Scoring sockeye a hit-and-miss experience

Bates Beach Sockeye

One evening last week I received a phone call from a friend inviting me to go sockeye fishing off Cape Lazo the next morning.

We would meet at his home at 7 a.m., pick up another friend and go catch a limit of sockeye off Cape Lazo. This optimism was based on his success of the day when he caught three nice sockeye and one coho in a short space of time. Well, we fished Cape Lazo the next day and came up with a zero of catchable salmon and it appeared that the six boats in our area were having the same type of success.

I reported the success of our day to a friend who wanted to go sockeye fishing. Instead of Cape Lazo he opted to fish out of Browns Bay in Johnstone Strait because a friend had just reported a successful catch of sockeye.

Well, not to be outdone, my friend fished out of Brown’s Bay the next day and outside of having a few pink salmon to the boat they came up with zero for sockeye.

I talked to a friend in Port Hardy who is in the charter-boat business and he reported the same trend – plenty one day and virtually none the next day. It is turning out to be pulse-type fishery so far this season, large schools of sockeye one day and very few fish the next day.

When you hit a good day on the water for these delicious salmon you get plenty of action during the bite, which can last for less than an hour to more than a couple. They bite with enthusiasm and usually you get your limit of four fish during the bite. While Johnstone Strait is the favoured place for many sockeye anglers you can also do well as the great schools of fish swim through our waters on their way to their natal streams that feed into the mighty Fraser River system. I have had good success in the past in trolling for sockeye in the waters off Kitty Coleman and Bates Beach. There is a strong indication that the fish travel through our local waters until they reach Cape Lazo where they head across the Strait of Georgia towards Texada Island, where they continue their journey to the mouth of the Fraser River.

For anglers new to fishing for sockeye there is some specialized tackle that most anglers use. Red and green flashers are by far the most popular. Small fluorescent pink hoochies with some of the tentacles removed work well.

For a novice getting into the sport, talk to the people in sporting goods stores and take their advice on tackle that works. It is in their interest to help you to be successful so knowledgeable clerks should be listened to.

A couple of tips in deciding how fast to troll. In many cases you will be fishing among a large group of like-minded people. Watch for a boat that is successful and try to travel at their speed.

One of the surest ways to make yourself unpopular is to troll long surface lines behind your boat where you will invariably get tangled with other anglers fishing with downriggers and short lines behind the boat.

Most popular depths for fishing these migrating fish is usually from 40 to 60 feet below the surface. They tend to move on the ebb tides, but you can also do well in sheltered bays and channels.

Know special regulations that apply to the waters you fish because there always seems to be some closed areas marked by triangle boundary signs that tell you where you can fish. Also be aware that First Nations have special places they can fish that are closed to recreational fishing. It is your responsibility to know the revaluations.

I may be wrong, but I suggest the major part of the run has yet to arrive so I suggest there is much good sockeye fishing still to be had in local waters.

*******

Point of clarification.

Last week in my column I inferred Doug Field and his father Rex invented two lures together.

In talking to Doug it is clear that Rex invented the Buzz Bomb and Doug invented the Zzinger and went on to invent the Spinnow and Zelda Jigs.

They are all manufactured here in the Comox Valley – true local products.

 

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