It looks like the winds are all over the map this weekend, from N to NW to SE and some outflow in Howe Sound to top it off. With these kind of forecasts, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what it will be like out there. Sometimes it seems these winds never show up and you have the popular spots to yourself, other days they do, and you head home with your tail between your legs. Such is the life of the local angler in the fall stormy season as we transition from summer winds into winter weather patterns.
It is about that time to start poking around in your favorite “winter chinook” spots. There are a few reports coming in and we have some trips on the books for this week and into November, so I guess the season is upon us. It seems more anglers are participating in this fishery every year as summer chinook opportunities continue to get diminished by DFO. I would anticipate that this will be one of the busier seasons for winter chinook as most of us won’t be doing any travelling and local anglers are still looking to hook some chinook after the reduced opportunity to do so this summer in local waters. Then again, a lot of anglers put their boats to bed for the winter, so there are only so many of us ready to go at a moment’s notice when the winds back off and the sun comes out.
Some basics on this fishery. Find the bait and find the fish. In the winter you are hunting for bait balls which are usually herring that are close to the bottom. If there is bait around that is the first step for fish being around and staying around. With good electronics you will see the bait and you will see the chinook (arcs close to the bottom feeding on the bait). If you aren’t seeing any bait or any chinook after an hour in your favorite spot, its usually time to go somewhere else. If you never see bait or chinook arcs, you need to up your game on the electronics side of things. It is a critical piece of the puzzle for winter chinook success. If you need some help here, give me a call at the shop or email. I can help you get your boat dialed in.
Keep your gear close to the bottom. The water is clear in the winter and the bait is generally down on the bottom as a result. That is where the chinook are as well. You generally want your gear to be within 10% of the bottom. We are often fishing in 150-250 feet of water and 18 or 20 pound cannonballs will get you gear down and keep it down.
Troll on the faster side of the speed spectrum. Most winter anglers use artificials in the winter like spoons and hootchies because they work well on aggressively feeding fish and they come in glow finishes. These lures fish well with some speed, so pick it up a notch compared to the speed you would troll with bait. With an 18 pound cannonball I am often fishing a 40-50 degree cable angle in our local waters. A faster troll also allows you to cover more water and this is important. The sooner you get a feel for what is going on in an area and where the bait and fish are, the better. Once you find the, use your sonar and chart plotter to stay on them as long as possible.
In future reports I will get into some of the top flashers, spoons, and hootchies for winter chinook.
See you in the shop or on the water,