Alberni Inlet / Barkley Sound / Ucluelet
Fishing Report - Port Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, West Coast (Ucluelet), Somass-Stamp River System, March 19th 2015
by Doug Lindores - Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
The spring and summer salmon sport fishing season for 2015 is closing in on us ever so rapidly. March weather on the Vancouver Island (British Columbia) West Coast has been very pleasant to date. There have been afternoon temperatures recorded in the mid to high teens. There is concern however by many environmentalists and conservationists as there has been a very low amount of precipitation and snow pack on the many local mountains. The concern is the very high possibility of very dry drought like summer conditions in the forest regions and of course very low river flow due to low snow pack for the ideal migration of various salmon runs to their Natal streams and rivers.
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 fantastic from late May into early September. The 2014 sport fishing season according to the many indicators in preseason forecasts are predicting that the offshore migration of salmon to the big watersheds to the south should be relatively good. Over the last few weeks there have been a few 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 relatively good returns of Chinook, Coho, Pink and Sockeye salmon. The Columbia River is expecting nine hundred and fifty thousand Chinook to return. These migrating salmon do swim down the coastline of West Vancouver Island and sit on the various 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 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 reasonable Sockeye Salmon return in June and July. Ocean conditions have been normal for salmon survival over the past number of years. This year we have been witnessing a mild El Nino. Indicators are showing returns of Sockeye Salmon to the Somass River to be possibly from six to eight hundred 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.
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 should once again all be fantastic areas of those so called “hotspots” in 2015.
Port Alberni, Barkley Sound
Summer fishing in the Port Alberni Inlet should be well underway by mid June for Sockeye Salmon. The area has been very dry and there is little snowpack which should create, because of abnormal conditions, an early sport Sockeye season. 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 provided some consistent and recently “BETTER” winter Chinook fishing. The Sproat Loggers Derby occurred the first full weekend in March and produced some nice feeder Chinook up to almost twenty-four pounds. The wining salmon in the 2015 derby was twenty-three pounds fourteen ounces. This fish was landed in ninety feet of water in the back of Mayne Bay on a Chrome Tom Mack spoon. The second place salmon was landed at Great Bear on anchovy and came in at twenty-three pounds eight ounces. The third place fish a beautiful twenty-one pound Chinook was landed at Diplock on a white hootchie. The top three salmon were all landed by avid Port Alberni Sport fisherpersons. The weekend weather was fantastic but early morning fog 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 in Barkley Sound and the Broken Group of Islands. This was definitely true during this early season salmon derby although some fisher people had some very good success 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 has produced some good fishing. Some anglers lately have been fishing in very deep water in the area from Pill Point into Vernon Bay. Fisher People have been fishing from 145 to 170 feet. The best success this past week has been anchovy in a purple haze Rhys Davis Teaser Head with NO flasher. The dark green spatter back hootchie behind a green hotspot flasher has also been working well. An area between Pill Point and Link Island in Barkley Sound has also been quite good. The salmon landed have all been in the eight to eleven pound range over the last week. White hootchies and various white and green and white three and a half and four inch coyote spoons have been working well. 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 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. The two largest fish in this year’s Sproat Lake Loggers Derby were landed at Great Bear and Mayne Bay. 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 good number of wonderful warm afternoons on Vancouver Islands west coast over the past ten days and there has been some fantastic fishing for a few local guides and avid fishermen. During the current week Great Bear had some good sized bait balls and a couple of good sized feeders up to fifteen pounds that were landed by sport fisher persons. Needlefish hootchies and the three and a half inch green glow coyote spoon was working very well during this week and should be two items in ones tackle box over the next few weeks. The summer of 2015 SPORT fishing is expected to be very good as big waves of migrating salmon make their way to the big watersheds to the south. 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 and Pink Salmon are also expected to be in good numbers and will add a variety for many sport fisher people and also the many guests on guided boats. The summer of 2015 should be a time when all fisher persons will have an opportunity to land a salmon.
The Steelhead fishing on the Stamp has been relatively consistent for Winter Steelhead season. There have been times during the season that the water has been just to high and then to low. The lower river has provided some better fishing with guided boats hooking into four to six 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. 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 2015 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 2015 in Pacific Rim areas for Sockeye, Chinook, Coho and Pink salmon is expected to be relatively good. Don’t miss out this year. Organize your trip early.
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