Port McNeill Fishing Report – Island Fisherman Magazine

Port McNeill Fishing Report

Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the Port McNeill area on Northern Vancouver Island. Tips, best practices, places and the go-to lures are just a sample of what you’ll find in our fishing report.

 

Port McNeill Tides



 

Port McNeill Weather


Port McNeill Fishing Report

August 2019

This season has been marked by consistent fishing on the north island as a whole, and the Port McNeill and Port Hardy hotspots are no exception. To make things even better, this summer has been one of the calmest I’ve ever seen, with little wind minus the odd NW blow in the afternoon that Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Strait are well known for.

Chinook fishing is now open for retention, but be sure to always check the local regulations. This has to be one of the best Chinook fisheries we have seen in many years, right from the beginning of June, which makes DFO’s regulations even more nonsensical.

Port Hardy’s hotspots have been Duval Point as well as Castle Rock, with Jeannette Light going off here and there as well. Average-sized Chinook have been in the 15- to 18-lb range, with the largest I’ve heard so far being in the mid 40s. Bites have been tide dependent, with slack tide bites being the best by far, but even on off tides you’d see a bite every 30 minutes or so. As cliché as it sounds, depths really do depend on where the bait is located. Have that sounder on and mark the bait—I always find the best depth to be just under the bait ball. My favourite depths for finding the bait at Castle Rock and Duval are 69 and 81 ft. Personally, I’ve always been a bait guy, so anchovy with glow green and watermelon heads are my go-to. There has been a lot of squid around this year, though, so a white cuttlefish or octopus hoochie would work wonders as well.

Port McNeill fishing on the backside of Malcolm Island has been above average all season. There are lots of needlefish in this area, so try small AP spoons or anchovy closer to bottom. If the bite dies off there, head to the storied Baronet Pass or ÒThe WallÓ (south side of Parson’s Island). These two places often produce the largest Chinook of the year in the area. If you do catch a 35-lb (or heavier) Chinook, always consider releasing it so future generations get a chance at a hog. Remember Òright rod to the rocksÓ while trolling these areas, as certain days can get a little crowded!

Bottom fishing and halibut fishing has been great around smaller tides in both areas. For halibut, off the Hardy airport shoreline will really heat up come end of August/September as coho head up the Keogh River. Taylor Bank, when not hit by longliners, is one of the most consistent halibut fishing spots in the area. If close to Baronet Pass, give the mouth of Knight Inlet a try for lingcod in the many pinnacles in the area (be wary of the Rockfish Conservation Area), and the sand flats in 280 to 320 ft for halibut.

Be safe, have fun, and remember, tight spins catch the most fins!

 

David Summers
Serengeti Fishing Charters
www.serengetifishingcharters.com

Port McNeill Fishing Report Archives

May 2019

There are many great spots to fish around Port McNeill in May, and you don’t have to go far to snap up a few shiny ones. This year, salmon fishing has been pretty good already! The average size spring around is 16 to 19 lbs, with the odd 23-lb Chinook showing up. Try a Yellow Green Jelly flasher and Green Haze teaser head from O’Ki Tackle; this combo seems to just light them up. Or try a Green Splatter spoon and Phantom series flasher. Remember, green means go. Remember, it’s catch and release until July 15, but there are still many opportunities for crabbing, prawning and bottom fishing that will provide you with an extremely enjoyable day on the water.

Port McNeill halibut fishing in May can be some of the best you have ever seen. We hope the new slot size for halibut this year will help us sustain our future halibut fishery and minimize in-season closures.

Try the backside of Malcolm Island or the sand flats in front of the Cluxewe Resort. These spots hold 20- to 60-lb halibut, and a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring or jigging with Mudrakers and salmon bellies. Remember, Pacific halibut do move around. Please ensure to record your halibut lengths and answer questions from our fish observers. The data they collect is very important to our retention limits.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

March 2019

In March and April you have to play a little game of hide and seek to find what you’re looking for, but usually the fish are around close. The average size spring is around 12 to 18 lbs, with the odd 23-lb Chinook being brought to the dock. Try the new Phantom flasher series from O’ki with a yellow green mist teaser head in UV Jelly or Chrome if you can find it. You can also try a Lemon Lime Flasher from Gibbs Delta and the Glow Trap Shack #4 spoon. It’s a deadly combo. Try trolling at different depths and see what works best for you and don’t be afraid to switch things up.

Halibut fishing in Port McNeill can be pretty good in March and April, but check DFO for openings. We also are looking at a different slot size and new ratio, with some good ideas from one of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board north island board members. We feel this could be a much more sustainable method for our allotted total allowable catch and both guides and regular anglers. We hope this will help us sustain our future halibut fishery and minimize the in-season closures.

Popular methods for Port McNeill areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring and jigging with Mudrakers and salmon bellies. If you are trolling with barbed gear for halibut, please ensure to keep your barbless salmon gear set aside, as DFO will try and fine you for harvesting a salmon on barbs if you have retained one. Better safe than sorry.

Please ensure you record your halibut lengths and answer questions from our fish observers. The data they collect is very important to our retention limits. Please see our good friends at Shoprite Marine in Port McNeill; they can fill all your tackle needs in our beautiful and remote part of the north island.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

Sept-Dec 2018

There are many great spots to fish around Port McNeill in September, and you don’t have to go far for the popular Chinook, coho, and pink salmon. It’s when you get to see the last of the mighty Nimpkish River Chinook return and potentially boast a weight of 45 to 55 lbs. Some say they find “Walter” there (cue On Golden Pond). Also, the northern coho start to move in, and they stick around until the end of October.

You’ll be looking at 20- to 25-lb coho. Spots include Dongle Head, Double Bay, or Ledge Point. Try a Yellow Green Maverick flasher and Green Haze Snow Flake JDF teaser head by O’Ki Tackle or the Gibbs Delta #4 Bob Marley spoon and GY Jelly Fish Guide Series flasher. Try the kelp beds, or fish the outside lines down deep (fish close to the top for pinks).

Port McNeill halibut fishing hotspots in September are the sand flats off the Cluxewe or the backside of Malcolm Island and Mitchell Bay. These spots hold 30- to 75-lb halibut, and a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large Tomic plugs, large spoons, or whole herring; jigging with scented lures and salmon bellies; or spreader bar and salmon heads. The halibut move in from offshore at this time of year to feed and spawn for December. Just remember that halibut move around, so you will have to pay attention and do a bit of hunting. Slack tides are best when hunting these mighty flatfish. If you need to release one, please see that you are careful not to injure its spine—a water release is better, and even if you have to cut the leader, the fish will be fine.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

August 2018

There are several great fishing spots around Port McNeill in the month of August. You don’t have to go far for the popular Chinook, coho, and sockeye fishing, with lots of larger Chinook on the move this time of year. Spots include The Wall, Sointula Island, and Wells Pass.

This year salmon fishing has been great; the average size is 28 to 35 lbs, with some nice 45-lb-plus fish being brought to the dock. Try a Green Jelly Phantom series flasher with #4 Bob Marley spoon, which has quickly become one of my favorite combos to use this summer. When fishing anchovies, give a try to the Eye of the Tiger teaser head with Yellow Green Maverick Flasher from Gibbs/Oki Tackle.

Port McNeill halibut fishing hot-spots in August–or Fogust, as we call it on the island–are the sand flats off the Port Hardy or in behind Alert Bay. These spots hold 30- to 60-lb halibut, and bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring and jigging with Gibbs Delta Mudraker and Salmon Bellies work well. Just remember that halibut do move around, so you will have to pay attention and do a bit of looking. Slack tides are best for hunting these mighty flatfish.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

July 2018

There are some terrific spots to fish around Port McNeill in the month of July, and it’s an excellent time for salmon and halibut fishing. Whether you’re fishing Malcolm Island, the wall off of the Johnstone Strait, or Wells Pass there are some great opportunities.

This year salmon fishing has been better than expected–the average size is 29- to 38-lbs, with some nice 40+ lb fish being brought to the dock. Try a Green Haze Jelly Fish flasher & Glow Yellow Green Snowflake JDF baitfish head with an anchovy, or the Fire ‘n’ Ice Mystic Green Flasher with the #4 Green Nickel Mist Titan spoon from Oki Tackle, which is all Canadian-made on Vancouver Island in Sidney.

The Port McNeill halibut fishing hotspots in July are the sand flats off the Port Hardy airport, the McNeill sand flats, and the shoals near Hanson Island. (Note: Please be mindful of the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) near Hanson Island.) These spots hold 30- to 65-lb halibut, and a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoon, plugs, or whole herring, or jigging with Glow Green ling-scented Gibbs Delta Muddraker and salmon bellies. Also, try out the Gibbs Delta Tackle Glow Spreader bars; I prefer to anchor up for them. This method requires some skill, and done incorrectly it can be very dangerous–you could swamp and sink your boat. Just remember that halibut move around, so you will have to pay attention and do a bit of looking around. Slack tides are best when hunting these mighty flat fish.

When you are up this way, try some freshwater fishing. Victoria Lake offers fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as Dolly Varden. It’s great for fly fishing or spincasting, and I’ve had the most success with 5 of Diamonds Apex or a blood leech fly. Shore casting is possible from here, but a small boat or kayak will provide you with some better opportunities.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

June 2018

There are terrific spots to fish around Port McNeill in June. This year’s salmon fishing has been very good. The average size spring is 18 to 25 lbs, and a few 30-pounders have shown up at the dock.

Try the Yellow Green Maverick Flasher with a Green Mist Snowflake Glow anchovy teaser head from Oki Tackle. Or try out this great combo: the #4 Double Double spoon by Pesca Lures and a Hotspot Silver Fever flasher. They drive both salmon and hali nuts.
The best spots to try around June are Dongle Head, Mitchell Bay, or Gordon Bluff. Try trolling around 45 to 160 feet. Be aware that even though we have lots of sandy bottoms, there can still be logs, rocks, and cables that will claim your gear.

Port McNeill halibut fishing in June can be some of the best you have ever seen. The mud flats are great for picking up our flat friends. Try the mud flats between Port Hardy Airport and Malcolm Island–both have really deep pockets and hold rock cod as well. These spots hold 25- to 70-lb halibut, and a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or Atomic Plugs, or jigging with large squid and salmon bellies. You can also try a power grub–it works well when the dogfish start sniffing around.

So far, this year’s hali fishing has been pretty good.

When you are up this way, try some freshwater fishing. Atluck Lake in June is good for wild trout fishing and canoeing. There is a boat launch and a small campsite and picnic area available for use. Please ensure you don’t leave garbage behind; it’s destructive to the wildlife habitat.

This lake does require you to use a canoe, kayak, or boat. Shore casting is difficult. When fly fishing try using nymphs–the black stoneflies or crunchers work pretty well, or if you’re with the kids and spincasting for trout, try the good old-fashioned worm and bobber. The classics always seem to bring a smile to your kids’ faces as they see the float being tugged under by a fish.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

May 2018

Port McNeill, located on Vancouver Island’s northeast shore on Queen Charlotte Strait, known as one of best places on the Island to catch all five salmon species, and is also known as King Coho country. There are many great spots to fish around Port McNeill in the month of May, and you don’t have to go far to snap up a few shiny ones. This year’s salmon fishing has been pretty good; the average size spring is around 15 to 20 pounds, and the odd 25-pound Chinook is being brought to the dock. Try a green-yellow Moon Jelly Flasher and Green Tiger Teaser head from Oki Tackle, or a basket case spoon by Pesca Lures with a Lemon Lime Flasher from Oki Tackle. This combo seems to just light them up. Remember folks, green means go.

When Chinook fishing in May try Mitchell Bay. Try trolling around 65 to 120 feet.

Port McNeill halibut fishing in May can be some of the best you have ever seen. The limit for halibut is one per day at 115 cm and a possession limit of two, of which the second can only be 83 cm. Hopefully this will help us sustain our future halibut fishery and minimize the in-season closures. Not only is this disappointing for all our anglers but it’s really tough on the businesses that depend on the fish.

Try the backside of Malcolm Island or the sand flats in front of the Cluxewe Resort. These spots hold 20- to 60-pound halibut. A couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring, or jigging with Mudrakers and salmon bellies. This year’s hali fishing will be a little more challenging with a smaller slot size, but skilled anglers should have no problem filling your coolers with your favourite fish. Please ensure you record your halibut lengths and answer questions from our fish observers. The data they collect is very important to our retention limits.

When you are up this way try some freshwater fishing. May still holds a few steelhead and there are plenty of trout further up in the river in deeper pockets. When fly fishing try a black and orange streamer pattern; it drives them nuts when they’re pooled up. Another good fly is the Blue Lightning (made by the Cahill family and Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters, an east coast-meets-west coast recipe).

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Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

April 2018

The Columbia River winter springs are still around and the average size is around 10 to 14 pounds with the odd 200-pound Chinook being brought to the dock. At this time of year it’s really important to know what bait the salmon are eating and try to match that with the type gear you want to use. I suggest you try the #3.5 Glow Gut Bomb spoon or my personal favourite a green snowflake anchovy teaser head combo, combining these with Green Yellow Jelly Flasher.

When Chinook fishing, try Mitchel Bay; the tide and currents force the bait in and holds them. Another great spot is the corner of Cormorant Island; it holds some nice Chinooks. Beware that the bottom may change quickly and you could be losing a few cannon balls. It’s not all sand. There are a few sunken cables and some reefs to worry about as well. Please be aware and respect the RCA’s at the comer of Dongle and the reef of Cormorant Island. Please see DFO RCA for map location.

Halibut fishing can be some of the best you have ever seen backside of Malcolm Island, or the sand flats off of Dongle Head. These spots hold 20 to 65 pound halibut. A couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring, jigging with Mudrakers and salmon bellies.

When you are up this way try some river fishing; you can catch the steelhead on the Nimpkish River. It’s the longest river on the Island, rising on the west slope of Mount Alston, flowing northwest into Nimpkish Lake and then north into the Broughton Strait at a point 8 km east of Port McNeill. Pink or blue Intruders and egg sucking leeches can be an effective pattern for anglers using a fly rod. If you are gear casting, try rubber worms and Gooey Bobs in bubblegum pink

There are three parts to buying a license. First part is buying your Non-Tidal (freshwater) Basic Fishing license. You can buy a one-day license, an eight-day license or an annual license. License costs depend on where you are from. Residents are considered people living in BC, non-residents are considered Canadian residents not living in BC and non-resident aliens is everyone else. If you’re from the US you’ll be buying a non-resident alien license.

Second part is buying your Steelhead Conservation License. You need this license if you’re targeting steelhead anywhere in BC. There is a flat fee for the steelhead license, $25. This is good if you’re fishing for a day or a week. For non-residents and non-resident alien it is $60.00. It can be expensive if you’re only fishing for a day or two but all license fees do go back to conservation.

The third part of your steelhead license is your Classified Waters License. If you’re a BC resident this is easy, there is one license that covers all classified rivers. If you’re not a BC resident, then it gets a little more complicated. You have to know what rivers you’re fishing and on what day you’re fishing them. Then you have to buy a classified waters license for each of those days. Best advice when it comes to buying your Classified Waters License is wait, to know which river you’re fishing and when.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

Sept/Dec 2017

There are many great spots to fish around Port McNeill in the month of September and you don’t have to go far for the popular Chinook, coho and pink salmon in September. Port McNeill in September is particularly a great month for the last of the Chinook run and northern coho.

It’s when you get to see the last mighty Nimpkish River Chinook. Some say they find Walter there. Also the northern coho start to move and stick around until end of October. They can range from 20 pounds plus.

Give these spots a go—Dongle Head, Double Bay or Ledge Point. Try a 926 Yellow Green Maverick flasher and the 751 GJF—Green Haze Baitfish head with an anchovy, #4 Bob Marley Spoon and GY Jelly Fish Guide series Flasher. Try the kelp beds or fish the outside lines down deep. Fish close to the top for pinks.

Port McNeill halibut fishing hotspots in September are the sand flats off the Cluxewe or backside of Malcolm Island and Mitchell Bay. These spots hold 30- to 75-pound halibut and a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large Tomic plugs, large spoons or whole herring, plus jigging with scented lures and salmon bellies or heads on a spreader bar. The Halibut move in from offshore at this time of year to feed and spawn for December.

Just remember that halibut do move around, so you will have to pay attention and do a bit of looking around. Slack tides are best when hunting these mighty flat fish. Please insure if you need to release one that you’re careful not to injure its spine and a water release is better; even if you have to cut your leader the hali will be fine. The larger halibut do show up around this time of year.

When you are up this way try some freshwater fishing at the Cluexewe River for trout, pinks and coho. It’s great for fly fishing or spin casting, I have had my best success with a red and black streamer fly or hot pink Wiggle Bug fly (Lots of deer flies there. Don’t forget to bring your bug dope.) For spin casting try the brass fire stripe CROC spoon.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

August 2017

There are many great spots to fish in the month of August and you don’t have to go far for the popular Chinook, coho and sockeye fishing with lots of larger Chinook on the move this time of year. Spots include Barrnet Pass, Sointula Island and Wells Pass.

This year salmon fishing has been better than expected with the average size being 25- to 35-pounds, with some nice 45-pounders plus, being brought to the dock. Try a GY Moon Jelly custom series flasher with # 4 Bob Marley spoon or Eye of the Tiger teaser head with an anchovy with Yellow Green Maverick Flasher or the #4 Green Nickel Mist spoon Gibbs/Oki Tackle.

Port McNeill halibut fishing hotspots in August—or Fogust as we call it on the island—are the sand flats off the Port Hardy Airport flats in front of Cluxewe. These spots hold 30- to 70-pound halibut.

And a couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring or jigging with Gibbs Delta Greenling Muddrakers and or salmon bellies. Just remember that halibut do move around, so you will have to pay attention and do a bit of looking around. Slack tides are best when hunting these mighty flatfish.

When you are up this way try some freshwater fishing; Good Speed River offers fishing for trout, salmon and steelhead. The river can be very deep in spots and fast and slippery. Both Spin casting and on the fly will do the trick.[/collapse][collapse id=”shortcode7″ title=”February 2017″ open=”n”]There are a few select spots to fish as the Columbia River winter springs are still around and the average size is around 10 to 12 pounds and the odd 20-pounder as well. It’s important this time a year to really know what bait the salmon are eating and try and use like-type gear. Try the Mystic Green Fire and Ice Flasher with the #4 Titan Spoon, Witch Doctor spoon or a green snowflake anchovy teaser head. I also like to use the Skinny G Trap Shack or Paddy Wagon Spoon with the Green Yellow Jelly Flasher.

When chinook fishing at this time of the year, try Mitchel Bay as the tide and currents force them in and then the bait holds them. Also try Dongle Head but be careful of the incline, it comes up quick and you could be losing a few cannon balls. Please be aware of the RCA at the corner of Dongle Head to Stubbs Island. You can and will receive a fine for trolling over it even if you are not trying to fish there. Please see DFO RCA for map location.

At this time of the year, halibut fishing can be some to the best you have ever seen, the backside of Malcolm Island, or the sand flats off of Dongle head is a definite go-to place. These spots hold 20 to 65 pounders. Please keep in mind 133cm is the max slot size. A couple of popular methods for these areas are bottom trolling with large spoons or whole herring, or jigging with salmon bellies.

 

Steven Cahill
Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters
(855) 805-FISH (3474) – Toll-Free
(250) 230-0579 – Cell
www.vanislefishing.com

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