Living on Vancouver Island makes for accessible fishing grounds all along the coast, and for those lucky enough to live in or visit Victoria, Oak Bay is no slouch for delivering the goods.
On a perfect day anywhere, you’d be limiting out on salmon and lingcod by noon. This was our perfect day. It was one of those glassy-water, zero-wind, and not-a-cloud-in-the-sky lucky days when I had the opportunity to fish with Trevor Zboyovsky (pronounced bee-oh-ski), owner and operator of No Bananas Fishing Charters. Trevor was born and raised in Victoria and has been guiding since 1989 when he first started out at Pedder Bay Marina. Trevor is one of the Gibbs-Delta Pro-Staff on the island who have also designed tackle i.e. flashers such as the Madi (named after his daughter), Betsi, T10, and Lemon Lime and has tackle named after his charter, No Bananas. Needless to say, I was excited to spend the day with him.
We left the dock at 6 a.m. and motored for barely a mile on the 30-ft Grady-White Marlin until we reached Oak Bay Flats, a sandy bottom area in approximately 100 ft of water. We bottom bounced the ebb with needlefish imitations, and it wasn’t more than 10 or 15 minutes until “Fish on!” The first two were under the 45-cm mark, so we released with the gaff, careful to keep them in the water and handling them as little as possible. At 7 a.m. the port side line with the Herring Aide spoon popped off the clip and was taking line! Like a familiar dinner bell to a nearby seal, the reel was screaming. Heart pounding, I let her take her time. “It’s a good one,” Trevor shouted gleefully—and it was. Trevor brought this one in by hand rather than netting as we were concerned about its size, being wild. In Area 19 where we were fishing at the time of this catch, wild Chinook over 67 cm couldn’t be kept. And at 72 cm, this was our prize catch-and-release fish of the day. It certainly didn’t make it any less exciting, and there’s something to be said about not bonking every fish you catch.
After the release, we sent the lines down and turned back towards Trial Islands. And right on the turn, wham! We picked up a beautiful hatchery Chinook on Trevor’s personally named lure, the Gibbs Wee G No Bananas. Not long after, yet another.
Having reached the day’s limit, it was time to turn our attention to ling. It was amazing to visit one of Trevor’s spots, close to the Oak Bay Marina (sorry, no spoilers). With some wonky current, Trevor would take us over a small hump and then yell, “OK, get ready any second now!” On a few passes, I felt several hits but nothing hooked.
On retrieval we found the Glow Delta Power Paddles were getting hit hard from behind. We decided to switch one line to UV Orange and wham, wham, wham! Three in the boat in no time. It goes to show that even a small change can make a difference. In any case, ling are such aggressive fish—they’ll sit in a hole or on a shelf and wait to ambush unsuspecting customers. They are not terribly picky—they are even cannibalistic. Because they are resident and not migratory, once one is caught, the next biggest/most aggressive will take its resting place. As ugly as they are, they make for a great meal; I have a hard time deciding between lingcod and halibut, given the choice. Lingcod is a bit more forgiving than halibut to prepare, that’s for sure. A big thanks to Trevor for the day “On the Water,” and remember, no bananas…not even one.