The latest tide, weather, and fishing reports of what’s hot, and what’s not for fishing the Vancouver, BC area. Tips, best practices, places and the go-to lures are just a sample of what you’ll find in our fishing report.
Howe Sound Marine Map
Howe Sound Marine Weather Forecast
Howe Sound/Vancouver Fishing Report
The September fishery will tighten up when the coho get river-ready and bite-shy. New strategies will become important. Spin casting on jumping, finning coho in the shallows can be a game-changing strategy in this situation. Well-prepared bait is important to have on hand, along with some bright-colored spoons to get these later coho active. Less gear in the water can work here, i.e., no flashers when trolling.
Rainfall? We have not had much, but on July 24-25 we had a decent rain event. Why mention this? It changed the coho fishery, as other species entered and are dominating the area. It still was on for a couple days, but it moved these fish and the bait, primarily anchovies, to deeper water and changed their attitude. It also drew in pinks, which had a dramatic effect on the location of the coho. For pink action, the bright red/pink hoochies and flashers were deployed to get moving again. This fishery will go through September and provide constant entertainment. Pinks are fabulous eating, whether in the smokehouse and jarred or fresh on the BBQ.
In recent history, September 1 has been opening day for Chinook (check current DFO regulations for details). Fall should present a strong fishery for big returning fish.
My top three strategies for fall tidal fishing:
1. Very well-prepared anchovies and herring (dry brine, ice cold, never touching the ice)
2. Teaser head/flasher color combo (when in doubt, variations of green with green)
3. Location based on high or low slack tide changes (i.e. flood/high tide – inshore)
2023 has turned out to be the year the coho have made a true comeback to local Vancouver and lower Georgia Strait inside waters. I believe the last time we had a year this great was 1986!
In early March and April, schools of “bluebacks” (as we used to call them) were already thick and eating daily, turning into what became 5- to 8-lb fish by early July. August should bring strong coho fishing with larger fish as they feed and get ready to push into the rivers. This has injected new economic life into the tackle business in Vancouver. For a few weeks now, 50 to 75 boats have been seen on the water trying for these table fish. My local tackle shop was cleaned out of favourite lures and flashers. Add on a good year for pink salmon, along with Chinook areas opening, and we’ve got a much-needed excellent angling season. We may have some very large Chinook in the fall—bait is your best gear choice to find these fish.
South Bowen from Cowans Point all the way up to Sechelt has held coho and has been producing well daily. Offshore waters are also producing well at the Hump.
August/September will be challenging as coho get bite shy and river ready, feeding only at specific times. Expect the inner harbour and the West Vancouver shoreline to kick off in August; however, rain can move these fish instantly. Four coho tactics that prove successful: fish at first light, target tide changes, use bright coloured gear, and troll fast. Hoochies have been the go-to in white/ translucent/Aurora or green Spatter Back with a 36″ leader. Chartreuse glow, silver green, or Purple Haze flashers all have also produced good results. On windy, busy days, taking flashers off can create action and make “lock jaw” fish bite! Bright coloured spoons often do well in August—one year, black/orange was the colour combo for very picky coho.
If the pinks arrive, use plankton-sized pink/glow hoochies with red or green flashers. Spin casting in upper Howe Sound is also a great way to experience them.
Summer is upon us in Vancouver, and this will trigger the arrival of both coho and pink salmon returning to local streams. At the end of May, I ran into a school of coho off the south side of Bowen—a great sign of a strong showing, and I was surprised by their size.
With areas now open for retention of both species, it gives anglers good reason to get out and try. Coho were spotted feeding in the gulf as early as March this year. Let’s hope for a year like 2018 where coho fishing was excellent up and down the south side of Bowen Island. Pink salmon runs also look strong this summer, making for a very entertaining fishery. If it is anything like 2021, we’ll have an excellent fishery with non-stop action. Anglers will have plenty of choices when looking for consistent action and a nice meal on the BBQ. This can last into the fall—good news for all anglers and tackle shops.
Depth is important while coho fishing, and over the last few years—no matter what time of day or light conditions— shallow is best! Surface to 40′ seems to produce every time with a fast troll. Bright-colored hoochies in spackleback and white are always great. After that, try small spoons in a 3″ green glow or Herring Aid pattern. My final lure sug- gestion is a small 1.5″ Apex. For many years this was the go-to for coho. Bait will also dominate in late July. Pinks are plankton feeders, so red/pink/orange is a winner. In 2021, I ended up with full-sized Bubblegum hoochies on every rod which catch all species in this fishery. For great action and fight, small spoons without a flasher are a great choice. If the pinks are schooling, break out the casting rods with a small BuzzBomb or Zzinger.
With very good numbers of early coho in the gulf showing in late winter and early spring, we can hope for a strong fishery beginning in June. Locating the school is always the challenge. With pink salmon showing up in the mix in early July, we are looking at a good summer fishery with a retention opportunity.
In 2022, healthy numbers of coho passed thru because of wet conditions. If June is dry, spend time along the west Vancouver shoreline for the odd school of coho—it can be quite productive.
White hoochies along with a mix of spoons or Apex lures in red/pink combos are all effective for me. Bait can be added to this arsenal later, when July is here. Pinks will bite this gear, but a plankton/mini squirt on a short leader is helpful to trigger this species.
The Vancouver winter Chinook fishery in the first part of 2023 was exceptional. The great action usually continues into spring, with location being the key to a productive outing. Chinook seem to move from their winter hideouts out to deeper, open water in pursuit of feed and toward migratory routes.
South Bowen, offshore, and inshore locations are great starting points. Covering lots of space while trolling at a quicker pace is a good springtime strategy to locate bait and fish. Hoochies and spoons in light and dark greens with white, black, blue, and/or green are all popular gear choices. Plugs in white are my favourite, and they let me fish at a faster trolling speed, with the added benefit of a more sensitive and Remember always to check regulations for retention on clipped coho in specific sub-areas. Already, there have been reports of schooling fish offshore in the Gulf as early as March—a great sign for this fishery.
We can also hope to see coho showing up in late May. Remember always to check regulations for retention on clipped coho in specific sub-areas. Already, there have been reports of schooling fish offshore as early as March in the Gulf—a great sign for this fishery.
Let’s hope for some positive changes to our Vancouver fishing regulations in 2023 to get more anglers out on the water this spring and keep local tackle stores and boat repair shops healthy.
Vancouver salmon fishing in the last part of 2022 was outstanding—did you go? It was an excellent harbour fishery from August into early November for large Chinook, coho, and chum. The West Van shoreline conditions could only be described as “perfect” for our fall fishery. Some of my best fishing memories were surely made. When the fall rains let up over the winter months, our resident Chinook fishery kicked off well, with solid teenager fish plentiful at multiple locations.
March typically sees great action and larger fish. Trolling dominates this fishery, but anglers who enjoy jigging and mooching are having great results as well. Saving fuel is an added benefit when you stay on a spot with a school of bait. Spoons and hoochies along with herring in a teaser head—naked or with flasher—are producing nice results. Depth seems to be key. If the feed is low, get your gear in the bait. If the bait is boiling when you arrive, start shallow!
We got a lot of great feedback during the recent Vancouver International Boat Show, where I manned the Scotty factory booth. It was great to see my longtime charter customers and other excited anglers gearing up their new boats. The feedback was consistent— Scotty is a great product with outstanding follow-up service. All of us in the booth saw how excited anglers were about the show, and the coming season. The big takeaway is we see
and hear “economic spinoff” a lot in the public recreational tidal fishery in Vancouver. All the sales—rods, reels, tackle—along with boat/motor purchases, are very important for BC and contribute billions to the local economy. It’s also our culture and favourite pastime. To keep that alive, we must continue to pursue a balanced, coastwide tidal angling experience for all.
Vancouver’s September and fall tidal fishery has the potential to be very exciting and very productive. With a large sockeye run predicted, traditional big Chinook moving in, and late coho in numbers, it is a fine time to experience our local fishery. Each species requires slightly different tactics and gear choices.
If, by chance, there is a sockeye fishery in 2022, I’d like to share some tips. Sockeye fishing generally requires a bit more gear in order to attract fish and have a productive outing. Try small bright pink/glow-head plankton hoochies behind a green or red flasher with a 20″ to 30″ leader. Increasing the number of flashers that are rotating is a good way to attract a school as well— in other words, stack some additional dummy flashers on your lines. Sockeye like to skid across the waterline and bite well in the early morning. If you see jumpers, stop and deploy your gear, even if it’s for a short time.
Chinook tend to be pickier in the fall. Large anchovies with a flasher, big whole herring, large spoons, and plugs make great gear choices. Tide changes are most important for these picky eaters. Fishing slower and in less- crowded locations can be helpful as well. Coho will also take this gear, but a bright spoon colour/pattern is sometimes a great coho winner.
Tight lines and great fishing!
Vancouver anglers will have choices this August: look for coho in the harbour or South Bowen area, try their hand at sockeye fishing based on school location, or fish for Chinook in a specific marked location defined by boundaries. 2018 presented these three fisheries, and it was hard to decide some mornings based on entertainment, workload, boat pressure and what I wanted to see on the table.
Location likely will be the bottom line this August for targeting; it will be interesting to see where each salmon species decides to hold as a resting ground before entering the freshwater. I always find it fascinating when looking at the past and trying to predict the future—imagine all the spots not looked at and fished. I mean, it’s a big ocean.
In 2018—the most recent big sockeye year—coho preferred the shallows, most likely because they tend to avoid the large schools. Chinook also seem to seek out more peaceful hotspots, away from competitive pressure.
Prepare yourself by pre-tying gear for all three species so you can pivot quickly, especially if your location plans are altered by the most common August denominator: wind. Wind really does play a major factor in our late summer fishery. More than a few trips this time of year are turned upside down due to a location and species switch up in a tide change, rain, or predator sighting. The saviour is always preparation, with a backup plan on deck.
Some basic setups for sockeye include pink (plankton-sized hoochies) with a chartreuse, green, or red glow flasher on a 18″ to 30″ heavy leader. When one encounters a cloudy or low-light situation, darker flashers in purple & blue can be a difference maker. Spoons fished without flashers in August have been real winners in the past, especially if they have a little orange in them. Of course, well-prepared bait is always a spring’s best friend.
Summer 2022 has the potential for several angling opportunities for lower mainland anglers. July 15 should mark the day when retention be- gins for Chinook in three specific areas within range of local anglers. Checking regulations/size rules is a must for all retention opportunities in all zones.
In 2020 and 2021, coho showed up like clockwork July 1. Will 2022 be the same? I am betting on it. A nice batch appeared at Cowans Point and up the south side of Bowen Island on the exact same day both years. I was there on both mornings and had great action with a couple coho up to 6 lbs. If you want a great eating fish on the BBQ—this is a top contender!
At first light on those two Canada Days, I spread out between depths of 15′ and 65′ at first light. The gear was two small bright spoons along with a pair of small well-salted anchovies, fished behind a flasher with a 4′ to 5′ leader on a bright teaser head. Based on looking at historical winners on these early local coho, you should tie white hoochies and small Apexes (white & pink/red) with short leaders. It’s not always a bait show. Water clarity and darker/cloudy/ windy days are my signal to pull out the artificial tackle, increasing your strike percentage and quality tackle time in the water. And here’s the best tip: Increase the boat speed to increase activity for these fish.
You can also start thinking or planning for a sockeye fishery to develop through the summer of 2022. Be sure to identify these fish correctly (no teeth; blue/ green back; small neck at the tail).
Visit a local tackle shop to gather information and a few items—plankton- sized hoochies in pink and red, heavy leader line, a good bunch of bright- colored flashers. An old-timer told me once a good start point for “socks:” slow/straight/small. It pays off!
Catch-and-release Chinook fishing has been excellent in local Vancouver waters this spring. The month of June can be very active, with the added bonus of coho showing off the South Bowen/Hump area and into the West Vancouver shoreline/inner harbour. This will really kickstart our summertime Vancouver fishery and all the great later-season action that is on the way. Access to a Vancouver saltwater fishery is important, valuable, and needs to continue!
June can be a tricky fishing month, so a solid strategy is required. On large ebb tides, fish further offshore, and reverse this on a flood tide for both Chinook and coho. When looking at the Hump, fish the edges and dropoffs of this large mountain structure, which you can see very clearly on a good sounder and GPS maps. After starting there, cover water in patterns or grids at a good pace to better your chances of a marked (clipped) coho. Try small bright spoons and white hoochies, with a short leader behind a bright flasher. In this fishery, starting shallow in the morning has been productive. As daylight increases, drop down when the action subsides.
The Vancouver angling community all came together in March to celebrate the life of Dave Steele. He helped, served, coached, and guided countless anglers in the last 40 years, creating lasting memories and a store model that is second to none. Every time I fish, I use tips and tricks I gathered while visiting Highwater Tackle. Thank you, Dave.
Vancouver/Howe Sound Chinook fishing has been consistent and outstanding over the last number of months, which translates into great springtime fishing. May is generally most productive in open water, meaning that South Bowen, Cowans Point, Roger Curtis, and the Hump (offshore) are a good bet for consistent action, as well the waters heading west up the Gulf around the Sunshine Coast.
The most notable recent change was the algae bloom that took place in Howe Sound. Fish were in many local holes and active up until this time. Then the water temperature and clarity changed overnight. The fish moved either deeper in open waters, or to a clear water location. Visibility played a big role on this transition day. This change happens like clockwork over the last few years, making fishing conditions more challenging.
Tides are a large factor as well. Popular color patterns include green/white/ yellow combinations, with either glow or milky white. Army Truck patterns are always a great choice as well. Leader length should be short—29″ up to 44″ to change the whip speed of a hoochie. However, over the years I have seen both short and long leaders be extremely productive in May and June. You just need to have different setups ready to try.
By the end of May, and in early June, coho will start showing up, and fishing shallow with a white hoochie is always a good bet for these early fish.
Vancouver/Howe Sound Chinook fishing in late 2021 and early 2022 has been excellent, and that means excellent springtime angling.
The Vancouver Harbour waters stretching up to South Bowen, the Hump, and offshore of Bowen are great, as is the area past the lower Sunshine Coast (Gibsons area). They’re all productive from April into early July.
Challenging weather patterns, coupled with most great action in the morning hours, makes it difficult to find consistent fishing. These fish move fast and are triggered by a few factors to spook them from traditional holding/ feeding grounds. Predators are very frequent, and their presence determines activity levels. A great strategy the last four seasons is timing trips not so much on tides but spending minimal time in top-producing locations that are known for great action. If you don’t see bites in an hour or two, gear up and relocate. Even a 5-minute run can bring results.
Over the last few seasons, we have seen tremendous success for months on end with certain lures. Herring Aid is a top producer for many anglers. My go-to for spoons are green glow/white patterns. Spackle Back hoochie (both light and dark) patterns are top contenders, although I like the brighter patterns myself. A simple green and white hoochie pattern with a milky white belly has proven the best for me, year in and year out, when on a long 40″ to 50″ leader. Anchovies in a green glow teaser head should also be tied up and ready to go.
Be consistent with your setup—once a combination is working, use it. Keep a log to record its details—i.e. flasher colour (very important), hook size and colour, leader length, leader type and test, etc. Be sure you also track water clarity and colour, depth, and what size and type of bait is in your location.
Local Vancouver area waters have been filled with pinks, which has been very entertaining for people looking for a day out on the water and constant action. We also saw some terrific coho mixed in with some seriously nice Chinook in open areas such as the west Van shoreline. The next two months will be prime time to hook a few different species of salmon in local Vancouver waters.
September/fall fishing has a few options on the table. Pink fishing is definitely an option in the harbour and close to river mouths. Chinook fishing will be top of mind for most, with open areas on September 1 that generally produce very well, along with decent numbers of coho if clipped. The most productive times to find these fall fish will be tide changes, usually a flood tide or a low water slack and into the flooding current. For Chinook angling, use bait. Large anchovy or big herring is preferred, but large spoons, plugs, and hoochies need to be ready to deploy. For colours, think white, Army Truck, pink, or red/white. Artificial is a good way to avoid any dogfish issues. On hard days, this can be a game changer. Late fall/early winter moves into winter-run Chinook angling. It’s a great fishery, but you need to change tactics/locations for these fish. Let’s hope we see a good feeder Chinook fishery this winter in Howe Sound/Harbour waters. Start with gear like hoochies and spoons, as this is all that is required once you locate Chinook in our many winter fishing locations.
In July, we had already been seeing some coho and pinks move into local Vancouver waters. With northwest winds each day, it’s been difficult to get out and reach open water to get an idea of any schools that have shown up. These winds can be a positive, as they push fish down into areas like Cowans Point, Seymour Bay, and the South Bowen area. The west Vancouver shoreline will be a solid choice when conditions allow. Tide changes are always critical to good results in any location.
Early morning/first light is always a great time to fish for all three species in August. Looking back through the years, these summertime fish are shallow, active, and like to bite before the light gets on the water and the sun gets high. Fish shallow down to the 80′ mark for all species throughout the day. These fish almost always stay in this depth range; when things go quiet, it’s more likely they have gone off the bite than swam deeper.
Gear choice is important for August fishing, and well-prepared anchovies and herring seem to take over. A white hoochie is always a great choice, but carry a selection of bright colored smaller 2.5″ to 3″ spoons. Coho can be picky and tune into one specific odd color variation as they near maturity in the saltwater and pile up in shallow water. Pinks will gravitate to small pink/bright hoochies and spoons when in large schools, and so a jagged lure is a great sporting choice as well.
Regulations for the next couple months are fluid, so make sure you are up to date on exactly the species of salmon you can retain in specific areas in local waters. Take time to understand the distinct differences that are key to identifying Chinook, coho, and pinks. Have a picture reference guide on hand to identify the three species in order to release fish quickly, along with a good measuring stick, as length of your catch is critical to keeping a fish based on area and species. Island Fisherman magazine has a terrific laminated one in the online store. Know your limits & guidelines. All persons on the vessel require a printed fishing license regardless of whether they’re fishing.
Traditionally the month of July brings decent numbers of coho to local waters along with pinks showing in the second or third week of the month. Add to that a Chinook opening day, and our local saltwater fishery will be exciting and productive. The last few years, when locating coho, it has been best to be offshore from South Bowen, all the way up to the Gibsons shoreline & beyond.
The usual locations—like the West Vancouver shoreline—have produced, but if you don’t find success in one area, move on to another quickly. On big wind days, it is interesting to see what locations produce best due to the push of the wind and current.
Coho schools seem to like calmer locations on poor weather days in order to rest and feed. It also makes for easier trolling conditions and more efficient outings. The pink salmon that will appear in late July are great fun on light spinning gear with any weighted pink lure. Spincast or jig if they are holed up and close to bottom. In Howe Sound, this can be time-consuming, so check out a few spots and watch for finning fish close to shore with jumpers—the tell-tale of a good location.
Sometimes trolling first to locate the school, then bringing out the spin gear, is the ticket for pinks. If you’re planning to target pinks this summer, visit a local tackle shop now to get rigged with a good casting rod, reel, and proper lure package. We know some gear is hard to come by in local tackle shops at the moment, and if we do see a good fishery this summer, gear will be flying off the shelves. It will be a popular activity this season.
After some excellent winter and springtime fishing in lower mainland waters, let’s hope it continues into the early summer months as it has the last few years. June at
times can be challenging; certain holes and tides hold the key to success. Coho should appear in local waters any day as well, so check regulations to be certain where to retain a hatchery coho in a specific area.
With catch-and-release in play, it is a fine time to explore new or old locations and experiment with tackle and lures that were top producers for years but have been pushed aside or forgotten.
Octopus or cuttlefish-size hoochies have been very productive this spring, and looking back, they were always top of the list in June for many years, before anchovies started to take over as a favourite. With C&R, it is easier with a single hook/hoochie/spoon setup to release fish and set or change gear to experiment. Spackle back/yellow/green has been on the roster every day, as well as Jack Smith, dark spackle back; patterns in green/blue/white have been solid producers. Army Truck in a white belly pattern has been in the mix, paired with a red or purple flasher. Colour selection is generally based on water clarity/colour and daylight conditions. Leader strength of 40- to 60-lb test is a good starting point. Algae-filled and runoff water has appeared, as usual, so bright chartreuse glow or white glow flashers are a good choice in all brands. As for spoons, it seems a shorter leader is important in the dirty water, in the same patterns. This entire package is attractive to coho, although white hoochies seem to be the early season favourite, so tie them up in many shades on a shorter 28″ to 38″ leader coupled with a fast troll speed.
Yamashita, North Pacific, Lighthouse, Rite Angle, Luhr Jensen and other brands all hang at well-known local tackle shops in Vancouver. They have specific differences in shapes and colours, which can be huge difference makers. One is not like the other! Tinsels and inserts in silver, glow, and green are my personal preference and prove valuable in our fishery as well a selection of small beads for spacers between hook and insert. Barbless hooks are critical, so be diligent on this important regulation, along with keeping a printed valid licence for all fishers on the vessel at all times. Area-specific maps that prohibit any fishing in protected local Vancouver waters (Chinook Regs, RCAS, and Sponge Reefs are examples) are readily available, so keep them on board to be sure you are not in a closed/ prohibited area as the growing list of areas can be confusing to keep exact track of.
Late winter and early spring Chinook fishing has been consistent, with many local holes producing great action. This always translates into a solid spring and early summer fishery. The key for a good outing is picking the correct hole to locate the fish; it seems they move and scatter more than ever in our spring fishery. Timing your trip around tides and calm water areas is key, as is making a few moves from one location to another, which is always a great strategy to find success.
When choosing tackle, well-prepared bait, anchovies, and herring always seem to lead the pack. Keep them salted, cool, and dry, and it’s enough to use in a teaser head. The best teaser heads are clear green, glow green, white glow, and purple haze—water clarity defines the choice. Spackleback hoochies— particularly yellow—work well, and green/glow white, Cop Car, and Herring Aid are the winners in the spoon department.
One may have to focus on coho in order to enjoy a fish on the table. These should come in late May and provide great action when located in a school. The best choices early on are White Ghost hoochies and flash flies on a short 24″ to 36″ leader. Smaller spoons or Apexes with some pink or red in them work very well on these Coho. Trolling speed should increase with shallow depths, along with early morning starts. Offshore/deep water, South Bowen, and the Hump area are ideal starting points to find these fish.
Vancouver/Howe Sound winter Chinook fishing has been strong since early fall, both in terms of size and numbers. If you don’t see action at a spot within an hour, move on to another, and if you see multiple seals, pull your gear and move on right away. Fish through the tide changes, and always remember: find the bait, and you’ll find the fish.
Fish close to bottom for best results. In March, some larger mature Chinook start to show up locally from 60′ to 110′, so try a third or fourth rod at different depths.
Choosing the right gear in the right colour is key to productive winter fishing. Use darker colours on overcast and low-light days, and try the opposite on brighter days. Flashers are not always required in this fishery due to water clarity. Spoons, plugs, and hoochies all produce. I personally find well- prepared anchovies are best and herring strip is tops. Teaser colour and leader test are both very important here. A simple hoochie/flasher combo makes for a great changeup on a very slow day. Green and white, Army Truck, and plain white are always solid. This was the case in late 2020—after spoons and bait didn’t produce, out came the plastics that have fished well every winter for 35 years! They’re reliable & easy to fish on poor weather days. Leader length is important, and while some will recommend leader lengths at 44″ to 50″, you can also try leaders as short as 27″ for winter angling. Whip that hoochie!
Good luck and tight lines!
As September approaches, let’s hope we see some good calm days to get to areas where one can drop a line and hook a salmon or two. A few places to keep in mind are the inner harbour, Point Grey, and south down to the Sandheads. These areas generally produce Chinook and coho through September.
Both large anchovies and big herring fished in a teaser head, with or without flasher should be very consistent producers, especially when fished from depths of 20′ down to 100′. The two most important factors fishing this month are tide changes—the flood tide is the most productive—and good bait preparation and presentation. Throwing out a large spoon or plug this time of year can also bring in these mature fish.
Autumn into December will transition back into winter Chinook fishing, and location is the entire story. If this year is anything like last, it’s well worth heading out for the day in mid- to late October. This fishery is all about finding the correct colour lure, spoon, or hoochie that best imitates the size/type of bait in your location. Additionally, a good anchovy or herring strip is one of the best winter setups and always a good bet. Spending time in multiple locations can be a good early winter strategy in order to find the bait and fish.
Good luck in the last part of 2020, and tight lines!
Let’s hope August shapes up to be a great hatchery coho month in Vancouver, and that it continues into the fall. Also, July 15, August 1, and September 1 are important dates for local anglers who would like a to retain a Chinook. Please read the specific area regulations and size limits on each species before getting out on the water.
It will be a challenge to find that sweet spot for Chinook in August, but when I look back over time, there are certain spots that are great producers. The best practice this time of year would be to fish the tide changes (based on location), to fish at first light and last light, and to use finely-tuned gear and well- taken-care-of, large, fresh anchovies or herring. There are many ways to prepare the bait, but I recommend keeping it simple—cold and salt will do the trick.
As I write this, coho have entered local waters, and on June 26 we were seeing a few per boat. Some had the Adipose fin and had to be released, while some were retainable. The nice thing to see was the size for late June, which bodes well for August and the fall. South Bowen was the place—either the Hump area or tighter to the Bowen shoreline based on tidal movement.
These coho are shallow—20′ to 40′ was good, but I lost track of how many times I got a large one first thing setting gear and testing flasher roll at 3′ to 10′ on the counter. Keep some rods at 3′ to 10′, back in the prop wash.
White Ghost/translucent hoochies were effective with short and long leaders on chartreuse/glow blades. Spoons without a flasher with pink/red/orange in them were good, and of course smaller anchovies in a toothpick style glow green or white head get the job done.
The action was spread out over a vast area, so cover ground by trolling quickly when things are quiet. August will see these fish move into the harbour to traditional holding locations where you can have a lot of fun when a school is located. Pro tip: Tie a bunch of gear for those busy, quick on/off bite times that come and go throughout the day.
Sportfishing in Vancouver and Howe Sound has been very good so far this year. June can sometimes have a few slower days, but based on the latest reports, it may stay consistent like it did in 2019. Once we head into July, let’s hope we are in for a repeat of the same time last year; we all remember what 2019 was like. With less pressure in certain areas of the coast, we may be in for a great fishery. There have also been some solid reports of coho appearing locally, and it would be a great boost if they showed up off South Bowen, West Vancouver, and inner harbour area from late June through July and August.
Tactics for summer Chinook can change a bit—fish a bit shallower at times, with longer leaders and anchovy setups. A large herring, plug, or spoon with no flasher can be extremely effective. A great rule of thumb is to plan on fishing through the tides.
Coho can require a few changes in gear as well. Looking back a couple years ago, bright-coloured hoochies were a great choice, then anchovies took over. But
if you find the right lure—like a spoon with an odd colour pattern—it can make your day, especially when they school up in one spot. Check your local tackle shop for the latest and greatest. Ask the staff what has been selling; that’s always a good starting point. Finally, be sure to check the regulations before you head out.
Chinook fishing in Vancouver/Howe Sound has been excellent. May is one of the finest months to wet a line in Vancouver’s local waters, and as we move into June we can hope that the Chinook fishing stays strong. Historically, June can see a few slower days where one has to search harder, focus on ideal bite times/tides, and be a bit more patient.
The most exciting story for June locally will be how the coho fishery develops off South Bowen, in the lower Salish Sea, and into the harbour area of the West Vancouver shoreline. We hope for a repeat of 2018, where we saw how fun it was to chase coho and get into multiple fish days, while at the same time keeping a hatchery-clipped coho for the BBQ.
Heading out and getting into a feeding school of coho for a few hours is one of the most entertaining fishing experiences around.
Gear for these fish can be a bit different, so visit a local tackle shop for advice on the correct type and colour of lure. I have visited all our local shops in the last month, and they are fully stocked with a great looking new bunch of gear & great colours. Favourites from 2018 were white full skirt hoochies with tinsel, in Army Truck and Blood & Bones. That odd, bright-coloured hoochie you see at the shop can be a winner on these fish! Try smaller spoons (3″ to 3.5″) in any of your favourite brands, with bright colours like red and pink. Later in the summer, anchovy can be great. If one can find the correct lure without a flasher, it’s the most sporting way to catch these fish. You’ll want to fish shallow early in the day and deeper as the light comes around—50′ to 65′ is a good starting depth later in the day. Speed can be critical, so if you’re not finding any action, cover ground and troll faster. Remember, a barbless single hook is an easy way to hook and release fish when you can’t retain them.
Howe Sound/Vancouver Fishing Report Archives
May is my favourite time to fish the waters of Vancouver and Howe Sound. The past 3 or 4 years have been especially productive, with very nice larger size Chinook available. Both Howe Sound with its many holes and the south Bowen area are good choices throughout the month.
Hoochies work well on a longer leader—try a Yamashita with green stripes and a milky white body, a Jack Smith or Army Truck, or the North Pacific pearl with white belly. Fresh and salted anchovies are always effective in any bright glow toothpick head. The new spoon from Right Angle fishing gear has a great flash, swims great, and produces. Time your fishing around low slack tide.
Recently some coho reports have been coming in, and you can keep a hatchery- clipped fish, which will make your outing even more enjoyable. Fish a bit quicker for them, with bright gear and flashers. Try a white Casper hoochie on a 34” leader, along with some smaller spoons and lures with some pink/red in them. It would be great to see a nice coho fishery develop in our local waters like a couple years ago!
Vancouver & Howe Sound’s local winter Chinook fishery has been very similar to the last couple years—steady & consistent. Location is the key, along with gear choice. If bait is showing on the sounder, you can bet feeder Chinook are close by. Set a time limit when working one small area—if bait is not present, a small move can pay off.
The great part of local winter fishing in March is that many areas are productive at the same time—Vancouver Inner Harbour, QB, Bell Buoy, or any stretch of water ranging in depth from 100′ to 150′. Howe Sound spots include the north side of Bowen, Tunstall Bay, and out towards Roger Curtis and Gower Pt. North Howe Sound is also a nice option providing winds are calm.
The best gear choices in the winter months are anchovy/flasher, herring strip (cut your own), spoon/flasher, or hoochie/flasher. In recent years, all have been excellent, but one or two combos always seem to dominate. It’s always smart to match colour to conditions, and water clarity and sky colour are critical factors for flasher choice. When fishing bait, fresh is best along with long leaders. Spoons and hoochies can be bright green/yellow one day and darker colours the next. The most sporting and sometimes most effective way to fish winter Chinook is by using gear without a flasher, which also allows you to fish deep very effectively, creating less drag with a great fight from the fish.
Be sure to check current regulations regarding closures in some areas and size restrictions for 2020.
Built for Speed Fishing Charters
Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, B.C.
September should continue to provide great Chinook fishing in our local Vancouver waters. We should also see a good run of pink and coho enter our waters. The mouth of the Fraser, North Arm Light, T10 marker, and Sandheads are all great locations to put some time in, as well the harbour and Bell Buoy area, provided the areas are open to sport fishing (check the current DFO regulations).
Hoochies have been producing well in the early morning, but as these fish mature, large anchovy and large herring are the ticket in various colours of Rhys Davis, Krippled Anchovy, and Super Herring teaser heads. Drop the flasher and fish without it—it provides great sport on the Chinook and coho. Go see a reputable tackle dealer like Highwater Tackle, Pacific Angler, or Pacific Net and Twine to get the teaser heads required for your bait.
Depths for these Chinook can be as shallow as 15 ft in the early morning, but as the sun comes up, 60 to 80 ft is the ticket.
Built for Speed Fishing Charters
Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, B.C.
2019 is proving to be a special year for anglers throughout the gulf’s inside waters. Chinook fishing, mixed in with some great coho action, is making it a saltwater angler’s dream. Day in and day out, there is a good consistent bite in many local hot spots. Cowan Point to Roger Curtis, Tunstall Bay, Grace Islands, Salmon Rock, and North Bowen have all produced great results in recent weeks, and the solid action should continue.
As August approaches, expect Vancouver harbour to produce regular catches of coho & Chinook. July 15 is the open day for retention of one Chinook in area 28, and August 1 is the open date for other areas locally. Coho have been consistent in the south Bowen area, with Roger Curtis being a good bet. The West Vancouver shoreline will be a good choice moving into August. Anchovies and white ghost hoochies are always a good tackle choice, fished shallow down to 80 ft on bright days. When the bite goes off, cover more ground to relocate the school. Remember, these guys move around.
Large Chinook are a trademark of August in Vancouver, and local waters including mid harbour, Bell Buoy, and the QA marker all will kick out a trophy fish thru to the fall. Large herring, anchovies, and big spoons are all effective. Most importantly, fish the tide changes and manage your depths between 30 and 90 ft.
Built for Speed Fishing Charters
Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, B.C.
“Consistent and excellent” is the only way to describe our spring fishing in local Vancouver waters. July should see even larger Chinook enter local waters, along with coho that will make up an excellent early summer fishery in July.
Hatchery-clipped coho can be kept, with a limit of two fish (always check the regulations for notices and changes prior to your day on the water). The coho fishery should develop, and was best last year offshore of Bowen Island around the Hump area. A fast troll with anchovies, bright-colored hoochies, and spoons generated really productive days in 2018 and should be the ticket this July. Fish shallow early in the morning—10 to 30 ft—then drop down as the light comes up.
Try a Ghost White hoochie on a 30-in leader; it’s easy to fish and produces well.
A Pink Haze flasher is also a good call. Coho like bright colors, so experiment. Some large Chinook should appear in July in Howe Sound and in the Vancouver Harbour area, with July 15 being an important date to keep your eye on for retention in certain areas—check the regs for details. Anchovies really take over in our summer fishery for Chinook, and fish the incoming flood tides for best results if you are looking for larger fish. 2019 could be a big fish year in our area so get geared up at one of the local shops such as Highwater Tackle, Pacific Angler, Pacific Net & Twine, Berry’s Bait & Tackle, or Fred’s Custom Tackle—they all stock the gear to get out on the water this summer.
Built for Speed Fishing Charters
Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, B.C.
June can be a hit-and-miss fishery in local Vancouver waters, but after a good May there will still be great pockets of action thru the area. The bigger story this month will be another good showing of coho, which last year provided excellent action, with good sized hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) fish. The size of these coho last year was amazing—some reached 7 or 8 lbs by late June. If you found the school in the South Bowen offshore area or tight to Bowen, it was like the good old days! Later they started to move into the harbour as is the usual pattern.
Gear selection always makes coho fishing exciting, and lures like White/Ghost hoochie, small bright spoons, or Anchovy/Flasher are hot, with a no-flasher setup being the most sporting gear for these active fish. Every piece worked well for coho last year, so starting with a good spread of bright-colored flashers, along with each previously mentioned lure, is a good bet. Hoochies were dynamite at times, and Army Truck was a good pick—pull from the archives in this fishery and you will be rewarded. Speed and depth are critical; sometimes 10 ft to 30 ft at first light, then deeper as the day brightens. When the bite stops, as it does for coho, speed up and cover ground to attract them back. It is a great thing to see the coho making such a comeback in our southern local waters, and it shows the value of habitat restoration and hatchery programs that make this happen.
Built for Speed Fishing Charters
Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, B.C.
Every angler has his or her own reason to get out on the water; fish to eat may be at the top of the list for some, while others are content to watch the rods all day and not see one even wiggle. But it’s playing a large fish of any species that tops the list for every angler. Fishing simply brings people together, and our local Vancouver saltwater fishing has some great opportunities this spring to come out and enjoy a day on the water.
Even if I don’t land any fish, I get motivated for my next outing to improve my technique, gear, and location choice. One of my favourite topics before any trip is discussing what anchovy, spoon, or correct colored hoochie/flasher combo will be the right call, and how will it affect my fishing? After the trip, reviewing these details with other anglers is always a learning experience.
In southern BC saltwater areas, we’ll go about 11 weeks without putting a Chinook salmon in the boat. We are entering a new era in the Pacific salmon saltwater fishery with measures that have impacted us all. Whether it was time for these measures to be enacted will be contested and debated for a long time, and results from these measures will also be judged at a future date.
In the meantime, you’ll find hatchery coho in mid to late May, a great developing local fishery that is making a major comeback! Moving ahead into the summer months, expect a great fishery to develop for Chinook, coho, and pink salmon in many locations. No matter what you’re after, an entertaining, fun, and exciting learning experience on the water is very much available with an experienced licensed/certified guide who shares a passion for angling.