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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.
Click here for the Fisheries Openings and Closures for the Pacific Region

Herring and Halibut

Fishing Department - Sunday, March 19, 2017

 Herring season is winding down in Georgia Straight. There have been several good herring spawns in local waters. It should bring in and hold salmon once the herring eggs hatch. Currently, there are not too many salmon locally. Thrasher Rock is your best bet. Fingers and Entrance are slow. There are fish, just not lots. However just south of us in Ladysmith, fishing is still great. Most fisherman are taking their limits of nice winter Springs from Tent Island and Porlier Pass. Fish 3"  Irish Eye spoons, anchovies with green glow teaser heads, or our new Durabait herring strip in green glow or bloody nose.

Halibut is open, and with the slow local salmon fishing I would consider trying for them. There are decent numbers of halibut off Nanaimo. And no I'm not giving out GPS coordinates. I will say that you should try trolling either lighthouse lure mega baits, or our custom made polka dot, wirly jig hootchies in deep water on the sand flats. FYI, we are stocking electric reels for those that want to go really deep.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

 Herring spawn at Neck Point, Photo by Alex Pettigrew

Herring Season is Here

Fishing Department - Sunday, March 05, 2017

Herring season has arrived in Georgia Strait! Today, March 5, there is a spawn happening off of Parkville. The commercial boats and sea lions are taking out their share. Head out with your herring jigs of nets, and get your bait for the season. They could arrive off Nanaimo any day now. It seems they are two weeks earlier than last year. I'll be scouring the beaches on Tuesday for my own supply. Or more correctly, my wife will be sending me out for her beloved herring eggs. They are delicious fried on toast.

For more info, see my posts from last year's spawn.

Tips up, Steve Vavrik

Nanaimo fishing heating up

Fishing Department - Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Nanaimo area fishing is heating up. Go Fish Charters is reporting that Thrasher Rock has lots of nice winter springs up to 16lbs. They are averaging 6-10 fish per trip. Almost all of them are above legal size, which is unusual for this early in the season. All forecasts are pointing to larger fish than normal this year.

Tent island is still producing well, but there are more shakers off Nanaimo. Make sure to check your lines every 15 min, as you often won't know they are on the line. Take care in releasing them, and consider using larger gear to avoid them.

Best lures are Killy Magee, Pink Eye, Lemon-Lime Cream spoons and anchovies with glow teaser heads. Glow Coho killers are also doing really well in areas with larger fish.

Also a reminder that the Vancouver Boat Show is this weekend. We match all boat-show deals, so save the cost of taking the Ferry and get the same deals here in Nanaimo.

We have blow out pricing on down riggers, line haulers and reels, including Trophy reels for $249.99 until Sunday at 3 p.m. For the record, I bought a Trophy last year and want another.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

Simple Smoked Salmon

Fishing Department - Saturday, January 07, 2017

I'm always surprised how many fisherman don't smoke their own fish. It's simple, easy and very rewarding. When you do your own fish you know how its been handled, and you know you are always getting your own fish back.

We regular stock both Bradley and Chief brand smokers.

 Personally I love smoking my own fish, oysters, meat, in fact I even smoked an acorn squash once.

So here is a very basic smoked salon recipe.

  • 1kg brown sugar
  • 7/8 cup pickling salt

Now you can also add what ever extra flavor you like. I use garlic powder, dash of Worchester, soysauce, pepper, rum, teriyaki sauce, the list goes on.

Cut your fish into chunks, place in a non-metallic bowl and cover with the above brine mixture. Put in the fridge for at least eight hours, overnight is better.

Remove fish from brine and rinse under cold water. This step is important otherwise it will be too salty. Then dry it off with paper towel.

The fish must now be put in a cool, dry place for 2-3 hours to dry or 'set up'.

Pre-heat your smoker and put the fish in.

Smoking time is very variable depending on thickness of the fish. Anything from 4-12 hours.

I like to start at a vey low temperature and slowly increase it.

Also if using a Chief brand smoker make sure not to let the wood chips get too scorched. This will give a burn flavor to your fish.

If you have a Bradley smoker like me (I have the digital model) you don't need to worry about this, as the smoker will dump the old wood puck and load a new one for you. Both brands of smokers will do the job, the Chiefs just require a little more attention. Also if you begin to branch out into smoking meat, poultry or making sausages the Bradley units give you better temperature control which is less important if you are only dealing with fish.

There is lots more to smoking but that is the basics. So which ever smoker you have, get some fish in it. If you don't have a smoker come on in and I'll be more than happy to sell you one and help you getting going in the flavorful world of smoking!

Tips up,

Stephen Vavrik

Welcome to a brand new fishing season

Fishing Department - Monday, January 02, 2017

Welcome to a brand new fishing season! 

For me January marks the beginning of the fishing calendar (Even though our fishing licenses are valid until April 1st) It's time to start cleaning up your vessel and gear. Make plans for any major repairs now, so you are 100% ready by April. Although really you should be fishing now.

Thrasher Rock is still producing lots of decent feeder springs. There are a few off Neck Point. Irish Cream spoons and glow flashers at 180ft and beyond.

Tent Island however, is your best bet for large Chinook right now. No change since the last report. 80ft down in 95ft water.

It's also Vancouver boat show month. Jan 18-22. We are almost all packed up with great deals for the show. Most (but not all) of these deals with be available in store as well.

On a personal note I received a surprise Christmas present on Christmas day. A 7lb 11oz baby boy, although as a fisherman I'd round that up to 10lb. He showed up a little early so I haven't bough him a fishing rod yet, but I'm thinking a Trophy rod and Abel reel might do. Of course I'll have to use them for the first few years....

Tips up,

Stephen Vavrik

Christmas Fishing

Fishing Department - Monday, December 19, 2016
Christmas Fishing

  Seasons greeting loyal readers! The cold snap has passed, the ice is off the downriggers and the salmon are biting. 
The last week has seen the best winter fishing we've had in years. Tent Island out of Ladysmith is on fire. Fish Irish Cream spoons at 80 ft in 100 ft of water. People are having 20 fish days, the average size was of 8-9 pounds however many high teens and even some over 20 lbs have been caught! This is a great size for December. The forecast for this year is for much larger fish than last year, so perhaps this is the first sign of this. 
There are also loads of anchovy in the gulf this year for the first time in a long time. This is a wonderful bait fish for the salmon to fatten up on. 
Closer to Nanaimo we are getting good reports in deeper water of 5 Fingers. Troll 160-200 in 500 ft of water. Irish Flag and Yellow Tail spoons behind Chartres/Glow flasher with plenty of artificial scent. 

The prawning is awesome this winter. The prawns are big and plentiful in most areas. Winchelsea is the the only area with some poor prawning reports, and one odd ball report of prawns in ridiculously shallow water.  Be advised the standard winter closures are in affect, so make sure you check the regulations before you go out.

Good luck if you head out. A fat winter spring with jumbo prawn appraiser is the best Christmas dinner I think off.

Tips up,
Stephen Vavrik

Chum Chum Chum Chum Chum

Fishing Department - Saturday, November 05, 2016

Greetings loyal readers. Sorry about the lack of posts for the last while, but it's hunting season so I've been in the woods and not on the water. 

Anyways, it's not to busy on the water these days. There are good numbers of feeder Chinook out there, most undersized but fishermen who put in their time normally go home with one legal sized fish. Of course these fish are called feeders for a reason; they are putting on weight just as fast as they can. Plus, winter feeder springs are hard fighting and in great physical condition at this time of year. To target them troll deep and use glow spoons. My favorite winter spoons is 'Yellow Tail' and 'Lemon Lime Cream'.

Prawning is the best we've seen in a while, so now is a great time to get some prawns for your Christmas dinner.

So while the ocean is fairly quiet, the river fishing is not. We have the largest Chum run in decades - head to Nanaimo River and see the action. Currently only one in four are still perfectly silver, but all are hard fighting fish. While chum don't freeze well, they are a great fish to smoke. In fact some west coast native tribes felt it was the best salmon to smoke.

Best bets for gear are casting spoons, weighted sockeye hootchies, or yarn. The Chum are still aggressively biting, so get down to the river and take advantage of this underutilized resource.  

And if you are walking the rivers, stop by and check out our selection of bear spray, and bangers. Remember, don't feed the bears.

Tips up,

Stephen Vavrik

 


Fall Fishing

Fishing Department - Sunday, September 18, 2016

 The late season salmon are here. The winds have calmed and it's a lovely time to be on the water. There are large Chinook moving through our waters. I saw a picture of a beautiful crome 33lb caught off Thrasher this week.

 The rain has got them moving towards the river so they are not holding in any specific location for long. However, as one school leaves another moves in.

 Slow your troll and extend your leaders to target these big late season fish. Blue and White hootchies are still good, but I like to switch to really obnoxious coloured gear for this time of year. Halloween (Black/Orange) and Trapper spoons are two of my fall fishing favorites. On the West Coast I'd use gold coloured gear, and large slow plugs. Normally I don't use plugs around here (except at French Creek) but I wouldn't be surprised if a big ugly plug worked.

Tips,

Steve Vavrik

The fish are still biting!!

Fishing Department - Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fishing is still hot all over Georgia Straight. We've had to wait for it, but it looks like all our fish are hear at once.

Thrasher Rock in particular has been on fire; nice sized Chinook at all depths. Professional guide Bob Myers even got two nice Springs at 10 feet while moving his boat with his gear down back to where he wanted to fish!

Five Fingers and Entrance Island are producing well too. There are Chinook, and Coho in all locations. Oddly a lot of the Coho are deeper than the Springs. 140 for Coho, 90 ft. for Springs. Also the Coho are biting on Chinook gear like Irish Cream and Pink sink Spoons. The Chinook are still mostly into hootchies in white and blue. Plain coloured spoons like Oatmeal and White Lightning are also taking Springs. And both species are taking Gibbs Bon Chovey spoons.

Lemon Lime, Moon Jelly and plain mirror flashers are your best bet.

Jigging is still working well for all salmon. As usual, low slack tide is best. And use Lil' Nibs, Delta Half jigs and Buzz Bombs.

I haven't heard where the Pinks currently are. Last I heard they where off Neck Point at 30ft, but if you've got into them feel free to let me know.

Also a heads up, we are almost out of the Berkley power mullets that are by far the best lingcod lure ever. They are out of production and just about gone. If you need one, get it soon.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik

 

 

It's calm(ish) and the fish are biting!

Fishing Department - Sunday, August 21, 2016

The wind has finally calmed down and fishing is great. If you are at home reading this get off you computer and onto your boat!

Big Springs are being taken at all the normal locations. For the last week French Creek, Five Fingers, Entrance, and Thrasher have all produced large fish in the high 20's and some tyees. Also, unconfirmed rumors of a very large Chinook (high 30's) from French Creek.

The West Coast is also finally seeing some good days. Gold Coho killers, and "Funky Chicken" spoons have been working in Barkley and Nootka. But the water is very warm, so the fish are deeper than normal.

Locally, the fish are a little shallower (80-140ft). Best lures have been "White lightning", Oatmeal spoons, Cop Car, and White or Blue hootchies.

For flashers, at this time of year I switch from "Glow Greens" to "Purple Onion" or "Purple Haze" and if fishing shallow (under 120ft) I use mirror flashers.

Jigging for salmon is also very good. So if you don't have down riggers right now is your opportunity. Use Lil' Nibs, Half Jigs or Buzz bombs.

The Pinks Salmon are also in in big numbers. They are not in the Bay yet (as far as I know) but there are large schools off Neck Point at 30 ft. Target them with sockeye gear.

It's Tuna gear up time. With the warm water on the west coast it could be a great year for Tuna. In my opinion, Tuna are the ultimate BC game fish. Nothing can fight like a Tuna, and we have all the gear and info you need. So if this interests you come down and have a chat with Dane. He's our most knowledgeable tuna fisherman.

Whatever fishing you do, its time to get out and do it.

Tips up,

Steve Vavrik


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