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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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Salmon, Salmon Everywhere!

The Harbour Chandler - Friday, May 29, 2015

Salmon, Salmon Everywhere!
  We are still experiencing an unusual distribution of salmon for this time of year. Basically they are everywhere. I have heard good reports from almost all Nanaimo spots, ranging from 80 ft. to 220 ft. 
The deep water (800-1000 ft.) off 5 Fingers and Gabriola is producing some large fish mostly 140 ft. down, averaging  15 lbs. but several above 30 lbs. I know one fisherman that had 6 nice ones in just one morning of fishing. 
Thrasher Rock is also a great location right now, with another fisherman I know getting 8 solid fish in one trip.
  Best choice for trolling lures right now are still small spoons. Most productive have been Pink Sink, Nasty Boy, Kitchen Sink and of course Killy MaGee (Killy was designed by and is exclusive to The Harbour Chandler)
Also, don’t forget hootchies in glow white, or splatter back green.
  The odd thing for this time of year is we are doing well in shallow water, and close to shore. Nice springs are being caught right off Pipers Lagoon and Neck Point just like in late summer. Some have even been taken jigging in 50 ft. of water or less. This is my favorite type of fishing. A big Chinook; on light gear, in shallow water is a blast.  I did very well last year doing this and it’s exciting to find fish already there.  I use Lil’Nibs, McDeeps, or Delta Half Jigs (Half Jigs or designed by The Harbour Chandler Staff) for this type of fishing.
  Ling Cod fishing is great right now.  Here in the store we have the last of the lingcod mullets that were ever made. These are a rubber swim bait and are the best Ling and Halibut Lure we have ever seen. 
We hope somebody starts making them again but at this point they are out of production, so if you need one get them while you can.
  However you want to fish, get out there soon! We have the best fishing on the Island right now, so get out there take advantage of it.
Have fun,
Steve V

Big Tides and Big Springs

The Harbour Chandler - Saturday, May 23, 2015
Big Tides and Big Springs

There has been very scattered fishing reports this last week. The big tides in the afternoon have interfered with late in the day fishing. The early bird fishermen have done well, with limits of large Springs and are basically back at the dock by 8 am. However, next week as the tides mellow out day time and evening fishing tides will be good again. There should be a decent bit between 5 pm and 6 pm this weekend (May 23-24).
We are still intercepting the big white springs out in the deep water. They are travelling south so if they are at 5 Fingers one day, expect to find them at Entrance the next. However there have even been some local red Springs caught on buzz-bombs close to Pipers Lagoon.
Today, May 23 there is a good bite off Entrance Island with very large Springs.
The hot spoons are Pink Sink, Irish Cream, Lemon-Lime Cream and one of my personal favorites Resurrection.
The fish are averaging 140 ft. down, but not always. I have heard of success from 50-200 ft.
Here in the store we finally have flasher bags and soft coolers in stock again. If you don’t know what these are, come by and check them out.
For the whale watchers out there, there was an Orca pod attacking a large whale off Gabriola a couple days ago.
Good luck out there,
Steve V.

Limiting out on Chinook with a side of Halibut!

The Harbour Chandler - Friday, May 15, 2015

Limiting out on Chinook with a side of Halibut!
   For the last couple weeks we have had wonderful salmon fishing in the Nanaimo area. Many fisherman are limiting out on nice sized Chinook. Averaging around 15lb-18lbs, but lots in the 20lb+ as well as quite a few tyees. 
Top producing lures are anchovies and small spoons to match the herring hatch. Best spoons are Irish Cream, Killy Magee and Yellow Tail/No bananas patterns. 
In close to shore green splatter back hootchies are also working well. Don’t forget to put scent on your artificial lures. 
Out in the deeper water there are vast schools of Pollock (AKA Pacific Cod) that are causing fisherman grief. Check your gear often, as you will rarely see these guys take the bait.
Interestingly enough many of the large springs have had Pollock in their stomachs, so trolling a large brown hootchie might be a good idea. Also if you get a Pollock that’s big enough they make great fish and chips. 
Speaking of fish and chips there was a nice halibut taken on salmon gear in the Neck Point area. I know if at least half a dozen caught by accident on salmon lures in this area, as well as several from the east side of Gabriola and Thrasher Rock area. 
Ling and rock cod opened May 1st. Last year was the best Lingcod season in decades. Lets hope it continues. Fisherman should consider releasing large lingcod, as the big ones (25lbs+) are all breading females. Also the quality of the meat in the big old ones is not as good anyway. 
Prawning and crabbing reports are still strong.
If you want a break from fishing there have been several sightings of a large pod of Orcas feeding around five Finger and Entrance Island. 

See you on the water,
Steve V

Nanaimo Fishing season has started!

The Harbour Chandler - Saturday, April 18, 2015
The Nanaimo salmon fishing season has started!
The large schools of salmon that were up near Campbell River/Comox have started moving into the Nanaimo area.
These are the big white springs and are my favorite fish of the year. With more fat than the red springs, they stay moist on the BBQ and are delicious. Best of all, these salmon are aggressive feeders and when you find their location getting your limit is very possible.

Some fish are available close to shore around the ‘double bumps’. True to form the majority are fairly far out in the straights on the ‘salmon highway’. Head out until you are in 1000ft of water and troll at about 180ft down.

As there are still mature herring in the area, the most productive lures are large spoons behind a glow flasher. 5” Nasty boy, Irish Cream, and Cop Car. Also, from the Harbour Chandler custom made department, Killy Magee, Canuck and Mavrik are tacking fish.

We also have a limited quantity of brand new, un-named custom spoons that have yet to see the water. Come in, check them out and help us figure out what to call them.

Nanaimo prawning is open again with good catches coming in from all the usual locations. Try to get the traps out soon before the commercial openings.

Good luck on the water, and be sure to get out ASAP to take advantage of this run of early big whites. It can be the most productive time of the salmon season.
Steve V

Nanaimo & Area Winter Fishing Report

The Harbour Chandler - Monday, February 16, 2015

This season’s winter spring salmon is the best we have seen in 3 or 4 years. Both for quality and quantity of the catch.
Fishermen are reporting most fish in the 10-14 lb. range, but an increasing amount of 17-20 lb. are being boated. Quite a few larger fish in the 20lb.+ range have been reported as well. The fish are a deep 150-200ft, or near the bottom. 
Hot spots are Porlier pass, Thrasher rock, East Side of Gabriola, 1-2 miles east of 5-finger Islands and Winchelsea islands. Vancouver guides are crossing Georgia Straight to fish Porlier area. 
Early season gear:
Anchovies with glow heads, glow/chartreuse hootchies, 3”- 4” Goldstar or Coyote spoons such as Mongoose, Cop Car, Yellowtail AKA No Bananas. Also the surprise colour pattern of the year is orange, green and glow/white. This pattern is known as Homeland Security, Irish flag, Red Racer (Goldstar red racer is orange not red. Weird eh?) We have this pattern in 5” Tomic spoons as a custom colour.
Large numbers of mature herring are schooling up in our area and should continue to draw in hungry Chinook. Look for the gulls and sealions to find the herring, and the salmon should be there too.
Winter crabbing is excellent. Personally I’m throwing back keepers as I’m catching more than I need for a couple meals.
Prawning is exceptional, but be sure to check the DFO website for current closure. Many normally open Nanaimo areas are closed despite the good catches we were seeing. 
Get out there and enjoy the nice warm and calm weather we have been enjoying.
Steve V.
Please send me your fishing reports! Tell me what you’ve seen and I’ll reply with detailed info about what I know.
In particular right now I want to know where the schools of herring are, and any spawns you see or hear about.

Port Renfrew Coho

The Harbour Chandler - Monday, October 06, 2014

Coho fishing is hot right now in Renfrew!! Just back from the derby weekend, and very excited to report that it was nothing less than spectacular. Fishing was by far the best on Saturday morning, running out to the 400ft contour lines early in the morning and trolling out to the 600ft line proved to be very productive. With 4 lines on the downriggers, I found the hot depth to be 15 feet and with clear water conditions, the flasher was visible just behind the boat. I can't stress enough the importance of changing out gear if you're not getting bites, as I did this several times until finding the hot combination of a "Homeland Security Coho Killer spoon" (by Silver Horde) with a standard green blade Hot spot flasher. This lure and depth brought 50+ coho over 10 pounds to the boat over the course of the day and outfished everything else 2-1. Other producers included the Killy McGee spoon, T-Rex hoochie and the Blue Meanie. A fish of 15lbs, 13oz was weighed in, and provided what appeared to be an easy to beat mark, as Renfrew Coho are known to exceed 20 pounds.


Day two proved to be challenging, and the mantra "never chase yesterday's fish" rang true. We boated 3 fish within minutes, all on the Blue Meanie hoochie, while the Coho Killer took nothing. The bite shut off, but eventually we found fish, much deeper (95 feet) than the previous day and much closer to shore. We managed a limit, and headed in, our largest fish weighing in at 14lbs. The derby winner stood at 15lbs 13oz.


Some tips for fishing Coho: Shorten your leaders.. Spoons I run 42'' to 54", hootchies between 24" and 32", always use fluorocarbon as you are fishing shallower and with cooler weather/shorter days there is less algae in the water to camouflage your gear. Run your flasher closer to your downrigger wire, making for a tighter, faster roll of your flasher and more action on your hook. Cover ground and fish FAST, Coho will take bucktails up to 7 knots!! With flashers I fish between 3-4knts. Run a surface line, and run it close to the boat; Coho are not boat shy, the bubbles from your prop attract them. A small spoon or bucktail fly hanging out in your wake always puts fish in the boat and provides very entertaining takes, with the fish often cartwheeling from hitting the lure hard.



Ling is King.

The Harbour Chandler - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Salmon fishing has slowed significantly, the odd fish still being caught, but with Lingcod set to close at the end of the month I've focused my efforts on bottom fishing.


The end of September is an excellent time to target Lingcod. The ocean conditions are seldom more favorable as they are now, and big lingcod have begun their seasonal migration from deeper water in order to stage for spawning through the winter. At this time males select nest sites in rocky habitat and aggressively defend these areas. Target drop offs and ledges in 30-150ft of water. The key to success is large lures, fished on or near bottom. Be prepared to donate some gear to the reef, because if you're not hanging up, you're not close enough. Select a time when the tide is slack or on a low swing, I find a 3-4 foot change ideal. Position yourself over a likely looking spot, take your motor out of gear and note the direction of drift. Ideally you want to drift towards deeper water as this decreases your chances of hanging up or "snagging" bottom. Stay in touch with bottom, feeling for a tap on every jig. If you feel any resistance on the up stroke, set the hook and hold on, the initial run can be quite exhilarating. Should wind be an issue, turn you boat stern to the wind and put your kicker in reverse to control the drift (bow to the wind is hard to control, and eventually you will be spun around). You want to keep your lines near vertical, but drift slowly to cover ground.


Large plastic lures such as Savage Gear's Cutbait Herring, Berkeley Power Mullets and Delta's Hali hawg have gained a huge following with local anglers. These larger lures will also reduce the chances of incidental by catch of smaller rockfish.  For rod's I prefer a Shimano Trevala paired with an Avet MX and 65lb Power Pro, but we have several other options in store to suit your budgets and needs, come in and see either myself, Dane, the Steve's or Bill to get hooked up!


Be aware of Rockfish Conservation areas (Jesse Island to McKay Pt, Snake Island to Tinson Pt./ Jack Pt. and Round Island on the Southside of Dodd Narrows). Respect size limits (Min. 65cm) and daily limit of 1. Although it's not required, it's encouraged to release large fish, as most lingcod over 20lbs are female and carry upwards of 200,000 eggs!


Jig Caught Hogs!

The Harbour Chandler - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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.


Check back regularly for our latest reports

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