The spring and summer salmon sport fishing season for 2014 is closing in on us ever so rapidly. March on the Vancouver Island (British Columbia) West Coast has been a wintery month with a lot of snow in the local mountains and well below seasonal average temperatures. The cooler weather and snow has been welcomed as much of the winter had little rainfall. We will soon be turning the calendar over to April which is very much a welcoming thought. April on the rugged but scenic west coast coastline is most often looked at by a variety of sport anglers as the true beginning of saltwater fishing opportunities. The last two summer sport fishing seasons for Chinook and Coho outside the protected harbors of Ucluelet and Tofino, along the surf line of beautiful Barkley Sound, and also the protected waters of the Sound itself were very good. The 2014 sport fishing season according to the many indicators in preseason forecasts are predicting that the current decades best fishing is yet to come this spring and summer. Over the last few weeks there have been a number of press releases from the many fish and wildlife organizations located in British Columbia and the Pacific North-west in Washington and Oregon States. The large watersheds to the south such as the Fraser River, the Columbia River Basin, the Klamath River and as far south as the Sacramento River are all forecasting to have huge returns of Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon. The Columbia River is expecting 1.6 million Chinook to return and just over one million Coho. These migrating salmon do swim down the coastline of West Vancouver Island and sit on the various sand banks and also swim into the protected waters of Barkley Sound and feed on the rich resources of bait fish before continuing their long journey to their natal streams and rivers. There are many banks outside the surf line of Vancouver Island which range from two miles offshore to thirty-two miles offshore where the salmon often school and feed. These banks are a welcome for these migrating fish as the voyage which begins somewhere around Alaska and the Bering Strait is lengthy. By late June there should be ample Coho and Chinook throughout the Pacific Rim region. The fishing should be spectacular from June through early September. The migratory flow most years comes in three large waves. They are termed as being early summer, mid- summer and late summer runs. The early summer runs often begins in late April off the west coast of Vancouver Island and continues into June and creates some early fishing very tight to the Ucluelet and Tofino harbor mouths and also the pristine waters of Barkley Sound. The transient salmon feed aggressively on the rich resources of bait fish as they make their lengthy journey to their natal streams. The Chinook and Coho are a bit larger as the season moves on. The late summer run in late July and running through August and early September usually produces for avid anglers some beautiful Tyee in the high thirty to mid forty pound range. The Coho salmon in early season are often six to eight pounds and late in the season can often be in the mid to high teens.
The Port Alberni Inlet is expected to have a remarkable Sockeye Salmon return in June and July. Ocean conditions have been remarkable for salmon survival over the past number of years. Indicators are showing returns of Sockeye Salmon to the Somass River to be well over one million pieces. Besides Sockeye the Somass-Stamp River system also has a very healthy return of Chinook and Coho. The Chinook often begin to show the second week of August in the Port Alberni Inlet and actually peak in the third or fourth week of the month. The Coho follow the Chinook and begin showing in the later part of August and continue well into September. The Coho returns to the Somass River and all of West Coast Vancouver Island are termed to be “abundant”.
Sport fisher people who will come from all over the world will be treated to some world class salmon fishing along Vancouver Islands West Coast, Barkley Sound and the Port Alberni Inlet. The Port Alberni Inlet, the inshore and offshore water of Ucluelet and Tofino and Barkley Sound will be all fantastic areas of those so called “hotspots” in 2014.
Port Alberni Inlet
Summer fishing in the Port Alberni Inlet should be well underway by mid June for Sockeye Salmon. Sockeye sport fishing has become a very popular sport fishing opportunity and is fun for everyone from the most avid trophy fishermen to the beginner. For young children Sockeye fishing is fun and seldom creates any boredom. The Sockeye fishery in the Alberni Inlet occurs in protected waters and has mind boggling action. There are often many occasions when two, three, and even four Sockeye Salmon hit the rods which can create havoc for all. The Sockeye sport fishery can often continue right into the first ten days of August. These tasty salmon begin to school when the river temperatures hit seventeen or eighteen degrees C. This higher water temperature slows the migration to the Somass River and the Sockeye Salmon move to deeper and cooler water out in the Alberni Inlet.
Barkley Sound has just recently provided some “BETTER” winter Chinook fishing. The Sproat Loggers Derby occurred the first weekend in March and produced some nice feeder Chinook up to sixteen pounds. The wining salmon is this years derby was just over sixteen pounds and was landed around Vernon Bay. A few other fish in the fifteen pound range were also landed in the same area. The weekend weather started off fairly decent but poor conditions on the second day kept many anglers close to Poett Nook which was the derby headquarters. In early March and April anchovy often seem to work very well. This was definitely true during this early season salmon derby although some fisher people had production with hootchies and spoons in the three and a half and four inch size. Lately the fishing has turned on in the Sound. Swale Rock, the Canoe Pass area on the Vernon Bay side, Vernon Bay and Alan Point to Pill Point have all produced some good fishing. Bait has been producing as well as needle fish hootchies and few spoons in various green colors. The three and a half inch green glow coyote spoon has been fantastic as has the three inch Irish Cream. The salmon have been in one hundred and thirty to one hundred and eighty feet of water with the bigger fish in the deeper water. Fish have been coming in daily feeding heavily during the herring spawn. The best fishing has occurred between tides. April should really turn on as residential fish will be in the area and the first of the migratory salmon show as they make their way to the southerly watersheds in the Pacific North West. Look for fantastic fishing from mid or late May through September. Always carry bait and ones favorite summer spoons and hootchies. As the summer moves on switch to bigger spoons but also remember to adjust to the size of the bait.
Ucluelet (West Coast)
The offshore and inshore fishing during the spring is often very good around a variety of areas in the Ucluelet and Tofino areas. As the herring spawn approaches in mid to late March the local Chinook or more commonly known as feeder or winter Chinook move close to the beach and are abundant in local areas such as Great Bear, Mara Rock, Sail Rock, Forbes, the Alley and Beg Island. Over the last few weeks it is these spots that have been reasonably good for the local sport fishermen and the odd guide. Small three and three and a half inch coyote spoons in army truck, chartreuse, glow green and knight rider have been working in deeper water from 90 to 120 feet. Also a variety of regular octopus hootchies and needle fish hootchies are working quite well behind green glow and purple haze flashers. It is important to find the bait which will become more abundant in needlefish and pilchards. Those out on the water will do relatively well when finding the bait balls. There have been a few wonderful warm afternoons on Vancouver Islands west coast over the past ten days and provided some good fishing for a few local guides and avid fishermen. Great Bear had some good sized bait balls and a couple of good sized feeders up to fifteen pounds were landed. Needlefish hootchies and the three and a half inch green glow coyote spoon were working very well and should be two items in ones tackle box over the next few weeks. The summer of 2014 SPORT fishing is expected to be very good as big waves of migrating salmon make their way to the big watersheds to the south. Large schools of Chinook beginning as early as the middle of April and continuing through August will swim right outside the Ucluelet harbor and will feed out on the various sandy banks before continuing their long journey. Coho salmon are also expected to be in abundance and will add a variety for many sport fisher people and also the many guests on guided boats. The summer of 2014 will definitely be a time when all fisher persons will have an opportunity to land a salmon.
The Steelhead fishing on the Stamp has not been very consistent in the 2013-14 Winter Steelhead season. Currently the Winter Steelhead fishing has picked up and this has been the best time of the whole season. The lower river has provided some better fishing with guided boats hooking into six to eight fish per day. All wild Steelhead must be released. Many of the fish are still chrome. The Steelhead at some point will make their way up to the Upper portions of the river which will provide a few good weeks of angling in that section of the river. When fishing above the bucket bait use large or small worms depending on the depth of the water. A variety of colors and sizes of gooey bobs and spin-glos are also working. We are expecting some much needed better fishing to continue right through April. As the air temperature warms and the water temperature warms in the Stamp those avid fly fishermen should have a little more success. The Fall of 2014 is expected to once again provide for some great salmon fishing in September and the first half of October. This is a very popular fishery with people arriving as guests from all over the world. It is wise to make an early reservation for this fishery.
The Summer fishing in 2014 in Pacific Rim areas for Sockeye, Chinook and Coho salmon is expected to be fabulous. Don’t miss out this year. Organize your trip early.