We are back at it for another season and things have started off a little differently than last year. Last year we saw massive closures on the north coast in the name of conservation over low numbers of Skeena chinook returning to spawn. This year we are back to a chinook retention fishery on the north coast(different story down south) where the limits 2 per day, 4 in possession. There is a change in annual chinook retention numbers for the BC coast where the annual limit has been reduced from 30 to 10. All chinook must be recorded in ink on your tidal water licence.
To start the season we have seen some nice fish rolling into the Rupert and Kitimat areas. We have seen a few fish caught in the low 20's so far with the majority of fish coming in the 12-18lb range. Cut plug herring and teaser head anchovys have been working well, as have flasher and hoochy set ups. My personal favorite is to run a dummy flasher set up with either a cut plug or spoon trolled about 10' back of the dummy flasher. The Coyote 5.0 is my go to spoon but I also have a ton of other spoons in the tackle box if the coyote is not producing. Having a few different options is key to targeting these early fish who can sometimes be a bit "tight lipped". Oscars has carried AP Tackleworks spoons for a couple years now and they can be deadly when other spoons/bait are not productive. Another option to try is the flasher/spoon combo where you run a spoon directly off the flasher. The rotation of the flasher combined with the action of the spoon can prove irresistible to these early chinook.
In Rupert we have seen fish being caught around Dundas Island and Work Channel areas with a few fish coming as far South as Edye Pass.
In the Kitimat area we have seen a few fish being caught at Money Point with some early mature Kitimat River fish making their way down the channel. The first cinook we caught last year were May9/10 which saw a 28lb and 23lb come to the boat. The south end of Sue Channel is a good option with these Kitimat River fish starting to make their way in.
There have been some major changes to the halibut quota system this year. Slot limits have been increased to 126cm with some restrictions. The possession limit is either one of: 1 halibut measuring 126cm head on length OR 2 halibut measuring 90cm head on length. This gives anglers the option to retain either one bigger halibut or two smaller ones. For those of us who fish the north coast it is a welcome change to be able to retain a larger size halibut as smaller ones can be hard to come by. We have seen some great halibut and bottom fishing over the past week as the winds have been low and anglers have been able to access good halibut grounds. The Gibbs Delta Power Paddle swimtail jig has been very good for groundfish to start the year. The nice thing about the Power Paddle is that it does not need to be jigged up and down like your typical bottom jig but can be just put in a rod holder to "swim" in the current. I typically run one power paddle and a couple spreader bars when fishing on the bottom. Oscars has a good selection of spreader bar setups and can get you set up for your next halibut excursion.
Prawning has been really good on the north coast so far this year and should continue to be that way until the commercial boats are let loose on the fishery. This long weekend would be a good time to get out and stock up on those tasty little "mud bugs".
Stay tuned for more reports as we are expecting some really good fishing this year. Better yet, stop by Oscars Source for Adventure and talk to the staff. They will be able to set you up for your next trip to the salt.
Until next time......Tight lines.