Monday, 6 July 2015

Oak Bay Flats

I you fish Victoria saltwater, you might want to give the Oak Bay Flats a try. In the past two months it has had periods of good fishing for chinook, something that in the past, has been uncommon in June. The traditional pattern for trolling is to fish in a square from 100 to 140 feet in front of the Great Chain Islets and the small islets to the east. Each tack of the square is finished by making a left turn, and in completing the square, a fourth left turn.

Boats were not fishing this pattern the other day when I fished, but on diagonal tacks following a bottom contour, east then west. I put my lines out in 130 feet, heading south, and the ebb quickly moved me into 175. When I turned back north, it took a half hour to make little distance up Trial Island.

A small note: if you have a land feature close to you, with another behind it, if the background gains on the foreground, you are moving forward over the bottom under you. If the background falls behind the foreground, you are going backward. This is a way to check the speed over ground reading on your GPS. Any time you are going, say, 1.5 knots or lower, give this a try, because you could be going backward and backward is taking you away from where you want to be.

After a half hour inching up Trial, I lifted my balls, and motored to 100 feet, where I let my gear out again. Precisely on the low low tide change, I got my first bite. After a really good tussle and a gong show netting, I boated a nice 10 lb hatchery chinook, who I decided to take home as a guest of honor.

It turned out to be a good morning. The second chinook I got was a mirror image of the first and, so, I had two hatchery fish of 67 cm, and pretty chuffed. I had been told by Steve Sinclair of Oak Bay Marina that Coho Killer spoons had been the recent ticket. He pointed out the silver, a deep holographic green, and what we would call a Cop Car pattern as the hot ones, and I had taken the silver, his first choice.

I had noticed in the weekly information from Tom Vaida, in the Island Outfitters weekly round-up, that Coho Killers, have, indeed been prominent in taking fish in the past months from Cadboro Point, to Sheringham. And gym buddy, Jeff Betts, also gave a nod to the Coho Killer on his Flats fishing, although I couldn’t quite prise the colour out of him.
I can see why the Killers work on the Flats. They are slim tin spoons with an unusual diamond shaped hook. And the predominant bait is needlefish, so the spoons are the same size. My spoons followed four feet behind a green glow flasher. The other rod – my Port rod, which is most easily seen from the captain’s chair – had bait. The bait was small anchovy, to mimic the needlefish, in a glow 602 teaser head, behind a glow green Farr Better flasher.

The bait also received two bites. The first I got close enough to see it was a chinook, and the second was a wild coho of five pounds that got released. This is early for coho, which is usually a sign that the main part of the run will be larger than usual.

I was fishing the 115 foot contour, with other boats fishing about 130. As there were two weedy tide lines on the flats, I spent most of my time, cleaning lines and dealing with fish, for the two hours I was on the water. Hence I did not see how other boats were doing. And there were several bait balls, which I assumed were herring blown through Enterprise Channel.

Note that using small anchovy presents a difficulty when using wire-rigged teaser heads because it is hard to keep the wire inside the bait until past the dorsal fin, the purpose of which is to put most of the bend, for a better spiral, in the tail end of the fish. Also, breaking the skin with the wire, presents the fish with a piece of metal, so less likely to get cleanly hooked.

The alternative of cutting the wire, means that when you want to use the teaser for larger bait, the wire is not long enough to put the bend behind the dorsal fin, which results in the best tail after head spiral. It is not a spin because a tail outside head spiral does not catch fish. Hence, unless you are willing to rig an awful lot of teasers for different sized baits, the best option is to be careful with small bait, and try to keep the wire inside the body from gill plate to as far as you can thread it on.

One final thing: fish the bait, or Port line deeper, on the bottom, because it is the easiest to see and thus lift when the water depth becomes shallower. The other rod, should be ten or more feet above the bottom. That is the ball depth, with the release snaps 5 feet above to take into account the diameter of the flasher spin.
Back at the dock, I spoke with one angler who had gotten skunked. The previous day, however, his boat caught eight chinook, the best lure being an Army Truck squirt, with the Coho Killer taking the rest. Time to buy some Coho Killers.

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