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Salmon Fishing on the Sunshine Coast

By Fred Kuzyk, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


Close to the big city but far from the crowds, the Sunshine Coast is a fisherman's paradise. If you'd describe yourself as an avid fisherman you really should check out this area during sport fishing season!

Bordered by snow covered coastal mountains, this protected coastline stretches 175 kilometers (105 miles) along the northeast shores of the Strait of Georgia, from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound. Clean sparkling Pacific waters, secluded sandy beaches, and bays with red cedar and arbutus trees are sprinkled along the coastline. Canada geese, bald eagles, blue herons and osprey share the sky and shore.

Local's boast 14 more days of sunshine per year than Hawaii with approximately 270 growing days per year. All of this is only two hours by car and ferry from downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. The trip consists of a picturesque 40-minute ferry ride with the B.C. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and a drive along the paved coastal highway following the coast north.

This area offers relatively protected waters for sport fishing on Georgia Strait with Vancouver Island protecting it from the open sea. The numerous islands also offer shelter from the high seas of the Pacific Ocean (no swells or fog).

The Sunshine Coast offers year round guided fishing for Chinook salmon at great resorts in beautiful locations such as Secret Cove, Pender Harbour and Powell River. Feeder Chinooks are present during the winter months and the migratory Chinook start showing up in late spring, with the best fishing from June to September.

Coho are best from June to September, while the northern coho are available from September to October. Pink and sockeye go bye from mid august to mid September and chum salmon from September through October.

Unique to the Secret Cove and Pender Harbour area, mooching is the way most of the guides and local anglers fish for these tail-walking salmon. The majority of the fishing is done from larger 26 ft. to 40-ft. charter yachts. The salmon fishing techniques employed are quite different, instead of using cut plug or trolling for the coho, we mooch. This means we locate the schooling bait fish off reefs and kelp beds with sounders, anchor the vessel over the bait fish and use live herring, the natural food of salmon.

The technique utilizes long, limber 10 ft. salmon rods, a single-action graphite reel, a 3 ounce weight, eight feet of light leader, and a single #10 treble hook in the nose of the live herring. From an anchored position we are able to fish from four to seven rods around the vessel at different depths from the bottom to the surface. This offers a natural light tackle fishing method for the coho and is a fun way to fish for these powerful salmon.

Another big attraction to the anglers is the bottom fish fishery: large red snapper (yellow eye), lingcod, rock cod, flounder and tommy cod. Most of these species are open year round with only lingcod being closed from October to May. For the seafood specialists the prawning and crabbing is excellent year round all along the Sunshine Coast.

Local fishing spots include Halfmoon Bay, Bucaneer Bay, Secret Cove, Lasquiti Island, Texada Island, Seal Reef, Bejji Shoals, Bargain Harbour, A Frame and Quarry Bay ... just to name a few and live bait is available at most marinas from Gibsons to Pender Harbour.

When planning your next saltwater fishing trip, this region is arguably one of the best light tackle salmon fishing destinations in British Columbia.The season never ends it just gets better at certain times.

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