Sunday, 25 February 2018

Constance Bank

I zipped out to Constance Bank the other day from Oak Bay where my boat is moored. I motored to a GPS waypoint that marks the 60-foot shallow at the west end. The tides were favourable, as in a low tide at 9 AM with a low-high at 1 PM. As fish bite after a low and before a high, that meant there were two bite periods within a four-hour fish.

An enormous container ship was sitting on my mark, so I motored around the bow before setting the lines. Passing the bow, I didn’t see the anchor line and thought that a bit strange but slowed to set out my lines. The plan was to fish to the bumps on the south west side, where a few boats were already doing the same.

The glow-green wire-rigged teaser head had a medium anchovy inserted, curved in the last third of the bait – for that medium speed, fishy spiral – on a leader of about 40 inches to a Farr Better glow-green flasher. 

Go look at the post that shows how to make a wire-rigged teaser, if you don’t know how: Even though the flasher is a bit old compared with today’s plethora of colours, it has a good feature: on a bite, the line pulls the pin on the trailing edge, resulting in the flasher only being attached to the main line through the top end of the flasher, meaning there is no flasher blade and its shear between you and the fish. Much more fun, and you land more fish. Very few break off.

I sent the bait line on the port side and lowered it away. I checked to make sure the electric downrigger would lift the ball. Finding it slow to non-existent, and my bait trolling 110 feet down, I pulled the electrical lead from its socket and noticed how much rust there was on the copper end. A couple of minutes with fine grit sandpaper, and replaced into its socket, the downrigger was back operational.

The lead on the starboard downrigger was also sanded to a shiny copper surface, and away went a green splatterback Coho Killer on a 36-inch leader to a Purple Onion flasher. I looked up and, drat, the container ship was farther away than I expected, and the boats I was trying to motor to, weren’t any closer. I was drifting toward Race Rocks, the opposite of what the tide guide said.

It should have been a flood tide, and, traveling east, I should have come up from the 200-foot depths to the edge of the Bank where I would turn south and investigate the humps. But I was not making any headway at all. And while I should have been east and south of the container ship, it just seemed farther and farther to the east of me. 

It is bad practice to fish into tidal flow, because you get stuck in one spot, and thus can’t go and find the fish. And though I am reluctant to increase speed with bait out, as it shreds, and action gets too fast, I gave it a bit of gas, and went to check the bait line.

Of course, at the surface, the bait leader was found to have wound up on itself to the point where the frizz would not unwind. Not to mention the bait was caught on the mainline, meaning, I had put it down to depth too fast, resulting in the bait descending vertically and thus caught the mainline above the release clip. 

Humbug. The leader was a mess and no longer usable, so it got snipped off, meaning the teaserhead would have to be re-rigged on a new leader – I rig up to 25 leaders with a treble and trailing single on evenings at home, so there is always ready gear to fish and changes can be made quickly – I have several leader boards so they get wound onto them and don’t get tangled. 

I always choose and rig back-up gear for both rods. I had a 602 teaser and anchovy already rigged, with red pin and also toothpicks from top to bottom for a fit that won’t quit attached to a Madi flasher. Thhe leader hole in the tab was not as tight as I would have liked (this can result in bait slumping backwards to the treble hook into an unfishy right angle) but I put it out anyway.

When I looked up, the container ship seemed miles from me, meaning I was drifting at high speed on a phantom ebb tide to Race Rocks. The other guys fishing seemed far away from me, when it dawned on me that I should have looked at the current tables for the Race because it was obvious I was getting dragged west. 

I sacrificed the bait, sped up, and moved onto the south west humps, then changed the bait. It had a chew mark but had not slumped into a right angle. Then I changed to a white Coho Killer on the starboard rod and lowered it ten feet above the bait line. The purpose in this is so when your deeper downrigger ball drags bottom, you only have to deal with one downrigger at a time, rather than struggle to lift both, and sometimes lose a ball. 

You only put the rods at the same depth when you are receiving most bites at one depth, and thus both sets of tackle should be at the same depth – and, of course, carry back up tackle so you can fish the same thing on each rod. Even so, I seldom put both rods at the same depth when one ball, the port side, is right on the bottom. Putting more flash in the same depth makes sense when fish are suspended; and when you may be fishing a spoon or plug without a flasher on one rod.

By this time, I was among the other boats, trolling at a reasonable speed, and raising and lowering gear based on bottom contours. When I went to check the bait line, it had tripped from the release clip, and I cursed, hit the green button up, and reeled in as fast as I could, wind turning the boat in circles. As it happened it was a fish rather than a spurious release, and once scooped in the net and brought on board was a nice 10-pound winter chinook.

I patted myself on the back and looked around, as I was among the fisher dudes, and hadn’t seen another fish caught. It dawned on me that as I was among them and that container ship seemed miles away to the east, that it was in fact under power and steaming to the turn up Haro Strait. Which meant when I went around its bow, there was no anchor line because it had already been lifted and the boat must have been under way. I am sure the captain must have cursed me, if he could have seen me at all. Won’t do that again.

Lastly, once I and my new friend got home, I looked at the Race Rocks current table, and sure enough it was ebbing, even though the Victoria tide guide said the tide was flooding. So, next time, I will check both, something I always do for Oak Bay, because of the conflicted tides that happen every day on The Flats. You learn something every time out.

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