Fishing the Straits of Georgia in Nanaimo BC

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zippyFX's picture
Fishing the Straits of Georgia in Nanaimo BC
We had a family event in Nanaimo this month. I did a lot of planning for my fishing and had a modicum of success. Given the amount of time I actually had on the water I was relatively pleased at my first Salt water fishing attempts.  I wet a line in one lake were the kids were tubing at but did not have enough time to try anything worthwhile.  Our trip continued into Vancouver but I had no time to fish though I did wet a line one or twice but that was beside beaches the kids were swimming at.
My first outing was relatively disappointing. My brother In law and I were supposed to go out and drop some crab pots one morning but the wind was strong so we pulled the plug on the outing at 4:45 AM, since I was I was up I decided to hit a couple of rocky points near his place. The Nanaimo coast line is sort of shelf and is relatively shallow so it's hit and miss. That morning was pretty much a miss. I cast out squid and buzz bombs, and cranks but nothing but a couple of nibbles and a follow which looked like some type of small surfperch. On my way in my other brother in law got a follow and managed to dial in these guys:
Staghorn Sculpins, commonly referred to bullheads in the area.  Once we dialed them in we managed to get about 20 of these guys with the kids on small lures (spinners and cranks) and bits of squid on a bobber.  The kids liked playing with a bucket full of them and this got one of my nephews hooked on fishing. 
A couple of days later we did managed to get out crabbing. We dropped the pots and then proceeded wet our lines. My brother in law is relatively new to fishing so he was looking to increase his confidence. He quickly saw the benefit of using bait like squid. I started getting nibbles almost immediately but kept failing to hook likely because my buzz bombs had trebles that were too large.  I unfortunately did not have any smaller trebles on me and I decided against switching to single hooks.  We found a kelp bed and started jigging on its seaward sided. A couple of nibbles but no real luck. I got him to position on the shore side and we started to get bites. First on was this Pacific Sanddab (ID is currently being worked and is uncertain):
I managed a couple more flat fish and then my rig snagged as I popped it free of the obstruction I felt a weight which I thought was kelp but it a large Great Sculpin:
Here are the flatfish I took home that day:
One Pacific Sanddab (to be confirmed) and I think the other two are English Sole (to be confirmed) as far as I can figure. They were all caught in about 40ft of water.  One of the crabs pots was pretty full but we had no keepers.
The funniest moment of this outing was crab that grabbed some of the bait in on my brother in laws hook and rod the ride up as he reeled only to let go as he got out of the water. I could not get my camera out fast enough to get the picture. 
My seconds outing was a day at a place called Rocky Point. When I got their early in the morning I was heartened by the fact that there were other people there fishing. We all seemed to be equally disheartened with nothing caught.  I was solid hit on a jig with a white curly tail on it but nothing else for the morning. 
The third and final outing was a half day guided trip. Our hopes were not high, the best recommended guide was booked solid, his referral was booked solid, and then we ended up with our fourth choice that had plenty of spots open. The goal was to troll for salmon.  I went out before the others and I fished off a dock. No end of staghorn but I did manage to dial in these guys from under the dock on squid. Shiner surfperch:
They were line shy and did not bite until I put a fluoro leader on (mono would have likely worked but I do not usually carry it). 
On the way out we dropped a crab pot and a prawn trap and went on to troll. The trolling was disappointing. We had two small Coho caught that were borderline keepers that we threw back. I got to reel in this 4 pound Coho:
Nothing was biting lots of boats were out, everyone was moving around looking for the fish, no radio traffic about fish being caught. Three hours into a four hour  trip he asked if wanted to jig for bottom fish with a chance of getting some lingcod. They left the decision up to me, duh, I said yes! 
After booting it a new spot, off the bat, we were into a school dogfish about 60 ft down:
That got the blood going.  The guide would not let any on the boat and they were sure messing up our lines. We caught about half dozen of these guys in 15 minutes.  We managed one lingcod which was too small but the guide through it back before we got a picture. There are some guides who I don’t think get the whole guiding thing completely….  
We booted out to the next spot. Here we were on got onto the rock fish and we each caught a number of these guys. These are Quillback Rockfish:
No lingcod but at least we were fishing (and catching). He kept us out for almost an extra two hours because the morning had been so slow which was fine by us.
On the way home we pulled up a full Prawn trap with over two hundred prawn.  
The Prawn and Crab bait of choice on Vancouver Island is apparently cat food. The cheapest brand you can get from London drugs. Hey, if it works….
We had enough salmon and prawns to feed 15 people of supper that evening. 
Species caught this trip (all lifers for me):
Pacific Staghorn Sculpin
Great Sculpin
Pacific Sanddap (TBD)
English Sole (TBD)
Shiner Surfperch
Spiny dogfish
Coho Salmon
Quillback Rockfish
andy's picture
Cool report

That is some nice fishing that you got into out there.  Could you please resize the images to fit within the page?  600 px wide or so is best.  Thanks! 

zippyFX's picture
Thanks! I have resized.

Thanks! I have resized.