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Fishing for herring is all about timing and tides

By Don Daniels
A harvest of herring during the spawn. Don Daniels photo

By Don Daniels

Here we are, at mid-month, the seine boats have their quota of commercially-caught herring and the herring spawn has been well documented from Comox to Parksville.

Herring is used for food and bait, also the seals and eagles will have a feeding frenzy during the spawn which takes place in the month of March. The spawn area is quite visible from the air as people can photograph the water and see where the herring are spawning.

March 5 was a prime time to get out and walk the beaches and see the spawn, wade out and throw out a herring rig and catch your limit to use for bait or food. A few people from Sayward and Campbell River will take out a kayak and go fishing.

In Campbell River, try Discovery Pier or walk the beach from Salmon Point to the Oyster River. In Comox, try the area around the wharf or try Goose Spit. French Creek was slow for herring early in the month but now might be a time to head out to French Creek, then head south. Lots of herring was reported around Denman and Hornby Island. A number of fishing guides will get out and catch herring for bait to use for the upcoming salmon fishing season.

When I moved to Kitimat from Saskatchewan, back in the day, I had a chance to fish for herring. Fishing from the dock, it was easy to hook herring by jigging a simple hook but a herring jig or net can be used.

Dorothy Steinbacher from Sayward gets out every year, will buy herring or go jigging from a kayak in the Comox area. Dorothy mentioned that in her country herring is a symbol of abundance, they used to sell tinfoil-covered chocolate herring around Christmas time. For a food product, pickled herring can be bought at various stores or you can make your own at home. Dorothy has supplied me with a recipe for pickled herring and a number of readers here have requested the recipe; I will forward it to you if you email me at

I have a small group of people who have attended fly-tying sessions for beginners at the Seniors Centre in Campbell River. The next session, for those who have been with me and have been contacted, will be a get-together this Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. Another session is being planned at the Campbell River library with times and date to be announced along with news of a book giveaway and information how you can register for this fly-tying for beginners event.

The spring trout stocking of lakes on the island will be a little earlier than last year, predator birds are getting at the trout and the local lakes around Campbell River will be done before March 24. Once the weather warms up a bit, I will be out there chasing them around.