As November draws to a close, it’s time to start looking ahead..and I’ll have to admit…I’m already excited at the upcoming prospects! December is typically the month when winter spring fishing really picks up–particularly the second half of the month into the holiday season! If the past is any indication of the future, we’re in for some fairly consistent action and should be into a few quality fish on each charter…most which will be close to legal if not legal. This is extremely convenient for us and you as our guests! Looking ahead at the tide charts, some of the BEST tides of the winter will soon be upon us. Generally, big flood tides push the baitfish and salmon far into some of our favorite bays that we like to fish. This is good because the fish seek shelter in these areas during the big ebbs which will occur at night during the latter half of December. This bodes well for our fishery. During the daylight hours, the long, gradual ebb tides will leave the bait in the most productive areas if not close to them—and hopefully the fish feeding on them won’t be far away—which is right were we want them….in the areas up on underwater shelfs, on drop offs, holding on underwater reefs and gorging on herring at any of our popular Winter Chinook fishing hot spots! If the bait concentrations are large and suspended in the water column—fishing a couple of lines mid water column can be very productive. Make no mistake, winter salmon fishing in the Vancouver areas and Howe Sound is a largely underrated activity and not well known by many. On a given December day, Vancouver has been known to offer action packed fishing! If you’re fishing with us, don’t be surprised if we drop in to a couple of the spots to find a few other guide boats and local fishers in their private boats in rotation to make a pass by the sweet spots! If we have the spot all to ourselves…even better! However, there is usually a regular or two who joins us at the “spots” after not too long! The secret is out with some of the locals! Don’t be surprised if we spend a bit longer running to fish some of the further locations or stick and stay and make it pay by fishing a few areas ridiculously close to home.
Generally, we adapt our tactics to the fishing situation at hand and we may consider running bait if there are larger fish around (although not necessary but definitely more enticing to that “lunker”). Our traditional spoons usually produce just as well all through the winter…however we also break out the hoochies (Purple Hazes, Green and Blue Spacklebacks, Electric Chairs, Mint Tulips, J79’s, Oil Slicks, Christmas Trees, Glow Belows, Glow Blood and Bones, Irish Creams, Green and Whites, and Army Trucks for all you locals). Previous Decembers have produced some fish into the low teens and even some into the high teens if you’re in the right place at the right time. However, with all that bait and the tides as they are, it is advisable to fish selectively—if you’re hooking many small salmon, it’s adviseable to use slightly larger lures and/or hooks to reduce or eliminate hooking these little guys. Consider moving from these areas to conserve the resource!
Another bonus to fishing at this time of year is that the fishing coincides with the holiday season and it’s a great winter activity passtime with friends and family. Furthermore, since the days are short, there’s no need to get up early because the best time for a salmon bite at this time of year is—ANYTIME with the way the tides are going to set up our fishing locations. Some of the best days in the holiday season usually book up a week or two in advance by the locals and people who have come home for the holidays. When we’re not booked, us guides are usually loading up the thermoses with some hot coffee, turkey sandwiches, and headed down to the boat to take advantage of the action.
One of the other favorite things us guides love about winter is that while it can be a bit chilly, the winds are usually light from the Southeast and that usually makes for calm and productive trolling in the areas around Vancouver, around the backside of Bowen Island and in Howe Sound. If the weather doesn’t work out, we can easily reschedule your trip for a future date! However, be sure to have your sunglasses on hand and although this may sound crazy…sunscreen on these bluebird sunny days is a definite must have—although a one day tan will have the coworkers rising a few eyebrows when you get back into the office after the holiday!
Until next report, get your Holiday shopping done early and get ready for some Salmon Action! See you soon!
Captain Andrew for the Pacific Angler Guide Team.