Most salmon fishing in British Columbia is done very close to shore, this is also true on southern Vancouver island. Our local waters are protected from the open ocean and therefore we seldom experience ocean swells which often cause many to experience motion sickness. Generally the morning waters are very calm, often flat calm. The late afternoon is when the convection breezes may occur and create a chop on the water.
Best times to fish for salmon include daybreak, current changes, incoming flood current and high slack. We schedule all trips to take advantage of these productive feeding periods of the day.
Our boat is located close to the fishing grounds which means it only takes between 10 and 30 minutes (depending on the spot we choose to fish) to have the rods in the water and fishing. We use natural baits (anchovies) almost exclusively when targeting large Chinook salmon. All our salmon fishing is done by trolling from downriggers. The boat is outfitted with 3 downriggers and we will fish 3 rods for Chinook salmon. We will often fish up to 5 rods when fishing for Coho, Sockeye and Pink salmon.
We use light tackle on all our fishing charters. The use of very light tackle is a personal preference and a philosophy of what sport fishing should be about. I do everything I can to get as much fun and excitement out of every fish we hook into during our trips. We use high end and locally made single action reels on all our salmon trips. These reels are matched up to very light rods which provide a nicely balanced combination and allow you to really feel your fish. Similarly I use the lightest tackle and gear possible while halibut fishing.
Some of the best fishing of the year does happen during the off season and in the middle of winter. These are exclusively immature feeding Chinook salmon which will spawn the following fall. They range from 5 to 20 pounds and average 10 to 12 pounds. These are excellent fighting salmon and one of the best on the dinner table for flavour and texture.
The weather during the winter is quite mild (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and often there is little wind during the entire day, unlike the summer afternoons. The boat also has cabin heat so you will be comfortable while you fish. Most winter trips are 4 to 6 hours in duration due to the shorter daylight hours. During the winter season we keep the boat on trailer and move it before each trip to the area producing the best results.
If you will be home within 4 days of your fishing trip you can transport your fish on ice and unfrozen and have a great product when you get home. In fact we don't recommend freezing your catch unless you will exceed the 4 days. The fish will be much easier to handle at home and package for meals. All you need are the proper coolers and blue ice packs, with which we can supply you.
If you are continuing an extended vacation and won't be home beyond the 4-day window you then have two options. If you are going to take the fish with you it must be frozen and kept frozen. The fish should remain in your possession if you are flying (same planes). We don't recommend forwarding your fish home with the airlines if you aren't on the flight as well. The risk of theft is far greater by doing this.
The better option for those who are considering forwarding their fish home is to let St Jeans Cannery process and ship it for you. Most of our clients have their salmon canned or smoked first and then canned. This process allows your fish to be mailed to your home usually in 4 to 6 weeks from your fishing dates. The end product is excellent and over the years this has been the safest way to get the fish safely to your home. You will also receive your fish, that is the law!
You should bring appropriate clothing for the season you are fishing in. A warm jacket or wind breaker in summer and a heavier jacket with layered clothing underneath in winter. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen in summer is also recommended. You are responsible for any food you may need during your trip. If you plan to take any crabs caught with you a good sealable bucket will allow you to transport the crabs in seawater and keep your car dry. Cooking crabs in seawater is preferred as it adds a lot of flavour to the meat. You should also bring a cooler(s) large enough for your catch and some ice to keep your fish cool on your way home. Note: Most people don't bring coolers that are long enough, especially in summer when the fish are often larger.
All tackle, gear, bait, coffee, pop, bottled water, digital pictures, fish care and proper fish bags.
Tidal water fishing licences are available online at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
When you make your reservation we will confirm with you the days and period of those days that you will be fishing. We will however resist committing to specific starting times. This is because the most reliable way to determine when fish might be active and feeding on any given day is to observe when that happened the day before. It will often be close to the same times. So I will always want to make final arrangements the night before your trip.
Once you decide on specific dates and times you can inquire about availability by email, phone or by texting our cell number. Once bookings are confirmed we require your name and the names of those who will be onboard. We also require a credit card number to hold your reservation and the name of the accommodations where you will be staying.