Fishing at Cape Barrier

I went fishing off the rocks yesterday in Island Bay, a little bay opposing Rabbit Island. I’ve never been there before, but have fished Johnson’s Bay and the famous ‘rod holder spot’ at Cape Barrier which are in the same area. Last week I was fishing that famous spot and it was a bit rougher than forecasted.  But there were plenty of small kahawai and action all the time. I landed one decent pan-sized snapper and hooked a big fish on a kahawai fillet. I lost that fish though and am still, this is some 7 days later, pretty gutted about it. It was a solid snapper take, I fought it hard and it was pulling lots of line against heavy drag and 40 pound main line. And just when I was firmly sure that I’m going to land it, a few moments before I was able to see some color, to bring it to the surface, the hook must have ripped. That’s my theory anyway, if a snapper is hooked in the jaw, it can’t ‘spit’ the hook and it won’t rip, but if it is hooked in the flesh around the mouth area, I believe, too much pressure can be a huge disadvantage. Anyway, albeit not having too high expectations, the feeling of adventure was surely heightened yesterday, because I was exploring new fishing terrain.  The plan was to get to Island Bay at low tide, gather some kina and fish the incoming. As usual, the hike from the car to the bay was shorter than it looked. While enjoying the coastal scenery, Rani and I arrived at the small beach after about 20 minutes.

This is pretty much the beginning of the hike which ends at a Island Bay, opposing Rabbit Island.
Absolutely stunning coastal properties and what a beautiful day to be out there and doing it.
Almost there, the excitement ever increasing.

Arriving at the mostly rocky beach in Island Bay, I consulted my chart and decided to go to the right first. However, it appeared to me that I would be cut off by the tide soon and decided to turn around and go left. I collected some 20 kina, they were plentiful and ample in size.

Not a bad place to fish over night, there is ample drift wood on the beach, too.

There are some massive, extended rock formations on the left hand side and I found a spot with the wind in my back and close to the current lines between Rabbit Island and where I was. It was still pretty much dead low tide, everything was calm and beautiful.

Looking to the right (west)
And left (east), you can see my rod and fishing gear on the ledge.

The water was quite shallow, especially at low tide, and very clear, but lots of big snapper are being caught in shallow water. The current was strong and there were ample of different spots to cast into. Away from the rocks, into the rocks, into the foul, in circulating water in the gutter between the Rabbit island and were I was. Unfortunately, the shop was out of berley (again) and not much was happening for the first two hours. So what do you do, if the fish aren’t around? Yepp, you lure them to you. I diced up some of the squid in tiny pieces and ground baited for a while. Curshed the big kina, ate some of the row and berleyed the rest.

What a stunning day, you can imagine that the water rips through this gutter.
That’s not the wind causing the surface waves. That’s the current.

Two hours had passed and I noticed that the pieces of bait I chucked into the water had mysteriously disappeared. I couldn’t see any bait fish but every time I chucked something into the water, it disappeared a few moments later. A sign of small kahawai. So out came the bait rod. Rani stared into the horizon suddenly and I noticed a big boat coming in. As it came closer, it became clear that it was a Riviera-type, perhaps 46 feet long and doing around 12 knots. Its course was right through the small channel between me and the island and it didn’t appear to slow down either. It was a very nice looking game fishing boat and I went to grab the camera to take a picture. But then it hit me, that big boat at this speed is creating a fast and high bow wave. Immediately, I started packing my gear and relocating it on higher ground. When I saw the bow waves approaching me, I wished I had packed in a bit earlier, now I was slightly in a hurry. There was no way I could get everything, but I managed to get the backpack, the rods etc. The bow waves crushed into the ledge, white water everywhere, taking most of my kina and – man, I forgot about the bait – all my bait. I could retrieve it though cause the plastic got stuck on a sharp rock. That was a lesson learned and two thumbs down for the skipper. He must have seen me, there is no good reason why you want to maintain your cruising speed when going through such a narrow channel and endangering a land based fisher.

With the incoming tide, the fishing had picked up too. I landed a hand full of small kahawai, casting fillets and the heads as baits. But the big baits just didn’t get touched at all. I cubed a bit of the kahawai flesh and got snapper strikes close in by the rocks. Managed to land two pan-sized ones, the rest were all on the borderline of being legal and went back. I fished almost up to high tide, had to relocate a few times so as to not getting cut off by the tide, but didn’t get any serious takes at all.

Nonetheless, it was a great day, I landed enough fish for a couple of days, explored a new fishing spot, which is a great place to camp on the rocks and fish over night. Dusk and dawn will surely be great there. You just got to watch the water, it is quite shallow in that channel and the Colville Channel is right next to it. Surface waves and ocean swells will only become apparent when they reach the shallow water, so it is advisable to store your gear 5 or so meters above the water line.

Almost hight tide. All the obstacles have submerged, there are two cray pot buoys that also act as the markers for the channel. But you don’t want to be the fool who hits a rock here at 12 knots plus in a million dollar boat.
Nothing spectacular, but still a great feed for a couple of days for me.
Rani needed a lot of convincing to follow me through the water. It wasn’t as bad as she thought after all.
Almost back at the car.

Hiking back up the hill took around 45 minutes and a mutual friend must have recognized my car parking there. There was some grease on the door handles, a little joke I like to pull myself, but to my astonishment, only little amounts of grease had been applied. Just a little note telling me that someone was working today, while I was fishing…

I liked you Island Bay, I’ll be back, with some berley early in the morning or over night.

grease, bow waves.

2 thoughts on “Fishing at Cape Barrier”

  1. Nice write-up Mr B. Current? Small Kahawai? I believe you’ll find something a little larger with a yellow tail frequents that spot too! Although it would be something else to fight one in that shallow water! Paul xxxxx

    1. I wouldn’t mind livebaiting there if I spent lots of time there or if I landed a few good snapper. I fished for 3-4 hours, it was pretty quiet and putting a live bait out would have meant that the current and wind would have dragged it right into the rocks and foul. So I would have had to deal with the live bait non-stop, would have only been frustrating to strayline and live bait at the same time. I hedged my bet on landing a nice snapper with fresh kahawai bait instead. Didn’t work… And as you say, landing a kingi there won’t be easy either. But what a great place to go and camp and fish for a couple of days.

      At the moment I just wished there was a bit less wind and that the wind would keep its direction throughout the day. It’s nasty at the moment mate, nasty.

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