To say the 2015 fishing charter season on Vancouver Island, British Columbia was a good one would be an understatement. We experienced some of the best salmon fishing in BC consistently throughout the summer. Day in and day out the halibut fishing was excellent, not to mention that we were able to get out for more tuna trips than any previous fishing season.
We started the fishing in early June with warm weather and lots of fish. From the first day, Esperanza Inlet and the west coast of Vancouver Island lived up to its reputation of being a world-class fishing destination. Early on, the majority of our salmon fishing was enjoyed at 8 mile reef, off the south side of the reef. Large numbers of bait fish (herring) and a significant number of Chinook salmon were just off the edge of the reef.
Trolling at depths from 100 to 150 feet produced the most fish. Hoochies and spoons were very productive when the fish were actively feeding. The no bananas G-force spoon worked exceptionally well. Anchovies and herring trolled behind a purple glow/silver, or glow green flashers worked great once the bite had slowed down. In the same location, halibut fishing on either of the twin peaks generated limits for all boats as well. There are not too many places you can obtain limits of both spring salmon and halibut right in the same spot. I am reminded by clients every year as to how special a fishery we have here.
For a short time in July, the weather cooled off, the winds calmed down, and the fish just kept coming. A few Coho started showing in the mix, but the spring fishing was nonstop. Limits by most boats were being taken in the first hour or two all month. Catala Island, Ferrer point, 8 mile and the T were all productive. Anchovies and small herring trolled behind flashers inshore was your best bet. Lots of double headers, and on some mornings that was all you would get with 2 lines wet. I had one morning at Catala that filled the cooler in one hour with 5 double headers in a row.
Some of our best salmon fishing of the year was enjoyed 15 minutes from the lodge in the calm protected waters of the sound. Offshore, the fish moved out slightly by mid-month, but the extra 4-mile run was so worth it. Once again, Halibut fishing in the same spot produced limits for the charter boats and good catches of ling cod and bottom fish filled up the coolers. We were able to make the first big run offshore for tuna during the last week of July. This was seasonally early, as we usually start our tuna trips around the third week of August.
As August came upon us, we had sent many happy guests home with full catch limits for their freezers. At this point we were now over halfway through the season, and the fishing had been some of the best I have experienced in my 15 years of guiding the coast. The salmon had been thick all through the inlet over the last couple of weeks, and it would stay that way for most of the month. Fishing at depths from 25-60 feet produced most fish. Anchovies and herring trolled in a teaser worked best. Betsey, bloody nose and glow green were some of the best colours.
The Chinook salmon were thick offshore. Most of our fishing was done about 12 miles out, on the south side of the T. Fishing at depths from 120 to 220 feet saw most of the action. White and purple haze terds, along with the clover leaf cuttlefish and large spoons were getting smashed as if the salmon had no other food around. But they did, large schools of mature herring held these fish here for the entire season. Halibut and bottom fishing remained excellent throughout summer. Salmon bellies and mackerel were the top baits.
Our fairly new, action-packed and exciting tuna fishery has taken off with all of our late-season trips being fully booked. There are no guarantees that the weather and water temperature will cooperate, but when it does, this exhilarating fishery can make you feel like you’re off the coast of Hawaii or Mexico. Trolling at high speeds, with 5 to 7 lines in the water, and having a quadruple header go off, creates some organized chaos. If you have never experienced this, or want to get back into the action, let me know early, as these tuna-fishing trips book up fast.
I want to say a big thank you to my amazing staff, without whose hard work and dedication this whole process would not be possible. I try to provide a west coast fishing adventure that anyone and everyone will enjoy and leave saying “I’ll be back”. This was my 15th season guiding out of Esperanza Inlet and Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. I hope I get another 15 or more. The 2016 calendar has filled up with many repeat bookings and a lot of new ones already. Please come and join us for a world-class BC fishing trip in 2016. I hope everyone has a great fall and I look forward to seeing you next season.
Adrian O’Connor, Owner
Reel Obsession Sport Fishing
Victoria & Zeballos
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada