The 2014 summer sport fishing season has pretty well come to an end for most of the saltwater sport fishing locations around British Columbia. The weather in many of the Pacific Rim areas was unbelievable until the early part of October. However conditions have changed and heavy rains have hit coastal British Columbia with severity. Some avid sport fishermen who had not put their boat to sleep for the winter took advantage of the early great fall weather and spent some wonderful sunny days with gorgeous warm afternoons in Barkley Sound up to the tenth of October in attempt land one or two big Coho that were late returning to their natal streams. Coho beach fishing continued on the East Coast of Vancouver Island until this week. Areas such as Browns Bay, located close to Campbell River and Sarita Bay situated in beautiful Barkley Sound still both have some great Chum sport fishing. Chum salmon are a wonderful sport fish and put up a great battle. They are also great on the barbeque. The Browns Bay Chum Run usually peaks just after the middle of October. This year the Brown’s Bay Charity Chum Derby took place on October 17th, 18th and 19th. This is often one of the last fishing derbies on Vancouver Island each year.
Chinook and Coho returns too many of the streams, creeks, and rivers have been very good to date. The return of Somass River Chinook salmon stocks are clearly at what was forecast to return. Chinook swimming through Stamp Falls to October 20th have exceeded just over sixteen thousand in number. Adult Coho migrating through Stamp falls are at approximately thirty-seven thousand. The Sproat Lake Chinook returns are only at one hundred and twenty-seven. The Adult Coho returns on the other hand have been excellent at twelve thousand. The numbers of Chinook and Coho salmon passing through the counters are currently quite high. The peak numbers per day usually occur at this time of year. It is fantastic to see that the Chinook returns are excellent which helps develop a natural spawn in the river system. The drop in the river water temperature and the high discharge of water has definitely helped the migration of the salmon to their natural spawning grounds.
The heavy rains in October have put an end to any late Coho salmon fishing on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The Coho and Chinook have quickly migrated to the many rivers and streams as the various water systems have filled with water. A few areas in Barkley Sound continued to have some mediocre fishing into early October especially along the Bamfield Wall, the backside of Fleming Island, Pill Point and Swale Rock. The offshore fishing continued to be quite good with some great Coho and feeder Chinook fishing out at the Rats Nose and Big Bank. This fishing continued relatively good to the end of September. Coho on the outside waters definitely dominated. The Chinook were on the small size in the late sport fishing year.
For some sport fishermen and many guide and charter companies the fishing on the west coast has been extended with a new type of fishing. Many guides are now beginning to take guests out on tuna runs. Many sport fisher persons are also using their boats with membersof family or friends and are making the run offshore. The travel time is long and it is important that those motoring out to the tuna grounds have good offshore boats that can be iced up with plenty of sea ice as the tuna need to be bled and iced immediately. Most fishermen making the venture offshore travel with two or three other boats. This of course is a safety measure. All the boats that are guided have the safety equipment needed for these trips. Sport fishermen (not guiding) should make sure that they have all of the transport Canada specified equipment. From early September to the first few days of October the warmer Pacific currents come within 35 to 75 miles off of West Vancouver Island. The most popular area is just off the Barkley Canyon which is approximately 50 miles off of the Vancouver Island coastline. The Albacore Tuna are found in what is termed the blue water. The Tuna are on the warm water side or on the border where the warm current and cold water meet. The favorable water temperatures for the Tuna are anywhere from 14 to 17 degrees Celsius (58 to 64 F). Many of the guided trips often have three or four lines out on each side of the boat. Some have up to five lines out on each side. It does seem that the more gear out the better the results. The limits per person are 20 meaning there is a lot of work during each excursion. It is too late this year but tuna fishing is something that one may want to mull over for the 2015 season. Of course weather is an important factor. The fourth annual Bamfield Tuna Shootout took place from September 12th to September 20th 2014. The first few days of fishing were slow but it did pickup. The tournament when first initiated had three boats. This year almost fifty boats took part. The biggest Albacore Tuna after properly bled and iced came in at thirty-five point eight pounds. Pai Lolo was the winner and had a payday of twelve thousand dollars. Breakers marine of Bamfield and also Port Alberni were one of the main sponsors of the tournament and report that the proceeds go to non government organizations dedicated to conservation and restoration of pacific fisheries.
Now that we are well past mid October most sport fisher persons are looking forward to the 2015 angling season. Early predictions and indicators are looking very favorable for next year. In the Port Alberni Inlet for example the returning Jack Sockeye during June and July of 2014 to the Somass system has been relatively high. The high returns of Jacks often reflect the following years run size. It is felt that Sockeye returns in 2015 will be well in the seven hundred and fifty thousand range which will create hopefully a wonderful sport fishery for the number one commercial Pacific salmon. Ocean conditions have been very favorable for all five salmon species. The mortality rates have been low. The food sources for the salmon stocks in the North Pacific Ocean have been relatively good. The sport fishing season in 2015 on the British Columbia West Coast should be very exciting with plenty of opportunity for everyone.
For those people that know the Stamp the sport fishing for Coho and Chinook during the fall has been relatively good. Guides have been doing a great job to date for most of their guests. The Stamp was a little tricky to fish until the end of September and even the beginning of October only because the water levels were at record lows making the salmon migration a great concern. The heavy October rain has dramatically changed this. Many of the guides have changed over from salmon fishing to Fall Steelhead. This is the time of year that the fly fishing for fall Steelhead is fantastic. The very high water that we are now experiencing can be detrimental to fly fishing and many will fish with conventional gear for Steelhead. The fly fishing most years occurs from the mid of October into the first ten days of November. Guides are hoping to salvage some of that great fly fishing for later in the month. The best fishing for those fisher people in jet boats on guided trips or for those walking has been in the Lower and Upper River. Entering the river at the rifle range is often a good choice for many. Also driving out to Service Road and walking the river too Dolan’s pit is another excellent fishing spot when the Water levels are not high. One needs to find an area where the water is slow and any area that the water is low. The river has already had close to 50,000 Coho migrate into the system. There should be a continued migration of Coho right into December. The Coho in the lower river have been fresh and still very bright. Most of the Coho landed for guests, who have been averaging limits on a daily basis, are from 8 to 12 pounds. The best method of fishing coho has been conventional using spinners, blades, and the Gibbs Coho spoon. If and when the levels of the water drop the Steelhead in the system should become once again very active as they search for loose eggs during the natural spawn. Fly fishermen can of course use flies of their choice but anglers who are wishing to fish conventionally can use gooey bobs, or wool that is white, pink, or orange. When the water does come down other areas to fish are Stamp Falls Park, Eagle Rock, Black Rock, Moneys Pool, and the Slide Pool. The Stamp is a very healthy river system and is fishable 12 months of the year. There is still plenty of time for Coho salmon fishing and also Fall Steelhead. Winter Steelhead fishing begins in December and continues into late April.
Port Alberni Inlet Barkley Sound
The sport fishing in the Alberni Inlet was very sporadic in 2014. Sockeye were high in numbers but there were only a handful of days that had good sport fishing. The Chinook and Coho fishing up to the Labor Day Weekend Derby was quite good. After that time things slowed as the salmon coming into the inlet were interested in hitting the river. The Inlet does have a few lingering Coho and a few Chum salmon in the system but no one is currently targeting them. The 2015 season looks very promising. The indicators for early season projections of Sockeye salmon are good. Sockeye fishing many years last for mid June into the first week of August. It is a wonderful family fishing trip and is a wonderful sport fishery for those from five years of age to ninety-five. The Chinook returns in 2015 could very well be much higher as Chinook Jack returns have been quite high. Most years the Chinook fishing gets underway by the 15th of August and limits per angler per day is two. We will be looking forward to that sport fishery as well as Coho next August and September.
There have been some wonderful fall days on the water in Barkley Sound right through to the Thanksgiving weekend. The afternoons, especially, have been gorgeous with great warmth from the autumn sun and water that was just magically smooth. The sport season has dramatically slowed down but with some perseverance up to just over a week ago a few anglers have had opportunity to land the last stragglers of the incoming or migrating Coho. Two anglers had a great time also in the Sarita Bay area with Chum salmon up to seventeen pounds. The Coho that have been late arriving have been found at Swale Rock, where there continues to be a lot of bait fish, the backside of Fleming Island, and the Bamfield Wall. The Coho have been hitting shorter hootchie lengths from 32 to 38 inches. The best colors have been purple haze, jelly fish, AORL12 and the green spatterback. Bait throughout this sport fishing season was very good. There have been a few feeder Chinook showing up. The Feeder Chinook have been predominately hitting anchovy in clear and green teaser heads. The 2014 season in the sound was very good. Late June to mid July was quite good. The last week of August into late September was also very good with some unbelievable sport fishing. The migratory salmon headed to southerly watersheds were average or just below normal for Chinook but the WCVI Coho salmon were just phenomenal the late summer and fall of 2014 which dramatically helped the sport fishing. With some great lodge accommodation we are looking at extended trips into Barkley Sound for the summer of 2015. Take advantage and organize your fishing trip into Barkley Sound and offshore early for a 2015 sport fishing adventure.
Ucluelet (West Coast)
Ucluelet is one of those areas along the British Columbia West Coast that has opportunity every month of the year to get out on the water inshore, or offshore, or into Barkley Sound and fish for salmon and bottom fish. For many months of the spring summer and early fall there are huge numbers of migratory salmon swimming their way to natal streams, creeks and rivers to the south. These salmon are right outside Ucluelets’ backdoor and they stop on the various banks to rest and feast on herring and sardines. The salmon are usually in relatively big numbers and create a great sport fishing opportunity throughout the years more favorable months for anglers. There is also a good number of local salmon that feed close to the beach on the rich resources of bait fish. Each and every year there is a return of different salmon species to local streams and rivers that extends from mid August until early November. The fishing out of Ucluelet this year did not disappoint. The best fishing was out at the Big Bank, the Rats Nose and Long Beach. The salmon fishing out in these locations was very good. There is also the new tuna sport fishery which has been going on for a few years now. We are expecting the summer of 2015 to once again be very good out on the various banks and also inshore outside of the Ucluelet Harbor mouth.