Those who site British Columbia saltwater sport fishing as a passion or career are well versed in the ways of Hawgust.
The month of August on the BC Coast, south of Prince Rupert anyway, has become commonly known as Hawgust…a just slightly clever verbal combination of “August” and “Hawgs.”
The biggest of British Columbia Chinook salmon, bound for natal rivers and streams from Rivers Inlet to the Fraser to Vancouver Island, roll down the rugged coastline every summer . The last month of the season is undisputed prime time.
From a boat captain perspective, this is when fishing gets serious. The potential for catching a huge Pacific Chinook is at its highest and all your gear must be in fine working order.
Starting with the boat. Usually by May of each year we have our KingFisher pretty dialled in but over the summer, especially if you’re piling on the hours, things can wear out, break or require some simple maintenance. Ensure your electronics are all in working order and calibrate or update where necessary. Hawgust can also be known as Fogust so pay special attention to that radar and making sure you can run it on split screen or overlay with charts. Fog is bad.
Downriggers are a given and usually require some love come end of summer. For the end of each season, we’ll tie new tuna lines to cannonballs and tweak the rigger breaks where necessary. Make sure you stash away extra 30amp fuses as well.
Same goes for rods and reels. It’s always a good idea end of summer to either strip a bunch of old line or re-spool for big fish. Tie new leaders for all spoons, hoochies, cut plugs and whatever. Often big fish hunters will move up in fluorocarbon test as well. I run 40lb test most time but lotsa big fish hunters will bump up to 50lb test.
Big fish are certainly not as easy to locate or catch as they once were, so you don’t want to blow a prime opportunity because of lousy gear maintenance or preparation.
A great trend over the last bunch of years has been catch-and-release Tyee fishing, releasing all Chinook salmon over 30 pounds. For many years of plunder, it was the big fish that were removed from each river’s gene pool. That’s a definite downward spiral so practice good Chinook conservation measures. Taking measurements and a quick photo followed by a release can be an amazing experience. Just ask the couple that released a 106-pound world record Chinook here in Rivers Inlet in early Hawgust!
Finally, driving that KingFisher. It’s mostly about rock crawling in Hawgust and getting in as tight as you can to rocks and kelp. Needless to say, this takes some precision driving and awareness. If you’re trolling on twins starboard might be better than port engine. And if you’re trolling a kicker pay special care to windy tight turns. In British Columbia, the old RIGHT ROD ROCKS rods still applies to just about all fishing tacks. Give right of way to the boat with right rod to rocks and stay wide. When everybody follows the rules, Hawgust is the very best.