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West Coast Adventure

 

Vancouver’s got it. Prince Rupert’s got it, so does the Island and all points in between. This summer is forecasted to be one of the greatest salmon seasons on record and that’s saying something. Last year’s coastal fishing results were no slouch, producing abundant catches throughout. But this year’s supposed to be even better.

I just got off the phone with Wayne Ridley, who runs Wayne Ridley Fishing Charters on the north end of Vancouver Island. I asked how the fishing was. “Well, if you don’t mind catching 30 – 33 pound chinooks, then yesterday wasn’t that bad.” He adds, “The salmon fishing’s good.” And goes on, “We’ve also been dropping the prawn traps down and catching some of the biggest prawns ever.” By now I’m drooling over the phone.

I went out with Wayne last year and the results were unimaginable. My friends and I caught our limits of chinook, which averaged 20 to 30 pounds. We caught limits of coho, which generally start showing up on the North Island around the end of June. We caught large lingcod, including a pair of thirty pounders, numbers of halibut and some very nice red snappers. In all, I all brought home some 150 pounds or more of fish fillets. This seafood bounty was delicious and tasted so good that everything I brought home was gone by November. This is exactly why four of us booked another trip for this summer.

What impressed me about fishing the coast last year was the size of these schools. They were huge. When we’d hit a school of salmon we could run for several miles catching fish steady. The set up for catching them was quite simple: stack a couple of lines off downriggers and let the fish tell you where they want to bite. The coho usually stayed in the top 100 feet, and often times we were catching them right on the surface. The chinooks were deeper and trolling 130 to 300 feet was the ticket.

For those who wonder about the fly fishing possibilities, these coho were meant for the fly rod. They will slam a streamer and then rip apart your flyline and be well into your backing before you’ve had a chance to catch your breath. They fight hard, right to the boat and when you’re finished with that one, there’ll be another just waiting for you to toss that fly in. On last year’s trip we pulled out the long rod and for the time it was out it was like a three ring circus trying to tame and land these silver powerhouses.

When it came to regular fishing, we used the standard approach for catching salmon, which was to troll an ‘Army Truck’ or ‘Oil Slick’ hootchy behind a Gibbs flasher. Sometimes we changed it up and trolled whole, extra large sized herring behind a rigger with no flasher or anything. It got hit lots and I had this one larger chinook that ran and jumped like a wild coho. The fight was frantic and the big chinook leaped and cartwheeled repeatedly. Unable to throw the hook by air, the fish sounded, going straight down and down and down until I thought there was no more down to go. Somewhere in the depths it shook the hook and broke my heart. Good for the fish – tough luck for me. While not a huge fish by some, we estimated it would have pushed 35 and for me that would have been a personal best. Still the next bite turned out to be a repeat of the last and I squared off on another deep sounding salmon and brought a healthy thirty pounder to the boat.

While tides are a factor, it wasn’t so we could target salmon. Slack tide meant the perfect opportunity to drop our lines overboard and jig for some halibut and cod. We used spreader bars and herring and caught lots of everything. We dropped down an assortment of jigs from Mudrakers to extra large sized Gibbs Minnows. It never took long before something had a hold of our hooks and we would start the 300-foot retrieve from the bottom. With some of these fish pushing thirty pounds, some real grunt work was required to bring one up. And if it was a big halibut… hold on.

Fishing the ocean may seem light years away from the prairies, but with discounted flights, the cost of getting there got a whole lot more reasonable. In the space of an hour or maybe a little more, you can find yourself on the shores of the BC coast, a stone’s throw away from adventure. Head out with a charter and have your trip catered or pick up with some friends and tow out a seaworthy boat for the weekend. Because this year promises to be one of the best on record, I can’t think of a better time to make a trip to the coast than right now. The bounty of seafood that awaits will feed you and your family for months to come.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Small stream BT fishing

(2) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(3) In The Walleye Zone

(4) Zoo Trout

(5) Fly Selection for Beginners

(6) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(7) New Waters

(8) Big Bad Burbot

(9) Looking Back

(10) Out of Africa

(11) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(12) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(13) The Browns of Autumn

(14) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(15) Walleye Town

(16) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(17) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(18) Going With The Flow

(19) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(20) Swinging The Fences

(21) A View From The Aerie

(22) Dixieland Delight

(23) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(24) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(25) Montana's Cool Missouri

(26) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(27) Toothy Critters

(28) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(29) Top Ten Flies

(30) Northern Exposure

(31) Home Water Lessons

(32) Chicken Of The Sea

(33) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(34) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(35) Keep It Up!

(36) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(37) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(38) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(39) Hawg Holes

(40) Saltwater Salmon

(41) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(42) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(43) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(44) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(45) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(46) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(47) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(48) Fall Walleye

(49) Wet Flies

(50) Versatility the Key to Success

(51) Grayling of the Boreal

(52) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(53) Size Matters

(54) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(55) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(56) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(57) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(58) The Point Of It All

(59) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(60) Fall Fly Fishing

(61) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(62) Big River, Big Fish

(63) Bottom Bonanza

(64) Fishing Small Flies

(65) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(66) Four Seasons of the Bow

(67) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(68) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(69) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(70) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(71) Edge Walleye

(72) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(73) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(74) Four Corners – Four Waters

(75) Chasing Pothole Trout

(76) Springtime Stoneflies

(77) The Torrents of Spring

(78) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(79) Bust Them With Bait

(80) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(81) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(82) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(83) Terrestrials

(84) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(85) Rocky Mountain High

(86) Reading the clues

(87) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(88) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(89) Fly Fishing 101

(90) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(91) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(92) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(93) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(94) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(95) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(96) Trust Your Electronics

(97) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(98) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(99) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(100) Walleye can be Humbling

(101) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(102) Winter Flyfishing

(103) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(104) Hot Fall Pike Action

(105) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(106) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(107) Frequently Asked Questions

(108) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(109) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(110) Deep Water Perch

(111) Post Spawn Brookies

(112) A Fisher's Life

(113) The River's Last Stand

(114) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(115) Coho on the Coast

(116) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(117) Summer in the Mountains

(118) Peak Walleye Season

(119) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(120) Last Ice Rainbows

(121) The Burbot Event

(122) Tackle Matching

(123) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(124) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(125) The Lure of Brook Trout

(126) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(127) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(128) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(129) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(130) The Vesatile Plug

(131) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(132) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(133) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(134) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(135) Daily Fish Migrations

(136) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(137) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(138) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(139) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(140) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(141) The Fun in Ultra Light

(142) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(143) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(144) Never Stop Learning

(145) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(146) Jigging through the Ice

(147) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(148) Rainbows on Ice

(149) The Season of Ice Begins

(150) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(151) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(152) Facts On Cats

(153) West Coast Adventure

(154) June Walleye Frenzy

(155) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(156) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(157) "Northern Exposure"

(158) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(159) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(160) Man Overboard