Have you ever stopped for a moment and considered how blessed we are in the Comox Valley? It is easy when you consider the climate, ocean, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, gardens, and an astounding array of outdoor pursuits we have at our doorstep.
For the purposes of this column we will examine some of the wide variety of fishing opportunities for this Victoria Day long weekend. In order to grasp the shear abundance of angling opportunities, I invite you to go down to Goose Spit or any other suitable location with a view and perform the following simple exercise:
First, look to the east and ponder the marine fishing adventures before you on the Strait of Georgia with its backdrop of coastal mountains on the horizon.
Next, turn to the west and contemplate the freshwater opportunities as you look at the magic of the Comox Glacier and rippling mountains of the Beaufort Range. The Tide and Bite Guide for 2013 produced by Island Fisherman Magazine (free at many Valley locations including the Comox Valley Record), will be our principal source of data.
Marine opportunities Turn to page 18 of the guide and look at the dates Friday, May 17 to Monday, May 20. The first thing you should note is that there are no suitable tides for gathering shellfish this weekend. If shellfish are your passion, the next series of good tides starts Friday, May 24 and runs through to Tuesday, May 28.
But this weekend’s tides are the perfect combination for bottom fishing – like halibut, lingcod and rockfish. The low exchange of water between tides allows you to fish for bottomfish in the deep channels and holes that attract halibut and lingcod.
In between tides you can also drop crab and prawn traps for these seafood treats, although you face severe competition for prawns because the commercial season opened last week. If fishing for flounders is on your list, these tides are excellent and provide great opportunities for children to fish for these small feisty flat fish that are so tasty.
Chinook salmon fishing has been spotty for the past couple of weeks; but if food means anything in attracting predatory fish there is currently a major bloom of krill from south of Campbell River down to at least Kitty Coleman. This bounty attracts herring and other small predators which in turn attract the larger fish. These krill also attract bottomfish such as Pacific cod.
Freshwater opportunities Turn to page 30 of the tide and bite guide and carefully check out the Solunar/Lunar tables for the weekend. For the following dates – Saturday, May 18 to Monday, May 20 you will note that during the middle of the day there are major Solunar periods.
Being slavish about fishing Solunar periods is not particularly smart because you limit your time on the water. Rather, think of them as significant feeding times for fish and other forms of wildlife. Try to be on the water during these periods and frequently you will experience active biting periods, especially if you have the correct bait or fly pattern.
The late Jack Shaw (no relative), who made such a contribution to fly fishing from the late 1960s up to the early 1990s, would always be on a lake during major Solunar periods if possible, even if it meant changing lunchtime – as is the case this weekend. My suggestion would be to eat early or late lunches or better still – fish and eat at the same time (although playing a fish while enjoying a sandwich is a challenge).
Due to the current weather patterns, with significant rain and snow melt, I suggest our rivers will be running bank to bank, so put off your river fishing until they settle down and clear up.
It seems to be the trend of long weekends that they are frequently marred by tragedies on the water. Make this one safe by wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device at all times when on water or fishing rivers.
Fishing regulations are sets of rules designed to protect the resource and give guidance for pleasant times while fishing. They can be very specific from one location to another and it is our responsibility to know the regulations that apply to the waters we fish.
Enjoy your Victoria Day Weekend.
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.