I recently read about a new word that is becoming common – staycation. It means staying home for a vacation.
I suggest that if you are a local angler looking for a modestly priced fishing vacation a good place to do it would be in Area 14 and adjacent waters. This season has been above average in success and continues to produce good catches.
One of the biggest challenges in fishing saltwater locations is seasonal winds. Because much of Area 14 is located in open water in the Strait of Georgia, it is subject to large waves that can make trolling, or other types of angling a contest. There are several ways to fish in windy conditions if you must:
1. Troll downwind and run into the wind until you start your next trolling run.
2. Fish from a seaworthy craft and use common sense when to stay home.
3. Jig with buzz bombs in sheltered waters.
4. Start fishing early in the morning and leave the water when the wind comes up.
5. Fish in the evening when it calms down.
6. Strong southeast winds – Stay home.
7. Moderate northwest – Fish south off Denman and Hornby.
The economics of fishing trips to distant parts of the Island may be factors in your fishing budget. It costs approximately $1,000 for two anglers to do a five-day trip to the north or west coast of the Island. When you factor in launch fees and gas it costs approximately $100 a day for two anglers to fish in local waters such as – Kitty Coleman Hump, Tribune Bay, Grants Reefs, Century Shoals or the East coast of Denman and Hornby islands or Area 13 around Campbell River. If the weather cooperates, a five-day trip includes three days on the water, whereas at $100 a day for local trips you could have 10 trips on the water with the same fishing budget.
Area 14 has many fishing opportunities and when you add some of the adjacent waters it has all the qualities of distant fishing locations. We are in the midst of many chinook salmon migrations that will continue up to fall to distant spawning rivers. Resident coho are producing good catches of wild and marked fish. We are on the edge of the pink salmon runs, which have already appeared in the Eve River. If the sockeye run comes in anywhere near its predictions and we are allowed to fish them locally, you should see some superb fishing in local waters off Bates Beach and Kitty Coleman before they turn out to sea at Cape Lazo and go across the Straits to Texada Island on their migration to mainland rivers, including the Fraser.
The picture with this column is representative of the variety of fish in Area 14. There is a lingcod, chinook salmon, a coho, and a copper rockfish. This picture was taken on the Monday of the July 1st weekend.
During the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of sharing fishing time with Chuck Ashcroft in his 19-foot aluminium boat. It is very seaworthy and while we watch the weather closely we have enjoyed some good fishing trips. There was one day when we did not catch any salmon; but we did get lingcod and rockfish.
The message is that we have excellent saltwater fishing in our local waters with a wide selection of catchable fish. Our waters are excellent for trolling and drift fishing. The world-famous Buzz Bombs and associated lures were invented in the Valley and continue to be manufactured in the factory in Courtenay.
Added to the wide variety of fin fish, we also have a good selection of places to gather shellfish, or set traps for saltwater delicacies such as spotted prawns, Dungeness crabs and a good cross-section of clams. I would hesitate to recommend oysters during this hot weather, but clams are the prime source of excellent chowder. The commercial season on prawns has been closed for several weeks so there is the possibility of catching some prawns.
Area 14, our home waters, are rich in the gifts of the sea. Give a fishing staycation in Comox Valley waters a try.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.