French Creek Fishing Report – Island Fisherman Magazine

French Creek Fishing Report

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.

 

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French Creek Weather


French Creek Fishing Report

August 2019

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.
 

Brad Hay
Local Fisherman
(604) 865-0855

French Creek Fishing Report Archives

July 2019

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!
 

Brad Hay
Local Fisherman
(604) 865-0855

June 2019

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!
 

Brad Hay
Local Fisherman
(604) 865-0855

May 2019

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.
 

Brad Hay
Local Fisherman
(604) 865-0855

March 2019

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.

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Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

Sept-Dec 2018

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.

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Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

August 2018

Saltwater Fishing

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.

Freshwater Fishing

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.

 

Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

July 2018

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.

Fresh Water

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.

 

Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

June 2018

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.

Lures

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.

Fresh Water

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.

 

Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

May 2018

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.

 

Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

Sept/Dec 2017

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.

Fresh Water

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.

Fresh Water

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.

 

Harbour Authority of French Creek
(250) 248-5051
[email protected]

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