There is a tendency to look at distant waters when planning a fishing trip – this column will concentrate on Area 14 waters, close to home.
It has been many years since our local fishing areas adjacent to the Comox Valley have been so productive. If you wonder where to go fishing, think close to home – Cape Lazo or Kitty Coleman Hump. You will probably notice several charter boats in the area and they are not there to save gas. They are there because there are salmon in these waters.
For background material in researching this column I went to the Puntledge Hatchery and had a brief visit with Darcy Miller to check on the status of summer chinook stocks and any other pertinent information.
The good news on threatened summer chinook is that their numbers are better than last year with over 200 adults in holding at Rosewall and several hundred spread through the Puntledge system. A few have entered Comox Lake. Any chinook you take locally off the bell buoy as of this writing will either be transition or fall chinook.
Over 100 pink salmon have been recorded by the camera at the hatchery counting camera, which indicates there is a fair number of pink salmon in the lower Puntledge.
Pink salmon are on the minds of many fly fishers who walk local beaches for cruising fish. As of last week they have been slow in appearing off the Oyster River and Black Creek, which are normally in full swing at this time of the year.
That there are pinks in the Puntledge would suggest time spent along Cape Lazo Beach, Royston foreshore and the wrecks may be productive. Remember, the inner harbour and the Puntledge estuary is a shore fishery until Aug. 31 and the mouths of the Trent and Hart Creek are closed from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.
Pictured with this column is a shiny bright pink salmon. They are easily confused with small chinook. A pink salmon has elongated spots on the tail, fine scales and no odour as associated with chinook. If they school in the harbour waters it would be easy to take them on typical pink salmon trolling gear.
Coho are abundant in most local waters. The trick is to avoid seals and catch a marked fish that you can keep. I fished Century Shoals last week and we released some nice unmarked coho. Kitty Coleman and Cape Lazo are alive with coho, most of which seem to be wild.
As of Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 you can keep two coho in the waters from Cape Lazo to Longbeak Point – to Hart (Washer) Creek in what we frequently call Comox Harbour waters.
Of your two fish, one may be marked and one unmarked or both may be marked. If current numbers of coho in local waters stay in the area we will get some exciting coho fishing come the first of the month.
Chinook are of prime interest to anglers who like to catch large fish and the waters outlined in the above paragraph should not disappoint in the next six weeks. A
As of Aug. 20 these waters are open to the retention to two chinook. These waters are important holding waters for Puntledge fall chinook and they are close to home.
It will be an easy day’s fishing if you concentrate on the waters off Cape Lazo, south to the bluffs off Denman and around the bell buoy. If there are birds feeding on the shallows off Tree Island try drift lures over schools of moving bait. These waters may also hold passing Qualicum fish.
For clarification of the openings in this column, pick up a copy of ‘Area 14 Courtenay, Comox, and Qualicum 2013/2014 Coho & Chinook Openings and other Closures’ from the DFO office in Comox. The colour-coded areas are well-marked and clarify where and when we can fish and keep coho and chinook.
Time and space do not permit me to cover chinook non-retention opening off Deep Bay and Bowser that opens on Aug. 15.
The timing of this closure was to protect Cowichan stocks and with the opening, local anglers can target returning Big Qualicum chinook that are gathering prior to entering the river.
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.