It is now past mid June and as expected the salmon fishing in all of the Alberni, Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim areas has really picked up. Halibut and Chinook fishing on the west coast has been very consistent with most days producing some very good results for those on guided trips or fishing in privately owned sport boats. Barkley Sound especially along surf line locations has been fantastic with some great Chinook catches in the mid to high teens and low twenties. The Port Alberni Inlet has also picked up with some excellent sockeye fishing. The Somass River and Alberni Inlet water temperatures have warmed up with the afternoon surface temperatures sitting at 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. The warmer water provides for a much better sport fishery as the Sockeye will school up in good numbers. There has been an abundance of early Sockeye moving into the Inlet and then the Somass River which has produced some early Sockeye schooling and some great results for sport anglers. Escapement to date to Sproat Lake and Great Central Lake is over 30,000. The 2014 summer sport salmon fishing should once again be fantastic along Vancouver Islands west coast inshore and offshore and inland waters close to Port Alberni. Sport Salmon fishing results to date have proven pre season forecasts to be very accurate.
Port Alberni Inlet
The Port Alberni Inlet is forecast to see a good return of Sockeye Salmon in 2014. The Department of Fisheries is still estimating a return of 1.6 million pieces to the Somass River. This forecast if estimates are correct is a record return of Sockeye Salmon. With this in mind the estimated catch for sport, commercial, and first nations is approximately 500,000 to 600,000. For the sport fisherman the current daily possession is four salmon with a two day possession limit of eight. Many believe that returns will be much higher than what is being forecast.. The early run of Sockeye to date is proving day after day that this thought by many anglers could very well hold true. With water temperatures gradually warming the Somass River and the two major lake conditions have been perfect for good migratory flow. The counters have well over 30,000 escaped Sockeye already moving into Sproat and Great Central Lakes. The week of June 16th was the beginning of some good Sockeye Fishing out in the Alberni Inlet. Some anglers reported some good fishing by mid week with limits of eight and twelve fish per boat but without any real consistency as some anglers had a much less success rate. By the end of the week and into this past weekend limits in sport boats were very common. The Sockeye fishing during the last few days has improved even more and has been simply sensational. As mentioned the Inlet water is warming up and the fish are beginning to school in various spots. The best fishing has been from Ten Mile Point right to Dunsmuir Point which is straight across from the China Creek Marina and Campground. The magical depth range for fishing has been from twenty-five to fifty feet with thirty to forty feet being a perfect depth. As we get closer to July and the waters warm up the Sockeye will go deeper into the water. The normal Sockeye gear is currently working well as long as plenty of color is out the back of the boat. The MP 2 and 15 (bubblegum) hootchies are working, as are the pink and blue and pink and black hootchies and a variety of other pinkish to orange and red colors. We are expecting the Sockeye fishing to stay relatively good well into August. There will be Seine testing going on weekly with updates on numbers. The first in season forecast will be on June 26th. Expect some commercial fishing in the Inlet and also to outer areas but there will always be plenty of good areas for the sport fishermen. It will not be a surprise if well over two million Sockeye return to the Somass system this summer.
Barkley Sound fishing has been fairly good for the last week. Generally the surf line areas have produced some nice fish but some great catches have also come out of more inshore areas like Pill Point, Vernon Bay, and Swale Rock. The inland areas have produced some salmon just like the surf line spots up to fifteen and twenty pounds. There have been reports of a few Coho catches especially close to Swale Rock. The Chinook have been in deeper water. There has been some decent fishing at Austin Island, Cree Island and Ship Island. Anchovy, needle fish hootchies in green colors and a few coyote spoons in green and blue nickel and the silver glow have been working fairly well. Generally the surf line locations have produced the best results using anchovy in either a green haze or glow army truck Rhys Davis Teaser Head behind a glow hotspot flasher. Needle fish hootchies in green with forty two inches of leader behind a green glow or chartreuse hotspot flasher are working well also. Good depth locations on the surf line have ranged from ninety to one hundred and twenty-five feet. We are expecting more and more Coho to move into the mix. There have been a few small migratory Coho but to date they have not been as consistent as the Chinook. Coho catches have been good up the Vancouver Island coastline and will move into the direction of the Sound over the next two weeks. The Coho are big feeders at this time of year and often put on as much as a pound per week. We are expecting some great fishing in the Sound through July and August. One of the biggest returns of Chinook and Coho Salmon to the Columbia River system is forecast for 2014. The Bonneville Dam which has been keeping records since 1938 is expecting up to 1.6 million Chinook and over one million Coho. This will be the biggest return in record history is forecasts are correct. The early migratory Chinook and Coho often stay relatively close to the beach of Vancouver Island and will move into Barkley Sound to feed on the rich resources of bait fish. Summer fishing in the scenic, calm and pristine waters of Barkley Sound will be wonderful in 2014.
One of the most consistent areas to fish year after year for salmon and halibut has been Ucluelet B.C. Ucluelet is a small town located on the west coast of British Columbia with a relatively small year round population. However in the summer months the population size does swell with many visitors who come to fish the inshore and offshore waters. Many come on guided trips while others brave the waters of the Pacific Ocean using their private sport boats. The fishing has been very good for Chinook and there have been some good Coho numbers recently and of course like most years the halibut fishing is really picking up. The best spots to fish have been Long Beach, Lighthouse Bank, and the Big Bank. South Bank to date has not been that consistent. The salmon like the halibut have been very close to the sandy bottom and on tide changes do move up to the mid-water to feed on the needle fish and other bait fish. The Big Bank has had the best fishing. The fish are actively feeding much of the day but on the tide change it can become crazy and it often seems that whatever one offers as a lure it will work. For most fisher persons coyote spoons and hootchies seem to be the way to go. The green nickel and blue nickel four inch coyote spoon has been good as have several glow hootchies and also the green spatterback and T-Rex hootchie. Both of these hootchies have done well picking up Chinook and the odd Coho that are now beginning to show. Most of the Chinook landed out on the Big Bank have weighed from ten pounds to the mid and upper teens. There have been a few early Chinook in the high twenties and low thirties but to date most of the Chinook are in the teens, We are really expecting the fishing to improve as we move into late June and then July and August. Chinook returns for west coast of Vancouver Island are expected to be average. Coho returns to West Coast Vancouver Island are termed abundant and will be in record numbers. Remember that when out on the water fishing to be sure the lines are in the water at the magical hour of the tide change. Remember to stay safe out on the west coast and have all of the necessary equipment for foggy days and watch the winds.
Those fishing Sockeye in the Somass River should do very well. The fall river fishing is expected to be very good. Coho and summer run Steelhead should be sensational with good numbers forecast to return. Good fishing will occur in September using conventional methods with the best fishing on the fly usually in October when the natural spawn takes place. If you are interested in guided river trips don’t wait too long as much of the available room is quickly disappearing.