Alberni Inlet / Barkley Sound / Ucluelet
Fishing Report - Port Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, West Coast (Ucluelet), Somass-Stamp River System, February 9th 2015
by Doug Lindores - Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
It’s again a New Year for sport salt water fishing and many sport fishermen, guides and potential guests are beginning to think about the many sport fishing opportunities that await them in 2015.
2014 was a fairly memorable year on the scenic West Coast of Vancouver Island. Chinook fishing for migratory salmon headed to distant southern watersheds began in late April and continued through the late spring and summer. Salmon returning to local streams and rivers arrived in August and continued in relatively good numbers into September. In the Alberni Inlet Sockeye returns were not as high as forecast but returns were still over 1.2 million. The 2015 West Coast Vancouver Island sport fishing season which will begin in the late spring and continue into the summer and early fall months looks to be very similar to that of the 2014 season. The Sockeye season in the Alberni Inlet will again once again be fairly good with numbers hopefully reaching 600,000. The Inlet is a great spot to sport fish as the Alberni Inlet water is fairly quiet and pristine. Barkley Sound and offshore Ucluelet should be strong as good numbers of Chinook and Coho migrate to those distant watersheds.
Vancouver Island is a destination on both coastlines of all five salmon species (Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum). This gives all avid sport fishermen an opportunity to sport fish a choice of salmon he/she might enjoy to target. Of course these species do arrive at certain times of the summer or fall and each species also peak at specific times. This often means that fisher persons can fish the inlets, sounds and offshore waters for Chinook and Coho and also Sockeye and have opportunity to fish river mouths and various Vancouver Island beaches for Pinks and Coho.
Winter fishing for Winter Steelhead in the Stamp River has been steady and winter (feeder) Chinook fishing in Barkley Sound and around the quiet hamlet of Bamfield and also the Ucluelet Harbor has been off and on with some reasonable fishing opportunities on those days that the winter season offers. The Stamp River had excellent returns in terms of the summer run of Steelhead and to date returns of winter Steelhead have been good with the peak of the current season expected in February. There has been some good sized hatchery Winter Steelhead in the mid teens with a few reaching the Upper teens to date.
Port Alberni, Barkley Sound, Ucluelet
At times during the winter months a few schools of Winter Chinook will make their way up into the inlet and feed on bait fish in the Bells Bay and Nahmint-Franklin areas. This happens periodically but most years the Alberni Inlet has the best sport fishing from mid June to mid September. The Somass River Sockeye begin migrating into the river in May and usually begin to school in good numbers around the 10th of June. When the Sockeye build up in big numbers the sport fishing action for the number one commercial salmon really heats up and is a lot of fun for all fisher persons young and old.
Sockeye fishing often can continue into the first ten days of August. It is then that the first few Chinook salmon appear in the Inlet. Chinook fishing is followed by Coho with the peak of the Chinook season often occurring around the Labor Day Weekend when the Port Alberni three day Labor Day Weekend fishing derby occurs. The Port Alberni Inlet is a wonderful and very easy area to fish. Many people worry about rough water but the Inlet waters for the most part are very calm. The best fishing time for Sockeye is in the morning hours and the last two hours before dark. Sockeye salmon do seem to be active at any time of the day which makes this sport fishery a very popular opportunity for everyone.
Barkley Sound waters are very much like the Port Alberni Inlet. The Sound is protected on both the east and west coastlines. Fishing in the Sound could occur every month of the year without fear of experiencing the big waters often found offshore in the winter and even during the summer months. Winter Chinook fishing has been off and on. Recently the Bamfield Wall and Samatao Bay has had some very good Winter Chinook fishing. The 2015 mid winter months have had some good weather patterns and fairly productive fishing days. The best fishing areas as mentioned have been the Bamfield Harbor mouth, the Bamfield Wall, Samatao Bay as well as Swale Rock, Vernon Bay, and the Canoe Pass outside entry points. Pill Point, Sarita Bay and the Poett Nook area are also other spots worthwhile to fish in February and March. The last few weeks has had some anglers fishing the Bamfield Wall. Anglers have had opportunity to land a few Winter Chinook in the Fifteen pound range. There have been several feeders in the seven to nine pound range and many undersize salmon in the mix. The feeders have been hitting cop car coyote spoons in the three and a half and four inch size. Other coyote spoons that have worked are nasty boy the cop car glow and blue and green nickel. Green Spatter back hootchies have been working as well. Anchovy in Chartreuse Rhys Davis Teaser Heads are good but with lots of undersize feeders in the mix one can go through a lot of bait.
Winter Springs are in deep water. It is not uncommon to find them in most areas of Barkley Sound from 100 to 145 feet. The Winter Chinook will always be found where one finds go sized bait balls. As mentioned Coyote Spoons in the three and a half to four inch size have been working. Other great spoons to have on board are glow cop car, nasty boy, Green glow, and green and blue nickel. These are good choices for fisher persons to have in the tackle box. Hootchies are popular but use a shorter leader length than in the summer. Leader lengths from 34 to 38 inches behind a glow green or glow red hotspot flasher are a good choice. The Purple Haze hootchie as well as various whites and greens are also excellent choices. Anchovy is also something all sport fisher persons should have on board. There are days when the salmon will touch nothing else but anchovy. Anchovy in chartreuse or a green glow Rhys Davis Teaser Head is a good choice. Most of the current feeder Chinook landed has been in the 100 to 130 foot level. The first salmon fishing derby on Vancouver Island’s West Coast will once again occur in Barkley Sound and is based out of Poett Nook. The Sproat Loggers Derby will take place the first Saturday and Sunday of March. The Derby is very popular and offers some great prizes and often some great weather and fishing. The derby surprisingly has some good sized feeders landed. It is not uncommon to have fish over twenty pounds entered.
Summer fishing in Barkley Sound especially on the surf line most years occurs from late May to early September and is expected in 2015 to be relatively good due to the migratory movement of salmon along the west coast. Good numbers of Chinook, Coho and Pink Salmon will be moving to watersheds to the South. The migratory flow of Chinook should predominately be 4 year olds. The vast amounts of rich resources of bait fish in the Barkley Sound area during the summer months often bring the salmon into feed and rest before they continue their journey. Some world class fishing usually occurs at Meares, Cree, Edward King, Beale and as far in as Kirby Point and Swale Rock. We are really excited about the great sport salmon fishing opportunity we should have this summer in both the Sound and the Port Alberni Inlet.
It is fairly difficult to go offshore during the winter months. There have however been some reasonably nice days on the water where the swell and water lump has been low. The best winter Chinook fishing is often fairly close to the Ucluelet Harbor and well into the Broken Group of Islands. This year has been no different. Beg Island, Mara Rock and Big Bear have had some results. As far in a Mayne Bay has actually had the best results. Needle fish, white hootchies, and various green hootchies, anchovy, and nasty boy, cop car, green glow, and silver glow coyote spoons have been the best bets to attract the feeder Chinook. In late February the feeder Chinook fishing really picks up and gets much better as the herring spawn gets close and as the herring move toward the beach the salmon chase. In the early spring we often feature our Seafood Safari. This is a great trip on the open Pacific where guests can be treated to some excellent winter Chinook fishing, bottom fishing, prawn and crab fishing. There might even be opportunity to find some oysters along some of the magnificent beaches of the west coast. The end of the day often has guests preparing a wonderful gourmet seafood dinner at a local resort or bed and breakfast. There are spots that the preparation of the days catch will be prepared for guests.
Summer sport salmon fishing out of Ucluelet looks again very promising. Year after year Ucluelet has some of British Columbia’s best and most wonderful fishing opportunities. The outlook for Chinook and Coho migrations look similar to the past few years. We expect late May into mid September to have some of the best salmon fishing. For those that enjoy Pink Salmon fishing the odd year is back and returns of Pinks to various rivers along the west coast should be very good.
The Stamp to date has provided some very good winter Steelhead fishing. The fishing in one simple word has been “consistent”. The fish are beginning to spread out and can be found in the upper and lower river. Water conditions up to this past mid week were excellent until the last Pacific Pineapple Express hit the West Coast with a vengeance. With the previous water levels being relatively ideal the migration of Winter Steelhead has been good with some good fishing in both the Upper and Lower Stamp River. Guided trips on average have been hooking into five to seven fish per guest group each day. The mix of hatchery Steelhead compared to wild have been almost 50-50 on a percentage basis. For those on foot the most popular area is the falls pool which over the past few weeks has been very congested with sport anglers, especially on weekend days. The Sproat has also had some great fishing days as of late. Those individuals on guided and non-guided trips fishing with a float and below “the bucket” have had good success using natural bait in roe, roe bags, and shrimp. Lures in artificial are allowed only from “the bucket” up river. In the “no bait zone” corkies, spin’n’glows in rocket red and peach are working very well. Below “the bucket” if not using bait pink worms, blades and gooey bobs are all working very well. One sport angler fishing close to the confluence was using a pink jig which like pink worms, for the most part, works best in the Upper River, had an unbelievably successful day during the past week by hooking into five or six Steelhead. The Winter Steelhead have been good sized fish into the mid teens.
We are expecting the February and March Stamp River winter Steelhead fishing to be very good right through until the end of March.
Port Alberni Salmon Festival
The Port Alberni Salmon festival and Derby takes place during the three days of the Labour Day weekend.
The West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia has much to offer. The West Coast is a beautiful area of the world with its rugged but scenic coastline outlined by snowcapped mountains in the background. Ucluelet and Tofino both found on Vancouver Islands coast are located south of Clayoquot Sound, which is full of beaches, islands and rainforests. The Pacific Rim National Park (Long Beach) is located in the area and has grown into a very popular tourist destination with oceanfront resorts, hotels, motels, lodges, campgrounds, quaint cafes and restaurants and even art galleries. The Pacific Rim National Park is a paradise for surfers and beachcombers. There are large rolling waves and miles of pristine beaches.
Ucluelet is nestled in a small harbor, which is dominated by surf and sandy beaches on the west and rainforests on the east. The area has fantastic walking and hiking trails. The Rainforest Trail, Lighthouse Trail and the sands of Big Beach are areas people can roam for hours. Hi-Tin-Kis Park has spectacular views that people worldwide come to admire.
During the winter Ucluelet and Tofino offer spectacular Storm Watch opportunities. Many of the luxurious resorts, which are scattered along the coastline, offer this as part of their packages from November until early March. March and April often finds visitors watching the migration of Gray Whales, which are passing along the coastline making their way to the Beaufort Sea. The Whale Festival begins this year on the 17th of March is featured by the “Chowder Chow Down.” The festival continues into mid April.
Ucluelet and Tofino provide some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world. The coastline between Ucluelet and Tofino is a feeding and spawning destination of some of the West Coast of British Columbia’s largest runs of chinook and coho. The months of May, June July August and September are considered prime time for sport fishing inshore and offshore. The sport fishing industry is provided with vast amounts of coho, chinook, pink salmon and halibut that are migrating outside the doorstep of Ucluelet.. All of the fish follow the thick balls of bait which most often are herring, sardines, needlefish, squid and krill.
The Ucluelet Sport Fishing season gets underway when the wather changes into early spring. The winter often displays battering storms and huge surf, which makes it most difficult and of course dangerous for guides and sport anglers to get out to the fishing grounds. However, during the winter there are some days that one can fish for winter or feeder springs close the Ucluelet Harbor and Barkley sound. The winter season is also a time when individuals have opportunity to fish for Dungeness Crabs, prawns, oysters, clams, and some rock fish. Late February, all of March, and the early part of April often have feeder chinook close to the Ucluelet Harbor and inner surfline of Barkley Sound. Slivers Charters Salmon sport Fishing and other guide services will normally fish Begg Island, Mara Rock, Great Bear, the Red Can, Sail Rock and even South Bank during this time of year. Most of the salmon are feeder springs and can range from 8 to 25 pounds. Most guides and local anglers use a variety of lures. Anchovy is often he best bait choice all year and is rolled behind a Rhys Davis Teaser Head in white, green, purple haze, or pearl. Hootchie choices are often glow whites, purple haze, or various blue green white colors and army truck. Various Coyote and Titan Spoons work well also. This year watermelon has been very good along the whole coast as have silver spoons. During the year there is some bottom or rock fishing. The lingcod season opens April 15th. Halibut fishing most years become more fishable in May and can be combined when fishing for the various salmon species migrating down the coast. During the summer months some guides will troll for Halibut and Salmon at the same time. The Halibut are found at the bottom hiding in the sand and the salmon are found in mid water.
During the summer months Ucluelet provides some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world. The area has continuous and very consistent fishing due to the migration of salmon which are headed to their spawning grounds. Whatever summer month one decides to fish there will not be disappointment as there is always fish inshore or offshore.
People often ask “what should I bring if I am coming to Canada’s West Coast to fish and explore. Of course bring a camera to take all kinds of pictures. Binoculars are also a great idea. Bring Rain Gear and rubber boots. Most of the guide boats have extra rain gear on board but this is not provided when hiking in a rainforest or walking the beach on an early drizzly foggy morning. Be prepared for sunshine and warm days especially later in the morning and the afternoons. The West Coast is a place to be totally prepared for all weather. Dress in layers. There is a saying “Its easy to dress down but not up”. If you do not have the correct warm clothing ones day can be miserable to start. It is important to have coolers to take catches home. If flying most airlines now want people to have a correct airline container, which are available on the coast. People can also be prepared to have their catch sent directly to their home as St. Jeans located in Ucluelet will ship directly after our guides have prepared your catch for shipping.
Canada’s West Coast of Vancouver Island is a fantastic area to visit. Those who live in the area take it for granted. This area of the world has a lot to offer and is still undiscovered by many. It is part of super natural B.C. Take some time and come to visit and yes come fishing as this is the place to be in the summer of 2007.
Salmon Returns November 8th, 2006
Port Alberni is fortunate enough to have a very healthy river system and hatchery (Roberson Creek Hatchery). Chinook and Coho return to the Hatchery and Sockeye return naturally to the river and then to Sproat and Great Central Lake. From the lakes the sockeye move out to tributary streams and then spawn.
- Chinook 43,000 return as of October 15th. Numbers may have reached 55 to 60,000 by now as many late fish have arrived.
- Jack chinook 1,000 This number is low and will probably see a low return in three year olds in 2007. Four, Five and Six year olds should be strong in numbers.
- Adult Coho 11,000 Low in return but enough for hatchery program.
- Jack Coho 6,142 Great numbers which should give us a very healthy return of adult coho in 2007. These Adult returns should be back to normal in 2007.
- Adult Sockeye 137,000 return through the counters. Not a strong return as the early prediction was almost 800,000.
Sport fishing for salmon
The Alberni Inlet and the Barkley Sound offer year round fishing at its best. Springs, often referred to as
Black Mouths, start showing up in the Barkley Sound in the middle of March. These feisty fish stay and
feed in the Sound on the bountiful herring and anchovy that are spawning in the area. These fish range
from 5 to 25 pounds and as active feeders provide action filled days for the fishermen.
SPRING AND SUMMER
This season offers a great opportunity for fishing for many different species of salmon. In May, the
Springs are still in the Barkley Sound and the early running Tyees are beginning to appear as they begin
their migration up the Alberni Inlet. This season provides excellent fishing for Springs, Tyee and also the
famous Sockeye. The Sockeye are the best eating salmon and run in our area is huge. In late June and
July, the Sockeye start running up the Alberni Inlet in huge quantities. In 1987, there were an estimated
750,000 Sockeye that came up the Alberni Inlet. You can imagine the success rate for anglers! The
Sockeye run continues through August.
SUMMER AND FALL
The months of July, August and September yield the largest fish of them all - the magnificent Tyee or
Chinook Salmon. These fish range from 15 to 70 pounds on average size. At this time of year, the salmon
are within 15 minutes of the inner harbour and the Coho are running as well.
FRESH WATER FISHING
January, February and March is the winter run of Steelhead in the Ash, Stamp and Nahmint Rivers and of
the Cutthroat in China Creek. April and May are good months for Steelhead and Cutthroat in Nahmint and
Sproat Lake and for Rainbow Trout in Great Central and Loon Lake. June is the start of the best months
for the middle of resident runs of coastal Cutthroat in most lakes including Sproat and Great Central Lake.
October, November, and December, Rainbow and Cutthroat season ends. The Steelhead season begins in
china Creek. All year Trout can be caught in McBride and View Lakes, Brown Trout in Cameron Lake and
Rainbow and Cutthroat in Cameron Lake.
Port Alberni Tourism