We are in the middle of summer and much of the time it has been extremely warm, like afternoon temperatures going above 30 degrees Celsius. When it reaches this temperature it is too warm for this old guy to fish, but with beach fishing just coming into its own, we see people working the pink salmon beaches.
Much of our beach fishing is guided by tidal activity such as high and low periods. As an example during periods of flood tides schools of salmon will come much closer to the shoreline. You do not have to wait until it is extremely warm to create problems with fish you caught in your early morning forays. If you are an early morning beach fisher there is a series of early morning high tides that start on Saturday, Aug. 15. Starting on Friday and continuing pretty well till the end of the month we have a series of flood tides that peak during the evening hours.
As noted, salmon tend to approach the beach during flood tides; which leads to the speculation that beach fishing for pink and coho salmon will improve throughout the balance of the month; assuming the fish show up at their home beaches. So what do you do when you kill a salmon and continue fishing? Depending on the location, here are some suggestions to keep the quality of your catch in good condition.
When you keep a fish, one of your first moves after killing it is to bleed it by pulling out the gills. Most beaches are isolated from nearby homes so I suggest you also gill and gut your fish. Many fishing beaches have a squad of patrolling sea gulls that quickly devour entrails and other parts.
If your fishing beach is some distance from your car I have found wet burlap sacks to be effective containers for a couple of hours. The bag is most useful if it can be left above the water line, especially if the water on the incoming tide is warm. The water evaporating from a wet sack creates a cooling effect that does much to keep your catch in prime condition.
Pictured with the column are examples of homemade coolers that work well with small ice packs as illustrated. Fresh salmon that is properly handled is a gourmet treat – salmon that has been allowed to spoil in the sun is a disgrace to the angler and turn-off to the people who try to eat it.
Beach fishing in our Area 14 waters could lead to a full-time fishing career. This type fishing is about much more than the act of fishing. If you spend much time on the beach you will begin to notice the other interesting gifts we get from the sea. After a good blow the high tide line will be covered with seaweed. There is so much of it in places in becomes a commercial industry in collecting it for fertilizer and other uses.
If you get really carried away with the joys of beach gathering one of your next adventures could lead to gathering edible sea plants to supplement your catches of fresh fish. Can you think of any better way to spend a day beach fishing in the autumn than catching a nice coho, then laying your rod aside and shucking a few fresh oysters for appetizers to enhance your seaweed salad and fresh salmon dinner?
As the sea lion said to the school of herring – “It is time for dinner.”
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.