Gulf Islands South Marine Map
Gulf Islands South Marine Weather Forecast
Gulf Islands South Fishing Report
The pink and coho salmon have shown up in numbers, and this year is shaping up to be pretty good. It’s been a year where you have had to wait and see what was open, but once you land on the fish they are there. More than ever have we had to use our sounder and fish finders to look for the bait.
Once you get your gear to where the feed is during the correct tides, the fish are on the line. Most years I will troll a fairly large area looking for feed. With the limited time and area to fish this year, once I find some good feed I do some tight turns and work the bait almost as if I am the fish feeding. With the warm dry weather, the fish seem to be going fairly deep mid-day as the hot sun bakes down.
As we all know, pinks like lots of gear, so load up two rods per downrigger with a pink hoochie and Green Glow flasher— my favorite combo for these non-stop action fish. Bleed them, rinse them, and eat fresh—you can’t beat a fresh pink salmon.
I had a friend smoke and can some pinks for me, and they turned out great. If you don’t know how to smoke and can salmon, then look for the friend that does. After they have spent 4 days smoking and canning fish for you, get them out fishing—that seems like a fair trade. There’s also an article on the Island Fisherman website called “Canning Salmon Like the Pros”. Search the site for “canning” and it will come up.
Even in September or later, you’ll need sunscreen, but try to put it on at home. Sunscreen and handling your gear don’t always mix. If you have a whole family or group, at least ask them to apply out on the back deck. My last guests tried to put sunscreen on in the cabin, and next thing I knew there was a full broken tube of sunscreen squirting all over the inside of my boat. When cleaning sunscreen from inside of your boat seats floor and roof I like to use Meguiar’s vinyl and rubber conditioner.
Saltspring Reel Action
August is here, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that the area will be open to retain Chinooks. Pinks and a few coho should be around, too. Look for the tide change and remember that first daylight is going to get some good action on the rods. Some like to fish
the evening, but I prefer the morning because the weather changes so much and you have more options when starting early. As we all know, pinks love the bling. Stack up the rods, shorten up the leader length to 18″ to 28″, and try pink hoochies with green flashers.
We have had some extreme heat over the last few months, and it’s unclear how that will affect the salmon returns in the local rivers. Hopefully the Cowichan River, Goldstream River, and Nanaimo River systems have good water flow for returning salmon to spawn.
The seal population is flourishing, so if you’re having a bad day fishing, don’t hesitate to stop and have a few words with the seals. I always like to let my guests get some good pictures of the seals and let them know how well they get to eat around the Gulf Islands. If the salmon fishing is slow, you’ve lost all your cod lures, and it’s lunch time, there are some great pubs and restaurants around. Try Moby’s Pub on Salt Spring Island (just park and walk up the dock). Montague Harbour, Browning Harbour, and Thetis Island all have good spots to park and walk up the ramp for a cold one. These restaurants have had a hard time with COVID, so now that things are opening up, make that part of your day out.
The fishing in May and June was excellent, and with such high numbers in the Georgia Strait and south, these fish will be around for July through September. So far, it’s been catch and release only. Once we can retain Chinook, there should be some bigger ones in July outside of Galiano.
July usually offers very good fishing. The water is typically mucky, though, so glow spoons, glow teaser heads, and flashers work well. If the Pender Bluffs are open to fish, try running a pink hoochie, as there should be a few pinks around—this being an odd-numbered year.
Pinks are one of my favorite fresh salmon to eat—bleed them, rinse them, keep them cool, and you can’t beat a fresh pink salmon for dinner. Pinks like lots of gear so stack your rods on the downriggers and shorten up your leader. I like 18″ to 22″ of leader with green glow flasher.
Cod fishing will be good, so take out your favourite 10 lures you want to lose and try some new areas. Rocky humps at 50′ to 120′ are usually pretty good. Sometimes when I get a greenhorn out on my boat using my gear and they claim to know more about fishing than I do, I like to let them play the rock they just hooked for 15 to 20 minutes. Just make sure you move the boat back and forth a bit so they really can play them out.
All kidding aside, always check the regs for closed areas prior to going out, and check the weather. I tried to fish a few weeks ago outside Polier Pass with the winds of 15 to 25 mph out of the northwest. It was nasty and everyone felt sick, so it ended up being a bit of a waste of gas. Always tell a friend where you are going fishing and when you are coming back in case something happens. I told my wife once, but for some reason, she waited 5 days before she called anyone.
Saltspring Reel Action
Looks like another June of catch and release for Chinook in the Gulf Islands area. With that said, I am starting to see several boats targeting halibut and other bottom fishing. Some anglers are even catching halibut in spots I don’t usually try, like The Pick near Moresby Island, Beaver Point, and others near the Pender Bluffs. Perhaps the new size limit restrictions on halibut over the last few years has brought more halibut back into our area. Look for days with slow-moving tides. Look for humps 100′ to 400′ at the bottom, and make sure these areas are open before you try them. While the bite was slow in most areas, patience seemed to pay off. Most anglers said herring off the spreader bar seemed to be working.
If you have no luck on the halibut and the tides are not ripping too badly, try for some lingcod or rock cod. Rock structure about 40′ to 130′ seems to be about the best depth for around these areas. If you have some of your herring left, throw it down there and see what you get. If you get into some dogfish, remove the skin, take the meat off the back, marinate in 1⁄2 bottle dark rum, 8 oz tequila, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a touch of garlic powder. Soak for 30 minutes, then lay the meat on a cedar plank over a fire for 10 minutes. When it’s done, throw the dogfish off and eat the cedar plank. Just kidding, though I do know of some people that eat dogfish.
Let’s hope we see the DFO regulations open our area soon for Chinook fishing for July and August.
Saltspring Reel Action
It looks like the algae bloom is in early this year, with a thick layer out in the strait of Georgia for March/April. Hopefully throughout May, the algae won’t be so bad. When fishing in this type of water, take a dish rag with you, as your line will gum up and make a mess of your gear. I always wonder how much the algae bloom affects the salmon. Does it affect their breathing and how much oxygen is depleted in the water? How much do the salmon avoid the bloom areas?
With the water being dark and murky I like to run with glow spoons, hoochies, and teaser heads. If the waters are too rough out in the strait, try fishing Fairfax Point, Tent Island, and Wain Rock. There are lots of changes again this year, with the DFO closing new areas, so check out the DFO website to make sure the area you want to fish is open prior to going out.
Crabbing is usually pretty good this time of year around the Gulf Islands. Take fresh chicken thighs and some crab pellets, and try out some new spots 40′ to 140′ of water. Remember—tight lines, cold drinks, and no bananas.
Saltspring Reel Action
This is the time of year we all keep our eyes on the weather and get out to fish as soon as we can. Traffic is low on the water, and the fishing can be good. Just a few weeks ago, I was out fishing with a friend 3 miles south of Porlier Pass when we witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime show—for more than 2 hours, Steller sea lions were trying to drown a humpback whale calf. The cow kept trying to swim underneath her calf and push her baby back to the surface, and all the sea lions would fall off the calf as she pushed her baby to the surface for air. Finally, the cow and calf swam towards my boat and dove under. The sea lions gave chase but stopped right as they got to the boat. The cow and calf survived their ordeal and were joined by another cow and calf and a big bull. As we slowly got away from shore, the whales started to circle my boat, lifting their fins and diving all around me as if they were saying thank you. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Back to fishing. Have a look at your charts and try a few new prawn spots when you are heading out. I like the 220′ to 280′ mark—look for a shelf and lay your prawn gear at the bottom or alongside of it. Crabbing can also be good this time of year, and some cheap raw chicken and prawn pellets are the ticket. Try 80′ to 120′ and look for a bay where there could be some good eelgrass.
Now that you have put your prawn and crab traps down, it’s time to try for some winter spring salmon. My favorite lures this time of year are glow spoons and hoochies combined with glow flashers. The water can be fairly murky this time of year with all the rain. If you can get outside of Galiano, do it! But make sure the weather will cooperate; if winds are blowing at 20 to 30 mph from the northwest, don’t even think about it.
If you can get out there, start off with one line down close to the bottom, and look for feed on the sounder. There can be a fair bit of herring around this time of year. Check your lines often, as there also is a fair bit of debris in the water in March and April. There are a few RCA areas outside Galiano, so make sure you know where they are. If the weather is too rough, head out in the Strait of Georgia and try your luck inside Tent Island, Erskine Point off Saltspring Island, Wain Rock, Fairfax Point, or Beaver Point.
Dress warm and stay safe. One last tip: Keep a journal. It’s great to look up how fishing was and what worked in years past.
Saltspring Reel Action
With all the coho that showed up in July and August, we should see some good coho fishing this September and October. With the limited areas to fish, tide change is going to be a big factor now. Fish an hour before and after tide change and try to push your speed a bit when trolling for coho, as they like a bit more speed. Normally your downrigger cable should be at a 45° angle. Of course, the deeper you are, the more the angle you’ll want.
I like to run braided line, just because it seems to have less drag when trolling in deeper water. Run the bright colours, like watermelon hoochies or spoons, if you are targeting coho. A Tiger Prawn hoochie with glow green flasher also works well this time of year.
I had a fellow in my boat who brought some whiskey for good luck. It seemed like it worked pretty well for him until the waves started to pick up and he spilled the whiskey in his eye. I don’t recommend whiskey in the eye or bananas on the boat. Keep a close watch on the the weather this time of year, as the wind and/or fog can roll in quickly. Remember, fishing is a good socially distanced activity, and get out there at least four to five times a week. It’s for your own safety—at least that’s what I tell my wife.
Saltspring Reel Action
As always, August should be bringing in the big Chinooks. This is the time of year they are ready and waiting to head up the local rivers. This could be a good coho year as well. I was out in mid- June and started to catch a few smaller coho in the top 40′ of water. This will probably not be a big pink year, as they show up more on the odd years. There are lots of changes this year with the new whale protection areas, so check your regulations to make sure the area you are fishing is open.
This time of year, I like to start off with a couple of rods at different depths between 20′ and 140’—look for feed on the sounder. If I get into some coho action, it is time to put another couple lines down. I like to run 3.5″ glow spoons and glow hoochies, as well as bait with glow teaser heads. The outside of Galiano Island can be productive this time of year. Salamanca Point and Polier Pass are good, but watch for the northwesterly winds, as they will turn your fun day into a bad one if you’re not careful.
If you end up coming to Salt Spring, don’t have a boat, and can’t take a charter, this is a pretty good time to do some shore casting. Ruckle Park off the point can be a good place to cast with a green and white Buzz Bomb or your favourite casting lure. Some of the big Chinooks swim right by the point, and I have caught several fish there myself. A net is handy when you get your fish close to shore, as I found out. It’s a deep drop off with lots of tide, so if you have kids with you, I would suggest a life jacket on them and yourself.
Salt Spring Island is opening up slowly to BC residents, so if you were to do some traveling this might be a good year to come over and check out the local sites and do some fishing. There are also five good lakes to fish from around Salt Spring, as well.
With the new COVID stage 3 openings in BC, I am doing a few things differently in my boat, such as hand sanitizer for everyone that steps aboard and sanitary wipes to clean the boat before and after guests. I also have a box of latex gloves and masks. It seems strange to have all this extra gear on the boat, but these are new times.
Saltspring Reel Action
July will bring the big Chinook in and around the Gulf Islands, as they are ready to start migrating up the local rivers and feeding as much as they can for the journey. Mid-size coho start showing up in the mix, as well as a few sockeye salmon.
Now that you know there are fish around, be sure to check DFO regulations, and always double-check on the day of your outings. When fishing in the Strait of Georgia, the water can be murky this time of year, so glow spoons, glow teaser heads, and glow flashers are a good ticket. Check your gear regularly as the weeds will get on your gear, and salmon don’t eat salad.
When the water is clear, use less glow gear. I also recommend using small hooks, as you will still get the same action but you’ll do a lot less damage to your fish. Especially if you are fishing catch and release, this really helps cut down on the “bleeders.” Remember to not handle fish too much and always “play” the fish until it is tired and ready to come to the boat. A good pair of needle-nose pliers should always be close at hand to ensure you get hooks gently and carefully out of your fish.
July is a good time to try some hoochies and spoons with multi-colour, like watermelon for coho. Of course, pack your favourite pink hoochie for the sockeye. A pink hoochie and glow green flasher on an 18″ leader works really well.
When there are lots of coho and sockeye salmon around, run lots of flash—they like the bling. Kind of like a fisherman going into a tackle shop—you don’t need it but you have to have it.
When fishing in July, run a different depth on each side of the boat until you find the depth where the fish are biting. Even 20′ could be the difference between having the bite or not. Also, try a surface rod.
Saltspring Reel Action
With the new catch-and-release Chinook regulations, fishing around the Gulf Islands is going to be on fire. In mid-June of last year, I went out for catch-and-release, and we had nonstop action on the rods. The Chinook are going to be everywhere from the top to the bottom. Look for feed on your sounder, and let the fishing start. If you don’t believe in using your sounder, go old school and look for the birds feeding on bait. Once you find the fish, make sure you troll with your downrigger cable on, or around, a 45° angle; I find this gives the best action on your gear.
Glow spoons of 3.5″ to 4″ with a 24″ to 60″ leader work well this time of year.
I adjust my leader length depending on the speed I am trolling and the color of the water. Glow hoochies also work well, and I like a leader length between 18″ and 36″ for those. A single barbless hook is best for catch and release. I normally like to run herring/anchovies, but with the 3-prong hook, it’s a bit harder to get a good clean release on the fish. When releasing your fish, try to handle them as little as possible.
While you are out having some family fun, you might want to try a new lingcod and rock cod hot spot. Look for structure under the water between 40′ and 120′. Check your tides prior to going out— you’ll want to fish up to, during, and just after slack tide for best results. Check your local DFO regs to make sure your area is open.
Saltspring Reel Action
Gulf Islands South Fishing Report Archives
The last few months have brought some major changes to all our lives. Now is the time to get out and self-isolate, whether it’s in your yard or out on the water. It’s the perfect time to be out on your boat for your own safety—at least that’s what I’m telling my wife.
Salmon is now catch-and-release only until further notice; check your local DFO updates for any changes. So, what to do this time of year? It’s a great time to look at your charts and start looking for your new hot spot for prawns and crab. Prior to setting your gear, make sure the area is open. When prawning around the Gulf Islands, I like to look for a depth of around 220’ to 260’—if you can lay your gear on a ledge, find a hole that could be 300’, and try to get your gear just on the edge of it. This could be your new hot spot. Be sure to check the
tides. You want to try and prawn on a slack tide, or your gear could end up in Seattle. I like to use prawn pellets mixed with Carlyle Just Tuna cat food in the can. Mix the pellets and canned food together, and you are set. Next, drop your crab trap off anywhere from 50’ to 120’ using old salmon heads, fresh chicken thighs—whatever you have, load it up.
Now that your gear is soaking in the water, you can still catch and release salmon for a few hours. This time of year can be very productive. Last year I was out in the middle of May fishing off Salamanca Point, and it was the best Chinook fishing I ever had. I like to use glow flasher with glow spoon combo, as the water is murky this time of year. Look for the feed on your sounder and run your gear at different depths on either side of the boat until you find the hot spot. The smaller 3.5” spoons with the small barbless hooks make for an easy catch and release with no harm to the fish. Try not to handle your fish, and leave it in the water when releasing. If your boat is not set up to troll, try some jigging. Collinson Point off Active Pass can be a productive spot to jig for salmon, and the beginning of the flood tide can be especially productive. Make sure your jigs are set up with single barbless hooks for easy release. Active Pass, Polier Pass, the Sidney area, and Tent Island can all be good spots this time of year.
Saltspring Reel Action
In March and April, the boat traffic around the Gulf Islands is low, but the fishing can be hot. If your boat has been sitting for the last few months, make sure it is in good running order before you hit the water, as the late winter/early spring weather can change in short order. If the wind is not blowing too hard, try heading outside of Polier Pass. This area can be productive this time of year, as can Salimanca Point, with Chinook averaging 7 to 15 lbs. This time of year also brings lots of freshwater runoff from the Fraser River, so make sure you run glow spoons/glow teaser heads and glow hoochies with a glow flasher. I like to shorten up my leader length a bit for the darker days—36” to 48”.
If the weather is too ugly in the Strait of Georgia, head to more protected waters where the winter fishing is good as well. Tent Island, Bold Bluff, Wain Rock, Morsby Island, Beaver Point off Salt Spring, Fairfax Point, and the Powder Dock near Sidney Spit are all good areas this time of year. Make sure you check your local regulations to be sure the area is open.
Fishing on a tide change or a slack tide will also increase your chances of hooking into the big winter Chinook. Glow spoons 3.5” to 4” work well. Skinny G Coho Killer spoons all work well. Running bait and hoochies off of one downrigger and spoon off another is a good way to see what the fish are biting on. Try mixing your gear up if you are not on the bite. Get your gear down to the bottom, and look for feed on the sounder. If you find an area with lots of feed, troll around and through it—don’t troll away from it. If you find the fish, you won’t have time for the coffee and donuts, as it can be nonstop action.
Remember to dress in lots of layers, and wear your life jacket. Check your lines often, as there are lots of smaller fish around as well, and you don’t want to waste time dragging them around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.