Can I just hang a line off the sailboat and score a fish dinner?
August 20, 2015 9:20 AM   Subscribe

So I am spending next week on a friend's sailboat, mostly in the Canadian San Juan islands. I was menu planning and it occurred to me: The ocean is FULL OF FISH. Couldn't I just drop a line overboard as we cruise and pull it up later with a tasty fish dinner attached? Or when we are anchored off shore overnight? And if so what simple gear would do the trick? I own basic freshwater spinning gear.
posted by LarryC to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're fishing in the Gulf Islands (what we call the San Juans) you'll likely need a British Columbia saltwater angler license. You can order online and print out.

As for what fish are biting, here is a handy chart.

Generally speaking, the three species of fish anglers go for are salmon, rockfish and what's called ling cod (a kind of greenling). The latter two are found around rocky reefs (ie close to shore).

Depending on the variety, the salmon fishery may be closing soon, although Pender Island has a fishing derby this weekend.
posted by Nevin at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't forget about sweet, sweet dungeness crabs.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:57 AM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, get a crab pot, some bait, and a license — all about $30 total — and be sure the boat has a pot big enough to boil the crab in. Oh, and butter and garlic and little forks. This is one of my favorite ways to eat when sailing in the San Juans.

But don't count on these sources for meals, as they're unpredictable. Have enough provisions that you won't starve :)
posted by Capri at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding to not depend on fish happening. There are so many variables (weather, tides, seasons). I have some friends who just went on a 10 day tour on a sailboat and were skunked the entire time. Any fish you catch are a tasty, tasty bonus!
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:56 AM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I once went salmon fishing in that area and after a whole day out on the water, we caught one fish and even then we almost lost it to a seal who have figured out that stealing a fish attached to a line is easier than catching it themselves.
posted by Poldo at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I live on one of the Gulf islands and have never managed to catch anything but starfish (not so good for eating). Not that I've tried especially hard, but just a data point to to say that it's not just a matter of putting a hook or trap in the water with some bait and coming up with dinner.
(gulf islands meetup anyone?)
posted by Emanuel at 2:44 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what it's like in the Gulf of Georgia / Puget Sound, but this year there *should* be good conditions (ie warmer seawater temperatures) for chub and jack mackerel.
posted by Nevin at 2:45 PM on August 20, 2015

Response by poster: Followup: Thanks to the good advice above I decided that crabbing made the most sense for the lazy-and-cheap man's free seafood dinner, and prepared to buy a crab pot. Our host, though, pointed out that crabbing is potentially messy (on his clean new boat), requires licenses, and is uncertain--whereas buying fresh seafood at the docks is clean, requires only cash, and is certain. So we did that. Maybe next year for the crabbing.
posted by LarryC at 12:14 AM on August 31, 2015

Response by poster: UPDATE: I was ready to buy crabbing gear when the actual owner of the boat pointed out that crabbing was uncertain and involved some very messy processing on his nice new boat, but that buying fresh crab right on the dock at many of the harbors was more certain and less messy. And so it came to be. I am still going to try crabbing next year.
posted by LarryC at 11:20 AM on September 20, 2015

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