Gulf Islands South Fishing Report – Island Fisherman Magazine

Gulf Islands South Fishing Report


Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the Gulf Islands South area. Tips, best practices, places and the go-to lures are just a sample of what you’ll find in our fishing report.

 

Gulf Islands South Tides


 

Gulf Islands South Weather

 


Gulf Islands South Fishing Report

September 2019

September and October should offer plenty of fun fishing around the Gulf Islands. Pinks should still be lurking around, and the coho will be moving through. Going after the bite in the morning on the tide change or late evening is the ticket. Start off shallow, going 30 to 60 ft at least on one line and maybe dropping the other side down to 80 ft. Stack your rods and run lots of gear—these fish like the bling. You can’t go wrong with the pink hoochie and green flasher. Use an 18- to 22-in leader length and try your 3-in spoons with multiple colors—make sure you clean them up and have fresh barbless hooks done up. Bright-colored hoochies also work well. Try to speed up a bit, then slow down as the coho tend to like a bit faster troll while the pinks like a slower speed.

So far it looks like Collinson Point this side of Active Pass is still open, and this can be a productive place to fish on a tide change this time of year. Stack your gear on the downriggers, and try not to turn too sharp or you’ll end up with a good tangle. The tide can also give you a good tangle, as it can rip through this spot. If the wind isn’t blowing heavy from the northwest, try fishing Salamanca Point or go out to the reef just off the point. The reef comes up to around 250 ft of water, so try going back and forth over the reef at 60 to 180 ft on the down riggers. While a slack tide is nice, fishing out over the reef seems to be a better spot when the tide is running stronger.

Always check the local regulations prior to going out, and don’t forget—your life jacket is much easier to put on before you fall in the water.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

Gulf Islands South Fishing Report Archives

August 2019

August should be a great month to fish pinks, coho, and Chinook around the Gulf Islands. Check your local regulations before you head out to make sure the area you are fishing is open due to the new area closed regulations.

August is a good time to dig out the pink hoochie and green flashers. When the coho and pinks are around, I like to stack my rods on the downrigger and run some dummy flashers; these fish love the bling in the water. Try running a surface rod as well. When running this much gear, remember not to turn the boat too sharply, as you will end up with tangled gear.

If you are fishing outside Galliano, be sure to check the weather—20- to 30-mph NW winds are not your friend out there. Also, check for the rock fish conservation areas, as there are a few. If Collision Point is open, it could be a good spot to try; just before the flood and slack tide is a good time to fish there. I have had good luck with the Tiger Prawn hoochie and Army Truck and Glow 3.5-in spoons in this area. You might also try the Bloody Nose teaser head or Glow Watermelon teaser head with a 4-ft leader to the flasher. Beaver Point and Morsby Island will hold a few fish as well.

Remember to try different depths and look for the feed on your sounder. This time of year I typically have a pink hoochie running off the boat, as the pinks tend to show up on the odd years. Always net these fish on the side of the boat; don’t net from the back of the boat with someone reeling the fish in behind you, as the pinks have soft mouths and the hook can come flying at you—I know this from experience.

It is going to feel warm out on the water, but remember life jackets as the currents are strong around the Gulf Islands.

Tight lines.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

July 2019

July will bring the big Chinooks in and around the Gulf Islands. They are ready to start their migration up the local rivers, feeding as much as they can before they head into the rivers. Mid-size coho should start showing up in the mix, as well as a few pink salmon. Be sure to check DFO regulations so you know what’s open when you hit the water.

The big Chinooks will have plenty of fight in them, which will make for some non-stop catch-and-release action for you and your guests. In the Strait of Georgia the water can be murky this time of year, so glow spoons, teaser heads, and flashers are a good idea. Check your gear regularly, as the weeds get on your gear, and salmon don’t eat salad. When the water is clear, I like to use less glow gear.

With the new catch-and-release rules for Chinook until July 31, I recommend using small hooks, as you will still get the same action and do a lot less damage to your fish. Try not to handle them too much, and play the fish until it is ready to come to the boat. A good pair of needlenose pliers works great to get those hooks out of your fish.

July is a good time to start trying out some of those multi-coloured hoochies and spoons—watermelon for those coho and your favorite pink hoochie for the pink salmon—use a glow green flasher and 18-in leader with the hoochie for those pinks.

Run lots of gear when there are lots of coho and pink salmon around, as they like lots of bling in the water.

When fishing this time of year, run a different depth on each side of the boat until you find the depth where the fish are biting—20 ft could be the difference between having the bite on or not. Have a surface rod out as well—you never know.

Tight lines.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

June 2019

June will bring the start of the big Chinooks. While it’s now catch and release, its still a great time to get out and have some fun. Chinooks this time of year are from the top to the bottom—try running a surface line and look for bait on your sounder to see what depth you’re going to try. When fishing around the Gulf Islands, make sure you check the DFO regulation for any rockfish conservation areas. Also check your marine weather—trying to fish on a 20 to 30 km NW wind is a no-go on the Strait of Georgia, but fishing around Moresby Island, Coal Island, and Beaver Point could be an option to get out of the wind.

Glow hoochies, 3.5″ to 4″ spoons, and bait all work well this time of year. Hootchies 18-36″ leader, spoons 24-60″ leader. Leader length depends on how clean the water is and the speed of your troll. The Fraser River can make the water dark, so you may want to shorten up your leader length and glow flasher and spoons/hoochies/teaser heads. To improve your chances, try to fish on slack ebb or flood tide; the bite seems to come on better throughout the tide change. Check your gear regularly, as there is a lot of debris in the water this time of year. Have a cloth to wipe your line when fishing in the Strait of Georgia as the algae in the water can gum up your line. If you want to see what the locals are up to, check out Salt Spring Island Anglers on Facebook, where there is a lot of conversation on what’s working and what’s not.

Remember, if you’re not out fishing, you’re not out catching. Tight lines.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

May 2019

May will be a good time to grab your crab traps and set them when you head out to fish for the day. Dig out some of that old frostbitten fish or that chicken that’s been in the freezer since 2016. Remember your limit, check your crab sizes, and be aware of the regulations in your area.

The new regulations mean we are now catch and release on all Chinook until Aug 1. While you cannot keep any Chinook, we are all out there to have a good time. Playing the fish and getting a picture with a quick release is 99% of why we fish. When I first received the news of the non-retention, I thought it would hurt the fishing charter business, but just the opposite has happened: All of my pre-booked guests are more then happy to catch and release, since the Gulf Islands is one of the most beautiful places on the coast. May fishing will start to bring the big fish in. Fishing an hour before and an hour after tide changes should produce some results. As always, look for the bait on your sounder.

Outside of Galliano, the water can be murky this time of year from all the snow melt coming from the Fraser River water. So get your glow spoons and flashers on glow teaser heads and glow hoochies work as well. The murky water is normally just the top 2 to 10 ft, but it makes it dark underneath. The herring should be on the move around the Gulf Islands, so I like to run one side of the gear near the bottom and the other side mid-water or where I see bait on the sounder. If you have to go old school, then look for the birds—always a good sign. These being an odd year, expect to see some pink salmon start to show up later on in the summer. Some days it can be spotty on the fishing, so make sure you have a new or sharp barbless hook on check all your leader line and line on your reel. Samsun Narrows has been producing some nice fish this time of year, as have the Wain Rock, Bold Bluff, and Fairfax Point areas. Always check the weather, and remember that the DFO is doing lots of air patrols, so know the closed RCA areas before you go out. If it takes you 4 hours to go get milk, don’t let the wife see you leaving the yard towing the boat.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

March 2019

March and April are some best months to be fishing around the Gulf Islands. Many people are going out and putting down their prawn traps, dropping a couple of lines, and picking up some nice winter Chinooks. Some hotspots for these winter Chinooks are Wain Rock out of Saanich, Bold Bluff off Saltspring Island, Erskine Point off Saltspring Island, Tent Island, Fairfax Point off Moresby Island, and Pender Bluffs. These are all inside waters and protected from weather for the most part, but always check the weather and check the regulations to make sure the spot is open for fishing and prawning.

I like to run the Cop Car, Irish Cream, Kermit, or glow Speckle Back spoons 3.5 to 4 inches. Glow flashers with glow spoons are deadly this time of year, if you get the right colour and the right depth. The best times to fish are an hour before and an hour after the low or high slack tides.

Now that you have tried the inside waters, check your weather and tides and have a look at doing a run out to Thrasher Rock, Porlier Pass, or Salamanca; try the same combo of lures and maybe even try a few hoochies and bait—green glow combo works well. When I fish outside Galiano Island this time of year, I, like to fish 220 to 120 ft of water. Make sure you know the closed areas before you go out. You’ll find a mix of small and larger fish, so you will be releasing several fish throughout the day–handle them with care and check your lines often. Look for bait balls on your sounder and troll right through the middle of them.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

Sept-Dec 2018

September and October will see some action around the Gulf Islands. Sockeye are on their way, so what do you need to do? First off, if you are the last person on the grounds, you have probably missed the bite. This is an early morning fish, so charge up your head lamps and get the alarm set. Standard fishing for these fish is an 18” to 22” leader with pink hoochies. Flasher green glow or green/chrome flasher slow your speed down a bit, and if you can have lots of gear in the water, stack your rods 20 ft apart.

Salimanca Point, Polier Pass, and the mouth of the Fraser are going to be the hot spots. Watch for the northwest winds if you are going to cross the Strait of Georgia. Check the new closed areas for the Fraser River and make sure you’re not in them. There are still some nice springs around; look for bait as always and try fishing top waters at 30 to 80 ft. Skinny G Spoons and Coho Killers seem to be working, as well as the 3.5” to 4” spoons in glow green with green chrome flashers.

If you are fishing for Chinooks, look for tide changes. I like to fish an hour before and hour after tide change—morning or evening tide change seem to work. Always work one side of your gear to wherever you see feed on your sounder. I like to leave one side at one depth while working another side at different depths. If you’re working your gear a lot and out for the day, don’t forget to fire up your big motor once in awhile as the downriggers can burn up some juice on your batteries.

The word is that Pender Bluffs are supposed to be open October 1; check the regulations. With the late rainfalls, this could be the hot spot for some later coho fishing and maybe the tail end of the sockeye run. Cohos like lots of gear. I like to run the Watermelon teaser head with bait or Watermelon spoons—whatever you have in the tackle box with color, rusty hooks excluded. Remember that coho are not a tough fish, so try not to handle them too much. Make sure when you release the fish that you do it in a gentle manner—not throwing them off 20 feet with the gaff.

Tight lines.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

August 2018

August will bring in a variety of fish, with perhaps a good chance to see some sockeye and the beginning of the cohos. Some bigger Chinook salmon will be on the move to the Fraser, Cowichan, and Nanaimo Rivers. Our area to fish around the gulf islands has been cut back a lot with the new DFO regulations, so you need to plan your fishing according to the tides and the new closed areas. I like to get out an hour before high or low slack and fish an hour after tide change, considering the calmer closed areas around Pender Bluffs and Active Pass. If you fish south of the Strait of Georgia, make sure you check the weather before you go out; trying to fish in the gulf on a NW 20-25 is no fun, and could be the last time the family wants to get out on the water with you.

Fishing from Lion Isle to Polier Pass can be very good in August; look for the RCA areas prior to going out, as there are a few. I like to fish mid-water at 100 to 120 ft, or wherever I see the bait on the sounder. Green Glow flasher with a Tiger Prawn hoochie or 3″-4″ Green Glow spoons work well. I also like to use the Bloody Nose teaser head with a Glow Green flasher, and a 5-ft leader works well this time of year. Once you get your downrigger lines down, try throwing out a surface bucktail line with a 6-oz slip weight–there could be a few fish up top that may surprise you.

If you are fishing inside near Morsby Island, again know the new closed areas before you fish. My favorite is the Green Glow Coho Killer spoon or Cop Car spoon; Sand Lance and Pesca spoons also work well. When fishing close to Morsby Island, run one side until you hit the bottom, then bring up 3 ft the other side and try to run mid-water. I like to run my glow spoons on the bottom rigger, as they can take a bit more when hitting the bottom, and run bait or hoochies mid-water. Don’t be afraid to try some spoons/hoochies and teaser heads with lots of color in them this time of year, as the cohos should be showing from the middle to the end of August. Dogfish can be a problem when fishing bait in these waters; if you can’t keep them off, try speeding up your trolling a little bit.

If Pender Bluffs was your go-to spot, try going over to Beaver Point. A lot of fish migrate right by the point; some big ones have been caught around this spot. Watch the bottom–it can be a bit grabby. If you have fished all these spots in a day and still have had no luck, then check your boat for bananas. Tight lines.

 

Kurt Irwin
Saltspring Reel Action
www.ssireelaction.ca
(250) 537-6613

July 2018

There are big changes in Southern Gulf Islands fishing this year. If you’re headed out, take note of recent Chinook closures.

July is the middle child of the fishing season. She’s not the hot and heavy fishery we have all come to love and respect from the spring fishery. She’s moody and slightly dull in this neck of the woods. But don’t turn your back to her–fish are still available to those who work for it.

This is the time of year to return to structure. From Sidney to Thrasher, think about getting back to the basics. Fish will start holding on rock piles, kelp beds, and upwellings. The gear takes a small shift from hardware and spoons to more meat. Don’t leave home without some anchovies and/or herring. If you insist on being a gearhead, think scent. Lengthen your leaders and play with depth.

With structure being key, Porlier, Coal Island, Fair Fax, Salamanca, Lions Islet, first through second cable all being your friend. Rub the contours and earn it.

Spoons and hootchies will work, but this time of year I adjust my gear to meat! If fishing the straight and dirty water, think glow heads and flashers. If further south, think UV and clear.

This is a time of year where bass are active, especially smallmouth. Plan your approach according to the day at hand or for light conditions. Water temperature is rising, so crankbaits and spinner baits worked fast by structure will result in steady bites.

July is still a good month for the fly fisher, as the early morning and evening hatches can result in epic fishing. Mid-day nymph patterns stripped along shoals can make or break the day.
July is truly a mixed bag. It’s a transitional month in our region, one that this year comes with restrictions we’ve never faced until now. But the beauty of fishing is that we constantly evolve and move forward.

 

Sean Hart
[email protected]
250-266-1581

June 2018

June is basically the continuation of our May fishery, and it may offer slightly better action, with Porlier Pass, Salamanca Point to Second Cable, and the famed Thrasher Rock being the biggest producers. Fish will be throughout the water column, so it’s important to play with depths. 50-to 170-foot running spoons, hootchies, anchovies, and small herring will all produce. Glow is your friend, as the surface water in the strait can be murky this time of year. So light it up and add scent, especially if they are running deep.

Other areas that will produce, but not likely in the same kind of numbers, are Pender Bluffs, Tumbo Channel, Sidney Channel, and Hambley Point. Halibut fishing the Sidney area and south towards Victoria can produce for the patient angler too–it’s definitely an anchor show, and pay attention to the tides. If the dogfish get thick, use scented grubs.

Freshwater Report

June is prime time on Salt Spring for some fast-paced smallmouth bass in the shallows, or you can target trout in one of the many lakes that are annually stocked.

Bass will get up in the skinny water at this time of year, so think top-water baits early in the morning or at dusk. During the middle of the day, shallow-running crank baits, spinner baits, and jigs will produce just off the ledge or in and around docks. The same applies for the fly fisherman. Use poppers of varying sizes early and late in the day, and weighted minnow and leach patterns during the heat of the day. Smallmouth love structure, so focus your efforts in and around docks, submerged logs, and rocky points.

Trout fishers can have great success trolling small spinners, spoons, and plugs, running the ledge and doing long tacks until you find fish. Focusing on that area will put more fish in the boat. Fly fishermen have lots of options this time of year, either simply trolling attractor patterns with various weighted lines, anchoring up on likely shoals and casting weighted nymphs and leeches on floating lines, or matching whatever hatch is emerging that day and enjoying the slurp of a large trout as he eats your presentation off the surface.

The lakes are all different. If you’re after numbers of fish and family-friendly fishing, think Stowel Lake and Blackburn, both small lakes that are full of smaller trout. If you’re looking for a combination fishery of bass and trout, Cusheon and Saint Mary’s are the ticket. As for trophy trout, have a go at Weston lake (fly only) or Saint Mary’s, which holds the largest bass and trout on the island.

June is truly one of the best months to fish around these parts, so fuel up your saltwater rig for some longer runs. Or throw your tinny in your truck and grab the kids for some memorable time on the lakes.

 

Sean Hart
[email protected]
250-266-1581

May 2018

May in the southern Gulf Islands is quite possibly the best time to fish this area. We still have feeder fish (winter springs) in the mix. And the first wave of river-bound fish arrives with a bang. The prime area is the east side of Galiano, from Lions Islet to Porlier Pass. But remember to check the charts for RCA zones, as we have many. Fish can be found from 50 to 200 feet, so it’s a good time of year to run multiple rods and/or work the gear to search them out, like 4” glow spoons, four to five feet behind a flasher, glow hootchies and of course bait. Anchovies and small herring can often out-produce artificials this time of year. Trolling from Lions Islet to the Second Cable is a very productive tack. Remember to turn around if you hit fish, as they will hold in certain areas with the tide/current. Then from just above the RCA to Porlier Pass, sometimes inside tack; other days it pays to troll into the abyss and play with depths. Other areas to focus on are Pender Bluffs, between the two bird-stained rocks. East side of Mandarte, Coal Island, Hambley Point, and bottom end of Saturna Island/Tumbo Channel.

May is also the opening for bottom fish in these parts. Again, pay close attention to the RCA zones. Search out pinnacles on your charts and try to jig around slack tides for best results.

We are blessed with some incredible freshwater fishing on Salt Spring Island, with most lakes receiving annual stocking. Rainbows, cutthroat and smallmouth bass are all available. May is a great month to target all of the above. Saint Mary’s Lake and Cusheon Lake have smallmouth bass. These fish are up on their beds this time of year. So catch and release, as they are in spawning mode. Early morning and evening can be wicked top water times, popper flies or top water plugs can produce violent takes. During the day, crank baits and spinner baits worked through the shallows produce well. For trout, trolled leach flies, spinners and small spoons will work. For the purist fly fishermen, try Weston Lake; some trophy trout can be fooled with damsel nymph patterns, dragonfly nymphs and stickleback flies. A great lake to take the kids is Stowel. It’s a small lake, with plenty of hungry fish.

May is a great time around these parts. From saltwater salmon to chunky smallmouth bass, we’ve got something for everyone.

 

Sean Hart
[email protected]
250-266-1581


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