Sooke Fishing Adventures - Salmon Fishing - Wildlife Watching - West Coast Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Sooke Fishing Report
Welcome to the Sooke Fishing Adventures website! On this page, we will post regular updates on what's happening with Sooke fishing, Vancouver Island fishing, and other news of interest to our fishing friends from around the world.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Halibut Fishing in Victoria and Sooke
The halibut fishing has been quite good lately, as shown by lots of great fishing reports, bragging posts, photos, and videos on Facebook. Some really snotty weather with rain and high winds hasn't slowed down the fishing action.
Here's a couple of photos from No Bananas Fishing Charters, with halibut caught up to 50 pounds and also some nice winter chinook salmon.
Below is a two videos from Foghorn Fishing Charters, showing halibut some fun fishing -- including one filmed with a drone, pretty cool to see the eagle eye view of halibut coming aboard.
Early spring is a very under-rated time of year to get on the water! For a fun, safe, comfortable day, try chartering one of the Victoria or Sooke fishing guides.
Halibut fishing open February 1, 2017 until further notice.
The maximum head on length for halibut is 133 cm (Approx. 101 cm head off).
The daily limit for halibut is one (1).
The possession limit for halibut is two (2), only one of which may
be greater than 83 cm, head-on (approx. 63 cm head off) in length.
The annual limit is six (6) halibut per licence holder, as set out on the 2016-2017 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence.
All halibut retained by the licence holder shall be immediately
recorded in ink on the 2016-2017 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence. The
area from which each
halibut is caught and its length (cm) shall immediately be recorded on
This is good news, as the halibut biomass is evaluated annually and there is always risk that recreational fishing will be curtailed or ever shut down. With similar fishing regulations to later year, it appears the halibut fishery is considered strong and sustainable.
These early months are some of the best halibut fishing of the year, as there are bigger ones around and no pesky dogfish. Victoria and Sooke see a lot of halibut fishing action from Feb to May or June, once people's attention switches to salmon fishing. Most success is by anchoring on a hot spot and fishing a spreader bar with a two pound ball and bait: salmon belly, herring, octopus being the most common. Put the gear down and wait a couple hours until the scent brings them in.
Don't even ask about tips for spots ... closely guarded secrets! And if you aren't confident anchoring, DO NOT DO IT ... as this is the easiest way to sink your boat and risk your life. No joke. If you want to learn to halibut fish, and safely anchor, consider getting out with a local guide, watch what they do, and ask lots of questions. Most are happy to help out a local newbie.
If you aren't a local, and are interested in halibut fishing, the many Sooke and Victoria guides will happily take you out for a fishing charter. Just watch for some nice weather and get out there!
The DFO website also provides rules for transporting and fileting your catch. It also provides a nice description of how to release the big mamas with minimum harm to these important breeders! Excerpt here:
Release Halibut with Care
There are regulations in place that require all fish that are not
retained, to be released back into the water from which they came
immediately with the least amount of harm.
Halibut have a high survival rate and can withstand being caught and
released. However, anglers should take care when handling halibut which
are to be released. Releasing fish in the least harmful manner is a
requirement by law. Here are some suggestions to assist anglers in
catching and releasing halibut with care:
Avoid the use of stainless steel hooks. Should you have to consider
cutting your line rather than removing a hook from a halibut that is
deeply-hooked, standard steel hooks will rust away faster.
Use circle hooks as these have proven to hook halibut in the
jaw or corner of the mouth. If you have to use J hooks pinch the barb
to make unhooking easier.
Use heavy duty leader you can grab with a gloved hand. Halibut
aren’t leader shy and a heavy leader is easier and safer for you to get a
hold of and will provide you with a secure grip and control of your
Use gear designed to catch halibut and avoid incidental species.
Halibut of similar age classes and size tend to school
together. If you are fishing in an area and catching mostly larger fish,
try moving to a new area where smaller fish typically are found.
Do not overplay your catch. Bring your catch to the surface as quickly as possible.
If you are going to release a fish, release it in the water. If
it is unsafe to easily remove the hook the safest measure to take is to
cut the line. If you have boated your catch and are releasing it, avoid
handling it by the tail alone or the gills when releasing.
Mark an area at the waterline of your boat that measures 83 cm
and 133 cm so that it is easier to determine when a fish is greater than
Construct a measuring gauge from wood, plastic or aluminum that
has an end that you can butt against the halibut’s tail and mark off
the 83 cm and 133 cm lengths measured from the end of the gauge and use
this to measure fish in the water.
Some good reports for fishing in early September. There are still nice chinook/spring salmon around, with regular catches in the teens and low 20s.
the good news is the coho salmon appear to have arrived early ... catches of hatchery coho in the teens. That is great news for this early in September. Right now you can only keep hatchery born coho with the adipose fin clipped. As of Oct 1, you can keep 1 wild, 3 hatchery.
If the rain holds off a little longer, they may be here a while.
And finally, a tip posted to the local fishing blog: "All around 50ft on the rigger and if it wasn't green and white it didn't get a bite!"
Lots of reports of big salmon being caught in Sooke waters this week. The chinook are definitely passing through! Day to day and hour to hour it varies though, with the hot bite time or spot changing quickly. The only certainty is that you don't catch fish if you don't have a hook in the water. Early morning off Secretary Island is reported to be hot last couple of days.
Also reports of coho salmon in local waters ... that action should increase over the next few weeks.
There has been a lot of discussion around Sooke for what the salmon fishing regulations are going to be this summer. The key question is what to do about the Fraser River salmon run, as these are the fish that pass through Juan de Fuca and Sooke in May and June. Today's announcement from DFO clarifies the rules for keeping Chinook Salmon from now until July 15th.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans:Management Measures: The daily limit is two (2) chinook which must be either wild or hatchery-marked if between 45 and 85 cm or hatchery marked if greater than 85 cm.The minimum size limit for chinook salmon in these waters is 45 cm.
In other words, if the Chinook salmon is wild (has its adipose fin, the one to top just before the tail), then you only keep it if it is 85cm or less (maybe 12 pounds or so). But if the fish is hatchery born and has its adipose fin clipped, then you can keep them any size above 45cm. That's good news -- and three cheers for all those hatchery workers and volunteers slogging away all winter to grow these big tyees for us to catch!
Halibut: has been quite steady, with plenty of nice ones into the 50s being caught in local waters.
Salmon: a little spotty, some reports of salmon into the 20s. Most reports from Muir Creek west, lots of people have been fishing Sheringham, as that's been the western edge of the slot limit. Today's announcement extends the restriction to Sombrio Point, so unless Sheringham is super hot, you may as well save the gas and fish closer!
Sooke's early season fishing has been excellent. Most of the local anglers are targeting halibut, and they are coming in regularly from the east, from the west, and right in front of Sooke Harbour. There are also some nice salmon being taken, with one report up to 26 pounds out west of Sheringham Point. Beautiful sunny weather with no fog, this is a nice time of year to fish -- just watch for those afternoon west winds.
Picture is guests of Vancouver Island Lodge after a fun day on the water. About to have a halibut and crab feast ... the days are great, the evenings even better. The good life!
Whoever said the fishing season is over on September 1st obviously doesn't know about Sooke's year-round fishing possibilities.
Once the returning chinook and coho have passed through in August to October, there remains a solid fishery for "winter springs", the resident chinook salmon that spend the winter in local waters. They are smaller than the big prize fish of summer, but they are packed full of oil and make for fantastic "barbecue" fish or smoking. You can find them from the Bluffs to Otter Point right on the bottom....magic depth often 130 feet. Bounce that downrigger ball to make sure you're on the bottom. Glow hootchies and spoons are the most common lures.
And the good news this year is the halibut fishery has once again been left open to December 31st. Lots of reports of good catches coming from those willing to dodge the storms. They are being caught from the Bluffs to points west, both on the drift and on anchor. Here's Darcy with the first halibut caught on his "new" boat ... what's the expression about even blind squirrels finding some nuts? Just kidding....way to go Darcy, that's quite a few fish n chips dinners there!
So, if you want to catch some fish, don't be putting that boat away for winter just yet. Get out there! But make sure you watch the weather and play safe!