Last Friday I fished in the company of two like-minded souls in the persons of Charley Vaughan and Bruce Bell. We had heard there was some good chinook salmon fishing to be had at Campbell River in the vicinities of the Green Can, the Black Can and the Hump. It was easy to find where the fish were in that there were over 100 boats in the area.
This type of fishing can be a little on the combative style because anglers are constantly jockeying for places and when you do hook a large fish you have to hope fellow anglers will give you space to play the fish without getting tangled in their gear.
Now on all fishing trips there are some handicaps; but on this day we a had a serious handicap in that when Charley put his gear in his boat he forgot his Lawrence navigation system and depth sounder. It is a tribute to Charley’s intimate knowledge of the waters we were fishing that we caught any fish at all – let alone a marvellous catch of chinook salmon. The only outside assistance we had was that occasionally Charley would ask a nearby boat how deep it was.
Our first fish was a splendid 10- to 12-pound chinook taken by Charley in about 70 feet of water. It was near the location where Charley took a 34-pounder in July of 2013.
Fishing the shallow water without the aid of depth sounder was risky with all the boats around us so Charley decided on the wisdom of fishing deep water. Shortly after we left the shallow water I connected with a prime chinook in the 15-pound range that we netted. Things were really looking up.
As the tide changed we made a move into deep water off the hump. It was Bruce’ s turn on the next fish and he set up a large fish that needed plenty of room. After what seemed an eternity of long runs and deep rushes Bruce was able to bring his fish into netting range. The fish came up on its side and about the time it was ready to net, the hook parted from the plug, the fish turned into the net and was safely netted and brought into the boat much to everybody’s relief. It is pictured with the column and weighed just short of 28 pounds and its flesh was bright red. It was a grand way to celebrate July 4 for our neighbour to the south. Thankfully the anglers in our immediate area gave Bruce ample room to play his trophy, which was much appreciated.
Our day was not over. Shortly after the big fish, Charley set up a small chinook in the 10-pound class. It was just past noon and we had been into five nice salmon and netted four. All of this accomplished by our captain Charley Vaughan’ s intimate knowledge of the waters we were fishing entirely without the usual electronic navigation and fishing finding equipment. The wind showed signs of coming up so we called it a day and headed into the ramp.
Home waters for many Valley anglers include the waters off the south end of Discovery Passage in Area 13. These waters produce good catches of chinook, coho and halibut at times. They can be fished by launching at Salmon Point Resort, Pacific Playgrounds or Campbell River. If you launch from these first two locations have a good seaworthy boat and reasonably good weather conditions, because it can be a long way home with a southeast wind. We are enjoying one of the most productive salmon seasons in several years so we really do not have to travel to get good fishing.
Next Week – Area 14 is hot.
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.