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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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Crabbing Basics

Fishing Department - Saturday, November 07, 2015

Crabbing Basics



A Crab Trap

Approximately 100 ft sinking line or floating line plus a weight.

A float with your name and phone number on it. (No improvised float like a bleach bottle)

Bait container and bait.

Crab measuring device.

Tidal fishing license.

Any crab trap will work. Some people prefer a round trap as the theory is when crabs come to the corner of a square trap they fail to negotiate the corner and keep going in a straight direction. Personally all my traps are square and I catch lots.


Fix your bait holder in the bottom middle of your trap. Hard bait holders work better than soft mesh ones. Once the crabs eat all the bait they will attempt to get out. So a hard bait holder makes it more difficult for them to empty it.


What to use as bait depends on where you are crabbing. Fresh fish is the best. Particularly salmon or herring. Prawn heads are maybe even better than fish. I keep salmon and prawn heads in my spare freezer. If you don't have your own supply, we sell frozen herring that work very well. Alternatively you can use chicken backs, or necks. Chicken works, in fact any fresh meat works. In fact, in Nanaimo Harbour most people use chicken as we have a resident seal that knows all about fish heads in crab traps.

Whatever you use, make sure it is fresh. Old meat, commercial pellets, or cat food will work, but will attract undersized, and female crabs that can't compete with the big males for premium food.

 When choosing a location to drop the trap I look for a shallow sand/mud bay, preferably with a fresh water source flowing in. If there is a creek or stream try dropping the trap in 30-60 ft in front of the stream. Let the trap soak for 30 min to 2hr before you check it. After a couple hours the bait tends to get eaten by crabs, fish or other creatures and the crabs start to try to find a way out.


Good luck, Steve V.



Winter Springs

Fishing Department - Saturday, November 07, 2015

Fishing report for November 7th, 2015

 Winter Springs


With the rains we have been getting not too many fisherman are going out and bringing me in fishing reports.

The last I heard the Coho and Chum were still around the Fingers, but I expect this rain will move them towards the river.

The good news is the first winter or feeder springs are already showing up off the Fingers.

The key techniques for these tasty fish are to fish deep with glow lures. Typically right off the bottom in around 200 ft of water. The East side of Gabriola is a good place to fish for winters.

I find small glow chartreuse spoons are best. Try Mongoose, Yellowtail, or Yellow Splatter patters. We have a custom designed spoon called Sprite that we had made for winter springs.


Also, prawning and crabbing reports are very, very good. I always try to get some prawns at this time of year for my family's traditional west coast Christmas Eve meal of prawns sautéed in garlic and olive oil, served with fresh French bread and a salad.


So get out there, drop some traps, and catch a salmon while you wait to pull your traps.

Tips up,

Steve V.

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We Have Water Wolf Underwater Fishing Cameras In Stock.






Prawning Basics

Fishing Department - Friday, October 16, 2015
Last weeks report is still holding true. The Coho and Chums are still at the fingers, and they’re still biting on the lures I mentioned last week.
What I forgot to mention is that wild Coho are open.  So get your Coho while you can.
Prawning is really picking up as well. It’s been along time since the commercial fleet was out, so the stocks are building up again. Drop your prawn traps and then go for a nice troll in the sun for a nice silver Coho.
Prawning Basics
Prawn trap or two. You can put two on one prawn line. Put enough weight in each trap to keep them from drifting or bouncing with the waves. 
Some form of sinking rope . Either lead line, float line with a lead clip weight, or best of all a 100 ft. of lead line spliced to a longer float line. Length of line is determined by the location you will be prawning in. 450-500 ft. is standard for most parts of the coast.
A big Scotchman float with your name and number written on it.
Bait Holders. Make sure you attach the bait holder to the middle of trap.  If it drifts to the edge of trap the prawns will eat through the mesh of the trap and not find the tunnel into the trap.
Prawn bait. Either prawn pellets, Carlyle cat food or a mix of the two. Don’t forget to soak pellets overnight in herring oil or commercial prawn attractant. Don’t fill the bait holder more than 2/3s full, as the pellets will swell and you want some water flow through the bait holder to spread the scent out.
 Prawn line clipsto attach the traps to the rope.
Attach the traps 30-50 ft. apart on the line using the prawn line clips. Make sure to tie a knot or loop at the end of the line so if the traps hang up they can’t slide off the end of the rope.
Now you have to choose a spot to drop them.  Your best option is to get directions from successful prawners, or identify locations by noting where you see other peoples Scotchmens.
If you have to choose your own spot take some time to examine you chart. Depth varies from region to region. Around Nanaimo most prawning takes place in 350-400 ft. of water. Around Ladysmith and Chemainus the water is generally shallower than most other regions so prawning is done in only 200-250 ft.
Make sure to have at least 100 ft. more line than the depth of the water you are in. Don’t be like the women that dropped her 100 ft. crab line in 100 ft. of low tide. Then came back to the store and blamed me for the tide coming in.
Look for a flat mud or sand bottom at the edge of a drop off. Try to land your traps at the lip of the drop-off. Be careful that they are on the bottom, and not over the drop off. Use a large Scotchman to float the entire rig in case you do drop it in too deep of water.
I like my traps to sit upright on the bottom, so I don’t just toss them overboard and let them drift to the bottom. I lower them down in a controlled way.
Once I have set my traps, I watch them for a little while to make sure the current isn’t going to drag them away. I also keep them insight while fishing. Twice I’ve had to quickly pull mine when log booms where going to run it down. While some traps do get stolen, I think the majority of lost traps are due to high currents, and getting run over. Also dropping them in the ferries lanes is a good way to lose them.
Once they have soaked for a few hours it’s time to haul them in. While an electric hauler is preferred, most people start out pulling by hand. Personally I never minded pulling mine by hand, until I tried using a line hauler. Now pulling by hand seems too much like work.
However you do it, make sure to pull consistently without stopping. While pulling the prawns are pinned to the bottom of the trap, when you stop they can swim back and forth and some may get out.
It can take many attempts to dial in a good location. Sometimes it can take years, but a good spot can produce hundreds per trap.  Once you find a productive spot, mark it on your chart plotter.  Remember to not go over your limit. Count each prawn as you clean them, and please release the berried (ones with eggs) ones. I take the heads off (the heads are great crab bait) on the water, and freeze them shell on in tap water filled tupperware. Frozen in a block of ice like this they will last many months in the freezer. I find they last longer than vacuum packed salmon, with little to no degradation in quality.
And remember if you catch too many, you can always drop off the excess here at the Chandler. Ask for Steve V ask for from the tackle department.
Good luck,
Steve V

Don't put the boat away yet!!

Fishing Department - Friday, October 09, 2015

Don't put the boat away yet!!

While we do carry everything you need to winterize your vessel, now is not the time.

Right now we have big schools of Coho and Chum salmon all around 5-Finger Island. The Coho are deep, the Chums are shallow and there are lots of both of them.

For the Coho fish White Lightning spoons and double glow green hootchies with green glow flashers at 125ft. Use short leaders and troll fast.

For the Chum fish the surface with pink and blue Squirts, or blue splatter back or purple Ace Hi Flys with UV flashers. You should see the schools right on the top, just look for the jumpers.

Despite the big run we get up the Nanaimo River few people target Chum here. Some people even claim that they don't bite South of Seymour Narrows. To me this sounds like the old line about Sockeye not taking lures. Perhaps some guys are trying to keep all the fun for themselves. I know several Nanaimo fisherman that target Chums quite successfully every year.

These fish are an underutilized resource, especially considering that they are a Chinook sized salmon that fights like a Coho. If you want a workout try reeling in a few Chums. I'm also told that they were the salmon preferred by west coast natives for smoking. So get out there have fun and then fire up your smoker

Tips up,


Custom Spoon Design Contest!

The Harbour Chandler - Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Get out your arts and crafts for this one! Trace the shape of a Kingfisher spoon, get out your felts and crayons and colour the design you would like to see/use and then send us the picture! The winner will be decided by our staff on Friday Oct 16th and will win 12 of their custom spoons and the rights to name it!

Download the spoon outline here!

Spoon Outline

Fall Coho

Fishing Department - Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fall Coho


 The Fall Coho season has arrived. Sometimes known as northern Coho, these are my favorite salmon. They fight harder than any other, and taste better than anything except maybe a fresh Sockeye. And that's a big maybe. I find the bright orange flesh from a scrappy Coho, caught on a crisp fall day from cold water, is hard to beat.

 Right now it is best to get out and troll from a boat, but we are starting to see the beach fishing for them begin. There are some nice ones at Entrance Island and Thrasher Rock right now. Try trolling green and white hootchies at 80-100 feet. Another great lure that I use are the Gold Star Coho Killers in Green Haze and Purple Haze. We were finally able to get another order of the Coho Killers in.

 The one other pattern I use at this time of year are Halloween spoons (orange and black). Seems goofy but they work for Coho. More so when they are right off the Estuaries than out in the salt chuck.

I use the Hot Spot UV flashers, again in Purple and Green Haze for this fishy. Although, I had a report of someone having excellent success with Allure flashers. I have caught Chinook with the Allure gear, so why not Coho.

In invertebrate news Prawning and Crabbing is excellent right now. The commercial season is long since passed, to prawn numbers being high right now. Here in the store we have an incredible deal on our Red Tent prawn traps. $19.99 down from $40 while our stock lasts. Basically we need to clear out a lot of stuff before we do our inventory.

Also the opal squid has been reported in the harbours and bays in the Nanaimo area. I used to jig them at night from docks with big lights when I lived in Ucluelet. It's a super fun thing to do. Fresh calamari it great.

Also a reminder, Ling Cod and Rock Cod are closed for the season.

And finally, sorry about the wait between reports. I was too busy lazing about in the sun, eating BBQ'd oysters and smoked salmon clam chowder on Texada Island.

Tips up,

Steve V

Slab City

Fishing Department - Saturday, September 12, 2015

Slab City

   The big bruisers are hitting the deck. French Creek and Thrasher Rock have monster springs right now.
 Yesterday (Sept 10) one French Creek highliner boated  four nice Chinook. A 38, 25 and two in the teens. We also heard of many similar reports at both  French Creek on The Humps, and also around Thrasher Rock.
 These big fish are deep, 225 down. You definitely want glow flashers, particularly classic green glow. Also UV Army Truck and Splatter Back green hootchies and Lure charge spoons. I’ve never tried the voltage tuned lures myself, but I’ve always sworn that the Betsey Flashers which do a similar thing.  We have had at least four guys come into the store in the last week saying that they completely out fished all their other gear. I’m usually suspicious of new gimmicks in the fishing world, but I’m definitely going to give these a try. Basically it gives the same electric charge to a lure that black boxes do. And I knew enough old west coast trollers that believed.
Closer to home, Entrance Island has some nice Coho. Try jigging Lill Nib and Delta Half Jigs on the long reef that points toward Vancouver .
We seem to have another push of pinks coming thought the 5 Finger Isle, Hudson Rocks area. I still haven’t seen any of the first wave in Departure bay, or by the Millstone. Hopefully this next batch will hang around and give us a shore fishery.
Tips up,
Steve V

Halibut Club Up-Date

Fishing Department - Sunday, August 30, 2015
Harbour Chandler
Halibut Club Up-Date
  Nanaimo Charter operator, Captain Al of Nanaimo fish on charters joined the  Nanaimo Halibut Club with a solid halibut that we estimate to be about 60 lbs. The scale at the dock tops out at 50 lbs., so we don’t know the exact weight.
Oddly enough just like Ted the prawn whisperers’ halibut last weekend, this one was also caught at an undisclosed location within sight of Nanaimo. (Maybe he followed Ted out?)
Captain Al also had a giant ling cod that was also over 50 lbs....some guys get all the luck.
Clearly we need to get a bigger scale at the dock here in town.
Tips up,
Steve V

Fishing Report for August 28th Halibut and many Salmon

Fishing Department - Friday, August 28, 2015

Fishing Report 
for August 28th
Halibut and many Salmon
  Harbour Chandler regular and local prawn whisperer Ted McKinney joined the Nanaimo Halibut club with a nice 20 something pound chicken hali. It was caught at an undisclosed location in Georgia Straight, somewhere in sight of Nanaimo.
There is an unconfirmed report that a local fisherman brought in a 36 lb. spring. If the fisherman who caught it brings in a picture or posts it to our Facebook page I’ll give him a free lure.
I have a confirmed report of a 32 pound Spring caught at the Grande a few days ago. The lucky couple who got it was in today upgrading their landing net. I’ve up-sized my net 3 times in four years, so make sure your net is up to the task before you hook into the big one. 
There are lot’s of big fish North of our waters right now. I expect good things as the rains will bring them our way. Also, the Pinks will move to the beaches and stage in front of the rivers so come get your beach fishing gear now. We have some good deals on spin casting rods and lures. One combo I would recommend would be the Rhino Indestructible Rod with the Quantum Snapshot 40 Reel for $59.99.
  In a personal note, I’ve finally gotten out on the water twice in one week! Which makes 3 trips in the last two months for me. Apparently my fishing skills are rusty as I lost a big spring each time out. One was as I was trying to bring up my manual rigger and reel in the fish at the same time. The other one broke my leader cleanly. It was a newly tied leader, I just put too much pressure on him when I thought he was ready to come to the boat. He was not. The first was on 3” Mavrik spoon, the second was on 3” Pink Sink. I also got 2 legal Coho on the Mavrik and lot’s of unclipped ones. It’s my new favorite Coho spoon....and one of my top 3 Chinook spoons.
The Coho are spread out from Hudson Rocks to the shallows North of Neck Point. The big springs were close to Lagoon head. And there where also lot’s of Pinks around. I kept one as it was the first salmon I caught with my daughter ‘helping’ me.

Tips up,

Steve V

Tyee Time & Feisty Coho

The Harbour Chandler - Monday, August 24, 2015

Tyee Time
Feisty Coho 
    As forecasted we are seeing Tyees in local waters. I know of several confirmed ones and several more rumored ones. There have also been lot’s of springs in the high 20’s.
Unfortunately the winds have been blowing most guys off the water, and only the very dedicated (of foolish) fisherman have been making it out. I think if the winds ever co-operate we will see some really nice fish at the dock. Big Wave Dave is forecasting calm winds for tomorrow, August the 22nd. 
Entrance Island, 5-Fingers and Thrasher Rock is where the tyees have been showing up. These big fish have been taken on glow Army Truck hootchies and Oatmeal spoons
The the other good news is that the Coho have finally arrived in big numbers. There seems to be an average of 40% clipped to 60% non-clipped. Entrance Island is the best place to target them. Try Ace Hi-Flys in purple and blue trolled on the surface. Or troll blue and purple 3” spoons such as Panic Attack or green/blue splatter back
The Pinks are still holding around 5-Fingers in historic numbers, and showing no signs of moving into the bays.  They are so numerous that they look like herring shoals on the sounder. They are getting to pretty decent size now. Make sure to double check your species I.D. before you toss back that ‘undersized Chinook’.  
Tips up,
Steve V

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