Established as a British colony in the 1800s,
Victoria (population 250,000) has been the capital of the
province of British Columbia since 1871. Located at the southern
Vancouver Island, a short hop from Washington's Olympic
Peninsula, Victoria has some of the best winter chinook fishing
on the Pacific coast, with fishing grounds five minutes from
the provincial Legislature.
Winter fishing is influenced by sizable herring runs that spawn
in the Gorge Waterway, a long, narrow, sheltered inlet that
runs through the city centre. These herring school in ever-increasing
numbers each winter, making the waterfront a fish magnet; chinook
salmon are attracted to the abundant feed, and spend the winter
gorging themselves in successive runs. In other seasons, the
areas most consistent feed is needlefish, hence, slender lures
do better than longer, larger ones.
Summer fishing is influenced by tidal action that sweeps
coho , sockeye and
pink in a broad arc from Race Rocks in Juan de Fuca Strait
across a huge expanse of water (225 square miles) to Trial Island
and the entrance to Haro Strait. These species typically occupy
the top 50' in water that averages 300'. The 25 mile wide Juan
de Fuca Strait separating British Columbia from Washington State
reaches depths of over 1,000'.
In recent years, halibut fishing has improved dramatically in
Victoria. These fish average 20 - 60 pounds with the heftiest
recent catch registered in at 165 lbs.
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Cycle of Runs
All five species of salmon may be found on the Victoria waterfront:
chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and pink. The latter three species
are migratory fish, appearing only as mature animals in summer
and fall months en route to spawning beds (Pink salmon appear
only in odd-numbered years).
Chinook and coho may be either resident winter fish or migratory
November 15 - March 31 is the most consistent fishing of the
year. Resident 2 - 20 lb feeder chinook comprise the bulk of
the catch, with the occasional blueback coho (immature, 12 -
16" fish newly-migrated from fresh water) recorded. Bait and
hootchies are the prime lures.
April is typically a slower month, with the winter chinook moving
out and the first summer runs yet to arrive. Thus fishers turn
their attention to halibut.
first summer run, the Columbians, show in Victoria waters May
21 - June 30. These are huge chinook, averaging 30 - 40 lbs
with the occasional fish reaching 60 lbs. Columbians, as folk
lore has it, are destined for the Columbia River in Oregon.
Definitely an anchovy fish.
July 7 the first wave of Juan de Fuca coho arrive. With these
fish travel pink salmon every second summer.
Pink , coho and sockeye fishing hits its peak in August,
with pink fishing continuing strong until September 30th. These
fish average 5 - 12lbs.
During the summer, successive runs of chinook salmon swim past
the waterfront: Harrisons, Frasers, Cowichans, any migratory
chinook destined for lower Georgia Strait and Puget Sound rivers.
In October, the large northern coho arrive, some reaching 20lbs.
By mid-October, the first winter chinook filter in.
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on an Annual Basis Bait: Twelve
months of the year, anchovy in a glow green or army truck teaserhead
on a 6' leader trolled with or without dodger/flasher is by
far the lure of choice in this area. Herring strip in a glow
green or army truck teaserhead on a six foot leader trolled
with or without a flasher is a distant but effective second.
winter fishing, utilize both an Army Truck and an Angel Wing.
Squirts catch more fish than hootchies in Victoria waters. Carry
also a Clover Leaf, Glow Below and Jolly Roger. New hot colours
include the Tiger Prawn and El Nino
For summer fishing try: Army Truck, Bubblegum, Mint Tulip, Irish
Mist, Blue Baron, Shrimp Fiesta, Dragon Boat, Gold Finger, Pink
Shrimp, Autumn Leaf, J79, dayglo orange and anything with pink.
Carry both squirts and hootchies.
Year round on Constance Bank carry Pink Shrimp, Moby Dick and
Campbell River Dancer.
4-6" plugs: 602, 232,301, 632, 179 and when fishing deeper,
the 169. Utilize plugs in summers when mackerel predominate,
particularly the 6" models.
Red Krippled Ks for summer and fall fishing for migratory fish
in the top 50' of water.
In recent years, bucktail flies have fallen out of use in Victoria
Drift fishing: White
Buzz Bomb, green Stingsilda.
Overall Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
Victoria has two types of fisheries: structure-related fishing
for chinook salmon and halibut; and, summer surface fishing
for other salmon species. In addition, four distinct fishing
opportunities present themselves: Oak Bay Flats; Victoria Waterfront;
Constance Bank; and, summer surface fishing in the Quarantine
Due to expansive sand or mud aprons running in shelves from
Ten Mile Point to the harbour mouth, bottom bumping is the predominant
trolling method for chinook. These bottoms, particularly the
Oak Bay Flats, are almost perfectly flat and contain living
carpets of needlefish at all times of the year. Lures are trolled
within 10' of the bottom in depths of 90-120'. Strip and anchovy
are the lures of choice.
The angler is reminded that the presence of needlefish as well
as large spawning herring (winter months only) necessitates
trying both large and small lures when fishing for chinook.
Constance Bank lies 6 ½ mile due south of Clover Point. Spires
of rock rise from the ocean bed and chinook fishing concentrates
on the outer ridges. Halibut fishing is best accomplished from
a boat tied with a line to a float which is anchored on its
own line to the bottom. The Bank presents a good fishing opportunity
due to its remote location and rough water. The uninitiated
should venture out only with a guide.
Summer fishing for sockeye, pink and coho centres on the Quarantine
Buoy, 4 ½ miles south west of the harbour mouth. Fishers troll
the surface 50' across a 15 mile diameter circle between Race
Rocks and Trial Island. This is a fishery for hootchies and
squirts on 42" leaders trolled fast behind a flasher with the
Black Box set at .65 volts.