A day’s fishing on the saltwater

Now that things have settled down and the sockeye run is out of the way it is easy to go fishing for a day with no specific agenda.

This is what Bryan Allen and I did last Sunday when we launched his boat at Union Bay for a day on the water.

There is a special type of freedom when the day is planned as a simple day of fishing. The closest thing we had to a plan was to travel down Baynes Sound and eventually end up off the Qualicum Rivers. We had two crab traps to do some for exploring new crab possibles, and drift rods to fish salmon, lingcod, flounders, rockfish and also trolling outfits. The weather was great with a small ripple on the water.

Travelling down Bayes Sound in the comfort of a good boat and watching the changing skyline of the Beaufort Mountains is always an uplifting experience for me. There was a little smoke haze, but the view was as always – spectacular.

Our first task was to randomly select two locations for the crab traps, which we did, and as we sped away from the marker buoys I thought about how easy it is to start a day’s fishing, when fishing for crabs.

When we arrived off the Qualicums, I counted about 15 boats trolling the waters off the Rivers, two boats were drift fishing and two people in small floater boats were fly fishing. Nobody was actively playing a fish. We opted to start drift fishing in depths varying from 70 to 120 feet. Over a period of about two hours I went through a choice of lures including Macdeep, L’ll NIB, and Zildas in no particular order. My only measure of success was that I was regularly catching large bullheads, one small cabizon, a flounder; but no chinook or coho salmon.

Bryan was having the same measure of success. While we were fishing, we kept watch on the trollers around us and the only action we saw was one angler lose what must have been a nice chinook just short of the net.

For a change of pace we opted to do some trolling for awhile. Shortly after we started, Bryan’s  rod came under stress from an angry chinook which was eventually netted just as the hook came out. It was a nice fish of about 15 pounds. We really would have preferred a coho, but we were happy with the chinook.

The crab traps had been soaking for about four hours, so we decided to see if they held any crabs. When we pulled them, the first trap had a very large Dungeness crab that measured over 71/4 inches across. A nice trophy crab from the two traps.

The day was still quite young so to complete our fishing time we opted to fish flounders. Flounders do not fall into the class of trophy fish on the line; but on the dinner plate they are indeed trophies. They are fun to catch and on light tackle give a good account of themselves. We were fishing with small drift lures, bounced off the bottom. Flounders attack the lure and are quite easily hooked. They will also take Berkley Power grubs fished off the bottom with light weights. Great fishing for children. We set a limit on size and number. We kept eight; which was four fish for each family. One down side to fishing flounders is the challenge of filleting them prior to cooking. During the flounder fishing it is not unusual to catch salmon or other fish. Yesterday we caught a small Pacific cod that is one of the local sources of fish for fish and chips.

When you added up the results of the day we had a credible catch of fish taken on a day when the goal was just to simply enjoy some low-key fishing. The picture with the article shows the four species that we caught – chinook salmon, pacific cod, flounders, and a trophy Dungeness crab.


Saturday, September 27, 2014 is the date of the annual Pacific Salmon Foundation Fund Raiser at the Filberg centre in Courtenay. Tickets are $50 each and are available from Gone Fishing Sporting Goods or Judy Ackinclose. With climate change, the work of this foundation is of growing importance to the success of our salmon fishing.


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