Fishing east Coast Vancouver Island beaches

Author Gil d'Oliveira AKA treblig

There are several successful methods used for beach and estuary fishing for Pacific salmon: fly fishing with single or double handed rods, and gear fishing with spinning tackle or level wind reels. Some anglers use a combination of both depending on conditions. A spinning rod combo with a little torpedo float and 3 feet leader to a fly or jig is excellent for Pink salmon. However, when salmon are cruising 200 feet off shore then they are out of range of even the best of the fly casters. That is when spinning tackle is more productive. Metal spoons and heavy lures can be tossed much further with spinning tackle or level wind reels. 
Fly-fishing is the most challenging method. You will be affected by the weather, by water conditions, the choice of flies; you’re fly casting skills, and the limitations of your tackle. The correct choice of fly lines can make a huge difference. This is not a method that beginners will find easy, but the rewards are great once mastered. The basics of fly-casting are a prerequisite, but even that does not assure success. Many beginners get to frustrated with the fly rod and revert back the spinning rod, but that is just a stage everyone goes through. 
Waders and boots are important accessories. The Ocean is very cold, and often neoprene’s are used for they’re insulating qualities. However during hot weather neoprene’s can be very uncomfortable when not in the water. Breathable waders are a  better option during hot days . They are lighter and release excess body heat. Air molecules are smaller than water molecules and pass through the wader’s membrane. Breathable waders require layered clothing for insulation, and to wick moisture away from the body. Wading boots have to be durable and offer good support to your ankles. They will be exposed to barnacles, sharp edges, weeds, boulders, and very slippery terrain.
Occasionally, anglers will be exposed to other fishermen who believe their method is the only ethical way of fishing. These Purists may thumb there noses with disdain at other anglers, but in truth they are just snobs. It doesn’t matter what method you use so as long as you follow regulations, and fish with ethics and sportsmanship.
Twenty years ago, I never ever thought I would be catching salmon off a beach on Vancouver Island. I will always remember the old timer who generously offered fishing information. When I inquired what his favorite fishing was , he replied it was fishing at NileCreek for Pink salmon with a fly rod. He gave me general instruction how to find the location and heared his stories of the good old days. He said make sure you havbinoculars with you. They will help looking for signs of salmon moving at long distance. And always keep a journal of where you go; report what the weather was like, the time of day and what the tides were doing. Highlight on a road map all the areas you have explored and where you had success, so you will quickly recognize similar ones. And, mark the areas you haven’t tried, or were no good.
   We are so blessed on the East coast of Vancouver Island: from the ocean, to rivers and streams, and the many lakes. The most exciting for me is the salt-water beach fishing for salmon. It begins in July and August for Pink salmon, then gradually changes to the larger species in September, October and November. Coho, Chinook and Chum salmon move close to shore and into the estuaries of their natal streams. They stage and prepare themselves for the permanent move into fresh water. This allows anglers, young and old, the opportunity to catch these magnificent fish. Even or that species it is larger than normal. The world record was a hump backed male of over 14 pounds. 
The Pink’s take is very subtle, and hooking one is just a case of lifting of the rod to pick up slack in the line. Be prepared for a good fight, though, and its best to fight them off the reel. Most offerings for these small salmon, whether they are flies or lures, are various shades of pink
Very often, a change of color to flies of green, chartreuse, purple, blue, or orange, will improve results for salmon who have seen too much pink. These little salmon will attack a slower retrieve more readily than fast one. A pink jig drifting slowly under a float can be deadly.     

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