As we approach the winter season, we start gearing up for winter spring fishing. The winter fishery is loads of fun and can be surprisingly good, offering some of the brightest, hardest fighting chinook found all year. And the best part? The water conditions. Unlike the summer and fall seasons, the water during the winter season is often flat calm, making runs to Howe Sound or fishing the harbour that much more enjoyable.
The winter springs are often called feeders, referring to their tendency to follow the herring that congregate in the area. The great thing about these feeder chinook is their aggressiveness, they’re called feeders for a reason! They are extremely opportunistic and take spoons and other artificial offerings readily, another added bonus for anglers who may not have gotten around to brining anchovies the night before. The chinook are found anywhere there is feed, so those who watch their depth sounders for bait readings are often rewarded.
The chinook you encounter can reach 20 pounds, but 6 to 15 pounds is much more common. The season starts in November, with peak season generally being from December through March. Last year, the 2015 season never really slowed down, as fishing was lights out in April and May. We’re all hoping for a repeat of this and it was great to see such robust chinook numbers.
You’ll find boats fishing in the harbour, all around Bowen Island, and throughout Howe Sound. Sometimes the fish start moving towards Gabriola and Gulf Islands as the season progresses. Many boats fish their offerings religiously close to the bottom (10 feet), but we have caught fish all over the water column and generally run a line a little higher up. These fish are bright and beautiful eating. Here’s a picture of Mikky with our first feeder of the season caught last November.
If you’ve never tried this amazing fishery and want a jumpstart, don’t hesitate to hire a guide. To plug one expert in particular, Todd Sweet of Reel Finatic Fishing Charters, like clockwork brings clients back with chinook, crab, and prawns. Todd can be reached at (604) 376-9011 or at his website Reel Fin-atic Fishing Charters, and offers amazingly reasonable winter rates.
We would also recommend the Bon Chovy or Pacific Angler outfits, as these guys have their finger on the pulse and are always happy to share their knowledge with you. Both have active social media sites that can be super useful to help find the fish.
Bon Chovy: (604) 763-5460
Pacific Angler: 1(778) 788-8582
Good fishing everyone!
- River Rats