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Fishing Report

Harbour Chandler Fishing Report

Up-to-date fishing news for BC. Read through our forum, which highlights local fishing conditions, amazing catches and more. And remember that if you are looking for expert fishing advice and top-of-the-line supplies, visit our fishing store in Nanaimo.
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Grand Slam Salmon

Fishing Department - Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nanaimo fishing is on fire. There are big Chinook, big Coho and plenty of Pinks. I had my first customer of the year catch all three species on one trip (Good job Mr. Gray!) There are big Chinook deep off Entrance and Thrasher. Gold Stars in Pink Sink pattern, and Razor Backs in Outfitter are working at 150-200ft.

Around the Fingers there are loads of undersized fish, but also some really nice ones. I got my fish at 30 ft on Thursday jigging for greenling with my four year old. I was using a green little Nibb in a big bait ball. That's two weeks in a row I've hooked a nice spring while jigging for little cod in shallow water with my daughter. Both on the same lure, the same depth, but at very different locations. At least I landed this one; the last broke my rod and then my line. There is loads of bait around everywhere, so find the bait and you'll find the salmon.

The Pinks are here, between Hudson Rocks and Pipers Lagoon. Troll pink hootchies at 40ft for them. Hopefully they will head into Departure Bay and provide a good shore fishery

Lingcod fishing is still very hot, better than usual.

Tips up, jigs down

Steve Vavrik


Pre-Smoked Salmon

Fishing Department - Sunday, August 06, 2017

  The wind has finally dissipated and people are out fishing again! However, after a week of high winds, I've lost track of where the fish are and nobody has brought me any great fishing reports. So get out there, catch some fish and send me a report. (Plus the jumping salmon should be pre-smoked due to the forest fire smoke.)

 Around 5 Fingers doesn't sound too great for bigger fish. There are tons of small Chinook and Coho there, but not too many larger fish getting caught. They may be there, but it's hard to get past the little fish.

There are some bigger Chinook getting caught off the East side of Gabriola, but they are very deep. Try to troll glow spoons (Yellow Tail, and Cop Car), and blue hootchies 200 feet deep or more.

Another idea to avoid the smaller fish is to run large spoons, and even plugs. I normally fish small 3" spoons, but might make an exception right now.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Beat the Heat, go fishing!

Fishing Department - Monday, July 24, 2017

The heat of summer is upon us, and fishing is heating up again too. The big springs that have been "hung up" around Nanoose Bay are finally filtering into the Nanaimo area. They are running deeper and further out than typical for this time of year. Best bet is to head out past Entrance Island and troll along the East side of Gabriola and Valdez Island. Run gear at least 150 ft down and follow the 200 ft contour. 4" Glow Cop Car, and Pink Sink spoons are the best lures.

There are lots of smaller Springs around 5 Finger Island, but most of them are not legal size. Jigging Lil' Nibs and Half Jigs are best lures to use in this area. 

Ling cod fishing is good this year around Entrance Island Reef. Our new Savage Gear Burbot swim baits is absolutely the best Ling cod/Halibut lure I have ever used. Plus, it's big enough to avoid killing any Rock fish.

The Pinks are off of Campbell River, so they are on their way here.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Jigging Season!

Fishing Department - Saturday, July 08, 2017

Jigging season is here! For the next few weeks, jigging will be just as productive as trolling (once you find the fish). I love jigging for salmon; with just a small jig and nothing else on the line. Normally I do this in 50ft of water near some underwater structure that holds bait. I park on top of the structure and drift into deeper water. Most hits come as the lure flutters down. My favorite lure for this is the Lil'Nib. It's designed in Nanaimo and I've had great luck with it. The only time a salmon towed my boat, I was using a Lil' Nib. Last night Vartan (maker of the Ace Line hauler)  used it to out fish the Harbour Chandler's own fishing expert Dane (Feel free to remind Dane that this is year 3 that's he's lost out to Vartan).  Dane was using the Delta half jig and caught a bunch of salmon too, just no really big ones. (Pics to come)

South of Nanaimo trolling Bob Marley spoon is still your best bet. North of Nanaimo Trolling Gibbs razorback spoons, and jigging is productive.

Lingcod fishing is really hot right now. Rubber swim baits are dominating, but we also have a new burbot shaped lure that is very, very promising.

Just a reminder that next week is the Smokin' Reels Charity salmon derby, put on by Nanaimo's firemen. I will be taking the weekend off to go in it. See you on the water.

Tips up, Jigs down.

Steve Vavrik

Coho and Sockey

Fishing Department - Monday, July 03, 2017

It's Coho Season in Georgia Straight! They are larger than normal, averaging around 4-7 pounds. As they move around, they can be a challenge to find, but are voracious biters when you do find them. I just use a Chinook spoon that have blue and green on it, and fish shallow. 

Chinook fishing is up and down, some days are great and some days are slow. Although, it's getting progressively better each and every week. The average size is decent, around 15-25 pounds.

The best locations have been Silva Bay, The Grande, and Thrasher Rock. The most productive lures have been, Bob Marley, Irish Cream, and Razor Back spoons. Also, anchovies brine'd in the green pro-cure, and blue hootchies. 

Jigging has really picked up, and is actually out producing trolling in some locations. Use Little, Nibs, Delta Half Jigs, and Mac Deeps. I tend to look for bait balls and underwater reefs, then I jig on the down current side.

I hear sockeye is open in Alberni. I'm not sure how long the opening will be, as the DFO website is less than user friendly. If it stays open, we have all the normal sockeye gear, plus some interesting innovative stuff like Rolly Blade flashers and Maruto U.V. pink hooks with "cheater barbs." (Note they are not actually barbs)

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Transition to Summer

Fishing Department - Saturday, June 17, 2017

  Fishing has been fairly up and down for the last two weeks. There have been schools of Chinook heading past us, but unless you happened to drive over them it has been hard to find them. Basically we are in the transition period from Spring fishing to Summer fishing. Spring fishing is normally going far off shore and trolling deep. Summer fishing is typically closer to shore and trolling not as deep. The first of the big spawner Chinook have started to show around 5 Finger Island. There were several big ones (largest 25 lb) caught Wednesday night only 80 ft down off Neck Point. French Creek has more of these bigger fish, but they are moving our way.

Coho fishing is looking great. Hatchery only for now. They seem to be averaging bigger than typical. 5 lbs or so. 

Best lures have been the Razor Back series from Gibbs. The patterns with blue in them such as Sun & Sea and Maverick are the top ones right now. 

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Mixed Results

Fishing Department - Monday, June 05, 2017

Just a quick update for Nanaimo area waters. After a few slow days it was heated up of 5 Fingers. Excellent reports from the guys that fished off of the fingers this morning. 100 ft down in 700 ft water. Blue/crome and Maverick spoons where best for Chinook and coho.

It's been decent off Nanoose, and Valdez as well. I hear some shallow fish are being picked up jigging with lil Nibs of Nanoose.

Also a big congratulations to Salmon slayer Ted McKinney for winning the derby this weekend. He used a homeland security spoon to land his 24 lb Chinook. Although I should point out that i was too busy to get out so he was lucky he only had weak competition:)

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Shallow Chinook and Algae Bloom

Fishing Department - Friday, May 26, 2017

Fishing continues to range from decent to great in most locations. The Average size has bumped up to 15-20 lbs. Best lures have been Silver Horde spoons in Herring Aid, Stink Eye (AKA Chandler Custom 2016 #12), and Nickle/Blue Skinny G spoons.

Interestingly in an effort to avoid the algae bloom layer guys have been fishing shallow, around fifty feet near Porlier Pass and Thrasher Rock. Even more interestingly they have been catching fish at that depth. While the algae doesn't bother the salmon, it sure makes catching them hard, as it gums up the first eye of your rod and sometimes snaps it. (FYI not a warranty issue)

This mornings reports say way less algae around 5 Fingers, and plenty of fish. 130 ft down in 400 ft of water. Best lure was Homeland security spoon.

On a product note we finally got our custom Silver Horde spoons in! They are awesome, some are already gaining a following among our staff and product testing customers. I won't make any recommendations until they get a little more use, but there are some incredible looking ones that I suspect will become favorites.

Also a reminder it is the Serauxmen Salmon Derby this weekend.

Tips up & Tubs full,

Steve Vavrik

Pirate Day Saturday May 13th 2017!

Matt Price - Friday, May 12, 2017

Come in and see us for our 25th annual Pirate Day! The best prices of the year and tons of prizes!! Don't miss out!

Springs in the Spring time

Fishing Department - Saturday, May 06, 2017

 Local Nanaimo Spring salmon fishing continues to be much better than normal for this time of year. There are still huge schools of very aggressively feeding white, red, and marble Springs all over. They are running a little deep, so I would try 180 ft. The best gear is still Killy Magee spoons, "Blue Meanie" Cuttle Fish hootchies, and also smaller Silver Horde plugs. We have just got in a very limited supply of custom made plugs from Tommic. There are Herring Aid, Blue Meanie, and a unnamed pattern. They are behind the tackle counter so you have to ask if you want one. 

Personally, I love fishing plugs, especially if I am trying to go deep. The fight is way more fun and I think they limit the likelihood of hooking undersized fish.

 It has slowed down a little bit south of us around Porlier Pass and Tent Island, but there have been some very large fish taken there in the last few days. There have been a bunch in the mid 20's and at least one confirmed Tyee.

Also a big reminder that next Saturday, May the 13th is our annual Pirates Day Sale. If you've never been to it, come check out the largest one day Marine and Fishing Sale on the Island.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik 

Check back regularly for our latest reports

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