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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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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 

Weekend Up Date

Fishing Department - Monday, May 01, 2017

Just a quick up date for what happened over the weekend.

The shallow fish moved south to Porlier Pass and the guys there did well.

The Nanaimo fish where much farther off shore and much deeper. Around 200 ft. down in 1000 ft. of water. The boats that fished a couple miles off the fingers did poorly, but the few that went farther out did very, very well. It is the quarter moon right now so typically fishing slows right down for a few days, but overall its still great for the guys who found the fish.

Yesterday and today Yo-Zuri blue cuttlefish hootchies out fished spoons. Some fisherman are experimenting with using Lucky Bug brand plugs in place of flashers. They give a really neat action and make the fight way more interesting. (See Pic Below)

Green spoons are also still producing.

Prawning and crabbing is also excellent right now. Our Staff member Bill Barbour caught a load off giant prawns, a mess of crabs to go with his Chinook.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Remarkably Good Fishing

Fishing Department - Friday, April 28, 2017

  We still have remarkably good fishing in Nanaimo; I've never seen anything like it in my 15 years of fishing this area. In fact, I've never seen anything like it during my time sport fishing and working charter boats on the West Coast. I can't give any specific recommendations because every depth, and every lure, seems to be working.

I went out for a very short trip Sunday afternoon. The weather man had lied, and the wind picked up instead of dropping off - 17knot winds are too much for a 14ft boat... Although I did get some nice fish, the biggest being 14lb. My Irish Cream spoon got snapped off by a big hit right away while I was playing a feeder sized fish. I then had another bite, and a second later a double header. Soon after a wave splashed over the transom and I decided to call it a day.

Last night and this morning some larger fish have moved in. Several in the 20's, and one that was 25lb (confirmed). This morning nice, big, mature fish where caught 40ft out in the deep water off Five Finger Island, which is crazy shallow for around here. There has also been fish as deep as 200ft. Take you pick, either way it's nuts.

It's the best fishing I've ever seen.

Top lures are still 4" Irish Cream, 4" Pink Sink4" Mavrik, and Jughead Shakers on green glow hootchies.

Best Flashers are any glow flasher, preferably with moon jelly. I also use the Fish Witch inline flashers as they produce less drag. I've been using the Fish Witch flashers for at least four years, and it's defiantly more fun to fight a fish with them rather than a regular flasher.  

I'm also hearing about record breaking catches of big Dungeness crab. So get out there and catch some dinner.

Tips up, traps down :)

Steve Vavrik


Epic Fishing!

Fishing Department - Friday, April 21, 2017

The last week has been an epic time in the history of Mid-Island fishing. If you didn't get your limit of Chinook than either you forgot to put a hook on your line, or you stayed home. French Creek, 5 Fingers, Thrasher, Entrance are all on fire. Anywhere from 85 ft, to 200 ft down. A little off shore is best, but there are fish in close too. You don't even really need a downrigger.

Best lures are Irish Cream, and Pink Sink spoons in 3". But Jug Heads, Ace high Fly in green, Anchovies and even plugs are working.

Many fisherman I know caught between 20-30 legal Chinook in one trip. West Coast guides that talked to me are saying its better than their best West Coast days ever

I don't know how long this can last, but get out there while you can. Maybe this is our reward for last years lackluster fishing.

Tips up, and tubs full.

Steve Vavrik

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