. Some of the best fishing out front will still be in deep water. Try fishing in 160 to 220 feet of water, but don’t rule out the shallower depths if that depth is not working.
We all have our favorites that we dread telling anyone about, and then there are the good ol’ standbys like Army Truck spoon and hootchies and spoons, Green and White Splatter Back, as well as Purple Haze. There are so many Coyote spoons, the possibilities are endless.
My best advice is get out there and run some gear, vary the depths, and change up colours and leader lengthsÑlike shorter for faster action and longer for a slower roll on the lure.
There are so many areas to fish here. We have Sangster and Young Point at the south end of Lasqueti; islands like the Ballenas Islands, Gerald Island and many others; or stay close and fish the humps. Rockfish should be open, and there are some fantastic spots around the island and reefs for lings and rockfish.
Remember to check that you are not in a Rockfish Conservation Area.
On the fresh water scene, Spider Lake has been producing lots of nice fish even early on in the season. Fly fishing from any form of boat works well, as does fishing from the shore with power bait or worms. A slow troll with a leech or gang troll, tipped with some worm, does the job well at this lake. Horne Lake is also good. It is a deeper lake and offers good fishing by shore or boat.
Wherever and whatever adventure you set out on in June, have fun and enjoy the great fishing opportunities we have in our area.
Here we go again, full force, into what we hope will be another stellar salmon season. A lot of us have been just itching to bring our boats out of hibernation and get out on the water and do what we do best—fish. Here at French Creek we have had some good winter spring fishing as well as some decent days of prawning, but we have noticed that crab fishing is still slow like last season, not sure why but hopefully it returns this year. The most productive spots to find Chinooks at this time of year are the two humps that are just a short run up the beach. But why run, troll your way there. It saves fuel and you don’t miss the other great areas such as the area right out in front of the Harbour; at about 140 feet of water, start putting gear out, hit the 200 foot mark and head up the beach to the green roof and fish around there, then proceed to the humps. This time of year, bait like anchovies and herring work well as the dog fish tend not to be as much of a nuisance. Some of the standby lures for out here have been the Army Truck, Black and White Cop Car , Green and White Splatter Back; most of these lures can be found in either hoochies or spoons.
Remember that bottom fish like ling cod, snapper, rock don’t open until May but it is best to consult the regulations for your area. With any luck this year is going to be another one to remember, and hopefully there will still be buzz in the air at this time next year about this season we are about to have.
On the fresh water scene, it usually is slow at this time of year, but in April as the weather warms up the trout will become more active. Spider lake seems to be a favorite for the locals here as it is stocked, and fishing is usually productive from the beach or out in a boat. Trolling a gang troll and wedding band work well; you need to try a couple different colours until you find what they are interested in. Trolling a leech fly pattern of your choice works well also and later in the season floating flies work well. There are a few good lakes in the area worth trying; Cameron lake offers good beach fishing as well as boating. Horne Lake is great too; it offers beach and boat fishing.
Whatever your passion for fishing is, salt or fresh or both, get out there and enjoy, make some new memories with family and friends, and be safe.
Sadly we watch summer wind down. It has been a great season here so far with many salmon bagged and tons of happy fishermen. We hope for another great fall and winter season of fishing here at French Creek and surrounding areas. September can still offer some great fishing at the Little Qualicum and Big Qualicum Rivers for springs waiting to get up into the rivers. Fishing off these areas is a kind of a treat as you get to fish a lot shallower than off of French Creek.
Small pink hootchies work well at the rivers as well as many plugs and spoons. Fish in the 30- to 50-foot range at the rivers; troll slow and make gentle turns to vary the depth of your gear.
At this time of year, the springs are starting to turn darker than the nice bright summer fish we saw earlier on but there still is the possibility of a nice bright fish. Coho in the area should remain around into October.
Lingcod and rock fish should remain open until the end of September, but watch regulations for early closures. A nice way to round out the day or while waiting for the lull of salmon biting is to bottom bounce for lingcod and rock fish. Crabbing has been a little slower this year, but if you don’t put a trap out while you are out there you might not reap the rewards of crabbing. Make sure if setting crab traps you have a good amount of bait in your traps, the oilier the better. Prawns have been hit and miss this year but if you don’t try you don’t get them.
Once the lakes have cooled down, the trout will become more active again and take just about anything offered up to them. Horne Lake can be great fishing in the fall whether you’re fishing off the shore or from a boat. Try trolling the area close to the campground or where any stream comes into the lake. These areas can offer up some nice trout on just about any gear. Spider and Horne Lake can remain good until the weather turns colder on us. Try trolling a leech close to the bottom, a willow leaf with wedding band tipped off with a bit of worm or maybe even some power bait from your favorite lawn chair on the beach.
Well, it’s been a great season. We here at French Creek are sad to see it start to wind down but, hey, there’s always winter fishing if you are brave.[/collapse][collapse id=”shortcode2″ title=”August 2017″ open=”n”]Days are starting to seem a little shorter. I’m pretty sure that shorter daylight hours will soon be cutting into our fishing time, but let’s still make the best of it.
Towards the middle to the end of August, people who fish from here start snooping around the Little Qualicum River and the Big Qualicum River in search of Chinooks waiting for their chance to head up the river without getting a hook to the lip.
Trolling at the rivers usually results in getting to fish less than the 200 feet. It sounds tempting I bet. Fishing at the Little Qualicum River or Big Qualicum early morning or evening seems to be the best time to catch springs at the river. Although there are plenty of fish at the river don’t forget to try out front—we still get plenty of nice silver fish while river fish can be a little darker.
Lighter colour gear tends to work well in the summer months like blood and bones yellow and white green speckle back, and don’t forget to try all the new flashers out there like the Moon Jellies etc.
The best way to find out the latest and greatest lure is to check out your favorite local tackle shop. They usually have a great knowledge of what is working. Coho should be kicking around closer to shore offering up some great fishing for them right off the beach. For the coho on the water green or bluish hootchies work well or spoons; if you are beach fishing small spoons like crocodiles or mepps and small buzz bombs can work very well. If fly-fishing try a bead head California Neil or just about any sparsely wrapped green fly.
The freshwater fishing is often a little slower this time of year but you can still catch some nice trout if you put your mind to it. Fishing on the Little Qualicum with dry flies can provide a lot of fun most days. Shore fishing with a nice cold beverage is a great way to make a day go by. Try using some power bait or a bit of worm and a bobber. Horne Lake, Cameron Lake and Spider Lake are all good bets.[/collapse][collapse id=”shortcode1″ title=”April 2017″ open=”n”]The time has once again to shine up the gear and the boat if you haven’t done it already. We had a great winter spring salmon season for those who choose to get out and brave the elements. The fish were a nice size varying from the 10 to 15 pound range and of course lots of tons of undersize fish just to keep your fighting arm in practice.
We hope to see the summer season that will offer up great fishing like we had last year. For the early season, try running your leaders a little longer than you normally would in the summer say if you fish a 48” leader with your hootchie or spoon maybe try a 60” to slow the action of your lure down. Bait like herring and anchovies work very well this time of year before the dogfish move in from the deeps try trolling them with a teaser head or give power mooching a try you just never know what is going to work. If trolling bait is not your thing, try out a few different hootcies or spoons like Cop Car hootchie or spoon, Army Truck hootchie or spoon, Purple Haze hootchie or spoon, Green and White Speckle back hootchie or just plain white seem to be great go-to lures here.