A large group of Chinook salmon have migrated south and appear to be holding in the Nanaimo area. These fish are nearing sexual maturity, and as such they are reluctant to take a lure presented by trolling. With a jig you are able to keep your lure in the strike zone for a longer period of time and trigger hits out of annoyance or aggression.
These fish are very structure orientated, and often if you find baitfish near structure, these salmon are not far away. One can maximize the chances of successful drift fishing by thinking of the ocean as a river; focus your efforts on areas in the lee of the tidal current. Islands, points and drop offs all create eddies that will focus concentrations of plankton, baitfish and in turn salmon. Study charts and tide tables to identify these areas in order to narrow your search. The use of a high quality sounder such as the Lowrance HDS is essential to success. I begin my fishing by identifying likely areas, taking note of tidelines and current reversals. I will quickly scan an area by passing over it running at 5-7knots, looking for fish arches and concentrations of bait on my sounder screen. Be aware of your surroundings, the clues could be as subtle as a single fish finning on surface, or there could be several hundred seabirds feeding on bait pushed to surface by active salmon. Once I’ve located a likely looking bait ball, I will stop over top of it, take note of the depth of the bottom of the bait ball and drop my jig through it. I use Power Pro Depth Hunter (marked every 5 feet) for my drift fishing, as this allows me to accurately place my jig below the bait, where feeding salmon wait to pick off injured herring. If at any point during the descent your line goes slack, engage the drag and set the hook HARD, as it’s likely your lure has been hit. I will continue to jig until the bait is no longer visible on the screen, at that point I will reel in 5 feet at a time while continuing to jig, as this often will trigger a reluctant fish to bite. Failing to hook or see other signs of salmon, I will run to the next spot, seek out another bait ball and begin again. This style of fishing is more about hunting the fish than it is about sticking and staying. Using these tactics I landed a beautiful 28 pound Chinook and had three more strikes in a 30 minute period, when just the day before Dane was able to boat 11 Chinook between 15 and 32 pounds! These fish all came in around the Fingers, all in 30 feet of water or less
On gear: first and foremost match jig size to that of the bait in the area. This past weekend I found a perfect match in the Lil’ Nib 2oz (Hughes Special and Irish Mint), but the previous weekend a 3oz Gibbs minnow matched the larger bait in Campbell River. At times 1.5oz jigs are the ticket. Leave the big stuff for lingcod, as the heavy jigs don’t accurately mimic the flutter of a wounded herring. For rods I prefer a lighter, fast action rod, 6-7feet in length. A strong backbone is necessary to lift the jig and set the hook. I find the Shimano Trevala S perfect, paired with an Avet SX and 30# Power Pro. Dane prefers a spinning outfit, the Okuma Avenger paired with an Okuma SST rod, and again 30# Power Pro Depth Hunter.