Late August Halibut Action Tofino B.C.
Capt. Adam Watson
September 5, 2010
Tofino - Saltwater Fishing Report
With only 6 weeks or so of prime time fishing left for us in the Tofino area, and only 2 days of prime fishing left for my fishing partner (Son) before other commitments kick in for him (Hockey and school), we hit it pretty hard today searching for a couple Halibut for the winter stash....With me not being in the best of health lately, our opportunities have been few, fortunately the fish have been cooperative.
We started out the day, on the east side of the island at 4 A.M. on a "midnight bait run" to pick up more Anchovies and Herring for our area's Chinook Fishery that is still going strong offshore.
While my co-pilot dozed between songs on his Ipod cranking through the truck, and many turns and corners of the well traveled road between Qualicum Beach and Tofino, I kept imagining which of my favourite Halibut contours close to the coastline would produce for our "last hurrah" for the season.
With all of my own vessels pre booked with clients for the day, Ben and I had to "hitch a ride" with my good buddy and sub-contract guide Josh for the morning, so it was pretty conventient to roll into town at 6:30, unload frozen bait in the storage freezers and jump on a boat rigged and ready to go.
As soon as we traveled past the outer islands, I knew that the sea conditions would provide plenty of "bounce" for the rods without us needing to jig very much. The S.E. wind and N.W. swell moshed up to make it plenty Chunky for the ride out, and only slightly better once we set anchor on the spot 20 minutes from Tofino.
The same spot produced some quality fish for Josh the previous day, as well as a fresh Octopus that made it part way into the Skillet with Ginger and Soya Sauce, and the other part into the bait box for our planned trip. For those of you that have fished a reliable Halibut spot with fresh Octopus, it is almost like Sidney Crosby's Gold Medal Goal.....you just knew it had to happen, it might take time, but it will happen.
Bobbing and bouncing on Anchor with three rods down at 140 feet, it took all of 15 minutes for number one to find our Halibut Candy presented just a foot or two off the bottom. Josh was ready to grab the rod but Ben was quick to jump on it, and wind down hard into a solid fish. After Ben got the hooks dug in, a slight adjustment was needed to back the drag off a bit so my boy didn't find himself swimming by mistake, as the conditions were tough enough without doing a stand-up battle with a fish 3/4 his size.
The tug-o-war game lasted for 15 minutes or so, with Ben's 12 year old arms starting to fade a bit, but not ready to quit.
Halibut number one comes under the harpoon and Ben's tired arms take a break after some high fives and haymakers with the gaff.
After a re-bait, the gear goes back down to the bottom for round two, second period, next battle, whatever you want to call it. All I know is watching my boy tame a fish of that size and power, it made me proud and humble at the same time, thinking that with how strong the young dude is getting, it won't be too long before our play fights end up with me on the bottom,,,,,
Last week Ben fished with another guide buddy of ours, where he battled a nice big fish over 100 lbs, only to have it shanked off by the shark hook set-up that our friend prefers. Ben was just saying how that pain of that lost fish was easier to take now that he had this one in the boat, and my starboard rod took a jerk down. I fed some slack line to fish that I was confident a Halibut, while I hear my son casting his ultra light jig rod off the back of the boat muttering something about "I'll get him". While I waited for 20 seconds or so, thinking that the Hali must have had a good enough taste of that fresh, sweet octopus, I then hear my son engage his level wind reel after hitting the bottom. One jig of his 7 oz. custom painted lead minnow, and he shouts at me "I'm on!" while he tries not to laugh too hard at hooking my Fish right under my nose.....His ultra light Trevala Jig Rod bends into a near circle while he lifts up on his second of the day that ends up pushing 40 lbs. Proud and surprised, I'm smiling at the little Shyte, even though he smacked "my Fish" right off of my bait.....
Josh is now howling at the whole sequence of events, as he also just finished bugging Ben for bringing his ultra-light rod to the big fish party....
Two experienced guides getting a schooling from a 12 year old......proves we are always learning......
After we clean up the deck from round two, I check my bait and send it back down for the finally, and beg the boy to give his old man at least one chance.
We passed through the tide change without a hit, and the wind picked up another 8-10 knots S.E. so we all agreed we would need to wrap it up soon. I then see the tell tale action of a Halibut sucking my bait in and out of his mouth, so I knew if I pooched this one, I might have to hear about it all winter from the boy. Waiting for the rod to dip one more time and I dig in, BENDO, Fish On!
I had a strong feeling that this was not going to be the size that would allow me to rub right back in the face of my confident young Buck, but at least I had a chance to not go home with stripes on my back.... A good battle ensues then Josh is also into something heavy on his side. After 10 seconds, we figure out that his is likely the large Octo variety, while mine decides to head back to the bottom. Ben takes over on Josh's rod to slowly reel in what ends up being an Octopus approx. 6 feet long, while Josh helps get his spear tip just deep enough for my Halibut to shake and split back to the bottom again. We are all laughing, the wind continues to increase and we bounce around the deck with a double header of sorts. Within minutes, my Halibut is conveniently filling the last 48 lbs of fish locker on Josh's Grady, and Ben has the Octopus beside the boat. Just as it reaches out an arm to grab the boat, I knew I had one chance to get him in before he pulled himself to safety, sticking to the underside of the boat. As a wave dipped the back corner of the Grady a little lower in the water, I reached in to my elbow and grabbed the Octopus by the mantle, pulling him on deck.
Josh is howling with laughter as I find out that after guiding for as many years as he has, he hates touching live Octos, and letting them get stuck to him, his leg or anything but inside the box. Since the deck is soaking wet and the boat is rocking up and down on anchor, the Octopus decides that heading forward towards the cuddy and the wiring compartment is the best place to hide. I mean, he was heading there with a vengeance, and before I know it, I'm having a one on one battle on the forward deck with a 50 lb Octopus that is full of energy. I don't know if it was due to the 20 minute battle with my Halibut that ended a minute before, or because I was laughing so hard, but I was momentarily losing the end of round three, with the decision about to go to the guy in the other corner with 8 arms, wearing the camoflauge Red/Brown skin. I soon realized that if I let this thing head where he wanted to go, we may have a mess on our hands, and potential trouble if he actually slid up into the wiring compartment of Josh's boat. The weather conditions were not in our favour to have a boat dead in the water due to a stowaway making a mess of the main wiring panel.
I don't know if my Halibut fought as hard as the Octopus did for the next 5 minutes of pulling one or two arms free, only to lose ground with the others getting their hold back. Finally 2 hands beats 8 arms, I came up covered with slime and laughing so hard my head hurt bad, reminding me of why my time was so limited on the water these days, suffering from a major concussion. Laughter and good times with my boy and a friend was better than any medicine. Back to the dock to took a little bit with the weather conditions, even though we were only 5 miles from town, but was worth the ride.
I know this one fishing trip was a bit of a story, but I have not had the time or energy to provide regular shorter updates. More than outlining our fishing opportunties, I wanted to share one of the experiences with my son that will stick with me forever. In just over a month, I'll likely be watching him take his first Moose, and hope to share that on the hunting forum. Enjoy your time out their with your kids....
N.B. I did mention a few times how the weather was less than ideal for the first time in a long while, but I omitted to mention that the boy was wearing his inflateable safety collar the whole time
Fishing has been, and continues to be extremely strong for Chinook Salmon in the Tofino area, with Halibut and Bottom-fish as strong in numbers and size as we have seen for years.
September fishing options are prime for all species, with Coho returns still anticipated to materialize in strong numbers as well.
Tofino B.C.'s most recommended Full Service Fishing Outfitter.
Tofino Fishing Forecast:
Halibut and Ling Cod fishing will continue to be strong through late October
Halibut and Ling Cod
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