This is the continuation to my summer fishing recap which can be found here: https://outdooraddictions.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/the-2015-summer-recap-salmon-and-trout/
After that work trip… I took my 4 days off and went to the island to see my lovely fiancée. We got a couple great days of fishing in. One was strictly for our favourite fish – steelhead (again, you’ll have to wait a bit for that post), and the other was to our favourite coho fishery. Our favourite coho fishery was kind of disappointing to be honest (unlike the steelhead trip). We assumed they were just a bit late, but we still got a couple (not nearly as big as normal either).
After that, I left on another egg station stint for another 10 days, and then got another 4 days on the island. The first day out there, Kitty still had her practicum, so I had a few hours on my own. I went to a river I had gone to earlier that summer, but as I approached, I was met by signs saying one of the bridges was out, and I wouldn’t be able to get there. I made the most of it, and fished a few different rivers on my way back to Kitty. I did some first person filming on one of the rivers, where I was going for coho, and was met with a few surprises (watch in 1080 below).
The next three days Kitty was off with me. We decided to go back to our favourite coho fishery, the one which we assumed was late. The fish were indeed showing up late, and we had made a good decision to give it a try. The interesting thing was when we first got there, we thought it was going to be a bust. We tried spinners for nearly a half an hour in a hole that always holds fish, and nothing (despite fish jumping right under our casts). I made a last ditch cast with a spoon before we left and was immediately into a nice coho. It goes to show that you should always have some sort of change up – even if what you’re doing has normally worked for you there!
After landing that fish and snapping some pictures, I gave Kitty a spoon, let her cast, and she was into one right away as well. This one was huge. It put up an absolutely epic battle, with 6 jumps that were well over 4 feet high, coupled with 3 drag burning runs. Eventually it came to the net. The fish wasn’t super long, but the girth was astounding. It taped out to 32 inches long with a 20 1/2 inch girth (which comes out to around 17.5 pounds).
After that we ran with the spoons for every run we went to instead of the spinners, and were not disappointed. We got into a bunch of fairly large coho, that fought extremely well with huge jumps and massive runs every time. This is the reason we always come back here – big, bright fish are the norm, and even the small ones fight better than any other system I’ve ever been to.
That same weekend, we also decided to try a new flow that I’ve always wanted to try. It’s a big beautiful river, that I’ve always looked at and longed to fish. I have no idea why I never really did it, but this was the year to try it (despite many people constantly telling me it is barren). I took Kitty into a spot I had scouted out on my way home a few days before, and her first cast she was met with another awesome big coho. These new (to us – they’ve been around a long time) R&B spinners we were testing out for the first time worked awesome in very slow tail outs or in stagnant pools (you know, typical coho water).
I found they have a much deeper thump than the trophy tackle spinners we usually use – so they may be useful for beginners who are having a hard time determining proper retrieval speeds, when light bites occur, and when they are rubbing bottom. The R&B spinners are also fairly heavy, and cast nearly as well as the trophy tackle spinners (which, if you haven’t tried them, means a very long cast – beach fishing anyone?). These spinners do seem to ride up a bit more than the trophy spinners however (in the same size class), so in the typical 6+ foot deep, faster moving steelhead-type runs where the fish don’t want to come up, we still run the size 4 trophy tackle’s exclusively. The shallower running depth on the R&B spinners up can be attributed to the the lighter brass bodies, compared to the trophy tackle lead bodies. A size 4 bladed spinner runs a 3/8 of an ounce body with trophy tackle, whereas the R&B spinners only run a 1/4 ounce body for the same size. This weight difference is slightly offset by the blade weight – as R&B runs a heavier blade, but overall Trophy Tackle spinners are heavier and better suited to moving water over 5 feet deep in my experience. The fact that these R&B spinner work so well in stagnant water, and that they also come in a seemingly less spooky white silver finish (exclusive to R&B), makes them a great candidate for low water periods like we experienced this early summer and fall. They will also work well in the shallower backwaters that coho love to inhabit.
That fish above was the only big coho we landed, although Kitty lost another that would have easily rivalled the one she got at “the other flow” the day before. What was awesome about this system was that you never really knew what you were going to get. Along with the coho, we hit sockeye and a bunch of nice sized cutties. We also found a tree, a very, very big tree.
After that trip, my weekend trips to the island were very limited, since I was working my typical 5 on and 2 off now. The fishing was alright on the mainland though – I was getting 1 to 2 hatchery coho an evening after work – but it just isn’t the same as exploring out on the rock (no pictures of coho on the Vedder either, as I don’t carry a camera on it).
I did get a couple more weekend trips out on the island to visit Kitty, but the fishing trips I got in were short and hardly scratched the itch. The first one was on a Sunday afternoon. We arrived at the river, and to our surprise, no one was fishing it. We only had an hour and a half or so to fish, so we got at it right away. We were in to 9 before we had to go, so the fishing definitely wasn’t bad – and we were kicking ourselves for not having gone earlier with more time. In fact, I was surprised at how good it was since the water was low and the runs on the mainland were doing poorly.
The next trip was the following weekend, again on a Sunday. You would think that we would have learned from our previous mistake of not leaving enough time last weekend, but again, we only went with 2 and a half hours to fish. This time we got there and the river was packed. Every single spot had a bunch of people in it – I guess word had spread that the fish were in. We bounced around all over, and ever went to the upper part of the river. Eventually we gave up and just fished with the crowd. Kitty managed another massive coho that popped off just before the beach (high teens), showing that they weren’t all runts this year. That was the only fish we found there before deciding to try one more spot.
As a last ditch effort, we decided to check out a shallow run down low that many people walk past. This run looks more like trout water. 3 feet deep at the maximum with some chop on top. It’s not very wide – maybe 30 feet – and has some overhanging trees on the backside. Down in the tail out there is an awesome looking stump – are you excited yet? Even though this run looks spectacular, I had never caught a fish there before – but that changed in a big way that afternoon. The very first cast at the head produced a coho nearly as soon as the spinner hit the water.
As we worked down the run, every 5 steps produced another fish. This was the first time we hit that run this year, so I’m not sure if it was just the day (and we got lucky hitting moving fish), or if the run had changed just enough to finally make it as desirable to coho down below as it appeared to be from above.
We were able to literally just cycle the run for the rest of the time we had. What was interesting is the fish, after the first pass, completely turned off coloured spinners. By coloured, I mean our typical orange and chartreuse spinners – with different blade finishes – were not producing after the first five or so fish came out of the run. I decided to switch to a black bladed, copper body trophy tackle spinner that I am trying out for the first time this year. After I made that switch it was on big time. Fish following and hitting every cast. It was insane, and again, I wish we had made that move a bit earlier in the day. We only got to stay in that run for 30 minutes before I had to leave for home to catch the ferry on time, but we ended up with 11 fish and many, many more misses and “roll offs.”
After I had left and gone back to the mainland for my last week of work, I sent a buddy back to that run later in the week. I guess it wasn’t just us getting lucky and hitting moving fish, and the run must be better this year somehow. He got over 40 fish in that afternoon, all from that one run. That report made me crave going back to the island.
My work term ended on the 1st of November, and I found my way back to the rock. What’s disappointing is that the rain found it’s way back to the rock in a big way just before I got there. Rivers were in full out blow out, and I figured that the coho were now done (especially the ones that we had found in the lower river). I decided to give it one last ditch effort with Kitty in the evening on a day after the water had receded and cleared enough to allow fishing. My thoughts of the lower river were confirmed. Not a fish to be seen. We decided to try higher up in the system, hoping to intercept the last push of the run as daylight was closing out. To my surprise, we found a few decent fish there before we were forced to leave by darkness.
After that evening trip, I decided it was probably worth one more go for the coho. I went out that next day with the full intentions of filming a short video on late island coho, so I left the good camera at home and only brought the filming gear. It ended up being a fairly good day, nothing huge (numbers or fish wise – besides a solid mid teens chromer buck I lost), but good enough to make me happy for a season wrap up trip.
It started out slow, so I just kept working up. I finally found the 2 km stretch of river that seemed to be holding all the fish. What’s interesting about this time of year is they seem to turn off after 1 or 2 fish come out of the run. You can literally see hundreds in front of you, but you only get one or two on the first casts, and then they turn off of everything (flies, spoons, spinners, jigs). It’s nothing like early season where some days you can camp on the run all day and get 40 or more fish in an afternoon. Any way, I ended up closing out my day with 10 coho to the beach – with many in great shape (and even some with sea lice). There will be a video coming out shortly encompassing that day – so stay tuned!
So, at this point, I’m gearing down from salmon and amping up for steelhead season. I’m compiling a big list of new rivers I want to try, gathering information, looking at maps, and getting my hiking legs ready. There is no doubt I will encounter more trout on my adventures – so I can’t quite say my season for them is done yet (it never really is). I hope you enjoyed this write up, and the pictures provided. Stick around for another future recap, of what I’m imagining will be an epic year of hunting those elusive ghosts that I admire so much.