For the last couple of weeks I have heard fishing tales about the superb chinook salmon fishing that is currently being enjoyed off Grants Reef and farther afield in the local waters of Campbell River.
When the wind allows adventurous anglers to cross over to Grants Reef they have been rewarded with limit catches of chinook, with several of them in the 20-plus pound range. Good fishing if you can get across the strait from our side to the Powell River side.
The last report I had on the fishing in this area is that there is so much seaweed floating on the surface that it is almost impossible to get a lure through the mess.
In the meantime I had a call from a friend who had just taken two 20-pound chinook off the hump at Kitty Coleman after being forced off Grants Reef by the dense concentration of floating seaweed in that area.
Following up on the tip, Chuck Ashcroft enquired if I would like to join him in a venture on Saturday morning to see if we could catch a chinook or two off Kitty Coleman if the wind allowed us to run up there from Comox.
It was an easy answer in the affirmative and we launched shortly after 7 a.m. under clear skies and calm waters in the strait. When we arrived at the Kitty Coleman hump there were at least a dozen boats fishing the area and I saw two active nets as we put our gear in the water. A pretty exciting start to the day.
We started at depths of about 200 feet and were quickly rewarded with strikes on both lines. In a few minute we netted two Pacific cod in the six- to seven-pound class; but they were not chinook salmon.
The number of boats had increased to over 20 when Chuck connected with an ambitious chinook that ran out a good amount of line. It was a prime fish in the 20-pound range. What followed was a morning of memory-making fishing, with several fish being brought to the net highlighted by one large fish that broke off after a long run.
Shortly after noon I netted our fourth chinook that was a twin to Chuck’s first fish. The number of boats on the hump had increased to at least 30 and there was a continuous stream of boats arriving and leaving.
Throughout the morning it was not unusual to see people handling nets as chinook were being netted. If the season continues at this rate we are in for a superb season of salmon fishing in local waters.
When we cleaned the fish we had three with bright red flesh and one was white. Their stomachs contained herring ranging is size from three to five inches. Our best lures were green and white glow spoons fished at about 200 feet. During the morning we released only one small chinook in the three- to four-pound range.
With the calm seas many of the boats were from Kitty Coleman and Bates Beach ramps. There were several traditional small boats in the 14- to 16-foot class, as well as good showing of charter boats.
While it was the first chinook trip for us, the fishery has been good for at least a couple of weeks. When we launched at Comox there were four outfits ahead of us on the parking lot; when we pulled the boat the parking lot was full and people were parking their cars and trailers along the street. A good start for the 2015 salmon season.
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.