2016 Nootka Sound/Esperanza Inlet Fishing Reports

Discussion in '2016 Saltwater Fishing Reports' started by saanauk, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. saanauk

    saanauk Active Member

    Just got back from a trip to Tahsis. Prawning sucked as I kind of expected but were able to get some lingcod and a few halibut. The commercial guys should wipe out the rest of the prawns when that opens up in a couple weeks. Had to let one big halibut go that was 140cm go that we caught while jigging for lings. Weather was good for a couple days and then turned to crap. For some reason the halibut seemed to be closer inshore with my normal offshore spots not producing.

    Attached Files:

    Gomesy likes this.
  2. crazycanuck

    crazycanuck Member

    Mr Saanauk, I have a question in regards to jigging for ling vs. halibut... what are you doing different that determines which species your targeting... rocky bottom and structure vs. gravel area I assume... I basically use a spreader bar and herring and hope to pull up whatever is in the area and could use some tips on targeting the bottom dwellers . nice getting some white meat already cheers!
  3. saanauk

    saanauk Active Member


    I normally don't jig for halibut but just go with a mono spreader bar and bait. For lings I normally jig some homemade flutter jigs. Using a spreader bar works great for lings also. For targeting halibut I normally fish sandy or shale flats and for lingcod I look for rocky structure. Saying that I have caught halibut around rocky structure and have caught lings on sandy flats. If you find the right pinnacles you can get both halibut and lings at the same spot. Half the halibut I catch are just when I am trolling my salmon gear.
  4. bushwackin

    bushwackin Member

    Saanauk how many prawns per trap were you getting? And did you put your traps in the tahsis inlet?
  5. saanauk

    saanauk Active Member

    Bushwackin, I would say the average was 5 to 7 per trap. We pulled a lot of empties and got a couple traps that had 20 to 30 in them. I was there for a week and tried all over the place in Tahsis Inlet and other locations. There did not seem to be very many big ones either. We did catch some females that were still holding on to their eggs that we released. The last day we were there a commercial prawn boat showed up. Should not be long for the rest to follow and help clean out the rest of the prawns in that area. It is very sad to see it go from great prawning 5 years ago to barren now. I tried to call DFO in both Gold River and Campbell River without getting a hold of them to see what their response is to the poor prawning in that area. I even left messages and have not gotten a return phone call.
  6. Fish On II

    Fish On II New Member

    BC Outdoors Sport Fishing featuring West View Marina;broadcast date and times are as follows:
    All times are Pacific Standard Time
    Saturday-April 16 @ 11:30PM & 8:00PM
    Monday-April 18 @ 6:30AM & 12:30PM
    Friday-April 22 @ 10:30AM & 6:30PM
    WILD TV:
    Friday, April 8 @ 2:30AM
    Sunday, April 10 @ 12:30PM
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  7. Fish on John

    Fish on John Member

    Saanauk- Your are absolutely correct. The Commercial Fishers have over fished Esperanza & Nootka for at least 5yrs.
    The Local Sports Fish Advisory Committee (SFAC-Area25/125) has been telling DFO that there is a problem for several Yrs.
    SFAC has Commercial catch data from DFO for Area 25 that is very clear. The Catch per unit effort (CPUE) for commercial prawning has been on a steady decline since 2009 when CPUE was 1.20kgs. per trap haul to 2013 CPUE was o.69kgs. That is a 43% reduction. Also the Commercial catch from 2014 t0 2015 dropped from 194,747kgs to 73,165kgs of prawns in Area 25. That is a 121,582kgs drop in Catch or a 266% decrease. In 2009 there were 1,960 commercial trap haul per day in 2014 there were 4,869 trap hauls per day.
    This data is a clear signal that Commercial OVER FISHING has decimated the local Prawn Stocks.

    SFAC has given DFO several suggested reg. changes to consider. Like 1) Returning berried prawns to the water. Why - because ea. female prawn carries up to 4,000 eggs. There are verifiable studies which the Sports Fish Advisory Board (SFAB) Shell Fish Working Group is aware of that report that 50% of berried prawns survive & release their eggs/larvae. Then Commercial Prawn fleet already is required to put Berried Prawns back in the water immediately after a trap haul. 2) Biologically identify and CLOSE prawn fishing in Prawn Protection Areas (PPA)
    PPA would follow the model of Rock Fish Protection Areas (RCA) PPA would typically be be areas near the heads of inlets but not always.
    PPA would act as nurseries for spawning prawns for recruitment of prawn stocks. PPA would be closed to ALL prawn fishing year round. Possible exception might be FSC. 3) Nootka/Esperanza is a high use Commercial Prawn Fishing Area. The only Gauge being use by DFO for Commercial & Recreational fishing in Area 25 is the Spawner Index. Right now it is 110%. That translate to a minimum of 1 spawner/female prawn per hauled trap when test surveys are done by DFO. The Area 25 SFAC has requested that the the Commercial Spawner Index be raised to 150% to leave more spawner/females in the water to SPAWN so the stock can recover. The recover cycle is 30 to 36 months
    4) Winter Closure for prawning in all of Area 25 every yr. (Jan. 1st- March 31st) until the stock recover to the 150% spawner index.
    ALL 4 recommendation are Conservation Measures to stabilize, recover and Sustain the Area 25 prawn stocks.

    Why DFO has yet acted on the Local SFAC recommendations is related directly to DFO's Prawn Management Staff. SFAC has been told that the Department does NOT manage prawns by fishery Areas like Salmon where it is managed in some cases right down to a specific river or stream.
    The Department's Prawn Management Staff says they mange prawns coast wide the same way by use of the Spawner index levels.

    In fact that is NOT TRUE in other high use fishery areas they have upped the Spawner Index to 135% for Recreational and 150% for Commercial and have introduced "pulse" prawn fishing ( 2 wks on/2wks off prawn fishing from Labour Day wkend to April 1st )in Saanich Inlet, Stuart Channel and Alberni Inlet to increase prawn escapement and prawn abundance. These are both Conservation & Sustainability measures.
    Area 25 SFAC is asking for similar measures to get the same results. "Conservation & Sustainability of the local Prawn Stocks"

    Sannauk you say you have contacted DFO in Gold River & Campbell River and have not got a response.
    Now that we have an open and transparent government.
    Here is some contact info. that may get you a response to your concerns.

    Laurie Convey Prawn Resource Mgr. Laurie.Convey@dfo-mp.gc.ca 250 756 7233
    Mike Kattilakoski Prawn S. Coast mike.kattilakoski@dfo-mpo.ca 250 756 7315
    David Fogtmann Prawn S. Coast david.fogtmann@dfo-mpo.ca 250 339 3799
    Ken Fong Prawn Science ken.fong@dfo-mpo.ca 250 756 7368

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  8. bigdogeh

    bigdogeh Well-Known Member

    DFO's handling of this (prawn) resource in this area is truly and sadly pathetic. At this rate if allowed to carry on it seems the resource in this area may disappear altogether. I hope they can get their heads out of the sand on this issue and make some "positively effective" changes soon before it's too late.
  9. Fish On II

    Fish On II New Member

    Caption "Gabe/ aka Saanauk with 3 of his buddies had a GREAT early April
    fishing trip in Tahsis.
    After figuring out that the ground fish had moved into the mouth of
    Esperanza Inlet to feast on the Herring spawn which recently occurred. The
    4 Guys limited on Halibut and Ling Cod. A very successful adventure!! april2fishtahsis.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  10. codfather

    codfather Active Member

    Thanks for the report John. It is truly amazing how DFO can allow the depletion of species and not even know it. That's how afraid they are to make a decision as they would have to get there head out of the sand.

    Those numbers are disturbing when you think what the end result will be. A 266% decrease is mind blowing. In 2009 1,960 traps per day and then in 2014 4,869 per day can only mean the extinctions of every prawn in the inlet.

    In 1991 to 1995 I was helping a buddy of mine Denise commercial prawn fish in Nootka Sound. At that time there was only 4 boats prawn fishing in Nootka. Denise fished with 300 traps and made a good living with his boat. The season started in the early spring and went right thru the summer.

    We would average 50 prawns per trap which is way more than the 1.20 Kg per trap in 2009 and then 0.69 Kg per trap in 2013.

    Last year we went to Nootka the third week of April for our annual prawn/work party trip. We go and set up the docks and get the lodge set up and do our prawning around that. We found a dramatic decline in the amount and quality of prawns last year. We worked very hard to even get close to our limit and our other crew didn't even get half their limit. When I get back to Nanaimo I went to the DFO office and talked to the officers about the decline and to try and get them to sound the alarms. When I followed up they did absolutely nothing about it as they said it's out of their hands.

    The amount of commercial boats that hit Nootka last year doubled and they were complaining about the lack of prawns for their season.

    Something has to change if we want to have access to out prawn fishery down the road.

  11. Fish on John

    Fish on John Member

    Thanks Mike for your report. The more valid on ground reports we get to support the fact that we have a serious conservation & sustainability issue with Prawns in Nootka/Esperanza will help get DFO's attention on this matter. Area 25 is not allow on this issue. 30% of the coast is NOW in trouble over prawn Commercial over fishing combined with other environmental issues. The SFAB and it's GFWG-SFWG are well aware of the issues and are meeting with DFO Prawn Management staff. We will see. Keep the reports coming!!!
    On a brighter note the Hali & Ling fishing have been over the top GOOD!! Also lots of winter Spring around 9-15lbs & a few migrating fish up to 25lbs. If the projection are correct the WCVI will have its BEST return of Chinook in 20 years. FISH ON!
  12. codfather

    codfather Active Member

    My buddy Clause just came back from Nootka and gave me his fishing report. They stayed at Critter Cove for 4 days and fished for prawns with 10 traps. They fished all over the inlet around Critter to find some prawns with not much luck. These guys have made the April trip for 15 years so know where and how to catch prawns. They found a few pockets where a couple of traps came up with 50 prawns but found many traps with a couple or skunked.

    They fished from Concepcion Pt to San Carlos, around Hoiss Pt toward Coopte Pt and up towards Marvinas. They worked all around the Islands on the other side up towards San Carlos Pt. So all in all they covered the spots that should have had lots of prawns.

    In total they ended up with 631 prawns for 4 days of prawn fishing. 4 years ago that would be way less than our one day average for prawns.

    On the bright side they were trolling on the bottom in 120 feet of water off Maquinna Pt heading towards the G spot and caught a 28 # Spring. They seen the pin pop and line scream out for 200 feet and said holly #%&$ we hooked a big Haly. 20 minutes later up came a chrome 28# Spring that made their day. They caught a couple of Haly that day also.

    We are heading up to Nootka May 5th for 4 days on a work party as we have to put in the docks and work on a big list of project like usual. In between projects the prawn traps with be in we will head out for some bottom fishing and hope to get out on the Highway for some salmon fishing.

    I'll give a report when I get back.

  13. pescador

    pescador Well-Known Member

    Good report Mike. Thanks. Keep them coming and if you use the GR First Nations launch let us know if repairs have been made.
  14. bigbruce

    bigbruce Crew Member

    Just back from 4 days prawning out of Tahsis. Prawning not very good at all. We almost got our limit, but man was it a lot of work!!
    Thanks to John, Cathy and staff at Westview. The house worked out very well for us once again this year.

    Launched and retrieved at Gold River. NOTHING has been done to the ramp or floats.
  15. Fish on John

    Fish on John Member

    You're Welcome bigbruce Cathy, the staff & I enjoy having you guys at the Marina. As you know everything is open except the Restaurant.
    The Marina Grillhouse Restaurant will open for the season on Sunday May 8th- Mother's Day.
    It will remain open until Sept 20 operating 7 days a wk for lunch & Dinner. Island Attitude Coffee Shop is open now for Breakfast.

    Yes the Prawning is hard work to get near limits in 3 days. You guys did way better than most!!

    The local SFAC has signed a letter along with all the Area 25 Nation Bands (Natives) asking DFO Prawn Mgt. NOT to allow a Commercial Prawn Fishery to occur in Area 25 this 2016 season. This letter went to DFO on April 27,2016.
    The Prawn Resource is so thin one week of Commercial Fishing will likely destabilize the few remaining Stocks of Prawns. Commercial Prawning is scheduled to start on May 12th.
    If we get in a political tussle we may end up with a complete closure for this season for ALL fishers with the exception of FSC.
    The general consensus is OK if that is what it will take to save the Prawn Stocks in Area 25.


    On a BETTER note Halibut, Ling Cod fishing is very GOOD! Large Herring on a spreader bar in 100ft of water at the mouth of BOTH Esperanza & Nootka.

    Salmon- Lots of USA hatchery fish around 12 - 22 lb (90% are adipose fin clipped)
    Nootka- Coopte PT.
    Esperanza- Center Island on the tide lee side & Ferrer PT. if the wind is coming from the south- Its Very HOT!!

  16. the fog ducker

    the fog ducker Well-Known Member

    same story in Barkley
    worst season in years ,
    youd figure the commys would take some type of responsibility here ,
    i know they got to make a living , at what cost ?
    hope powers at be , wake up one day and get there heads outta there asses

    absolutely ZERO to do with the sports sector in 23...barely even gets fished after may

    sad ,

  17. codfather

    codfather Active Member

    We just got back from our Nootka trip. We left the boat ramp at 1000 which by the way has not changed since last year except one new piece of 3/8 rope holding one of the docks in place. On the way out we set up the prawn traps to throw out on our way to Saavedra Island. We put the traps in from 240 feet down to 400 feet to find the right depth for the prawns. Two years ago 350 feet worked the best and last year 260 was the key. As you know prawns move up and down in relationship to the moons phase. We had a dozen traps set out sitting on the bottom and headed for Boca to pull the dock out on the 1230 high tide.

    We hooked onto the dock and had enough time to get a beer waiting for the tide to turn and drag the dock out. It went as smooth as silk as we didn't try to rush Mother Nature and had the dock tied up and signed off by 1500. We installed the ramp and got the water working after finding a broken fitting and started thinking about how the prawning will be. By 1800 we took off to check the traps with great expectations after having them in for 6 hours.

    The first string which is one buoy and two traps was at 400 feet and came up blank, the next at 360 and then 320 came up blank. We were looking at each other saying WTF is going on? So we ran out of room with all the traps re-baited so headed to another area to try and find some prawns. After dumping them into different depths we headed back to the other traps we originally put in at noon. Now I had some doubts as the first 6 traps came up skunked we hooked onto a string at 300 feet that was only 100 feet from the first traps and it came up with 65 prawns. The next 2 strings brought us up to 150 so at least we had a start.

    So we re-baited and set them all around 300 feet and went for a hard earned dinner and a couple of Cuba Libra’s. The next morning we started pulling our traps we moved up the inlet with great expectations. Guess what? BLANK. 6 traps with nothing in them. So we moved them to the other side in 300 feet of water. When we pulled the other set it was a decent overnight set with 125 prawns.

    Friday was going to be the only day we could get out to at least Beano for some Haly and Ling. The wind was not too bad when we started but within 2 hours it was blowing 20mph. We ended trolling up 2 halibut 18 and 30 pounds and a couple nice ling on a 7” 602 and my 6” 639 that I’ve trolled hundreds of bottom fish on.

    Back to the lodge and more work to be done. We did a couple hours of weed eating and built up a thirst for a couple of beer and clams. Around 1600 we pulled the traps and caught 235 prawns in 12 traps. Not real good but there was a little color in most of them which meant we have the right depth.

    Saturday morning we headed over to Burdwood before the wind hit its 35mph forecast. We managed to troll for an hour before getting blown off and picked up a 40 pound Haly. Then off to check the traps after an overnight soak. It was the best set so far with 260 prawns and most of them BIG. After sorting them out I separate the Jumbo’s from the others and there was 248 jumbo and 12 regular prawns.

    Back to the lodge for lunch and sort the prawns out and found our first 2 prawns with eggs. It looked like most of the eggs dropped so most likely at the end of a cycle. We spent the afternoon beach combing and found some nice sticks floating on the high tide.

    After a great Spaghetti dinner with 4 pounds of my homemade hot Italian sausage in the mix and some thick red wine we pulled the traps. That pull we caught 130 prawns which is a lot of work pulling 12 traps and re-baiting but its 130 prawns we didn’t have before. Good thing I have the new proto type Ace Line Hauler called Pacific Storm. Vartan asked me to put it thru its paces and it is a great machine. The drum is split as you can see and takes 2 wraps that locks the rope in when it starts to pull. This thing is fast and powerful so you have to pay attention.

    We are now at 700 prawns so I know you are going to do the math and come up with800, except I forgot to mention the 100 prawns we donated to the Friday night prawn taco and fresh lingcod dinner. It is unbelievable things can taste that good when they look so bad when you drag them up off the bottom.

    Sunday is our last chance to add to the prawn count so off we go to pull the traps and load them up to return home. It was a good morning as the traps had some prawns in each and ended up with 185 prawns for a total of 885. All in all a good trip as we managed to get a lot of work done and got close to our limit of prawns. I wish the wind could have stayed away as I wanted to head offshore and target some of those big springs passing thru.

    To put the prawn fishing into perspective as to how I feel it is doing. I commercial prawn fished in Nootka in the late 80’s and 90’s with my buddy Dennis for five years off and on if I wasn’t guiding for salmon. He was allowed to fish from March to September and there were only 3 boats that fished Nootka. He made a good living and had consistent fishing thru the whole season. The last few years there have been over a dozen boats fishing prawns in Nootka and after the first week most of the guys are saying they can barely cover the fuel cost.

    Four years ago on our annual spring trip with 4 guys we quite prawn fishing after two days as we caught our 1600 prawn limit. 3 years ago we worked very hard to the last day to get close to our limit. Last year we did not even come close and could tell things needed to change to let the prawns recover to a sustainable future. That did not happen as the commercial fleet hammered the prawns to the last day even thou they were not catching enough to pay for fuel. It’s the old thing that I can’t quit because Joe Blow might get one more prawn that I could have caught.

    I hope that someone sees the light soon before it’s too late for the prawns in Nootka and other areas that seem to have the same story.

    I’ll try and attach a couple pics if I can figure it out.

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  18. codfather

    codfather Active Member

  19. Fish on John

    Fish on John Member

    Great report codfather!! Sounds like GREAT Fun mixed in with a lot of opening camp work. Bring backs lots of good memories.
    Yes you are correct if DFO does not give the local prawn stocks some time to recover the downward trend will continue. The stocks are at the critical junction. The fact that there are few medium and small prawns is very concerning for the future sustainability of the local Prawn stocks.

    The Good News is when the wind has dropped of Ferrer Pt & Beano Pt have been producing nicely. Hali, Ling & Springs.
    g ram likes this.
  20. UkeeDreamin

    UkeeDreamin Well-Known Member

    Great report, thanks for sharing!



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