We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Kingsley Grant to discuss jigging for Chinook King Salmon in Victoria BC, Canada with the Hogy Sand Eel Jig. Here's what we found out...
Location: Victoria BC, Canada
Tides: Last hour or the first hour of the tide is best
Approach: Chinook Salmon are plentiful along the West coast from Northern California to Alaska but past pressures from commercial fishing, fish habitat destruction and an overabundance of Seals and Sea Lions have reduced their populations and they are now tougher to catch than ever. Salmon spend most of the first year of their life in the streams they were born in. This imprints a lot of the “Trout” type characteristics that they keep until they head up the rivers and streams to spawn and die at a later age.
One of these traits is “Matching the Hatch” where the fish will feed on what is hatching and or available at the time. In the Pacific Northwest, a collapse in the Herring abundance has forced the salmon to look for other available forage and that has become mainly the “Sand Lance” or sometimes called here the “Needle Fish”. It is amazing that something so relatively small can become the primary meal for such a large and fast-growing fish.
Needle Fish or Sand Lance live burrowed in the sand on large flats that range from 50 to 150 feet deep and go out to feed on shoals and nearby weed beds from time to time. They mainly stay no more than 2 to 10 feet off the bottom at any time unless forced up by diving birds, fish or seals. It is because of this that it makes it easy to target chinook salmon with the Hogy Sand Eel Jig, it's a perfect replica of the Sand Lance we have here on the west coast.
Technique: The trick is to try and keep the presentation as vertical as you can by drifting and or back trolling or using an electric trolling motor to slow the drift down or speed it up depending on the direction to keep you straight up and down. Drop the Sand Eel Jig to the bottom and reel up one or two revolutions of the reel. I use a 5000 series Daiwa Saltist Spinning reel setup but you may want to go to 6000-8000 series in other manufacturers, Daiwa’s 5000 is as big as most others 6000 series. You want some beef and speed on your spinning gear.
Retrieve: Once near the bottom you do not need to reel up while jigging just keep the jig at that 2 to 10 feet off the bottom at all times with a fast hard pull up (2 to 6 feet) and then throw the line down almost like throwing a fly line, on to the surface so that the lure has the ability to “flutter” down and look like an injured sand lance that has been hit by a bird or other salmon.
The salmon will take it always on the flutter down so you wont feel the hit you will just see the line stop so now you need the speed and power to strike hard and then be ready to reel as fast as you can because the first thing these fish like to do is come up and jump up out of the water right beside the boat to have a look at what is pulling on them. Once that leap is over they run as far away as they can as fast as they can testing your line, your knots, your swivels and your will. All hooks are barbless here for salmon so you have to make sure to always apply pressure never giving them slack or the fish is gone.
Lure Selection: I prefer the 100g 5-inch Hogy Sand Eel Jig or larger for depths of 50 to 130 feet and larger for deeper fishing. The same lures also work great for Lingcod, Rockfish, and Greenling that we have here so you don’t need to switch up your gear when you switch up the species.
Rod: The setup is a 7-foot boat rod, I use Ugly stick Tiger Rods
Reel: Daiwa 5000 Saltist Spinning Reel
Line: 50lb power pro in Yellow (easy to see the line when multiple fishermen are hooked up two fish at the same time)
Leader: Use a single large Glow Bead then a bead swivel to stop the line from kinking up and a 4-foot fluorocarbon 40 or 50 lb leader. You can use 30lb but I find that the jigging motion often makes the lure catch itself on the line (if it doesn’t happen your not jigging hard enough) and it will cause a small nick in the line, The heaver line just holds up longer and less chance to lose a great fish.
About Kingsley Grant
Kingsley is a fishing guide in Victoria British Columbia specializing in Salmon and Halibut running KingSize Adventures.