Team Salmon University visits the Queen Charlottes
15th, 2010 brought one of my most anticipated trips of the year,
the 2010 Salmon University/Oak Bay Marine Group fishing trip to
been having incredibly nice weather in the Seattle area, but as
with anywhere, you just don't know what to expect from Mother
Nature. And oh, she was in a bad mood this year. Wind would be
our enemy for the length of our trip and it would bring us out
of the norm and cause us to try areas not yet proved. But would
it be worth it? Absolutely!
the wind howling at around 20mph and gusts up to 30, the entire
West Side of the Island was closed down. This blew our plan out
of the water, which we had stuck to religiously the last two years.
1: Fish the West side for Halibut, Lingcod and Yelloweye.
Day 2: Fish the East side in the morning for Salmon - switch to
the West side for the afternoon for bottomfish
Day 3: Same as Day 2
Day 4: Fish the East side to punch out for salmon, then either
catch and release the rest of the morning or fill our tags with
whatever bottomfish we might not have.
we fish the East side starting at around 2:00PM and the fishing
is dead! Not a bite for us although we did see a couple salmon
caught. Around 6:00PM we decide to drop down to the bottom for
1 ½ hours, then we'd go in for New York Steak and Crab dinner
before recouping for the morning. Good decision as we came up
with a 29lb Halibut, and two lingcod - the largest being 39lbs.
We also hooked a few rockfish, which we returned to the ocean.
2 we were back on plan trying to get the early morning bite
for salmon. A slow start but there were fish around. Then a little
twitch, and another but not a takedown. I feed the mooched cut
plug herring to whatever was curious below and then my line stops
like it's on bottom. Wait, I'm down 54ft in 200ft of water - guess
what - fish on! I set the hook and proceed to have a wonderful
battle with a 23lb Chinook. Man is there anything better than
such a subtle Chinook bite that you know it's there, but you must
have patience or you'll rip the hooks right out of it's mouth.
Now that's what I'm talking about.
the bad news came - they West side is closed again! The winds
picked up and so we're stuck on the East side for the day. But,
not a problem, the salmon are in and we did get a few nice bottomfish
the day before.
noon we have 7 of 8 fish punched (3 Chinook and 4 Coho). We've
let a few smaller fish go but felt confident we'd punch our last
fish later that day, but for now we'd try and get some white meat.
We fished Andrews Point, which is traditionally salmon grounds,
but we didn't have the luxury of heading to the GPS points we
knew were money. Not much luck except for a few rockfish and the
wind was letting down. So with the permission of the Fish Master
we got the go ahead to fish the West Side. Some pretty big swells
but no wind, at least for the moment. As we dropped down it wasn't
but 30 seconds and we were both hooked up with a halibut. 225ft
down was a breeze compared to the 500 - 700ft we usually drop
at Westport. But as they hit the deck the winds picked up and
we were asked to come back to the other side. If the winds died
down again we knew our spot was still good, but that was a big
"IF" which unfortunately for us would not come this trip.
hit a few more lings off Andrews and a couple Yelloweye, and then
it was back to Salmon. Wow, fish are really starting to show and
everyone is hooked up with quality Coho. We waited until we got
a 13lb Coho then went in to join everyone for dinner, will it
be rack of lamb, planked salmon or chicken prosciutto.
3 we started out quickly again with two Chinook and then doubles
of Coho. They're really in now and all boats are hooked up. The
first hour was non-stop and then the wind hit us hard even on
the East side. We tucked in and continued to hook up with Coho
but releasing fish so we still had room to fish the afternoon
for salmon plus leave at least one Chinook unpunched in case we
get into the big ones the next day.
the West Side was not an option because of the weather, we decided
to go to the Chicken Ranch for a while. Here is traditionally
instant fish on and this year was no exception. One after another
we dropped, reeled up and released sub 10lb halis. We finally
decided on a 15lb fish that filled our halibut tags.
to Coho Point this time and the bite was on. Everyone was hooking
up with Coho and an occasional Chinook. We timed it so our last
salmon of the day we'd punch and be back to the mother ship by
8:00 dinner with 4 Chinook and 2 Coho. Prime Rib with Tiger Prawns
or Seafood Pasta tonight.
Last day and we're pumped. The water at both Coho and Andrews
point is actually completely flat! To top it off we have a sunrise.
As we dropped down our cut plug herring to 30 feet our rod tips
were already twitchin. Chinook salmon on the hunt!!! Again this
is where patience came in because there were no absolute takes,
we had to "feed" them the herring and wait until they decided
it was time to swallow it. And just like that one of the best
Chinook feeding frenzies I've been fortunate to be apart of! Can
you say a TRIPLE HEADER, with only 2 fishermen! We were fishing
3 rods (which is legal in Canada) and all three had a Chinook
only had 2 salmon left to completely punch out (one of which could
be a Chinook) so only one of the Chinook came on board. The third
one was also a long line release but what the heck, we did have
three on at once. We were only fishing 50 yards off shore in 80
ft of water and it was smoking hot. There were six boats that
quickly joined us in the heart of the slot and we were all hooked
up. This lasted for over an hour and we hooked up every time we
passed a certain point. Our normal path would have been ¼ mile
long but since we pinpointed the biting point, it turned into
a 100-yard dash.
a humpback whale wanted to join us on the action - what a spoil
sport. The whale bullied his way in and the salmon spread out.
Talk about killing a bite. We still had a couple hours before
needing to return to the boat so we went out into deeper water
to find our last Coho.
found a few but not what we were looking for. We then moved in
close to Coho Point and dropped down. Fish on! And a double. Oops,
long line release on the first one so I grab the net for the other.
An unforeseen wave hits us and I take a spill landing IN the dry
box. We're laughing as I can't get out of the box and the second
fish gets off. Still laughing, my rod doubles over (remember we're
fishing three rods) and I'm not going to miss this one. I get
out of the box and set the hook. WOW, biggest Coho for us of the
still had an hour left so we hit newly named Reiner Flats for
some bottomfish. One of the Salmon U guests, Reiner Grumman named
this stretch after he and his brother caught a 70lb and a 36lb
halibut off this spot, which we've never seen another boat fish
before. We didn't get the big fish but did manage an 18lb ling
and a bunch of China Rockfish.
a year where salmon runs are down all around, we got into them
good. Although bottomfishing wasn't like it is on the West side,
everyone still managed some nice white meat for the freezer and
some good size fish were caught as well. Even with Mother Nature
showing her ugly self this trip it proved to be very rewarding.