Alberni Inlet / Barkley Sound / Ucluelet
Fishing Report - Port Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, West Coast (Ucluelet), Somass-Stamp River System, June 24th, 2014
by Doug Lindores - Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
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 / Barkley Sound
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.
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