The 2011 summer sport fishing season has pretty much come to an end in terms of fishing in salt water locations on Vancouver Island West Coast and inland areas. We can now only look forward to the 2012 season which many are saying in pre 2012 season forecasts will be very much like this past spring and summer. The salmon are now entering many of the nearby accessible rivers where they will spawn but the sport fishing is continuing in these prime Pacific Rim fresh water locations. Most of the Chinook have entered the many systems but fresh bright silver Coho are now arriving in big schools daily. The 2011 season got well under way on the west coast in early May and the inland waters such as the Port Alberni Inlet had a very good early Sockeye season which started by the 13th of June. The West Coast and much of Barkley Sound began with a bang with the early summer run of Chinook migrating to distant watersheds to the south and also with local feeder Chinook up to fifteen pounds. The fishing only got better and better for sport fishing in June, July, and August. The later part of July and much of August saw some big Chinook arrive up to forty pounds and Coho ranging on average from twelve to eighteen pounds. The 2011 season was phenomenol on Vancouver Islands West Coast. Those individuals that had opportunity to visit Vancouver Island to sport fish this past summer were treated to some world-class salmon sport fishing
Port Alberni Inlet
The many Chinook and Coho headed to the Somass River System have been entering the Somass and making their way into the Stamp since the end of August with the peak of fish arriving during the first few days of October. The weather in September did not co-operate and due to some big rains the watersheds, creeks, and streams around Port Alberni and for that matter much of the Pacific Rim, filled rather quickly, which pushed many of the salmon into their spawning streams. The Port Alberni Inlet has been very spotty in terms of sport fishing. The many salmon have only been interested in entering the river and making their way to either the Robertson Creek Hatchery or the subsidary creeks of the vast water system. Approximately fifty thousand Chinook and forty to sixty thousand Coho are expected to swim the Alberni Inlet into the waters of the Alberni Harbor and then into the Somass by the time the migration of salmon is completed.
Barkley Sound fishing in September and early October has also been relatively spotty due to the huge rains which arrived by mid September. Some good fishing has been occurring around Pill Point and also parts of the Bamfield Wall close to Poet Nook, Sarita Bay and Nettle Island. Sarita has had some off and on Chum fishing and the other mentioned areas have had some tremendous Coho angling Days. Swale Rock has already had some feeder Chinook with these fish being found in 100 plus feet of water while Sanford and Kirby Points have had a few late Northern Coho. The Coho that have been in the area and those that have been biting have been hitting four inch watermelon and green nickel coyote spoons and also the green spatterback and pistachio hootchies. Barkley Sound fishing in November and December will be predominately for feeder Chinook and there will also be some great prawn and crab fishing.
Ucluelet (West Coast)
The weather patterns did not hold true during the month of September
On the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. September is usually filled with sunshine and warm afternoons with no wind and no fog and lots of big Chinook and northern Coho. September of 2011 however had some almost monsoon like conditions which ultimately chased many of the salmon in nearby waters to their migratory spawning grounds. With the halibut fishing coming to an end on the 5th of September the only decent bottom fishing was on the lighthouse bank for ling cod. There was some good Chinook fishing at the Hyson Bank and the Starfish for the first ten to twelve days but after mid month local areas within fifteen miles of the Ucluelet Harbor became very spotty. The Big Bank did produce some late schools of hatchery Coho and as of late, especially during the Thanksgiving Weekend, there was some reasonable feeder Chinook fishing with salmon averaging ten to thirteen pounds. It should be remembered that Ucluelet is one place on the west coast that can be sport fished twelve months of the year and that one has an opportunistic chance to land a twenty pound or larger salmon (weather permitting of course from October to mid April).
About fifty thousand Chinook were forecast to return to the Somass system. Of this number, escapement to the terminal area, is expected to be thirty-three thousand fish. The biggest concern each year is that there are ample females for the Robertson Creek Hatchery Chinook salmon egg harvest and that there is also a natural spawn in the river system. To date twenty-three thousand Chinook have escaped past Stamp Falls and over forty thousand Coho have gone through the falls and counters. The goal at the hatchery is to collect 7.2 million Chinook eggs and produce six million smolts for next spring. The Coho egg production will get underway at the end of October and early November but only three hundred thousand eggs are collected for two hundred thousand smolts to be released.
The fishing in the Lower Stamp for Chinook and Coho in September and into the first ten days of October has been very good. Recently the salmon fishing in the upper and the lower has been good even though the water level has been quite high. The lower river cotinues to have fresh Coho and Chum salmon enter the system daily. The Upper has plenty of Chinook which are backing up to get into the hatchery and the Coho are still relatively bright and silver. Most guides are taking their guests to some very good fishing spots where most boats are hitting up to twelve salmon per day. The Summer or Fall Steelhead are now in good numbers and they have become very active as the natural salmon spawn is taking place. This is the best time of year for fly fishing which usually continues to Remembrance Day. People world wide wait for this time of year to fly fish the Stamp. Due to the unusual high volume of water it has been difficult to fly fish so most guides have been fishing on the float. Most guides in the upper are using bobbers and fake eggs and bouncing the bottom with a weight for Steelhead. When fishing for salmon spin-n glows and corkies are working as well as spinners for Coho in the Upper River. When the water levels begin to come down and get back to normal and as long as the water temperatures stay where they are now, which is anywhere fron ten to twelve degrees celsius, fly fishing will really pickup. Dark fly patterns are the norm for this time of year. The Stamp River will have good fishing from now until May 2012.