We really are having an interesting salmon fishery this year. At the time of writing this report (early September) the salmon fishing around French Creek has kept the fisherman scratching their heads a bit!
The good, the Coho salmon return was excellent with solid fishing through the summer. The concern, the Chinook salmon return to local waters seemed lower and the average size of the fish were smaller? That said, there were still some days that produced some nice Chinooks, but not as consistent as in past years.
Hopefully heading into September there will be a late run of Chinooks to boost up the overall return. The returning Chinook salmon to the Big and Little Qualicum Rivers will be staged in front of their respectful river mouths waiting for the river water to rise. Hopefully we'll get some rain to help them up, as the snow pack is quite low.
Since these Chinook salmon aren't feeding at this time , you need to get their attention with bright colours and shorter leaders. Try using a "Bubblegum" Pink Mini Plankton hootchie (32" leader), with a green/silver flasher. Keep in mind these Chinook salmon are the salmon of tomorrow, it doesn't hurt to limit your catch, than catch your limit. Jiggers do well at this time of year too, a 2 1/2 Oz. "Mac Deep" or "Lil Nib" jig should do the trick.
Coho salmon start to make their way closer to the beach in the fall, giving the beach fly and gear fisherman good opportunities. Bottom fishing closes September 30, 2016 so now is the time to get a few of these tasty fish to enjoy over the winter months. A 2 1/2 Oz. jig bounced off the bottom on a rocky, shelfy ledge in 40'-120' of water should do the trick.
For the hearty fisherman "Winter Chinook" (2-3 Yr. old resident salmon) will hold in our area. When fishing for "Winter Chinook" they tend to be deep so keep the downriggers just off the bottom, troll a bit faster than usual (2 1/2-3 MPH) as well. Covering lots of water is key, as these salmon are on the move looking for food. Brighter colour 4" spoons in neon glow/pink strip (48") leader with a crushed Ice/glow flasher work well. Now is the time to try bait again (Anchovie, Herring, Herring strip) as the dogfish have moved out seeking warmer water.
These salmon are some of the best eating, with cooler water temperatures they have more fat content and beautiful red flesh. Also in the fall pay a visit to the Big and Little Qualicum Salmon Hatcheries to watch all the returning salmon completing their journey, it really is a amazing spectacle!
This is a guest article by Darrell Jobb. Darrell owns and operates Western Star Charters
out of French Creek Marina.
Click here for Fishing Charters in Parksville Qualicum Beach.