As we enter June, the month of big tides and currents, we do so on a wave of successful marine fishing in local waters. Pictured with this column is a pair of fish that are the prime targets of local anglers. The chinook salmon weighed in the upper teens and the lingcod was not far behind.
Perhaps what is most important about such fish is that they serve two passions for anglers:
1. The thrill and excitement of playing a large fish to the net.
2. They are important sources of food caught in the recreational fishery.
Starting Friday, June 12 and running through to Sunday, June 21 we are in a series of extremely high and low daylight tides. For example, on Wednesday, June 17 we have a morning high of 14.7 feet running out to an afternoon low of 1.9 feet followed by a high tide of 16.3 feet at about 8:30 in the evening.
These are huge exchanges of water and the currents associated with these unusual high and low tides make trolling with deep lines a challenge. When you try to troll two deep lines in these currents you frequently spend much of your time untangling lines.
The currents also challenge your navigation skills when you try to troll a specific course in a deep water location. It is also timely to watch the slack periods between high and low tides, but be aware slack water usually occurs at a different time than tidal change – which is why tide current tables are as important as tide tables.
One of the solutions to get around the heavy currents is to troll in moderately shallow waters of less than 100 feet wherever you can find schools of bait. The two fish in the photograph were taken in less than 80 feet of water. If you observe diving ducks feeding in a relatively shallow area they are a reliable clue that there is bait below them. One of the surprises in this type of fishing is that you frequently catch large, legal lingcod feeding in the same area.
It should be noted that the season for hatchery marked coho opened in Area 14 waters on June 1. The daily limit is two hatchery marked coho. By targeting shallower water trolling you increase you chances of taking a coho.
Another species showing up in good numbers this year is the Pacific cod, which is often overlooked by recreational anglers as a good food fish. They provide two good fillets in the larger individual and are certainly worth the effort of adding to your catch.
Fishing over schools of bait in shallower water is an opportune time to do some drift fishing with Buzz Bombs, Zzingers and other suitable drift lures. It wasn’t so many years ago that drift fishing was the preferred method to fish the shallower waters from Kitty Coleman all the way down to Tribune Bay. I recently heard about an enthusiastic drift fisher that has been doing very well targeting chinook in the shallower waters south of Denman and Hornby. I believe that wherever you find schools of bait in solid masses you have a good chance of catching salmon on drift lures.
Aside from the inconvenience of super low tides for launching, these tides provide excellent opportunities to gather some special clams. It is possible to gather horse clams, butter clams, cockles and other clams in appropriate areas where we are allowed to harvest them.
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.