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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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Christmas Chinook

Fishing Department - Monday, December 18, 2017

  Seasons greetings, I'm back in town after a nice vacation, and it looks like the Winter Springs arrived while I was gone. Four guys I know nailed 14-15 pound Chinook this weekend. Some got their limits, with a mix of smaller fish. All where fishing fairly deep, right on the bottom in 180-200ft of water. Glow green spoons and hootchies or chartreuse glow lures  like T-Rex ruled. Also Pink Sink spoon nailed some of the bigger fish. The East side of Gabriola, (waterfall area) and the 'milk run' off Neck point are your best bets.

So get out while the weather permits and catch a nice fat winter spring for Christmas dinner. I'd rather have that than turkey any day!

 The forecast for the rest of the year seems very promising.  We have a lot of bait in Georgia straight this year so the fish are bigger than usual, and more fish are holding in the Straight instead of migrating into the open pacific to find food. Even the immature Coho seem to be sticking around. If they do we may get our first blue back fishery in 25 years. There will also be a lot more clipped Coho this year, as more volunteers have been helping the hatcheries out with that. (A big thank you to anyone that volunteers at the Nanaimo Hatcheries.)

Prawning is also very hot. Although the individual prawns not as big as they could be, there are loads of them. Crabbing is excellent as always.

So Merry Christmas to everyone, you'll hear more from me in the new year.

And remember, tips up.Steve Vavrik

Chum Fishing & Hatchery open house

Fishing Department - Saturday, October 28, 2017

  October is Chum season in Nanaimo! We have a large run of these hard fighting salmon entering the Nanaimo river right now. The commercial fleet was hard at it all day yesterday right in front of the Nanaimo estuary.

While traditionally underutilized by sport fisherman, Chum salmon are actually one of the most sporting salmon to catch. They are large, very good fighters, easy to catch and great in the smoker.

To target them in the salt water use sockeye style hootchies in pink, purple and chartreuse. The key is to first find them by spotting jumpers. Then troll dead slow and shallow 60-20 ft.  

Also the lower portion of Nanaimo river is open under tidal fishing regulations. So if you don't have a boat it is a great option.

Also a big reminder that November 5th is the Annual Nanaimo River salmon hatchery garage sale and spawning days open house.

If you have used fishing gear to donate, please drop it off at the hatchery or here at the Chandler.

Come out to the sale for deals on used gear,salmon BBQ, kids activities and to watch the salmon spawn.  And also to support the good work that a few tireless volunteers do to maintain our wild salmon.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Winter Springs

Fishing Department - Friday, October 06, 2017

  The winter springs (Feeder Chinook) have arrived in Nanaimo waters. And due to the rains being late, some of this years fish are still out there.

 To target the winters fish right on the bottom off Neck Point in 180-200 ft. of water. Needle fish patterns are always a good bet for these fish. And coincidentally we (finally) just got our first shipment of the new CJ special spoons. Now being produced by Peetz in Victoria. They are a very neat spoon with a dramatic twist to make them really roll. However with these spoons you should run them naked, as in with no flasher. This is also conductive to fishing deep, not to mention being loads of fun. I still run a dummy flasher off my cannonball, but nothing except the lure on my line.

In other fishing news, prawning is still better than normal. Some people are finding them shallower than normal as well.

Here in the store we are getting ready for our annual inventory count. And as a non-computerized store, we do it all by hand. So if you need to wheel and deal now's the time to come in, as we would rather sell the products than count them.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Fall Coho

Fishing Department - Saturday, September 23, 2017

  The salt water salmon season is winding down, but there are still fish to be had. Guys have been getting their limits of hatchery Coho around the fingers. They are very deep, 180 ft or so. There are also huge schools of anchovies for the first time in decades. They are eating krill, and the Coho are eating the anchovies and the krill. Pink sink spoons have been working, but I suspect a pink sockeye hootchie would work well on them.

The Pink salmon are still being caught in Departure Bay, but outside of the Bay is now closed now for retention of Pink Salmon.

Also Halibut is closed coast wide as the yearly quota has been used up.

Ling cod fishing is still good, but will be closing at the end of the month. We have the new lighthouse lures Max Shad that are great for ling (and halibut). As with all swim baits, if you are using one, don't jig it. You have to make it swim. Either by letting the current move it, or slowly motoring over the reef.

Prawning and crabbing are still very, very good. So get out and get your prawns before the fall storms roll in.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Sun and Smileys

Fishing Department - Friday, September 15, 2017

The Sun is still shinning and the salmon are still biting. While things slowed down a bit after that patch of rain we had, fishing is picking up again. There are loads of salmon stacked up in front of the Little Qualicum river and off French creek. Reports from Nanaimo are a bit less promising, but we have had some very large fish taken in recent days. Including the 40lb + Chinook taken from a Kayak off Neck Point last week.

At this time of year I'm using purple and gold coloured flashers like the Gibbs Watermark series. The Green watermark has a neat hint of gold in it that I really like. As for lures try Gold Stars "Trash can" (a new silver plated spoon), and the as yet un-named spoon (2017 Custom #4). It's green, chartreuse and silver.

I also like to use a very slow trolled anchovy with a purple haze teaser head.

Prawning is super hot off Nanaimo right now. They are extra large and everywhere. With very low commercial pressure it looks like we are going to have a great winter prawning season

Crabbing is also consistently good. My last haul was over 20 crab (in one trap, and one solitary huge crab in the other trap)). I kept my limit and tossed back a lot of big crabs.

Tips up & traps down,

Steve Vavrik

Late Summer Chinook

Fishing Department - Friday, September 01, 2017

 We are getting close to the end of summer and the big spawners are finally showing up. We have large Chinook getting taken anywhere from 20 to 220ft. Best lures locally are Pink Sink, Evil Maverick, and Twisted Sista flasher. 

Jigging is still very good. P Line brand 'Sassin Jigs where incredibly effective last night around 5 Fingers. There are still a lot of undersized fish in the area, but there are more big ones mixed in. The key is to find the bait and stay with it.

If your going to the Alberni derby the best lures have been Skinny G in gold/chrome, Cop Car spoons, our custom painted Herring Aid plugs and Raspberry flashers.

Back in Nanaimo, prawning is very good right now off Gabriola. Get down 400 ft. It's slow south of Dodds Narrows.

Tips up and wet nets,

Steve Vavrik

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 Cash 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

Check back regularly for our latest reports

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