The 2017 summer fishing season is now in the books and its once again time to give a review of the results. It was a record setting summer for sunshine and set records for the least amount of rainfall. The early season Chinook salmon fishing in May and June was quite good. The fish were not large fish but there were some good numbers of 10 to 15 pounders. Unfortunately most of the charter fleet were not that busy as the tourist traffic seemed to arrive later towards July. It did mean those who were here in May and June had hot spots to themselves quite often which is never a bad thing. The first half of July which typically produces some very good Chinook catches was average at best. The second half of July did make up for the shortcomings of the first half of the month.
On July 16th my mind was made up before I left the dock, it was back to Sheringham. It paid off again with the 2nd Tyee of the season. We ended up with 31, 16 and 6 pound Chinook for the morning and 14, 14 and 8 for the afternoon. We also dropped 3 more good fish. July was a windier month that usual and we often had to battle choppy seas. Fortunately our boat is designed to hand these conditions and we never missed a trip due to a weather day.
August was the best month of the summer by far and we had some awesome days with limit catches, flat calm seas and happy clients. On August 21st we hit 10 Chinook on a day trip but only landed 3 of those fish. The other 7 lived another day. The next morning the same guests got into four Chinook, landed all four and we were limited out and heading in by 7:15am.
Fall Coho fishing in September and October was not as good as the 2017 season. Average would best describe the results this fall. There were some good sized fish to be had but the numbers were not off the charts. We had some good days but you had to work for your chances, nothing came easy. In past years we have had trips where there was never any time to sit down and relax for a few minutes. That didn't happen this year.
Halibut fishing in 2017 was quite good up and down the entire coast and the better than average catches resulted in the sport sector landing its 2017 quota quickly and the season closed early in September. Normally the halibut season extends right through until the end of the year.
The halibut fishing season typically opens on February 1st each year. I choose to wait until March when the weather is usually warmer and the currents and seas are more favourable to being anchored up to fish for halibut. March through May is the most popular time to fish for halibut in Juan De Fuca Strait for local anglers for a few reasons. The big summer Chinook salmon haven't shown up yet so you aren't giving up any productive salmon days, there are few dogfish around pestering you while you fish, the currents often allow long productive periods of slower moving waters and halibut have just moved up from deeper waters and are actively feeding. We offer trips from both Victoria and Sooke and fish the areas producing the best at the time. In 2017 the halibut season closed early (Sept) due to all the available quota being caught and which is another good reason to fish for them earlier on.
Most salmon live a four year cycle and you can project if a good season is upcoming by looking backwards 4 years. 2010 and 2014 were both predicted to be well above average years for Chinook salmon returns and the returns didn't disappoint. This also means the 2018 season should also see sizable Chinook returns. 2010 and 2014 were also huge years for Sockeye salmon with about 34
Sockeye returns in years between both 2010-2014 and 2014-2018 are much smaller and have remained closed coast wide to all ocean fishing. So 2018 very well could be your only chance to bring home this very popular eating fish for another 4 years or until in 2022. For those who are fishing during that time period it is common for us to land 2 sockeye and 2 Chinook for your 4 salmon limit. Both species are the most sought after for the dinner table. For me it is worth mentioning that 2018 will not be a pink salmon year. I won't have to put up with them chewing up the bait and reducing our productive fishing time spent targeting Chinook and Sockeye. My annual bait costs will also be 50% less than in a pink year.
Fall Coho fishing should also continue to be nothing less than spectacular. Most of our local urban streams are seeing record Coho salmon returns the past few years as a result of volunteer stream keepers and their restoration efforts. Small streams that not too long ago saw a few dozen Coho returning to spawn are now seeing north of 1800 fish each fall. Some of these streams are very small and become not much more than a ditch during the dry summer months. It is very impressive to see how the hard work has paid off and to see so many fish returning and many of these top 15 pounds! I took my website guy out a couple years ago as repayment for his help with updating this site. In 5 hours we played 67 Coho salmon, kept our limit of 4 each and went home with very sore achy hands and arms. A nice bonus at this time of the year is the huge number of Humpback whales that move into shallower waters to feed. On some trips it doesn't matter in which direction you look, as they are spouting, breaching or raising their tail flukes to start a deep dive everywhere. The local whale watchers have encountered concentrated groups of more than 90 individual whales! Fortunately these whales do not negatively affect fishing results and they keep you entertained while waiting for your next turn on the rods.
For those who visit us towards the end of October there is the added opportunity to catch the start of the annual fresh water migration of spawning salmon in our local rivers. The very scenic Charters River in Sooke is an ideal place to view these fish up close and personal. Informative signage, streamside trails with viewing platforms make for a memorable experience with nature. There is also an Interpretive Centre and demonstration salmon hatchery on the grounds. More info can be found here: www.salmonforsooke.ca
Our protected waters allows us to fish for Chinook salmon right through the winter months. You are allowed 2 per person per day and on most days there is lots of action and limits are common. These fish are typically between 5 and 15 pounds but a few over 20 pounds are caught each winter. We fish from both Victoria or Sooke through the winter months and depart from the area producing the best results. Winter Chinook are called feeders and they tend to follow larger schools of baitfish. If the baitfish move into an area there will most certainly be good numbers of winter Chinook there too.
I continue to be involved with a local Sooke Net Pen Project which will see 500,000 juvenile Chinook released sometime in late May into the Sooke Harbour. These Chinook are intended to become a stable supply of food for our local resident killer whales when they return in 4 years as adults. We are expecting to release 1 million in 2019 and 2 million by 2020. You can read more details at www.anglerscoalition.com. I'm also involved with the Oak Bay Marine Group Juan De Fuca Fishing Tournament, the largest on Vancouver island. Prizes given away top $100,000.00 and the overall winner takes home $20,000.00 in cash. Proceeds go to the Sooke Net Pen Project I just mentioned. Complete tournament details at: www.jdfderby.ca
2018 hold lots of promise to be an exceptional year of fishing. I hope to see many long time customers again and also many new first timers.
Good fishing and tight lines.